Is Apple’s dispute with Microsoft over Skydrive for IOS forcing Microsoft to focus more on HTML5?

SkyDrive

Last month, we heard that the cause of the delay to updates to a number of Microsoft applications (like SkyDrive and SkyDrive Pro) on the IOS App Store was a dispute between Apple and Microsoft over Apple’s insistence that all app developers who monetize their Apps that have been downloaded from the Apple App Store pay Apple a 30% royalty fee.

For those developers who post free apps to the App Store, they have nothing to worry about.  However, Apple is now starting to hone in on those developers that use the App Store as a free channel to market by publishing ‘free’ apps that later require the user to pay a fee or licence to the developer.  Apple says that these in-app fees and purchases should be subject to the same 30% royalty payment as Apps that are paid for directly in the App Store marketplace.

This is a big problem for Microsoft and other App developers because Apple’s terms and conditions, which Apple states are uniform for all developers, require the developer to pay Apple a 30% margin on all in-app purchases, upgrades, enhancements, etc. – in perpituity; even if the end user switches to another mobile platform in the future.

Microsoft has found this condition quite hard to digest as you might imagine and now finds itself in a state of limbo as far as its portfolio of IOS apps are concerned.  For instance, the IOS SkyDrive app has a new version ready to be deployed with important feature and security updates, but it has not been published to the IOS App Store yet.

Enter HTML5 Apps
Coincidentally, Microsoft recently announced major new enhancements to its HTML5 version of SkyDrive, supporting swiping gestures and drag and drop features that many would only think possible with native device applications.

So, has Microsoft begun the process of by-passing native application App Stores to focus on rich cross-platform HTML5 mobile web applications?  In reality, the answer in the short term is probably not, but they are certainly pursuing a multi-channel mobile strategy that will make the HTML5 option more attractive in the future, particularly if it means having to avoid costly fees to App Store operators.

In the enterprise space however, we see HTML5 applications having a much more powerful impact.  HTML5 mobile applications are the only true way for a CIO to implement an all-inclusive BYOD or cross-platform mobile strategy economically and they do not require costly investments in Mobile Device Management (MDM) infrastructures.

Check out www.azurati.com to see how HTML5-based mobile applications are being used in the enterprise to transform the productivity of mobile business users.

 

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How inclusive is your BYOD policy?

When companies say that they are going to implement a Bring your own device (BYOD) policy, allowing employees to use their own personal devices (smartphones, tables and even laptops in some cases); what do they actually mean?

What exactly is covered in your BYOD policy, and what is not?  For instance, do you say that you support BYOD, but then exclude certain devices; and what do you expect your staff to be doing on their personal devices when they are using them for work purposes?

Sometimes it can be seen to be an easy and logical decision to declare an all-out Bring Your Own Device policy.  After all, your staff will undoubtedly thank you for allowing them to use their (usually) newer and higher-spec devices and your Finance department will laud your capital expenditure cost-cutting prowess; but if you suspect that your users will want to use their smartphones and tablets for more than checking email and making voice calls (on phones), then there are clearly a raft of additional factors to consider.

Let’s take these points one by one.

What do you mean by BYOD?
If BYOD means for you that an employee can bring any personal device in to the workplace and use it for business purposes, then great.  However, that is not the interpretation that many companies actually have.  What they really mean is you can bring your iPhone/iPad, and Android device, and possibly a Blackberry device; but probably not devices like Microsoft Surface RT tablets, Windows Phone devices, Google Chromebooks, Amazon Kindle Fire HD tablets, Apple MacBooks, etc.?  The truth is that many BYOD regimes are not all-inclusive and companies are compelled to exclude certain devices because enterprise mobile strategies are not always aligned with BYOD policies, meaning that mobile apps and management infrastructures are often not able to cope with BYOD.

