How is mobility integration a major challenge for IT?

By Saurabh Sharma, Senior Analyst, IT Solutions

Organisations are moving beyond the traditional means of connecting with existing and potential customers. Similarly, they are exploring different avenues to fulfill the ever-increasing needs for reductions in the cost of IT, greater productivity, and better employee engagement.

As a result, in most organisations, there is a rapid proliferation of disparate applications deployed across different environments.

Mobility integration is a multi-faceted problem: in addition to achieving seamless interaction between disparate applications, IT needs to provide a robust data security and governance framework for securing and managing data flow across a wide range of services, systems, and business processes.

Then there is the need to provide a compelling user experience to different users through a wide range of access channels. Bring-your-own device (BYOD) is driving changes in the way organisations operate and what IT is expected to deliver to support such requirements.

While many unified communications and collaboration (UCC) vendors provide middleware for the development of communications-enabled business processes (CEBPs), there are still many scenarios where custom-code development is the only viable option. Given the diverse and complex nature of mobility integration needs, IT is struggling to find a suitable approach to enable such interactions in a time-efficient and cost-effective manner.

Mobile and social application integration is different in nature from cloud and enterprise application integration

Organisations have used both traditional approaches (such as SOA and custom-code development) and cloud-based integration approaches (for example, integration PaaS) to achieve SaaS-to-on-premise, on-premise-to-on-premise, SaaS-to-SaaS, and B2B integration.

However, mobile and social application integration calls for a different approach. Most organisations use web applications for internal and external engagements. “Mobile-enablement” of web applications is a commonly used approach for achieving interaction between mobile and web applications.

Given that this approach involves a significant amount of rework, many organisations are looking for alternatives that can deliver faster time-to-value and reduce the overall expenditure on application integration.

Mobile and social applications are lightweight in nature and capable of meeting the requirements of heterogeneous user experiences. Most on-premise and SaaS applications do not provide different user experiences through different access channels.

Another difference is the nature of the traffic associated with transactions performed through mobile and social applications. The “bursty” nature of the traffic associated with mobile and social applications often leads to conditions where a greater capacity is required to handle a sudden rise in traffic. IT is struggling to find a suitable solution for such issues.

Mobility integration has many facets

Mobility has had a profound impact on the way organisations operate.

Organisations are using mobility solutions to interact with partners and customers on an as- and when-needed basis and through a wide range of devices.

Mobility is increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of business engagements as well as providing other benefits such as compelling user experience across a wide range of devices and seamless access to data and applications on a 24×7 basis.

The rapid proliferation of mobility solutions is creating complex integration issues that need new solutions. Lightweight mobile middleware is gaining ground as a suitable approach for integration of mobility solutions with enterprise IT systems and business processes.

With the implementation of BYOD policies, organisations are allowing employees to bring in a wide range of devices, operating systems, and applications.

IT is under pressure to provide a robust data security, privacy, and governance framework encompassing a wide range of disparate applications, systems, and business processes. Many organisations have enforced policies that define the boundaries of interaction between different devices and applications and are using new service gateways for enabling, securing, and monitoring such interactions.

Another interesting trend is the integration of BYOD policies with UCC solutions to provide an identical experience to different collaborating parties. Such initiatives focus on enabling collaboration across a wide range of devices, platforms, and applications deployed both within and outside the enterprise.

Integration of BYOD policies and UCC solutions is no easy task; IT needs to ensure that UCC solutions provide compelling user experiences through user interfaces of different devices. IT also needs to ensure that different devices covered under the BYOD program support such interactions, be it smartphones and tablets or IP-PBX systems.

Hosted UCC solutions are fast emerging as a suitable option for organizations that have embraced BYOD programs, providing access to various tools, applications, and systems via the cloud and ensuring that users do not need to worry about installing software on individual devices.

These solutions support a wide range of mobility integration needs and provide many benefits such as cost savings, easier software upgrades, faster deployment, and flexible pricing models.

Hosted UCC solutions provide the necessary resources for controlling access to different applications and take care of device management and monitoring needs. While most hosted UCC solutions work well with smartphones, a VoIP client is required for accessing different applications and systems through tablets.

Many UCC vendors provide middleware that enables integration between communication systems and business applications through a single configuration interface. Vendors such as Cisco, Avaya, and Microsoft offer packaged solutions that provide realtime communication between UCC solutions and a range of IT systems and business processes, especially for development of CEBPs.

Such solutions also provide the capability to develop customized communications and collaboration solutions by using web APIs. However, such solutions do not cover all scenarios, and in many cases, custom-code development is the only viable solution.

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