Friday, December 21, 2012

A BYOD Christmas Carol: "Bah humbug" is not an option

The ghost suddenly appeared from behind the bed curtains, rattling the old Ethernet cables dangling from its arms.
“Wh-who-who are you?” Scrooge gasped.
“I am your old IT guy, Jacob Marley.  The one who left to take a job at that hot start-up…”
“What are you doing here?”
“I’m here to warn you, Scrooge,” the ghost moaned emphatically.  “You must see the error of your ways.  Your hardworking employees must not be chained to their desks over Christmas or any other time.  Including that Bob Cratchit guy.  Enterprise mobility is your business.  And that means BYOD is your business!”
“Bah, humbug!” scoffed Scrooge.
“You will be visited by 3 spirits this night!  Beware…”
As the clock struck one, the Ghost of Mobility Past clunked around the corner, wrapped in Palm Pilots and dragging Blackberry chargers and belt attachments.
“Scrooge!  Look at these happy scenes from your past.  You and the IT department are in control of employees’ mobile devices.  People can pick any one they want – as long as it’s a Blackberry.”
“Those were happy times,” sighed Scrooge.
“But your employees left you, Scrooge.  You chose to ignore what they loved: Apple products.”
“But I just wanted to save a little more money…I wanted us to be secure and happy…!” rationalized Scrooge, as the ghost faded away.
As the clock struck two, the Ghost of Mobility Present swiped into view, sleek and shiny with aluminum trim, black glass touch screens from head to toe.  An eerie yet friendly white light shone from an Apple logo on the ghost’s back.
“Scrooge!  Employees are bringing iPads, iPhones, and now even iPad Minis.  They want to use these devices today, right now…with your existing enterprise applications!”
Scrooge covered his eyes.  “No, I can’t look!”
“You must look, Ebeneezer:  over the holidays, all of those employees of yours are trying to get work done remotely, out of their offices.”  The Ghost pointed here and there as they flew over home offices and vacation sites.  “They want to get things done when they have a free minute using these wondrous, beautiful new devices.”
“It’s not possible!”  Scrooge insisted, grasping his sleeping cap tightly.  “These applications aren’t built for touch interfaces!  And we don’t have a BYOD policy…”
“Oh, but it is possible, Scrooge,” countered the Ghost of Mobility Present.  “I’ve seen companies big and small starting to do this…but like those from your past, your employees –and now your competitors – are leaving you behind.
“In fact,” the 2nd Ghost continued, “I hear that Bob Cratchit fellow is actually doing quite well.  He even has a financial advisor from UBS who uses an iPad to access wealth management tools and client portfolio information.”
“Bah, humbug!” insisted Scrooge.
And this ghost, too, faded away.
As the clock struck three, the Ghost of Mobility Yet to Be arrived amid a swirl of phablets, styluses, and a rainbow of neon Microsoft Surface covers.  With every wave of an arm, cheap $25 Android tablets tumbled from the ghost’s robes.
“Speak to me, ghost!” implored Scrooge.  “I know I must learn to avoid my terrible fate!  I see more tablets, everywhere!”
The 3rd Ghost was silent, so Scrooge continued, desperate to find the answer himself:  “I…I see the true cyber-Monday – the day everyone gets back to the office after Christmas break.  That’s the day we in IT truly dread!  It’s the day everyone tries to log into the corporate network using the brand new mobile devices they found under their trees Christmas morning.  I see chaos!  Anger!  Does it have to be so, spirit?"
The ghost shook its head.
“And…and…I see a very messy application development and infrastructure budget.  With all these many, many devices, I see that trying to do native development for every individual mobile platform for every enterprise application – it will just be too costly and too time-consuming!  I was wrong, Ghost!  I see that now!  I know what I must do!”
With a flash, the Ghost of Mobility Yet to Be returned Scrooge to his bedroom.
Scrooge burst into the snow-covered city street and dashed to the Cratchit home.  He arrived out of breath, his arms overflowing with presents, including tablets of all shapes and sizes, perhaps even including a Kindle Fire.
“Cratchit, I’ve seen the light!  I’d like you to help me take on a new mobility strategy for our enterprise applications.”
“Oh, Mr. Scrooge,” said Cratchit.  “It’s about time!  You know...we need to think this through carefully.  We’ll need a way to enable mobile access without rewriting all those existing applications.  And, we’ll need a way to make sure we don't but any data on the mobile device – no matter which device people pick.  And, of course, we need to make sure this has the performance and user experience that people will love the whole year through.”
“Yes, yes…I see all that now,” said Scrooge.  "I've had a busy night, you know."
“True," said Cratchit.  "Now…Tiny Tim says there’s this start-up company named Framehawk that is worth checking out…”
“Let’s give ‘em a ring, Cratchit,” said Scrooge.  “Without it, I think it's safe to say that BYOD is frightening enough to scare the Dickens out of anyone.”