Why should you not be able to allow any device in the workplace?  I hear you say.  These devices all use operating systems that support internet browsing and local applications and if you are embracing the concept of Consumerisation of IT, then it would be entirely logical to allow an employee to use their latest Christmas present gadget in the workplace.   A true BYOD policy should be all inclusive and IT should allow users to bring any connected device in to the workplace and expect to be able to work securely on it for work purposes.

For those of you who do want to embrace the principle of BYOD, but who are struggling with being able to execute an effective an non-restrictive policy, perhaps you should look more widely at your company’s goals and strategies for embracing mobile devices and solutions; which brings us on to the next point.

What will employees be expected to do with their personal device in a work context?
If you expect your staff to do more than use smartphones for voice calls and to pick up corporate email, then you will almost certainly want them to be able to work productively when working on a smartphone or tablet.  One of the on-going debates about mobile applications for enterprise users is whether BYOD also goes as far as Bring your own Apps.

There will undoubtedly be some apps, like Office productivity tools or web conferencing that make little impact on corporate IT security policies, but if mobile users need to have mobile access to secure enterprise systems, that is another issue.

Authentication and security are major issues to get a handle on if mobile users are expected to access corporate systems across the firewall.  So too is the state of readiness of corporate applications for mobile use.  Enterprise applications like Microsoft SharePoint, for instance, have woefully poor mobile user interfaces as standard.

Corporate IT departments need to think about how mobile users can gain secure access to enterprise systems, content and data

Should you consider a native application or HTML5 mobile app strategy?
This is one of those ‘how long is a piece of string’ questions and the answer will depend on the type of mobile enterprise application, who the intended users are likely to be and what devices they are likely to use.

As the table below shows, the best way to guarantee that your enterprise mobile applications will be compatible with your BYOD policy will be to implement mobile web applications; but in reality, native mobile applications will continue to be used for certain types of applications and target user groups:

Pros Cons
Native mobile Apps
  • Rich functionality
  • Offline access (for some apps)
  • Good for apps designed for individual users or work-groups
  • Difficult to deploy across the enterprise
  • Ensuring apps are correctly updated can cause governance issues
  • App developer may not support all mobile platforms, which may limit your ability to implement BYOD
  • Some apps may cache or save content and data on the mobile device, which should be reviewed alongside your mobile security policy
HTML5 Mobile Web Apps
  • True cross-platform mobile device compatibility
  • Feature-parity of app functionality across mobile platforms
  • Instant deployment of mobile apps and solutions to users
  • Updates for cloud-based services are applied instantly to all users
  • Potential for zero-footprint (no content or data left on the device)
  • New generation of HTML5 apps can support offline working
  • Good for mobile apps that will be used by large numbers of users
  • Users generally require an internet connection to use apps
  • Apps are accessed via the mobile device’s browser
  • Apps may not be able to take advantage of device functionality, although newer generation mobile web apps are able to do so
  • Speed and response times may be slower if accessing app over a poor connection

The newest generation of mobile web applications can behave just like native apps.  They are accessed via home screen application badges/icons and, although they are accessed via the mobile’s browser, they look and behave almost exactly like their native mobile app cousins, but with all of the advantages of being a web based application, like cross-platform compatibility, strong security, and the central purchasing, deployment and updating of licences; without having to necessitate an investment in costly Mobile Device Management (MDM) infrastructures.

How does Azurati support all-inclusive BYOD?
Being a leading HTML5 mobile enterprise application and mobile development platform vendor, Azurati fully supports and endorses all-inclusive BYOD programmes through its mobile enterprise applications and solutions:

1. SharePoint2Go® Secure cross-platform mobile Microsoft SharePoint, allowing mobile users to access SharePoint content, data and custom web parts on any mobile device
2. Azurati Mobile Portal™ Secure mobile container that acts as an application launch-pad for HTML5 apps that require authentication and enterprise-class security.
3. Azurati ASAP® HTML5 mobile enterprise application development platform for developing secure cross-platform mobile web applications.

