Mobile Apps Set to Wag Enterprise API Dog

Michael Vizard, January 7th, 2014

You don’t have to look much further than the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this week to see how dominant mobile computing is becoming. In fact, a recent survey of 6,698 developers conducted by Appcelerator found that 44 percent of enterprise developers will create and publish APIs that external developers will optimize for mobile computing. Another 45.3 percent said they would likely do so, creating a total of 89.3 percent. That total would suggest a mass movement is well under way.


Img Credit: Appcelerator.com

But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the interest in mobile APIs is that 34.7 percent said their existing three-tier Web infrastructure did not meet the needs of mobile computing applications. Chief among the limitations cited by developers is that data is not in a mobile optimized format such as JSON and that existing APIs assume a desktop form factor that winds up overwhelming a mobile computing device in terms of the amount of data being returned by each request.

Coming a close third was the lack of support for asynchronous communications, which is required to support offline client devices. The lack of IT infrastructure needed to support mobile computing applications at scale was a distant fourth.

All of this would suggest that when it comes to mobile computing, many enterprise IT organizations are going to be in for a bit of rude shock in 2014. For the most part, too many enterprise IT organizations tend to believe that once they connect email and calendaring services to a mobile computing device, they are done. In reality, the development and ability to successfully deploy mobile computing applications will distinguish which organizations are most productive and profitable. This is one of the primary reasons that Gartner ranks mobile computing initiatives at the top of its enterprise IT priority list for 2014.

The Appcelerator survey suggest that about 70 percent of those applications are running on the client. Michael King, director of enterprise strategy for Appcelerator, says that going forward, rather than relying on platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings that run everything in the cloud, developers will likely rely on backend-as-a-service (BaaS) offerings to support applications where a fair amount of the code is, for example, written in Javascript.

Of course, supporting mobile APIs is a lot easier said than done. Each mobile computing platform obviously has its own API nuances, which means there really is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all mobile API strategy. Nevertheless, it’s not like mobile computing is simply going to go away, so the sooner the mobile API optimization process begins, the better the business outcome will be for all concerned.

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