Amusing note:  when I was about to post this, I saw that Palador's Benjamin Robbins (@PaladorBenjamin on Twitter) had just gone live with a very similar idea.  Nicely done.  They obviously thought of this far enough in advance to shoot a video with multiple locations, multiple actors, and a script that extensively quotes Charles Dickens.  You can go here to see A Connectivity Carol.  Happy holidays, every one.  If you are interested in an e-Guide on BYOD we did with Computerworld, you can register here.  And, be sure to let us know if you are interested in that solution Scrooge was talking about...

[This post also appears on the Framehawk blog.]

Friday, December 14, 2012

It’s not about the desktop anymore: the new role of workspace aggregators in enterprise mobility

If there’s one thing that the proliferation of the iPadMicrosoft Surface, and other tablets has proved, it’s that the place people do their work is no longer limited to their physical desktop.
That now goes for your computing desktop, too.  The mobilization of enterprise applications means metaphors are shifting fast and furiously and IT orgs and the users they support should take note.
Here’s the hard part: how do you describe this newest shift?  What’s the new metaphor that correctly describes the new tablet-driven computing work environment?
I recently heard analyst Chris Wolf present Gartner’s description of a new category intended to explain exactly this – something he, Mark Margevicius, and other folks at Gartner are calling a “workspace aggregator.”
I think it’s a pretty good label that’s worth considering for what tablets are enabling.  Here’s why:
Tablets change your computing behavior
Instead of wanting to ship over an entire desktop environment to your device, iPads and other tablets are enabling “quick hit” computing.  You get in, do a few things, and get out.  What you need is access to your key applications and the relevant data, without an arduous start-up process.  The enterprise, of course, still requires security and data integrity.  How do you deliver this?
“We don’t believe the traditional desktop experience is the end goal,” Chris told his audience at a November Gartner briefing in San Francisco on mobility.  “You have to adapt to the ad hoc way that users are consuming applications and data.  You have to meet users in the middle.  We think workspace aggregators are the direction of the future.”
The workspace aggregator term emphasizes applications
When Chris explained this new workspace aggregator category (something he also did at both their Catalyst and Symposium events), it sounded almost like a mobile version of a portal.  The emphasis is on providing access to a mix of Windows, Web, SaaS, and mobile applications – and to make sure there’s adequate security for enterprise content.
“Up to this point, these were all managed in individual silos.  There was no way to simplify user experience,” said Chris.  “What we’re trying to do to bring all this together: Windows apps, Web apps, mobile, and social data.”
Gartner describes this new term as a way to give users a consistent client computing experience, with an eye toward security and management, regardless of your location, network, or even device.  Early interest, they say, has been around cloud and SaaS services, but the promise includes these alongside existing applications behind the firewall.
I like the workspace aggregator term that Chris and his Gartner colleagues have started using.  The phrase represents the fact that it’s not the desktop (or its virtual instantiation) that is the important thing for your employees and users.  It’s the applications.
IT has a strong value prop with workspace aggregators
This also highlights a nice benefit from workspace aggregators for the IT department as well.  They give IT central control over a diverse set of applications, data, and cloud services from anywhere inside or outside the firewall, capable of being delivered to whatever mobile device the employee is using.  In a world where IT is fighting to show its value, using a workspace aggregator allows IT to show that value without seeming draconian to the user.  In fact, IT might even get some positive vibes out of the deal.
Honestly, I have to also admit that Chris’ description of a workspace aggregator is also a pretty good description of our current Framehawk Canvas offering.  He also mentioned Citrix, VMware, ASG, and Centrix working to offer solutions in this space.
Vendors working to provide a workspace aggregator capability, said Chris, will differentiate on their approach to application delivery, data delivery, management, security, and user experience.  The areas of importance that I heard Chris emphasize were around:
  • Content and how it is delivered
  • Primary processing location – on the device or remote
  • Communication mechanism (which he said comes down to the protocol being used when considering scalability & performance)
  • Security
If you’re interested in digging a bit, you can read about what we think our own Framehawk differentiators are in relation to these points.
A new approach with value for enterprise mobility
Why is a new approach even necessary?  Because employees are using different, often personal, devices to get their jobs done (thank you, BYOD).  “Solutions should be designed with the expectation that users will do their own thing,” noted Chris. “If we keep pretending that users are under our control, we’ll keep doing the things we’re doing and we know how well that’s working.”  In other words, something has to change for enterprise mobility to really work.
In general, I like the workspace aggregator term.  I think this new concept deserves a place in the industry debate about the right approach to enterprise mobility.  This is especially true for a discussion that has so far been dominated by old paradigms (like VDI) trying to adapt to a world of new mobile devices and new usage patterns that actually have many vastly different requirements.
Hopefully, having Chris, Mark, and others at Gartner starting to talk about a new approach to enterprise mobility – and give a name to it – will open up the eyes of IT organizations to the possibilities that arise when you unchain yourself from both the physical and virtual desktop.  We’ll keep you posted on our perspective of this new approach as we watch it (and help it) evolve.

