Welcome!

Wireless Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Jason Bloomberg, Tad Anderson

Related Topics: SOA & WOA, Java, Wireless, AJAX & REA, Web 2.0

SOA & WOA: Article

Service Enablement of Enterprise Data through Mobile Devices

Leveraging Service Architecture in extending enterprise applications to mobile devices

It's well known that in recent times that consumption of data or a service through mobile applications is increasing exponentially due to the increase in the mobile customer base and the increase in the number of mobile devices connected to various systems disproportionately(1). That means in most of the cases, consumers of mobile devices are increasing more than traditional desktop browser based service model of consumption. These end users use a large number of different types of devices starting from standalone desktops, laptops, and tablets to mobile devices. It is expected that applications keep up the data or service while they move from one system to other, for example, if someone starts reading a book from Amazon Kindle and continues to read the same book from an iPad. So the continuity of the service or data is achieved and this is possible only when all the systems are connected with some sort of loose coupled integration. While it is possible for standalone systems to make it easier to get data or service connected, mobile applications also have to be ensured that the same data or service is provided and integrated. In this article, we are discussing the various ways of service-enabling the enterprise applications data in the mobile devices.

Before we discuss about service enablement (2, 3) of enterprise data through mobile devices, the following factors are considered when mobile enabling the enterprise data applications:

  1. Desktop services are accessed through http, while mobile devices predominantly follow WAP (Wireless application protocol).
  2. There are several device vendors in the market each with their own proprietary operating systems
  3. There is plethora of device models with wide range of form factor and screen sizes, hence GUI design to fit to all models is arduous task.
  4. Data security is big challenge, client side security validations are difficult to achieve on memory constraint mobile devices
  5. There would be significant increase in load on the servers.

Technical parameters considered for Service Enablement of Enterprise Data through Mobile devices
The following options are considered when building mobile-enabled services (4), each with its pros and cons.

  • Accessing the enterprise services through mobile browsers
  • Using mobile client by native application or through a framework

The complete application can be developed on the server side and mobile browsers can be used to access selected services. Which services are the best fit for mobile access depends on how critical the data being exchanged is. Unless strict security measures are enforced, sensitive data cannot be exchanged over the mobile network. The data needs to be exchanged through secured network (SSL) with access to authorized users only. This needs seamless integration with identity management systems.

Data such as the product details of inventory, promotional activities, special offers, etc., can be shared across mobile network as this is not security sensitive data. All financial transactions, personal data of users should be transmitted under careful security measures.

Lengthy operations like filling order or feeding sensitive data are not good candidates for operating with mobile browsers as they need a live connection to the server. In all such critical scenarios, mobile clients are best suited as they can operate in offline mode as well.

The JSF technology can be used to develop a presentation tier as it has protocol flexibility. The GUI developed (Component tree) for desktop access can be re-used to render on wireless mobile devices provided a WML (wireless Markup Language) render kit is available. There are some third-party render kits available such as myfaces that can be plugged-in. GUI development with JSF is very fast as most of the standard IDEs (RAD, MyEclipse, NetBeans, JBuilder, JDeveloper, JBoss Developer Wtudio ) support JSF drag & drop (WYSIWYG ) editors.

But there are some serious challenges while developing browser-based applications. The high latency and low bandwidth of networks in mobile environments affects application responsiveness for mobile users. Screens refresh slowly, diminishing the mobile user experience. Hence mobile application development should use Partial Page Rendering (PPR) to display only dynamically changing data without going for complete page reloading. Browsers that do not support AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) use full page rendering instead of PPR, seriously choking the network bandwidth. The other important parameter is to take into account form factor and widely differing screen sizes while developing GUI for accessing through mobile browsers. While JSF stack provides a good toolkit for the faster development of GUI, one common opinion is that JSF components are heavy thus leading to slower loading of a requested page.

The other option is to access enterprise services through mobile clients. Mobile clients are small client-side applications hosted on mobile devices. But what is the right technology to develop mobile clients and how they communicate with the server side enterprise applications? As discussed, there are many vendors in the mobile market, each with their own operating systems and SDK. Developing mobile clients for every vendor is not only tedious but not recommended from a cost perspective. There are few mobile frameworks that  abstract the common functionality of different mobile operating systems, some of them are open source and others are proprietary. These mobile frameworks mostly operate using simple HTML, JavaScript, JQuery, JQuerymobile to develop mobile clients and support the SDK of all leading mobile vendors in the market.

