Among the issues his group has wrestled with are whether to build a Web portal that adapts itself based on the device that is coming into it, or to go with a device-specific app. Today the firm is using both approaches. Customers with iPhones can submit photos of an auto accident or the damage from one, using the "First notice of loss" mobile application in the iTunes store. That information lands in Erie's back-end servers.
The nice part of this is that we get automatic rendering of content to all mobile devices, removing or eliminating the need to write device-specific apps. Richard Peltz, CIO, Marcus & Millichap
But the company also has a web portal "where I can do the exact same thing," Miller says. The goal is to have "inputs coming in from just about any mobile device."
Bernard Golden, CEO of consultancy HyperStratus , says these companies represent just the beginning of the mobile-cloud trend. With the increasing number and diversity of mobile computing devices, which have much less on-board storage than traditional end-user computing environments, there is a shift toward moving much of the functionality of an app into a centralized environment, like a cloud. This allows storage, computation, data access, security and management to all be handled in a centralized fashion.
The market for cloud-based mobile applications is expected to grow almost 90% from 2009 to 2014, according to Juniper Research . For its part, ABI Research reports that more than 240 million business customers will access cloud-computing services via mobile devices by 2015 and that number could approach a billion.
In fact, some would go so far to say that given the sheer number and variety of mobile devices in a sizable enterprise, the only sane way to manage it all is via some kind of centralized method. Any other way of ramping up a truly mobile enterprise simply will not scale.
Mobile computing is not mobile cloud computing
Although mobile computing and mobile cloud computing may sound the same, they are in fact very different. In "regular" mobile computing, applications run on a mobile device in native mode, with the application and data all stored on the device.