This post also appears on the Framehawk blog.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A different type of growth for this start-up for Movember

Sure, the Framehawk team is working hard on our software, bringing mobility to enterprise applications.  What you might not know (without being here in our San Francisco offices) is that we’re also working equally hard on something else at the same time:
Our mustaches.
Yes, we are once again proudly participating in Movember – the international effort to raise money for men’s cancer research.
Here’s how it works:  at the beginning of November, those participating shaved off any facial hair and began in earnest growing (only) a mustache for 30 days.  Each of us then gathers donations to support his unshaven efforts.  The Movember organizers have made it easy for each person – and team – to set up a photo gallery and a simple way for people to donate to the Mo of their choice.
Last year, the Framehawk Movember team (“Mo’ Hawks”) brought in $10,100 for cancer research, looking like a motley assortment of used car salesmen along the way.  Hey, we even sold some software in spite of our ‘staches.
We’ve been charting our progress this year on the Movember Framehawk team site and on our own Mo’ Hawk Wall of Fame.  We’ve had a few disqualifications so far, from beard infractions to bizarre hair-removing caulking accidents.
But, this is for a good cause, so we soldier on.  We’ve had great support from our Framehawk Mo’ Sisters, with us in spirit, if not in facial hair growth.
And we’d love support from you as well.
Any donations to cancer research on behalf of the Framehawk team or particularly worthy individual Mo’s are welcome and encouraged.  Go here to donate.
But hurry.  This is the final week.  Come December 1, I’m betting there will be a run on razors.  And several of the Mo’ Hawks will likely be first in line.  Thankfully.

This post also appears on the Framehawk blog.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

For mobile enterprise applications, perfect is the enemy of done

The pressure for IT to enable enterprise application access for iPads and the like is immediate and immense.  The problem with trying to do something fast, however, is it often requires a great deal of that IT budget of yours…which truthfully wasn’t built with many of the costs to mobilize applications in mind.
How do you balance speed and cost when it comes to enterprise mobility?  Here’s another one of the top dos & don’ts that our CTO Stephen Vilke talked about in his “Confessions of a CTO” webcast a few weeks back:
DO get to market quickly. But, do it without bankrupting the firm.
No matter what, deliver initial value quickly, said Stephen in his commentary.  Time is of the essence, especially when it comes to mobility.  Get some initial capabilities out there.  Expose them to real-world users.  Allow folks to experiment. See what they use and what they don’t, and then make further investment decisions based on that data.
Certainly choosing an approach that is scalable, affordable, and fast is no easy task. In many markets, competitive advantages are fleeting, as mass-market players scramble to create the “next big thing,” which is often defined (at least in the fashion sense) by the consumerization of IT.
As an IT team worried about enterprise mobility, where should you put your emphasis?  Stephen suggests going for speed:
“Tackle the first part of the speed/cost equation first: pace. It’s rare that technology from the consumer world is adopted seamlessly into the enterprise – and accommodating tablets with legacy applications in a natural way has been no exception.
“The resource, effort, and policy demands on a firm trying to bridge this transition can take a considerable period of time. Perfect is the enemy of done.  So, find a good – not perfect – solution that gets you started quickly.  And one that you can learn some lessons from.  That’s key.  From there, you can mature and get a deeper understanding of your users and use cases.”
Once you find a solution that your risk, compliance, and regulatory groups can live with, next comes the task of getting all relevant stakeholders engaged. Having everyone on the same page will ensure that there are no unforeseen roadblocks in implementation.  A big piece of this, Stephen recounts from his experiences, is (of course) around budget:
“After optimizing for speed, make sure that it is affordable. There are plenty of vendors in the market with blends of professional services, co-development partnership, and customized offerings that can be difficult for a company to digest fiscally.
“Mobility can be just like any other new hardware integration: expense can run high, sneak up on you fast – especially as maintenance of a new workflow creates a compounded cost structure. So have a sense of the operations and finance budget that your IT department can absorb before investigating options.”
As important as the cost factors can be, however, don’t let them derail your efforts to get something mobile actually done.  Your users will thank you for it.   After all, they are the ones trying to find ways to get their own jobs done using their newest mobile device.
Your employees won’t be shy telling you whether you were successful with your enterprise mobility efforts.  They’ll vote with their feet pretty quickly.  Or, more likely (since they are using touch-screen tablets) with their fingers.
This is part of our continuing series of posts featuring insights on enterprise mobility from Framehawk’s CTO and co-founder Stephen Vilke.  You can see a replay of Stephen’s webinar “Confessions of a CTO: 7 Dos & Don’t for Bringing Your Existing Enterprise Apps to the iPad” here or download the white paper here.

