While it’s way too easy to get a brain-freeze every time you hear or read about cloud computing’s transformative this and oh-so-superlative that, developers of mobile apps have one solid reason to love the cloud -- it can greatly simplify their lives. The cloud gives them a slice of code-cruncher heaven: an operating-source-agnostic platform to write an application once and make it work across multiple mobile platforms.
What’s not to like?
Mobile cloud applications move the computing power and data storage away from mobile phones and into the cloud, bringing apps and mobile computing not just to smartphone users but a wide spectrum of mobile subscribers.
The dominant force in mobile apps is likely to be cloud computing, according to ABI Research in its recent study, “Mobile Cloud Computing.” Cloud technologies will also make mobile apps more sophisticated, allowing them to be offered to a broader audience of mobile subscribers, ABI Research stated in its report.
The research firm further forecasts that the number of mobile cloud computing subscribers worldwide will rise from 42.8 million in 2008, (approximately 1.1 percent of all mobile subscribers) to more than 998 million in 2014 (nearly 19 percent).
One area the report explores is cloud-based, platform-as-a-service (PaaS) companies, and why those are important to mobile applications. PaaS encompasses various services for software development and deployment, for instance those offered by Google Checkout, Amazon Web Services, and Force.com.
Another report, this one from Juniper Research, predicts a strong future for mobile cloud computing, finding that the number of enterprise customers using cloud-based mobile apps will grow to 130 million by 2014.
Juniper reported that the success of the iPhone and the App Store has had a vital effect in making mobile applications more attractive and in increasing the number of mobile enterprise applications. Plus, cloud providers are increasingly opening up their application programming interfaces, making it easier for developers.
Hoping to tap into this burgeoning market is FeedHenry, a Waterford, Ireland-based company that seeks to export its cloud-based PaaS solution to the United States.
The vendor claims it is the first company to deliver an end-to-end, cloud-based solution for building and deploying cross-platform mobile apps using open standards in a carrier-grade development environment.
“Developers can build any sort of app once -- using our online IDE (integrated development environment) or their own tools -- and with a few clicks deploy the app across a wide variety of platforms,” says FeedHenry CTO Richard Rodger.
Platforms served by FeedHenry include Android, Blackberry, iPhone, and Symbian smartphones, as well as popular social media sites.
“Developers don’t have to learn a new development language for each handset type because our technology platform is based on open standards,” says Rodger.
“No other vendor provides our level of seamless integration between different environments,” he says. “For companies with a large number of applications that want to publish apps across many stores, our solution cuts out all the work of finding developers who can reconfigure applications to run across all platforms.”
Another benefit of using FeedHenry is developers don’t have to reconfigure their databases and servers to accommodate new devices.
Rodger says FeedHenry’s solution enables developers to quickly build and deploy complex applications including location-based services, payment, billing, and presence.
The FeedHenry platform also includes full app lifecycle management and analytics.
Other elements of the vendor’s pay-as-you-go solutions include: a hosted development and test environment; server-side execution environment to host and serve the apps; separation of application architecture into device and server-side logic; and a secure integration layer that links to enterprise and telecom infrastructures.
FeedHenry recently announced that three new developers -- NowCasting, Beehive, and Terminal Four -- are extending their existing products into the mobile and social domains by building new apps on the FeedHenry platform.