IBM’s enterprise mobility deal with Apple is a move that takes Big Blue’s MobileFirst strategy to a much higher level.
MobileFirst, which has been described by eWEEK as ingenious because it extends IBM’s strengths of providing services and middleware together with back-end support while ignoring the consumer-side handset battles, is the perfect complement to Apple’s successful device business. The move for the companies to work together to bring consumer-like device comfort and use to the enterprise is just what IBM had in mind when the company conceived MobileFirst.
Moreover, the partnership brings IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities to iPhone and iPad. And it makes use of IBM’s unique Bluemix Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering.
IBM’s Bluemix technology provides composable app creation and deployment capabilities in an open, common environment to reduce complexity. IBM is trying to accelerate the pace at which cloud computing will transform global industries. BlueMix features cloud integration services to enable a secure connection between an organization’s public applications and private data; swift, secure and fast connections, via the cloud, between Internet of things and machine-to-machine device to store, query and visualize data; data and analytics as a service to allow the rapid design and scale of applications that turn big data into competitive intelligence; and DevOps services that support the complete developer lifecycle.
“We are adding a Bluemix mobile zone for iOS that will enable developers that live and work with Xcode and inside the iOS environment who want to benefit from Internet cloud storage or back-end integration, workflow, analytics and those types of capabilities,” Phil Buckellew, vice president of Enterprise Mobile at IBM, told eWEEK. “It will give them easy ways to plug into our SDKs and APIs and take advantage of those offerings that we have on Bluemix. That is one of the key pieces of what makes up what we call the IBM MobileFirst platform for iOS. And it will underpin a lot of the 100 native iOS solutions that our consulting teams are building out in combination with Apple designers to help address some of the top pain points in seven industry verticals.”
Those verticals are banking, insurance, telecommunications, retail, travel and transportation, and healthcare.
“We believe Bluemix is a fantastic way for developers to be able to get access to backend capabilities that our software offers and to do it on a per usage basis,” Buckellew said. “It’s free for developer usage and then you pay for what you use and consume. That’s an attractive model for a lot of people.”
The IBM MobileFirst Platform for iOS will deliver the services required for an end-to-end enterprise capability, from analytics, workflow and cloud storage, to fleet-scale device management, security and integration, IBM said. Enhanced mobile management includes a private app catalog, data and transaction security services, and productivity suite for all IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions. In addition to on-premise software solutions, all these services will be available on Bluemix—IBM’s development platform on the IBM Cloud Marketplace.
Buckellew noted that there is a lot of flexibility with some of the acquisitions IBM has made, such as SoftLayer.
Indeed, “We have great capability to run things in the geography that you want, he said. “That’s important to a lot of our clients. On top of Bluemix, we’ve got capabilities to run on SoftLayer on bare metal. We could put database servers where nobody else is on them except for your data and you still get that OPEX [operating expense] and cloud scalability benefit, but you also get to control the data. And it’s just your data and you can pick the country where it lives.
IBM’s Bluemix PaaS Seals the Apple Mobility Deal for Developers
“Being able to tie that kind of capability on the back end with the awesome user design capability that Apple provides on the front end, we think that’s really going to appeal to a lot of businesses. Especially when they can come to IBM and get the full lifecycle – all the way from procuring the devices, getting them activated, adding the management capabilities like what we have with MaaS360, being able to integrate with their back end and to maintain and run and have these solutions that are pre-tested and pre-integrated that are built by GBS [IBM Global Business Services] experts that know the industries really well. That’s really going to accelerate the adoption of mobility in the enterprise.”
IBM said it would be building more than 100 industry-specific enterprise solutions including native apps, developed exclusively from the ground up, for iPhone and iPad; unique IBM cloud services optimized for iOS, including device management, security, analytics and mobile integration; a new AppleCare service and support offering tailored to the needs of the enterprise; and new packaged offerings from IBM for device activation, supply and management.
“When we released our most recent release of Worklight in June, we increased the support that we had for native developers,” Buckellew said. “One of the benefits of the Worklight capabilities for back-end integration, for analytics, for integrated security, for the ability to do offline storage, that capability has been in place. With this announcement we’re offering a version that’s dedicated to iOS. We’re also going to be working to better integrate with Swift and some of the 4,000 APIs that Apple has released with iOS 8 and we’re working closely with their design teams and development teams to make sure that we’re able to exploit those capabilities in our own offerings like Worklight, but also in our dedicated IBM MobileFirst platform for iOS.”
The new IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions will be built in an exclusive collaboration that draws on the distinct strengths of each company: IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities, with the power of more than 100,000 IBM industry and domain consultants and software developers behind it, fused with Apple’s consumer experience, hardware and software integration and developer platform. The combination will create apps that can transform specific aspects of how businesses and employees work using iPhone and iPad, allowing companies to achieve new levels of efficiency, effectiveness and customer satisfaction, IBM said.
Asked if IBM was considering similar deals with Google or handset makers that focus on Android or other platforms, Buckellew responded: “We’re focused on building the best possible solutions on iOS. This is an exclusive with Apple. For the cross-platform software stack we will continue to support Android and the other leading platforms as well as iOS.”
He said he believes there is great synergy between these two companies – the capabilities are very complementary.
“Apple’s got great expertise around devices and design and then you marry that with IBM’s strength in the enterprise and being able to support enterprise environments, we really do think we’ll be able to recreate the way work is done for a lot of employees inside businesses to help them get the same kind of experiences they’re used to having on the consumer side in the way that they do their work,” he said.
Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, said IBM and Apple have come together for “a pair of fairly simple reasons: 1) IBM firmly understands the growing, critical importance of mobile endpoint devices, but the company’s backend-focused strategy lacked a critical conduit into end users, and 2) While iPhones and iPads are wildly popular among consumers, including those involved in workplace BYOD programs, Apple has failed to craft a workable, convincing strategy for enterprise customers and markets.”
Summing up the partnership, King said: “The deal is structured to leverage the established strengths of both in order to shore up their individual weaknesses. In short, Apple brings its massive mobile market position and loyal user base to the party while IBM offers well-established pathways into large businesses, along with a growing and impressive range of cloud, big data and analytics services and solutions.”