This post also appears on the Framehawk blog.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Impact of iPad Mini: Apple as follower and the new shape of BYOD

Apple announced exactly what everyone thought they would a few weeks back: the iPad Mini.  But what does it mean for the iPad to suddenly have a new little brother on the block?
Apple’s marketing materials don’t call it a “shrunken-down iPad,” but rather a “concentrated” version – everything you had before, but in a smaller package.  One industry pundit, Rob Enderle, said the price and size puts Apple in the “worst of all possible worlds.”  Despite comments like that, Apple seems to have had a pretty successful debut weekend, selling 3 million of the new devices.
So what does the iPad Mini mean for Apple – and for the enterprise?
One place it definitely puts Apple is into the role of form-factor follower.  That’s something new.  As Tom Kaneshige mentions, Apple has so often been the opposite: the idea creator.  They are usually the ones so far ahead of everyone else that their ideas themselves send everyone else scrambling to catch up.  And that goes for the actual implementation of the device as well.
Not so this time.  They are now filling in the gaps.
As Simon Bramfitt noted on Twitter during the iPad Mini announcement event, maybe Apple is becoming "what it once set out to overthrow."  The question is:  how close are they to succeeding at becoming just like everyone else?
This was a major question for Apple following the loss of Steve Jobs.  Would they lose their product design and idea creation mojo as well?  It’s easy to throw stones, but it’s certainly safe to say that the iPad Mini (and iPhone 5) announcements were not ones that re-defined the industry.
This seems to feed into something I wrote about a little while back: it feels like we have entered an era of mobile device incrementalism, in which there are lots of new devices, but no game-changers.  The market-defining moves (like the creation of the tablet in the first place) have already been made.  The “next big thing” is actually a collection of pretty small and relatively minor changes.
Now, there are plenty of very powerful new use cases that this smaller iPad enables (@derek32smith tweeted some good ones).  And having seen the iPad Minis that have already shown up here in the Framehawk offices, it may not be a new form factor, but it seems to be a useful one.
Enterprises: getting a handle on BYOD with so many different (yet similar) devices
How does this current incrementalism affect what IT must do to mobilize its enterprise application environment?  And here’s an even more profound question: what if tablets become cheap and even more ubiquitous?  Reports of $45 Android tablets coming out of China or $20 tablets coming out of India make me pretty convinced that tablets will be everywhere.  And not all of them will be Apple’s.
The trouble for the enterprise is dealing with employees who want to work on this increasing variety of devices.  And, generally, the answers that IT has pursued have been device-specific, sometimes looking to provide limited “official” BYOD options (with IT saying “you can bring your own device – as long as what you bring is an iPad”).
But, there has been a huge number of new devices of note (no pun intended) released recently:  the iPad Mini, the new Galaxy Note, the Kindle Fire, and Microsoft Surface.  And more are on the way.
More and more devices from more and more manufacturers means a device-centric approach to BYOD is not feasible now, if it ever really even was.
Instead, the enterprise approach to BYOD needs to be something that allows device independence, but also allows quick delivery of access to existing applications without having to start from scratch.  And without requiring armies of device-specific developers to write code that you might have to throw away.
One other thing for IT to consider is finding a way to test what users need (and want) for accessing enterprise applications via mobile devices.  It would be ideal to be able to get something started quickly, and then measure user adoption.  This goes for particular applications as well as the support for specific devices.  (Who wants to put effort into supporting the Surface, for example, until we know whether it will be a phenomenal success or a dismal failure?)
Sure, there may well be things your enterprise wants to rewrite fully from scratch or specifically for one device.  But wouldn’t you want to know some usage patterns help you make those choices?
As you might guess, the Framehawk solution takes these issues into account.  You don’t have to rewrite your applications for each new device as it appears.  In fact, you don’t change your applications at all.  Ping us if you want to know more.
In the meantime, brace yourself for another wave of new devices to hit the enterprise.  Especially after the holidays.  Consider all this a message to enterprise IT:  a device-based BYOD approach is getting to be a worse and worse idea with each new device.

This post also appears on the Framehawk blog.

