Mobile Cloud Computing: 5 Key Trends

These days cloud computing technology is being discussed just about everywhere. People are excited and curious to know more and more about this latest technology and about its working pros and cons. Cloud computing is usually viewed in the context of web, business firms, and data servers. But it is not only business companies and personal computer users which are going to feel its impact; it will bring a major change in the mobile industry as well.

How is the “mobile cloud” different from the “cloud?” Ask ten different tech experts and you’ll get ten different answers. Often, the term “mobile cloud” simply indicates the most common end point accessing a particular cloud, although as the mobile cloud evolves expect some subtle differences in regard to security, back-end infrastructure, app design, etc. to emerge.

Even though the mobile cloud is still in its infancy, here are five things IT should know about the mobile cloud in order to prepare for the future:

1.The mobile cloud will accelerate the “consumerization” of IT.

As knowledge workers increasingly rely on non-PC devices like smartphones and tablets as their go-to computing platforms, IT is being forced to change and change quickly.

“IT can’t think about things on a node-by-node basis anymore. They must think of resources as aggregate services that they must make securely available to a number of devices, including phones and tablets,”
David Link, CEO, ScienceLogic.

In technophilic organizations, you’ll see people accessing social media and corporate apps from smart phones and tablets. Consumerization isn’t something that’s coming. It’s something that’s here.

“The demand from employees for iPhones, Androids and tablets places tremendous pressure on IT. Companies should deliver functionality from the cloud and implement the support for multiple end devices into the applications. If they weren’t doing that, they’d lose ground to our competitors. IT has been slow to adjust these changes, so the prospect of a “mobile cloud” could seem downright horrifying.
However, while the mobile cloud should accelerate the consumerization of IT, this might not be such a bad thing. Done right, the mobile cloud could actually offer IT a path out of the chaos. The mobile cloud could simplify security and limit a number of end-user created headaches.

2.Risk equations are changing.

While vulnerabilities are skyrocketing on mobile devices and hackers are turning their attention to them, smartphones, tablets and the like do not offer the vast number of attack vectors that PCs do – in theory.
Apps are vetted. Email is cloud-based and should have some sort of virus and phishing protection behind it. Since the devices by definition roam outside the corporate walls, access control and identity enforcement should be standard. Moreover, enterprise apps accessed via handsets should prevent users from storing data locally, and, perhaps, could even disallow users from making certain types of changes to the data, depending on a number of factors. These factors include how you logged in, how robust your authentication mechanism was and even where exactly you are. Using built-in GPS, it wouldn’t be difficult to limit certain activities to certain places, such as the office, your home office or certain trusted places where you tend to do work like a specific airport lounge. The invasion of mobile devices into the enterprise is forcing organizations to rethink how they calculate risk. Blanket policies blocking smartphones won’t last. If your organization sticks with them, your most tech-savvy employees will find workarounds – workarounds that are often less secure than letting IT figure out how to deliver secure mobile access in the first place.

It is important to find the best approach is to start figuring out how to control data and how to manage access to that data, rather than simply blocking classes or types of device. If different categories of data are created, then it will be easy to define what each level means and how to control it.

The mobile cloud could again be a boon here. If applications have mobile-app components house in the mobile cloud, it’s easy to shuffle mobile users into a safer, more controlled environment.

3. The Mobile Cloud will change how we work.

Microsoft, Google,, and plenty of others are rolling out cloud-based features that enable collaboration. Much enterprise collaboration, though, is still done through a tried-and-trued communications medium: email. And what’s the first application everyone wants on their smartphone? That’s right: email.
Email is also often the first application companies seek to move to the cloud.

The mobile cloud will change how we work in more ways than simply how we access email and how IT manages it. Today, location-awareness is pretty much inherent in mobility. Location-awareness will change how sales teams prospect, how IT delivers security, how marketing and advertising firms interact with customers.
Applications will be more fractured (the single-purpose app model), yet they may well integrate more easily with related apps.

“Mobile devices are going to create some challenges for IT, but they’re going to create a different working ‘sensation’ for individuals,” Crampton said. “When you can do things like connect your social network to your car, all sorts of behaviors will change. There will be a different paradigm for how we use and think of mobility.”

4. The Mobile Cloud will pave the way for the “Internet of Things.”

Imagine a time when everything from refrigerators to parking meters to pacemakers is connected to the Internet?

If you’re imagining a time well into the future, you’re either a cynic who’s grown wary of these promises and predictions (I’ll raise my hand as being guilty here), or you haven’t realized how cheap processing has become and how much downward price pressure there is on wireless networking.
Looking at the various reports coming out of IBM, Ericsson and Cisco, we could be looking at potentially one trillion Internet connected devices by 2015. To put that in perspective, we passed the five-billion milestone in late August/early September.”

IBM predicts that there will be 1 trillion connected devices by 2015. Cisco moves that up to 2013.
Ericsson looks further ahead and believes there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020, and IMS Research notes that we only just passed the 5-billion-device threshold in August 2010.

“If you can put a sensor and a network anywhere, then think of all of the places you might want to monitor and all of the data you’d like to collect. Today, with sensors running on batteries or harvested energy, you already have the ability to get information from anywhere or connect to anything – anywhere.
Joy Weiss, President and CEO of Dust Networks

5. It’s happening whether you’re ready for it or not.

Sensors are already monitoring environmental conditions in vineyards. Smart parking meters are already sending text messages to alert drivers of vacant parking spaces, and sensors are being used to monitor corrosion in pipelines. Previously, these kinds of applications had limited scalability because they tied back into proprietary applications and systems. Soon, though, it will be the mobile cloud driving the so-called “smarter planet,” as IBM likes to call it.

The “Internet of Things” or this “Device-aggeddon” as David Link of ScienceLogic refers to it is already here. It’s happening, and the only reason that we don’t realize it is that much of this is happening in the background.

What would you say about mobile cloud computing? What are your expectations from this technology? Would you like to use it? Why? What are the benefits for you?