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The Enterprise Smartphone Server

Synchronized data isimportant to all enterprises mobilizing their apps

Rhodes is a great option for allowing developers to write their smartphone apps one time and have them run natively on all devices. After being out for a while several competitors emerged and now we have a product category known as the “smartphone app framework”, with several participants.   We believe that our first mobile Ruby, our fullfledged MVC framework, our hosted development site RhoHub and, most importantly, support for synchronized data, are longterm differentiators.  But in such as a nascent area its better to have some other players out there helping us educate the market.

I’d like to predict a new category to beyond the device side “smartphone app framework”  that I think will emerge over the following year: the “enterprise smartphone server”. One of the things that we’ve learned in working with enterprises mobilizing their apps is just how important synchronized data is to all of them.   So we’ve emphasized development of the RhoSync server, adding features to take advantage of recently emerging smartphone APIs (such as the push SDK) to optimize synchronization performance and recency,   enabling selective synchronization,  and allowing background sync on the server (also known as paged query).

Our belief is that every enterprise will be mobilizing several of their applications: CRM, field service, helpdesk, and one or two line of business apps (especially in certain industries such as healthcare or manufacturing or logistics).   They will always want the data from those applications available on their employees smartphones whether or not its disconnected.    We believe that every enterprise will thus need a smartphone synchronization server to facilitate this.  With RhoSync, we believe that we’ve achieved this.  And, given our support for recent smartphone push SDKs, we’re alone in this new space.

But just as there are now several other smartphone app frameworks to write native apps one time for multiple devices, we know that eventually there will be competitors.  We don’t think its likely that they will come from “old line sync servers”.  Most of those are dormant: Nokia discontinued IntelliSync, Motorola cancelled Starfish.  Others come from “first generation enterprise mobility” players such as Sybase, whose technology is not acceptable on the iPhone (because it requires a downloaded “runner” or “interpreter and is thus not acceptable on the AppStore).

We do think that there are other “enterprise server helping smartphone app” needs that we aren’t quite addressing now.  The biggest ones are device manageability, security, app provisioning, and analytics.  Sync is the biggest need now and its what RhoSync and the runtime of RhoHub currently offer today.  We do want to make all aspects of mobilizing apps to smartphones very easy for enterprises though.  Over time the RhoHub hosted service and our mediating server RhoSync will add other enabling capabilities (sometimes through partnerships with existing technologies). RhoSync is thus the first “enterprise smartphone server”, but we think there will be many others.

Given the explosive growth and emerging ubiquity of smartphones, fullfledged computers in every enterprise employee’s pocket, we see this as the most important new enterprise middleware category since the app server and the relational database server.  What BEA did for app servers and Oracle did for relational database servers, we intend to do for this new category.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Adam Blum

Adam Blum is CEO of Rhomobile. He came from Good Technology and while spending millions on enterprise mobile application development he realized there was a need for a framework for enterprises to build mobile applications easily and cost-effectively empower their workforce without training their programmers to learn different programming languages and building apps from scratch. He has spoken at Interop in Las Vegas and at Ruby events all over the world.

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