Friday, November 16, 2012

One initial reaction to Microsoft Surface: it’s not what consumers (or the enterprise) want

Our CEO Peter Badger was on the road in New York during the recent new tablet announcementpalooza.  On Tuesday of that week came the iPad Mini and a fourth-generation regular-sized iPad (though a lot of people missed that second one entirely). Then on Friday of that same week, to much/some/a bit of fanfare, the Microsoft Surface arrived on the scene.
At Framehawk, we’re definitely gadget freaks.  If there’s a new mobile device, someone in the office has it on Day One.  For example, Peter unboxed his just-released iPad 3 during one of our staff meetings a few months back.
So, we’re certainly not going to let that week’s gadgetfest go by unnoticed.  We haven’t gotten our hands on an iPad Mini yet, but Peter had a chance to try out the Surface.  And, well, let’s just say the review wasn’t glowing.  His comments:
"I played with the Microsoft Surface tablet today and it is seriously lacking.  Usability was terrible. I couldn't navigate to the home page, to apps, or within apps. Crazy side menu pop-ups appeared in random ways.”
Those who know Peter know that he is a big proponent of Apple, but his disappointment with the new Microsoft tablet was more about how he thought the average person would react.  And the impact that would have on the enterprise:
“Yes, I am an Apple fanboy, but I've got to tell you, this thing is in for a rough ride with consumers.  And without that consumer interest, the Surface won't be the challenge to iPad and Android in the enterprise that Microsoft wants it to be.”
According to Peter, though, Apple didn’t hit it out of the park that week either (unlike a certain Panda).
“Of course, Apple's not perfect:  WiFi only for now for the iPad Mini?  I haven't seen it yet, but come on.  That's a bit of a let-down."
The market will decide, of course, what the right form-factor and feature choices are.  IDC analyst Bob O’Donnell predicted “huge sales and lots of confusion” for tablets over the next few months, with a chance for Amazon Kindle Fire HD and Google’s Nexus 7 to make some inroads, but Apple to maintain the lionshare of the market.
Mike Elgan’s Datamation article last week also sided with the iPad Mini over the Surface.  Elgan said that while the Surface is cool and has Microsoft on the right track, the iPad Mini should outsell it 10:1 in the next 6 months based on the price, the keyboard, apps, maturity, and a bad consumer reputation for Microsoft.
As you try out these devices yourself, let us know what you think.  We’ll keep doing the same.

This post also appears on the Framehawk blog.

Monday, October 22, 2012

What are your dos & don’ts for bringing enterprise apps to the iPad?

In technologies areas that are as new as the push to use iPads with enterprise applications, the experiences of peers are often the best guide to success.  Or at least in helping you steer clear of strategic errors.  And chances to share those experiences are sometimes few and far between.
I'm expecting Wednesday to be one of those chances.
With the help of InformationWeek, Wednesday's the day that we here at Framehawk are holding a live webcast based around sharing useful IT experiences in delivering enterprise mobility.  The speaker is our CTO and co-founder, Stephen Vilke, who has spent the past 2 decades not as a vendor, but as an IT guy, including a stint as a CIO.
Stephen collected his thoughts about the move to mobility that enterprises are undergoing currently and will be presenting them during the first part of Wednesday's webcast.  Then, in the second half, he will take questions and comments from the audience about their experiences and issues to feed the discussion.
The goal is to continue the conversation that we’ve started here on the blog about what IT departments are learning as they work to incorporate tablets and other mobile devices into their enterprise application environments.  The topics will very likely range quite broadly, and Stephen is planning to hit some very relevant insights and war stories from his past, including:
  • How to adapt the lessons enterprises learned (good and bad) from managing laptops to the world of mobility
  • How mobile user experience, if done right, can drastically decrease support costs
  • How the threat of data leakage compares to other security concerns and how they impact BYOD policies
  • What is the "killer app" for enterprise mobility, and how can IT deliver it?
The title of the whole event is “Confessions of a CTO: 7 Dos & Don’t for Bringing Existing Enterprise Applications to the iPad.”  Registration is free, so join us if you can.
Even more importantly, if you have your own “confessions” or real-world experiences that you’d like to share, leave a comment here for others to see and learn from.  Or contribute during the live Q&A session on Wednesday’s webcast.  I’ll be tweeting interesting questions and commentary (from Stephen and the audience) during the session (hashtag #CTOconfess), and I'll summarize the more intriguing and useful comments we received here on the blog afterwards.  We're looking forward to some quality discussions Wednesday and beyond.
The InformationWeek Framehawk webcast “Confessions of a CTO: 7 Dos & Don’t for Bringing Existing Enterprise Applications to the iPad” is being held at 10 a.m. Pacific on Wed., Oct. 24.  Go here to register.