For further information about Azurati, visit: www.azurati.com

Azurati webinar: Transforming your SharePoint Intranet to support mobile users

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Vodafone recently published the results of an internal test involving 100+ staff members who were given tablets to work with.  The test showed that the following three applications were used most often by tablet users:

• Corporate email
• Intranet (SharePoint)
• Social Collaboration

The use of mobile devices in the enterprise is increasing as companies permit multiple mobile devices as part of enterprise mobile or BYOD strategies.

Mobile is key to boosting Intranet user adoption and user engagement.

Is your business ready to support mobile working?  Does your SharePoint-based Intranet address the needs of your mobile staff.

If you are responsible for your corporate Intranet or SharePoint environment, you should attend this webinar to find out how you can transform your SharePoint Intranet instantly into a secure cross-platform mobile Intranet with Azurati’s SharePoint2Go.

Register RIGHT NOW.

 

Date          Wednesday 24 October 2012
Time 14:00 London

15:00 Paris

09:00 New York

08:00 Dallas

 

 

 

 

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Deploying Microsoft SharePoint securely on multiple mobile devices

Gartner talks about Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) as being the ‘the most radical shift in client computing since the introduction of the PC’, which if they are right, will fundamentally affect almost every organization and how they provision IT services to employees.

Providing secure access to enterprise systems as part of an enterprise mobility or BYOD strategy may become a significant challenge to overcome for many organizations.  Rory Staunton at industry analysts Strategy Partners, declared during a keynote speech recently, that ‘every enterprise system, from CRM and ERP applications, through to intranets and custom line-of-business applications will be targets for mobile conversion’.

When you look at the most likely candidates for mobilization across the business, you would probably want to select those applications that reach and impact the most number of users and where the greatest return on mobile productivity would be.  Microsoft SharePoint would seem to be amongst the most obvious of candidates, since 69% of the 65,000 organizations who have deployed SharePoint, have deployed it enterprise-wide, according to Microsoft, and it typically is the place that employees go to collaborate with each other, access documents and content and to keep informed of company news and events.

So, what is stopping you from taking the plunge and providing access to SharePoint to your mobile users today?

Firstly, there may be the realization that employees who try to access corporate systems on mobile devices, are essentially the same as external users, as far as information security is concerned, and if you do not currently allow external access over your firewall to your internal systems, then this will probably be one of the key areas for you  to start your enterprise mobility and BYOD initiatives.

Secondly, for those who have examined the standard mobile templates that ship with SharePoint, you will come to understand that unless you undertake a significant amount of custom development work (which will need to be repeated for each mobile device), it is unlikely that your business users are going to find the standard mobile SharePoint templates an engaging and productive working experience.

There are a number of off-the-shelf mobile SharePoint solutions, like Azurati’s SharePoint2Go solution and others, and this will undoubtedly encourage you to start thinking about what kind of mobile experience you want to provide to your users.  On this issue, it is important to be clear about where you (the employer, rather than the employee) stand on the provision of mobile services that access enterprise systems.  It is one thing to allow personal devices, or corporately sanctioned devices to be used in the workplace, but this should not come at a cost to information security and control over user access and management.  This may dictate whether you decide to deploy Native Mobile Applications (that can be purchased by individual users from App Stores and market places) and Mobile Web Applications that can be purchased and deployed centrally and can be updated without having to rely on end users to do this manually from their mobile platform App Stores.

To many the perception is that Mobile Web Applications are not able to take advantage of value-adding mobile device functions or that they are not available in offline mode.  On this front, a new generation of Mobile Web Applications, of which SharePoint2Go is a good example, are showing that you can deploy lightweight web-based mobile solutions that behave like native applications and can be used in offline mode.

Azurati will be hosting a webinar on this topic on the 19th of September if you are interested in finding out more about what you should be looking out for before you consider trying to deploy SharePoint as part of your enterprise mobility or BYOD strategy.

Webinar:  Deploying Microsoft SharePoint securely on multiple mobile platforms

When:  19 September 2012 (16:00 London/ 11:00 NY/ 08:00 LA)

Register:  https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/682161175

 

Does your SharePoint implementation support mobile users?