Except for some device specific functionality, mobile frameworks can be used to achieve standard enterprise functionality. This promotes "Develop once and deploy on any device" concept of mobile application development.

But how will these mobile clients access enterprise data? Some of the selected services can be exposed as web services, which can be consumed by mobile clients. There are two options, one is SOAP based web services and the other is RESTful web services.

SOAP-based services need client-side stubs to consume services by a mobile client. The client-side stubs take the responsibility of de-marshalling and marshalling data while consuming the service and sending requests to the server. But this needs a SOAP engine to be installed on mobile devices. SOAP-based web services often exchange data using XML, which will have header and footer overheads. There are many tools available to generate WSDL given the details of Java classes whose methods are exposed as web methods. The client application can use WSDL to generate client-side stubs to consume web methods exposed by a server application.

On the other hand RESTful web services are simple and easy to develop. They exchange the data in the JSON format, which can be encoded on the server side while transmitting over the network. The mobile client can use JQuery calls to decode and manipulate the JSON object. The JSON objects are simple and lightweight and hence easy to transmit over the network. But RESTful web services are not meant for stateful transactions.

While mobile clients facilitate an online or offline mode of communication with a server-side application, mobile browsers only work with the online mode.

  • Decide which business processes available for mobility
  • Redefine needed business processes offline/online mode
  • Decide which functionalities should be available on mobile
  • Design a GUI for mobile devices
  • Service enables the functionalities for mobile
  • Create a framework like JSF enabled for java apps, azure developed for Microsoft etc
  • Communication middleware and processing

Service Enabling Framework for Enterprise Applications
The following framework provides the service enablement (5) of enterprise applications.

The simplest option is compatibility of mobile device browser for enterprise applications. However, with the increase of demand for mobile application installations on devices, integration takes significance and it can at web server layer or Application layer or at database layer as shown above. Layered approach of the applications is used for achieving the service enablement.

While the above describes about service enablement of enterprise apps for mobile applications, the following diagram describes various ways of application integration with mobile apps which will make mobile enabled applications.

Integration using APIs:
Mobile applications are driven by open APIs to expose the functionality and most are REST-based APIs, stateless APIs running over HTTP. The significance of Open APIs for integration comes with lot of opportunities in terms of creating visibility of the products for business. For example, The Facebook Auth API is being used by several applications for access of applications.

Conclusion
The mobile enabling of enterprise applications and data is significant with the number of mobile devices increasing every day. Web browsers and mobile client installations are increasing their usage of enterprise data. The integration of web apps to enterprise applications is significant in terms of WAP integration, wireless extended integration, peer-to-peer integration, and web-based integration, and API integrations are gaining significantly. However, going forward, with the advancement of technology, new ways of accessing enterprise data is considered.

References:

  1. http://mobithinking.com/mobile-marketing-tools/latest-mobile-stats
  2. http://clouddataanalytics.ulitzer.com/node/2112881
  3. http://sreekusumanchi.sys-con.com/node/837728
  4. http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/library/it-novcc00/
  5. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb972953.aspx

More Stories By GVB Subrahmanyam

GVB Subrahmanyam an Application Developer, Lead, Project Manager, Development Manager and Delivery Manager in a wide variety of business applications as part of an IT service provider. He focuses on Development, Delivery and Sustenance of IT Applications in Supply Chain/Insurance/Banking/Finance. Albeit most of his projects are Java-based assignments, he is technology agnostic.

In his current role, Subrahmanyam is working as a solution provider for Commercial Healthcare, Insurance, banking and Financial systems with Mahindra Satyam. He is also TOGAF certified Enterprise Architect and IBM certified Ratioanal Software Architect.

GVB Subrahmanyam has an M.Tech. and Ph.D. from IIT Kharagpur in the area of Chemical Technology, India and MS in Software Systems from BITS Pilani. He is also a PMI certified PMP. He attended one year of the Executive Program in Business Management(EPBM) from IIM Calcutta.

More Stories By Sriramachandra Murthy C

Sriramachandra Murthy C is a senior Solutions Architect at Java Competency in Mahindra Satyam. He can be reached at [email protected]

@ThingsExpo Stories
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...