This post also appears on the Framehawk blog.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Confessions of a CTO: focus can be the biggest enemy of enterprise mobility

As tablets appear in the enterprise, the pressure is on IT. 
Sure, there are a bunch of clear and compelling reasons to officially bring tablets into the enterprise application environment (like, say, because your employees love to use them enough to buy iPads themselves).
However, employee interest and the resulting “bring your own device” (BYOD) phenomenon are putting increasing pressure on IT managers to reel in these new mobile devices and make them official clients of enterprise applications.
But saying “yes” to enterprise tablet usage is not simple for IT. 
There is a lot to consider:  effort and speed of application deployment, managing data access, support, security, network complexity, device management, operating system diversity, and the cost of all this, just to mention a few.  Even business-level decision makers – gung-ho about the iPad and other tablets – have to take a hard look at what needs to be in place before this is going to work flawlessly.
All in all, it seems pretty daunting.  Yet, enterprise mobility is something that IT has to be working on right now – no excuses.  Users – and the upper execs – are demanding it.
Amid all of this uncertainty, we thought IT teams could use some pragmatic advice from one of their own – from someone who has been there and done that.  In that spirit, Framehawk’s CTO and co-founder Stephen Vilke let us pick his brain for his suggested dos and don’ts for those taking the leap and enabling the use of enterprise applications on tablets.
In case you don’t know Stephen, he has spent most of his working life in IT, tackling security, application development, and mobility challenges.  In addition, he spent the early part of his career at NASA, working on communication with distant spacecraft – a really intriguing bit of personal experience that turns out to have some great parallels with the challenges that enterprises currently have using their existing applications from mobile devices.
The result of our brainstorm with Stephen?  Some no-holds-barred commentary from a veteran IT guy and former CIO on the ins and outs of enterprise mobility. 
We’ll publish some of the highlights from Stephen’s suggestions here on the blog, including word-for-word commentary where relevant.  Think of these posts as a launching point for a critical area of discussion around mobility for IT.  Feel free to chime in with comments, questions, disagreements, or other suggestions in the comments section.
To get things started, one of the most important things I’ve heard Stephen talk about is not really even related to mobile application access, BYOD, or technology at all.  Instead, it’s about one of the crucial pieces for any IT project, and something that’s especially important in high-profile projects (like those with the iPad always seem to be).  It’s about focus.
Dos & Don’ts for Bringing Existing Enterprise Applications to the iPad:
DO be very careful about your focus. It will be one of your biggest challenges.
Regardless of what advice you take, notes Stephen, focus is really at the core of any successful IT project.  Are you trying to deliver mobile access for one application – or many? Bringing tablets into the enterprise environment is no exception:
“In my IT career, I’ve found that one of the first things to figure out is what your focus should be. Scoping is one of the biggest challenges. What are the handful of items that are going to make or break our project?  How do we attack them? What is the timeline?”
According to Stephen, focus is also where many IT organizations get themselves into trouble.
“If your goal is to deliver one and only one application via mobile devices – and it’s your flagship application – you’re going to probably focus a lot of your money, effort, and time on that one.  However, if you’re like most organizations, you will have several dozen applications that employees want to access from their mobile devices immediately.  And you probably have a long list of other applications vying to get attention.
“So, to get as many of those applications accessible from employees’ mobile devices as possible, as quickly as possible, be sure to be ruthless about what you will focus on.”
Check back here on the blog regularly for the next few weeks for specific enterprise mobility dos & don’ts from Stephen.  In addition, he’ll be presenting a live InformationWeek webcast on this topic on Oct. 24.  Go here to register.

This post also appears on the Framehawk blog.

