MSDN mobile Applications development
Summary: Extending enterprise applications to mobile devices is increasingly becoming a priority for organizations optimizing their workforce. To achieve the desired result of a robust, scalable, secure, and responsive mobile solution with multiple device platform support, many components need to work together. The challenge is to seamlessly extend various flavors of enterprise applications, many based on a variety of technologies and platforms, on to mobile devices. This article outlines the components required to extend a generic enterprise application on to mobile devices, covers some best practices and recommendations, and describes a case study based on a real-world implementation.
Mobile Solution Overview
When extending enterprise applications to mobile devices, many solutions require a three-tier approach: the enterprise application itself, mobile middleware, and the mobile client application.
Enterprise Application. There are, of course, many flavors of enterprise applications that can be extended on to mobile devices, such as Customer Relation Management (CRM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and Business Intelligence (BI).
Mobile Middleware. As most enterprise applications don’t have a direct way of working with devices, mobile middleware (as it will be called in this article) plays a crucial role. Some of the important features of this tier include security, data synchronization, device management, and the necessary support for multiple devices.
Mobile Client Application. The mobile client application is, of course, the software that will run on the device. There are many considerations at this tier, including data availability, communication with middleware, local resource utilization, and local data storage. In addition, many business factors need to be considered. For example, who are the target users? How critical is it to have the latest data? Are there restrictions for storing data on the device? What provisions are there in case of no network connectivity?
When selecting the platform for the device, we see three main options:
- Online Applications (also known as a thin client). This is client software, normally a browser, used when connectivity can be guaranteed. Without a connection, the mobile application does not work.
- Offline Applications (also known as a thick client). This is client software installed locally to the device that holds all required data for the duration of most operations, and synchronizes at the end of each day or a preconfigured period of time.
- Occasionally Connected Applications (also known as a smart client). This is client software installed locally, similar to the offline model, but where the application can update and refresh data at any point in time. The frequency of the data refresh depends on the criticality of the application.
Using the above three tiers as reference, let’s now explore what this means for a product-based Sales Force Automation / Field Force Automation (SFA/FFA).
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