Why Mobile and Cloud
As you consider a mobile strategy, you must understand the unique aspects that drive the use of cloud computing in a mobile solution. These are described in following sections.
Device Limitation on Computing Resources
Even though mobile devices today, such as smartphones and tablets, offer unprecedented computing power in the palm of your hands, it is not unlimited. Relying on cloud computing to provide additional storage and computing power can give the end user a complete experience. Cloud-based storage can offer value to a mobile solution. With technologies such as Apple’s iCloud, the ability to back-up data, pictures, videos, and applications to cloud storage not only provides a needed storage solution but also protects the information if the device is lost or stolen. Storage of large documents with solutions such as Dropbox or box.net can help overcome the limitations of on-device storage and make it easy to share the files with others. Applications such as Gmail or Google Maps can give the end user a comprehensive application on the cloud outside of the mobile device. However, the use of third-party cloud-based solutions should only be considered in context of an overall security strategy and policy.
A consistent characteristic in any mobile project is the short development cycles. The expectations for shortened timelines makes any mobile project a challenge. There was a time when software projects took years; then with the web the expectation was “web years,” which were actually months. Now you have a new era of ridiculous expectations in which the inception to deployment of an app should be done in a “mobile minute.”
Development teams cannot afford to spend weeks trying to debug and set up back-end systems. When time is short and the pressure is on, developers turn to cloud-based solutions. Computing resources that are already set up and easily accessed on demand can radically accelerate development processes. Instead of reinventing a storage, security, or network solution for each app, it makes sense to rely on an available cloud infrastructure with all the required capabilities already available.3 This is where the emerging cloud capability BaaS comes in. A BaaS is a cloud-based set of services specifically tailored to mobile developers that can significantly reduce the cost and complexity of a mobile project while speeding up delivery.4
BaaS providers deliver key mobile services such as storage, push notification, messaging, analytics, user management, and other essential services for mobile developers, using a pay-as-you-go pricing model.
Small Budgets Create Cloud Interest
Budget constraints have always been an issue in the IT industry. “More with less” seems to be the norm. With the speed and frequency of mobile development projects, however, budget constraints are more important now than ever. Small companies and startups most likely do not have the initial capital needed to set up a sophisticated IT infrastructure. Even for large companies where experimentation in mobile solutions is common, the mobile project return on investment (ROI) might not be clear or perhaps the project is short lived. Setting up a cloud infrastructure quickly and with low upfront costs can make a lot of sense. With cloud computing, you can pay as you go, start quickly, and add more resources over time. After the Mobile project proves its value, you can move more of the infrastructure to a traditional infrastructure if needed.
Not every part of the world has the same infrastructure in place for a complete mobile development and delivery process. Remotely accessing a mobile infrastructure for development and deployment can be critical in emerging markets in which there may be limited availability of the necessary hardware, network, and software infrastructure.5 In this case, a mobile cloud infrastructure delivered as a complete service can be indispensable for emerging markets.6