Monday, October 1, 2012

HTML 5 takes a beating from Facebook, boost from

And you thought it had been a rough few months for Facebook.  The past few weeks have been HTML 5’s turn.
As you probably heard, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took a few minutes out from his newly public company’s on-going Wall Street woes to take a few potshots at HTML 5 at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference.
‘Biggest mistake’
"I think the biggest mistake we made as a company was betting too much on HTML 5 as opposed to native," said Zuckerberg about their approach to developing the mobile Facebook app.  “We burned through two years on that.  It probably was the biggest strategic mistake we made."
Then, less than 2 weeks later, one of the Facebook engineers followed up with a post detailing the shortcomings of HTML 5, especially around performance, adding fuel to the fire.
But Benioff is betting the farm on HTML 5
In the other corner, however, made a very public showing of support for HTML 5 at Dreamforce.  CEO and pitchman extraordinaire Marc Benioff launched’s new Touch capability to great fanfare.  I sat in on a couple sessions to see Touch demoed (minus a crash or two) and hear how they built it.  Benioff and company bet their farm on HTML 5 to create Touch.
The diametrically opposed feelings about HTML 5 weren’t lost on Jeff Hammond of Forrester or James Governor of Red Monk.
So why the mixed signals about HTML 5?  And what can an enterprise can learn from it?  Both data points actually lead to a similar conclusion:  you better know your use case.
What Facebook learned about HTML 5
HTML 5 has been touted as a panacea for mobile application development.  Write once, run anywhere -- on the Web and on your mobile device.  The problem, as Facebook found out, is that things are different across different environments.  You certainly get to leverage the development skills you already have, which is a great financial benefit, creating one environment for both Web and mobile platforms.
However, the user interface you end up with is lowest-common denominator in many respects.  And HTML 5 has been shown to perform differently across different platforms, so if it’s speed you’re looking for, you’re not guaranteed to get it.  In case you missed it, there’s been lots of grousing about Facebook’s mobile app performance (I admit I'm one of those).  And even the Touch demos last week showed sluggishness and clocking here and there.
One more thing that Facebook and may or may not have figured out:  many security questions don’t get solved by HTML 5.  This is another potential gotcha for enterprises.  (You’d hope this would be a big issue for salesforce and Facebook, too, though Facebook doesn’t seem too bothered by privacy concerns in general, frankly.)
Over the past year, HTML 5 has been the darling of the industry, getting the hype I remember being reserved for things like server virtualization and web app servers.  Analysts at Gartner and other firms have been pronouncing HTML 5 the Next Big Thing.
Of course, when you are at the top of the hype curve, the trough of disillusionment beckons.
In fact, Facebook’s very public comments aren’t the first beating that HTML 5 has gotten recently.  There was a bit of public discomfort about a split in the HTML 5 standard.  If something is supposed to be a standard you can use across all environments, the industry at least needs to agree about what it is.  Otherwise, you’ll have to start asking “Which HTML 5?”
SFDC: happy on the surface, but some worries, too
At Dreamforce, was very excited about Touch.  Of course, is Benioff ever not excited about something he’s selling?  However, two things raised a few red flags.
First, performance.  In their session on how they built Touch, the development team acknowledged it as one of the biggest issues they had been grappling with.
Second, keeping up with the functionality that people need.  In the mobile roadmap session, Clarence So talked about delivering part of their functionality now via Touch, and progressively more and more as time goes on.  They gave no specific dates for the mobile versions of their apps being fully capable.  Unfortunately, this approach means the salesforce mobile solutions might be second-class citizens for quite a while.
What should an enterprise do?  Know your use cases
So what are the alternatives to HTML 5?  And should Facebook,, or the average enterprise choose differently?
The traditional thought is that there are 3 alternatives: HTML 5, native, or some hybrid.  At Disrupt, Zuckerberg said he regretted using HTML 5 and not doing device-native rewrites of their application (which they have since done and seem to be getting improved performance).
Enterprises listening to that should be wary:  Zuck has a different use case from many.
Facebook’s needs are for a single consumer app, big on user interface and local performance.  Many software companies that have one main application that they are selling are in a similar boat.
So, should you side with instead?  Not necessarily.  Their use case is also very specific.  In the “How We Built Touch” session at Dreamforce, they outlined their reasoning for using HTML 5: many of their customers had spent a great deal of time and effort customizing their solution.  Writing a new, native mobile version of their app would require reimplementation of everything that salesforce had already done on the Web version of their products PLUS would require customers to re-implement all those customizations.  Ouch.
Enterprises may need something different
So end user enterprises may not be in the same boat as either of these vendors.  We at Framehawk have been talking with folks about use cases around mobile access to multiple applications, with a big requirement for security and performance, and an interest in a branded workspace with a unified way to get to multiple apps.
In those cases, something like what we’re providing gives all of those benefits, without regrets over cost, performance, or time to market.  Our approach is to let organizations keep their apps as they are and send only the screen images down to the mobile devices.  Our protocol lets you do that at very high speeds without putting data on the device, and still use native, touch-based interaction methods with the tablets.
So, what’s the right lesson for an enterprise to take away from all this?
Evaluate any “silver bullet” answer like HTML 5 very closely.  Make sure it matches the requirements you and your organization actually have before assuming it has all the answers.
Oh, and think very carefully before buying Facebook stock.

This post also appears on the Framehawk blog.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

iPhone 5 and the era of incremental innovation for mobile devices

The iPhone 5 arrived at last yesterday, with both a bang and a whimper.
There will absolutely be lines of expectant buyers streaming into Apple Stores come September 21.  The Apple fan boys will certainly be there.  As will those with older iPhones that are just barely hanging on.   In fact, I think I heard the phrase “my iPhone is on its last legs, but I’m holding out until the iPhone 5 comes out” freakishly often over the summer (second only to the lyrics of “Call Me Maybe”).
So, Apple’s sales will very likely be huge, even if it might be overstating things to say it will move the U.S. GDP by half a point.
But has the old Apple spoiled us?  Does the newest phone live up to their sky-high expectations?  In some quarters, including here at Framehawk, the answer seems to be no.
The screen is slightly bigger. The phone’s slightly thinner and lighter.  Siri’s smarter.  But there was no “one more thing” to blow the socks off the industry.  The big moves – the initial iPhone, the initial iPad – have been made.
Peter Badger, our CEO here at Framehawk (and author of the comments on the photo posted here), felt the iPhone 5 was a little bit of a let down.  After looking at the screen size change, his first comment was, “That’s it?”
Matt Eastwood, analyst at IDC, tapped into that feeling on Twitter: “I read more than a few live event blogs that were openly bored by today’s Apple announcement. Guess smartphones aren’t new and cool anymore.” Or maybe the problem was what he wrote later: “the bar has been set pretty high.”
Eastwood had an interesting insight in a Twitter conversation with me and Gordon Haff: “The good enough days for smartphones and tablets aren’t too far ahead of where we are now.”
To me, it feels like the iPhone 5 launch is telling us that we’ve left the realm of disruptive innovation for mobile devices.  Now it’s about smaller modifications to the form factors.  It’s about incremental innovation.
That doesn’t mean that these devices won’t continue to have profound effects on the IT market.  Tablets, driven by the iPad, are changing the way laptop makers are thinking about what goes into a laptop.  And, they are changing the way employees and IT are thinking about application access and daily productivity.
So, the iPhone 5 made a splash, but it might only represent a ripple in the grand scheme of things.  Of course, maybe this is what mainstream adoption feels like.