Perhaps a good place to start answering this question may be to ask whether your SharePoint implementation supports and adds value to your staff in general?

The SharePoint story has been phenomenal.  It has become the de facto enterprise portal, ECM solution and collaboration platform of choice for over 65,000 corporate customers with 125 million users (according to Microsoft).  Some 65% of companies say that have deployed SharePoint enterprise-wide, yet a commonly reported issue is that SharePoint implementations fail to create an engaging and productive working environment for end users. So, what kind of functionality in SharePoint should you be looking for to help your staff become more productive with their time?  Here is a list of some of the more obvious features:

  • Access to document libraries and templates
  • Tasks and workflow
  • Forms
  • Custom views and WebParts (like Social Collaboration apps, corporate announcements, staff contact lists, BI reports and dashboards, CRM pipeline reports, etc).

If your SharePoint environment provides some or all of these functions, then you probably feel that SharePoint is going a good job in supporting your users. Your staff who work away from the office or who want to access SharePoint on mobile devices however, may well feel quite differently, since it is unlikely that they are going to be able to have access to the same rich supporting environment on their smartphone or tablet.

There are many issues to overcome in order to provide secure mobile access to SharePoint.  Firstly, the standard mobile templates that ship with SharePoint are basic, uninspiring and difficult to customize and any development work that is taken place will need to be repeated for each mobile platform and form factor. Then you have the issue of security and authentication.  Remembering that staff members who want to access corporate systems from their mobile devices, are essentially the same as external users; so firewalls, authentication procedures and mobile information security policies may need to be revised.

Whether you take the plunge and undertake custom development of SharePoint’s native mobile templates, or whether you purchase an off-the-shelf mobile SharePoint application from an App store, you will still only have access to standard out-of-the-box SharePoint functions. If your SharePoint system has been branded and customized with WebParts and other functionality that add value to your staff to boost collaboration and productivtiy, then unfortunately all of the current mobile SharePoint solutions on the market fail to provide mobile users with a corresponding mobile SharePoint experience as they all only provide assess to standard functionality, like tasks, calendars, lists items and document libraries.

That is, with the exception of Azurati.  Azurati’s SharePoint2Go solution provides a highly secure cross-platform mobile SharePoint experience that will work on any device from a Windows 8 Surface tablet, to IOS device and everything in between.  The big difference being that it also allows the mobile SharePoint UI to be branded and customized, so that it essentially becomes a mobile extension to the internal SharePoint environment and most importantly, it also allows custom developed WebParts, that provide the added value to SharePoint users, to be transformed into v-Parts® and made available to mobile users via SharePoint2Go.

So, from an end user’s perspective, SharePoint2Go provides a rich mobile SharePoint experience that will allow mobile users to maintain office-level productivity when working on any smartphone or tablet. From the IT department’s perspective, SharePoint2Go allows mobile SharePoint to be deployed as part of a multi-platform or BYOD mobile strategy, but allowing the Business to maintain control over security and authentication.

Why should you care about mobile users?  Well, because many organizations see enterprise mobility as being one of their top strategic priorities.   As new smartphones and tablets appear on the market and overtake the sales of laptops and desktops, the traditional definition of a mobile user will change.  In the very near future, we will all be mobile users, and for 65% of organisations who responded to a recent survey by Gartner, we will increasingly expect to be able to bring our own devices in to the workplace and to connect to enterprise systems.

If you are interested in providing secure access to mobile SharePoint as part of your enterprise mobility strategy, talk to Azurati or join other like-minded business and IT professionals by subscribing to the LinkedIn Group: Mobile SharePoint.  Azurati also offers a range of expert consulting services to help you if you have not yet fully defined an enterprise mobility or BYOD strategy for your business.

Would you like your SharePoint to go?

