Cloud Services Spur Mobile Enterprise Apps

Mobilizing enterprise apps is nothing new, yet beyond e-mail and a few other horizontal applications, it's still a niche market. But combining the cloud with the newest generation of smartphones is just starting to change that.

By Nancy Gohring
Thu, October 28, 2010

IDG News Service — Mobilizing enterprise apps is nothing new, yet beyond e-mail and a few other horizontal applications, it's still a niche market. But combining the cloud with the newest generation of smartphones is just starting to change that.

Juniper Research expects the total market for cloud-based mobile apps to grow 88 percent between 2009 and 2014. About 75 percent of that market will be enterprise users, Juniper predicts.

An ABI Research study from a year ago predicts that a new architecture for mobile apps based on the cloud will drastically change the way mobile apps are developed, acquired and used. Cloud services can make it easier for developers by minimizing the amount of code they have to customize for each of the phone platforms. "This trend is in its infancy today, but ABI Research believes that eventually it will become the prevailing model for mobile applications," ABI Research analyst Mark Beccue wrote in the report.

Connecting a mobile app to a cloud-based service has other upsides for enterprises, said John Barnes, CTO of Model Metrics, a company that develops mobile apps that work in conjunction with Salesforce.com and Amazon Web Services. "One advantage of these cloud platforms is you can synch from the mobile device to the cloud without intermediate servers or a VPN," he said.

That means deployment can be simpler for companies that don't want to manage in-house servers that support the mobile app.

Salesforce is one cloud provider aiming to make it easier for businesses to mobilize their cloud-based services. "We see that mobile devices are changing how business applications are deployed," said Ariel Kelman, vice president, platform product marketing at Salesforce.com. Salesforce offers APIs and toolkits to help businesses extend applications they've build on Force.com to the iPhone or BlackBerry phones.

Rehabcare (RHB) is one organization that used those tools to build an application for its workers. Based in St. Louis, Rehabcare owns and operates 34 hospitals nationwide and also operates more than 1,000 facilities on behalf of hospital owners.

The mobile application built on Force.com allows Rehabcare to be more competitive when bidding for patients, Dick Escue, CIO for the company, said. Typically, when a patient is being discharged from a hospital but needs further care, the hospital will put out a broad call to all nearby facilities asking if they want to care for the patient.

In the past, one worker in each of Rehabcare's markets was responsible for filling in a seven page form about the patient by hand and faxing it to the medical directors at Rehabcare facilities who would then decide whether to take on the new patient. It was a time consuming process that was dependant on the legibility of the worker's handwriting and on the medical director seeing the fax as soon as it came in.

Continue Reading

Our Commenting Policies