This post also appears on the Framehawk blog.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Does the new Amazon Kindle Fire mean the end of BYOD?

Amazon set the tablet market buzzing last week with the announcement of its new line of 7-inch and 9-inch Kindle Fires.  As with the Microsoft Surface announcement earlier in the year, the news got me thinking about the impact of these new devices on the enterprise.
The logical answer is that the more devices there are, the more different devices that consumers are going to have.  And, since iPad-toting employees have been pressuring IT to help them access enterprise resources with those devices, they are very likely to try the same thing with any device they have.
So, the more types of tablets and other mobile devices there are, the more likely that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) becomes the norm in corporations.  And IT will have to figure out a strategy to keep up.
Or maybe not.
I saw a post by Galen Gruman of InfoWorld on Friday that actually posited that exact opposite.  If the Kindle Fire is successful against the iPad at home, he suggests, it might actually decrease the likelihood that BYOD carries the day in enterprises.
Intrigued?  Here’s his logic:
The new Kindle Fire, which Galen notes is “aimed squarely at the iPad's home users,” is part of Amazon’s effort “to supplant the iTunes-centric Apple ecosystem with an Amazon-centric one.”  If the Kindle Fire picks up steam and consumers prefer that device as their “home” tablet, “that could reshape the iPad's role in business.”
And, since the Kindle Fire isn’t really enterprise-ready, the iPad would continue to fill the that role.  In fact, the iPad might become only your “work” tablet, perhaps even become company-issued devices the way PCs used to be.
The difference is this:  if people use the Kindle Fire at home and the iPad at work, the iPad is no longer that single, unified platform someone would use for both across both worlds.  Galen called this single platform “the fundamental enabler of the consumerization and BYOD phenomena.”
Given this, despite a great proliferation of new devices, the iPad would become the only corporate tablet that everyone optimizes and plans for.  Good-bye, BYOD.
Sure, these are all big “if"s, but they are (as Galen notes) “plausible enough to contemplate.”
IT would probably cheer the death of BYOD.  Ironically, IT normally prefers a situation where they have choice.  However, the BYOD scenario represents too much of a good thing – and it results in options over which they have no control at all, despite the serious security and cost concerns for the enterprise.  Choice, at least in the case of BYOD, is pricey for IT.
However, I don’t think enterprise IT should toss out those half-written BYOD policy papers quite yet.
As much as IT would love to only have to architect and plan for the iPad, I think the BYOD genie is already out of the bottle.  Now that employees realize they can choose their own tablet or mobile phone (or both) and it's just part of IT's lot in life to figure out how to make a wide range of devices productive in an enterprise environment, I don’t think there’s any going back.
Not that enterprises have BYOD completely figured out yet, but users have tasted this control thing– and they like it.  A lot.  Even the teams we are working with at large financial firms (including UBS) are certainly planning for the iPads that employees own, but also other multiple other types of devices, too.
On Twitter, Galen also noted some good news for fans of the freedom that BYOD brings: iPad/iPhone, Windows 8, and Android “all are BYOD-supporting. Maybe WinPhone8 will join in.” Kindle, Windows Phone 7, and Blackberry?  Not so much.
Either way, it looks to be a pretty heated Battle of the Network Stars (er, Ecosystems) for the home entertainment mindshare for Amazon and Apple.  Google plus Android and Microsoft are in the mix, too.
I have to say that the iPad’s monstrous marketshare and popularity make me think that Apple doesn’t have much to worry about.  For the moment, anyway.
However, the fact that this is even an interesting question in the first place is a testament to the impact of consumerization on IT.   For the first time, these battles over the home market could have very serious implications on enterprise IT investment strategies, planning, and even hiring.
No question:  that genie is definitely out of the bottle.

This post also appears on the Framehawk blog.