IBM announced the next generation of its IBM MobileFirst Foundation, now available on the IBM Cloud to accelerate enterprise mobile application development.
IBM MobileFirst Foundation is the company’s suite of tools to help enterprise developers build, test, connect, run and manage mobile applications. The integrated platform includes a comprehensive development environment, mobile-optimized runtime middleware, a private enterprise application store and an integrated management and analytics console along with built-in security.
IBM designed MobileFirst Foundation 8.0 especially for cloud deployments, as mobile is a key entry point for enterprises undergoing digital transformation and migrating their operations to the cloud.
“Demand for cloud continues to skyrocket and mobile applications are the driving force behind that demand within the enterprise” said Michael Gilfix, vice president of MobileFirst and Smarter Process at IBM, in a statement. “Uniquely designed for the cloud, the new IBM MobileFirst Foundation meets the need for speed and productivity in mobile application development without compromising security.”
With the new version of MobileFirst Foundation, developers can provision an IBM MobileFirst Foundation environment on the cloud or on-premises with one click. Organizations can start out small and scale as necessary. The new version also includes an advanced Mobile Analytics feature that gathers real-time telemetry data and application usage metrics, and enables developers to create custom business metrics to gain insight on user preferences.
“This release introduces key features that we think are going to be game-changing for those enterprises that just need to get their ideas into market now,” Gilfix told eWEEK. “We introduced Foundation now on cloud with IBM Bluemix. We’ve made it super easy for developers to quickly start developing their applications on the cloud so they can take advantage of all the speed the cloud offers.”
IBM MobileFirst Foundation 8.0 also enables users to make real-time “Live Updates” to applications. Even non-developers can make these updates to applications by changing app functionality through configuration instead of code, without having to redeploy the application. IBM said the new Live Update feature reduces time and cost of app updates and cuts release cycle times down to days from weeks.
According to a Forrester Research study on MobileFirst, IBM’s platform delivered an improved time-to-value delivery of mobile applications, to 7.3 weeks from 12 weeks, due to faster deployment and testing cycles. “Through common integration and app management, MobileFirst Platform enabled organizations to more quickly deliver applications on multiple platforms,” the report said. “The faster deployment of apps enabled sooner realization of value with every app iteration.”
The new release also features integration of IBM’s API Connect API management tools, which can enable developers to create new integrations to back-end systems quickly and bring those out to their mobile applications. This had been a pain point for mobile app developers in the enterprise, IBM said.
IBM said the new release of MobileFirst Foundation helps enterprises speed up mobile application development at a time when demand for mobile applications is exploding. In April IDC released forecasts stating that cloud IT expenditures will reach $57.8 billion by 2020—a trend driven largely by mobile app development demand. And just last week, Gartner released a new report estimating that by 2020, more than 75 percent of enterprises will be using a mobile application development platform to help keep up with this demand.
IBM Aims MobileFirst Foundation at the Cloud
“With Live Updates you can make instant changes to Live Update-enabled applications,” Gilfix said. “Our API tools mean you should be able to create APIs in days and go and quickly scale those. And using the cloud means you’re not stuck waiting for IT to provision your environments and go and set up infrastructure. So add all those things up and it amounts to a tremendous time and cost savings.”
IBM’s MobileFirst move comes a week after the company announced new programs and tools to for developers working with cloud and emerging technologies, such as cognitive and the Internet of things (IoT). These initiatives include collaborations with Coursera and GitHub, which aim to reach millions of developers globally.
IBM announced the programs at its IBM DeveloperConnect event in Bangalore, India. At the event, IBM announced developerWorks Career Concierge, a cognitive learning tool that delivers personalized resources to developers. IBM also announced the availability of GitHub Enterprise on Bluemix Dedicated, a coding platform delivered as a managed service.
IBM also launched new cloud tools for the Swift programming language and its Watson cognitive computing environment designed for mobile development and cognitive apps. These new tools complement IBM’s collaboration with Coursera to strengthen developers’ skills in India, with new courses focused on cloud and IoT.
Those initiatives in India build on the investments IBM has already made in the country, including the IBM Cloud data center in Chennai, which opened in 2015.
According to Evans Data, the total worldwide developer population will exceed 25 million by 2020, with India expected to become the world’s largest developer ecosystem by 2018. Evans Data said Indian developers already are embracing cloud and emerging technologies, including cognitive computing, faster than their global peers.
“The world will be rewritten in code and it will be done right here in India,” said Vanitha Narayanan, managing director of IBM India Private Limited, in a statement. “Developers are an integral part of a new India that is underpinned by digital transformation, and IBM’s leading capabilities in Watson, IoT, cloud, mobile and blockchain will help developers innovate and succeed. At IBM, we are committed to investing in this ecosystem and will continue to partner with developers for a progressive India.”