Is Mobility the End of the Mainframe?

March 13th, 2012Mobility

No longer a pipe-dream or prediction, workplace mobility is a reality.  The technology is here and employees expect to use it.

For example, here in rugby-loving New Zealand, 14 percent of New Zealand iWorkers said they use iPhones for work purposes, compared with just 2 percent in 2010.  By 2012, 10 percent of Kiwi iWorkers expect that iPhones or other smartphones will be their most critical business devices in 2012, compared to 5 percent currently.  This is in line with the global trends.

Consumer devices and applications are more technologically advanced than their corporate device counterparts. Is this then the death knell for the high-end server?  Not at all; in fact the server plays a key role when rolling out true mobility – enterprise-class applications – to employees and customers alike.

Moving with the times

It’s a “no brainer” that organisations that embrace mobile devices satisfy customer, employee and partner expectations.  Yet most organisations have only scratched the surface of the potential benefits from the increased productivity these devices allow.

Our research also found 12 percent of Kiwi organisations plan to develop mobile apps for use by their employees in the next 12 months. This will enable greater efficiency in existing business processes by allowing access to update corporate data while out of the office, as well as the potential to develop whole new business models made possible by mobile applications.

Mobility and the Mainframe

Ironically, while smartphones and tablets are fast replacing desktops as critical business devices, they bring a new lease of life to the mainframe.  IT and service management applications are one of the key areas being redeveloped to be used on mobile devices so that IT managers have increased flexibility in managing their organisation’s servers. This means they can work from multiple locations, while still monitoring system utilisation, available memory, waiting entries and policy compliance. Unisys has even built dynamic application support into its ClearPath servers to handle the frequent logging in and out that is typical of mobile users.

Working from a smartphone, however, doesn’t mean accepting a compromise in security or functionality.  For example, Unisys ClearPath MCP Mobile Monitor App enables an IT manager to work remotely using an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, while still having desktop functionality.  Security is taken care of by iOS Keychain, which stores server passwords in the mobile device and Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS), which encrypts data exchanged between the mobile device and the ClearPath MCP server.

In addition, organisations may choose to make their applications available as software as a service (SaaS) via a private cloud so that sensitive corporate data does not sit on the device itself, but rather resides on the company’s secured mainframe where access to the data can be protected via encryption and setting “communities of interest” so that only those who should have access can access the data.

The big picture

Organisations can reap fantastic benefits from mobilising existing processes with smart devices, but there is also potential for much more.  Mobile enablement is an opportunity to re-think and re-design business models and processes.  Making applications work with mobile devices makes them real business tools and helps organisations improve the efficiency of existing business processes or even create whole new business models.

Making it happen

Many business applications are now available online for mobile devices.  These programs are often easy to set up and some even allow you to turn your existing applications into iPhone and iPad applications.  For example, the ClearPath ePortal specialty engine is used to modernise mission-critical enterprise applications without altering the app itself so that it can be accessed on mobile phones via easy to use web interfaces.   This is how Rio de Janeiro water utility company CEDAE offered customers the ability to pay their water bills using their smartphones.

In addition, some point and click graphical solutions mean applications don’t even require programming, like the Unisys ClearPath MCP Mobile Monitor App available via the Apple App Store.  This approach is particularly important in these cost conscious times when organisations want to increase the functionality of existing IT infrastructure rather than “rip and replace” the whole thing.

With smart devices, people have the choice and flexibility they demand, and organisations can continue to manage costs and security and provide support.  Mobilising processes can bring improved productivity, efficiency, quality and even better working relationships across multiple levels in an organisation.

Now that the technology is here to safeguard and facilitate business processes, organisations have the freedom to enhance their businesses with mobilisation technology, from changing customers’ experience at the coalface to creating entire new business models.

Tags-   ClearPath MCP Mobile Monitor App Consumerization of IT Mobility New Zealand