Tailoring enterprise applications for mobile environments
The rapid expansion of workplace mobility has led to a corresponding rise in users who need to access enterprise applications and data from a wide range of devices and locations. In many cases, organizations are implementing hybrid mobility strategies that may include issuing corporate-owned devices, instituting bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies or permitting employees to select from preapproved choose-your-own-device (CYOD) alternatives.
Preparing enterprise applications for an increasingly diverse array of mobile devices is particularly challenging. In addition to email, calendaring, collaboration and web browser applications, many employees must work with customer relationship management (CRM) software and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, as well as industry-specific applications such as electronic medical records (EMRs) and delivery-tracking software.
To deliver these applications effectively to mobile environments, IT groups need to support a wide variety of screen sizes and operating systems, as well as the different ways in which users interact with mobile devices — for example, multi-touch gestures or hands-free input. At the same time, organizations must meet specific application and data security requirements.
Identifying the right approach
There are different ways to bring enterprise applications to mobile environments. Determining the most suitable approach involves a thorough assessment of business goals, technical requirements and possible constraints imposed by the existing application or infrastructure.
Organizations should consider developing a new mobile app if they want to deliver essential application capabilities in an efficient, user-friendly interface designed specifically for mobile platforms. Apps can be optimized for the desired mobile devices, operating systems and use cases.
In some cases, modifying existing mobile apps or desktop applications for mobile environments may be the preferred approach. Transforming existing applications helps reduce cost and accelerate time to value. Application modernization also enables organizations to benefit from end-user familiarity with the functionality of existing apps.
Desktop virtualization may be desirable when end users require access to the full capabilities of existing desktop applications. This may be the case when an organization is using closed software with proprietary application programming interfaces (APIs) or when security or compliance requirements mandate heightened IT control over the application and the data it accesses.
Designing and developing mobile apps
Some enterprises lack in-house resources to prepare applications for mobile environments. In response, the Dell Application Modernization and Development Solution Set offers products and services that help organizations develop new apps, modernize existing apps and implement desktop virtualization.
Dell has established best practices for delivering enterprise applications across diverse mobile environments using this solution set. The Dell Mobility Application Services team follows a five-step process to determine the optimal approach for an organization’s specific mobile application needs (see figure).
Boost mobile productivity and customer engagement through a five-step process based on industry best practices
Dell consultants start by assessing organizational requirements and goals to gain an understanding of how users should access information and what types of devices and platforms must be supported. As part of that process, the consultants determine whether existing applications need to be modernized first, such as migrating applications from outdated mainframes to modern, industry-standard platforms.
Next, Dell consultants and the organization’s team members decide whether to develop a new app, modify an existing app, implement a virtualized desktop environment or take another approach.
If the team determines that a new app should be designed, Dell custom mobile application development consultants work to build the optimal user interface. The user interface accounts for the supported devices and platforms, application requirements and the way users interact with mobile devices.
The plan might call for optimizing an existing interface or website for use on mobile platforms. Ultimately, the goal is to produce a design that heightens mobile functionality, enables secure mobile access and helps improve productivity.
Once the design is approved, Dell mobile application developers can create a custom native app for a single platform. Another option is to develop a separate app for each platform that the organization wants to support. Alternatively, developers can build a cross-platform app for multiple mobile or desktop operating systems.
Because security is a top concern in the development process, developers incorporate industry-standard encryption capabilities. They also follow best practices designed to prevent mobile access to enterprise data from compromising the security of that data. At the same time, developers help ensure that organizations maintain compliance with internal policies and external regulations concerning data security and privacy.
As a key part of the app development process, the Dell team creates test cases and automated scripts and then conducts end-to-end testing across the planned deployment platforms. For example, testing can cover performance, security, app compatibility with operating systems and browsers, and integration with business intelligence, data warehousing and ERP solutions.
Deploy and support
Once testing is complete, the Dell team can help simplify the deployment and distribution processes by performing app store certifications and uploading to the Apple® App Store, Google Play, Windows Store or BlackBerry World, as well as to the organization’s own app store. Dell also offers mobile-application support options ranging from proactive — with help-desk and remediation capabilities — to reactive — with call-out support on a per-incident basis.
Implementing desktop virtualization
Depending on the number of applications in a company, building or modernizing apps might be cost-prohibitive. Desktop virtualization offers a cost-effective alternative that enables end users to easily access all their applications from any device through single sign-on. IT staff can quickly set up a new user by creating a virtual machine and then assigning a new user name and password. Part of Dell cloud client-computing, the Dell Wyse Datacenter portfolio offers pre-configured end-to-end solutions, including endpoints, data center hardware, services and virtualization software, to address the needs of a mobile workforce.
