IBM to get serious about mobile enterprise today
Giant to outline new strategy that could include apps integration and hosting
Published: 16 June, 2010
Today sees IBM unveiling its most ambitious mobile enterprise strategy for years at the opening of a new software development laboratory in Littleton, Massachusetts. This will combine the firm's services and software and focus particularly on middleware, collaboration and full transition of all business processes to mobile platforms.
If the giant firm delivers the goods, it will reassure many observers, who feel the firm has let go of the rudder in the mobile space. Although it has a wide range of products and services, it has not spearheaded the development of mobile enterprise platforms in the way it has one in previous key movements in corporate software, such as application integration and web services. "IBM, except for its professional services side, has lost its way in mobile," Jack Gold, analyst at J Gold Associates, told Computerworld.
Analysts speculated that the announcements would include an extension of IBM's key application integration platform, Websphere, to embrace mobile devices, and a similar expansion of other enterprise ranges, notably the workflow and collaboration systems acquired from Lotus. Gold even speculated that IBM could unveil a specific version of its outsourcing services geared to hosting and managing mobile applications.
Almost certainly, IBM will also enhance the range of mobile development tools for the Eclipse open source platform, dominant in enterprise Java and increasingly important in the mobile world too. Although an open technology, IBM has driven the progress of Eclipse, which is also heavily backed by Nokia.
IBM competes to some extent with Hewlett-Packard and Sybase (soon to be acquired by SAP) in the mobile enterprise space. However, it does not seek to create front end operating platforms or end user apps, as HP looks to be doing with its Palm purchase. Instead, IBM stays at the back end in areas like mobile device and apps management, plus middleware, integration and potentially hosting. About a billion cellphone subscribers are estimated to use IBM back end software, and the firm says 80% of smartphone software was developed using IBM technology.
The company's new 'Mass Lab' will be its largest software development facility in north America, employing 3,400 and using parts of the campus in Littleton and Westford once used by Digital Equipment.