As the world becomes increasingly mobile and smart-phones and tablets are used to access enterprise systems, it is only natural that the new breed of travelling executives, sales and marketing professionals or field-based staff are going to expect access to corporate information systems that help them to remain productive, like Microsoft SharePoint, to be made accessible on their mobile device of choice.

The enterprise mobility challenges for CIOs are numerous, like:

  • How do you provide secure access to enterprise systems for mobile users (particularly when they are accessing on-premise systems like SharePoint across the corporate firewall)?
  • Are your enterprise systems mobile-ready and engaging for your mobile users?
  • Do you have a bring your own device (BYOD) or multi-platform corporate device policy?
  • Does your mobility solutions vendor support your policies on security, multi-device/platform, user experience, etc.?
  • How do you incorporate custom developed web parts and applications developed in standard SharePoint for mobile users?

One would naturally think that the standard mobile views provided with Microsoft SharePoint should suffice – but unfortunately (for you) they rarely do.  SharePoint’s standard mobile interface is designed for the lowest common denominator interface, resulting in a poor user experience that does not support finger navigation and productive mobile working, without significant manual development and customisation work – that will need to be done for each target mobile platform and device form-factor.  This does not of course, address the issue of providing secure access for mobile users who want to access their SharePoint environment outside the corporate firewall, which is not supported without having to licence additional firewall security products and systems.

Which of the following mobile SharePoint user interfaces would your mobile users find more engaging?

Solutions like Azurati’s SharePoint2Go, allow enterprise users to access Microsoft SharePoint securely on any smartphone or tablet device; while ensuring that mobile users can remain productive when they are on the road.

SharePoint2Go is a cloud-based enterprise mobility solution that provides multiple authentication options to allow corporate users to securely access any version of SharePoint on any mobile device, making it BYOD-compliant as standard.  Mobile security has been designed in to the DNA of SharePoint2Go with security features like smartcard/2-factor authentication, through to a zero footprint policy (meaning that no residual data or content is left on the device) and 256-bit encrypted access.  So, if your user’s are looking for SharePoint to go, make sure they use Azurati’s SharePoint2Go.

To find out more about SharePoint2Go and to request a demonstration or live trial, visit www.azurati.com.

If you are interested in joining other like-minded business and IT professionals who are interested in mobile working with Microsoft SharePoint, why not also join our LinkedIn Group, Mobile SharePoint.

City of Copenhagen rolls out city-wide wireless network to allow employees to work on mobile devices

The City of Copenhagen in Denmark has recently announced that it has deployed a city-wide wireless network, based on technology from wireless infrastructure company, Aruba Networks, to enable its staff to work on mobile devices.

Although not the first project of its kind, it demonstrates a growing emphasis on employers providing secure mobile infrastructures to allow mobile workers to maintain office-level productivity when they are working on wireless devices, like smartphones or tablets.

Mobile working is set to become more popular over the next three years, according to leading independent analysts, like Gartner, as mobile devices become more sophisticated and mobile enterprise application platforms, like Azurati, allow mobile users to connect to their office systems securely on their smartphone or tablet device.

Being able to connect to core enterprise systems, like Microsoft SharePoint or CRM systems on a mobile device with mobile-rendered interfaces will transform the productivity levels of staff who are not in the office.

We recently came across a case where the field-based staff of a government agency were required to travel in to their office each day just to receive their work orders and supporting documentation for the day; even if this meant travelling extensive distances in the wrong direction to their work assignment.

How mobile staff like senior managers, sales and marketing professionals or field staff work during down-time (on public transport, in transit, at airports, etc.) when they are not in the office, will become the new benchmark for productivity and competitiveness.

If your business stops because you leave the office and are not available to review and approve documents, contracts or purchase orders; or if you have to wait until the next day when you are back in the office to follow up with a customer after a sales meeting, the chances are that in the near future, you are going to lose staff or lose business if your competitor’s staff are able to continue working as if they are in the office, when they only have a smartphone or tablet to hand.

To learn more about smarter and more productive working when you are on the road, visit www.azurati.com.