Pre-configured, integrated solutions
The Dell Wyse Datacenter portfolio includes pre-configured, pretested, partner-verified desktop virtualization solutions that can be hosted on-site or in a Dell data center. These solutions incorporate software, servers, storage, networking, endpoints and services to help accelerate deployment and simplify ongoing management of desktop virtualization. The following Wyse Datacenter offerings enable organizations to start with a small proof of concept and then scale the environment seamlessly and cost-effectively, leveraging existing investments:
- Wyse Datacenter for Citrix: Production-ready, highly scalable virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution that uses Citrix® XenDesktop® software with a wide variety of prequalified components.
- Wyse Datacenter for VMware® Horizon View: Comprehensive end-to-end solution for desktop virtualization that integrates VMware Horizon View virtualization software and the Wyse Datacenter hardware and software stack.
- Wyse Datacenter for Microsoft VDI and vWorkspace: Integrated solution based on Microsoft® Windows Server® 2012 R2 and Dell vWorkspace virtualization software that enables organizations to select from multiple approaches to desktop virtualization.
Wyse Datacenter with VRTX is well suited to small and medium-sized organizations looking for cost-effective, per-seat solutions. Dell PowerEdge VRTX provides enterprise-level VDI capabilities within a converged infrastructure that can be used in a normal office environment.
Organizations of any size can consider Dell Workspace-as-a-Service (WaaS), a cloud-based desktop virtualization offering that offloads implementation, hosting and support to Dell. The WaaS approach helps accelerate deployment, eliminate capital expenditures and significantly ease management burdens while delivering a robust, secure user experience. Administrators can rapidly provision desktops to end users and manage virtual desktop images through an intuitive self-service portal.
While cloud client-computing supports an organization’s choice of virtualization software, Dell software solutions for desktop virtualization provide another alternative to deploy the desktop virtualization model — or models — that fit specific organizational needs:
- Dell vWorkspace enables organizations to select a hosted VDI, an offline/local VDI, a Terminal Server/Remote Desktop Session Host (TS/RDSH) solution or a blended model to match the right technologies to individual user needs and to maximize cost-effectiveness.
- Wyse Cloud Client Manager is a cloud-based management tool designed to securely and seamlessly manage thin clients as well as iOS and Google® Android™ mobile devices.
- Wyse Device Manager is powerful on-premises management software for configuring, updating and administering Wyse thin-client devices.
- Wyse WSM enables virtually any Windows application to run on a cloud-client endpoint just as it would on a traditional PC, while avoiding security exposures and management and maintenance costs.
- Wyse TCX desktop virtualization software provides a rich multimedia experience and supports multiple displays on Wyse endpoints.
Supporting mobile workforce productivity
As organizations continue to expand their mobility programs, they need efficient and effective ways to bring enterprise applications across an increasing variety of mobile environments to meet both user requirements and business goals. (For more information, see the sidebar, “Welcome to the app-centric world.”)
Welcome to the app-centric world
People have more computing power at their fingertips than ever before, with cloud-based apps and services just a few clicks away — bypassing the IT department. While CIOs are under pressure to reduce costs and improve efficiency, application developers have become the new kingmakers, capable of driving revenues and differentiating new products and services.
To brainstorm ways of working within the app-centric landscape, in January 2014 a panel of 10 IT experts gathered at a think-tank discussion hosted by the Menlo Park, California–based venture capital firm NEA. Moderated by Dell director Barton George, “The New Age of Apps and Delivery Gaps” think tank was streamed live, enabling viewers to follow and contribute questions and comments through Twitter.
With experiences ranging from start-ups to established enterprises, the panelists observed that IT organizations must meet the demands of their app-centric users, who expect apps and services to be delivered more quickly and to be better designed than they are today. Also, users want access from any device, anywhere, at any time. But most importantly, concluded the panel, IT leaders need to change the culture of their departments to embrace risk-taking, tolerate failure and value knowledge-sharing. This step is key to transforming the IT organization into a service-oriented consultancy that ties into the core of the business.
To watch the Livestream video broadcast of the event, visit new.livestream.com/Dell/theappgap.
Dell offers comprehensive solutions and expert resources for application development, modernization and virtualization that help organizations accelerate time to value and control costs. By transforming applications for mobile environments, enterprises can move business forward — facilitating anytime, anywhere productivity and boosting employee satisfaction.
Travis Brown is a senior product manager at Dell, specializing in desktop virtualization. He has been in the virtualization delivery industry for 12 years.
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