The Truth About HTML5 – Part #1
Author: Gil Bouhnick
Part #1: The Raise Of HTML5
The obvious: iPads, Androids, personal devices – all part of the enterprise:
Consumer trends in mobility are extreme; iPhone is out and suddenly everyone is looking for touch only devices. Android is released and boom, there are 150 different Android models out there and everyone is getting one. The iPad is invented, and suddenly we all need a tablet to maximize our “mobilization”.
And then there’s the enterprise; same trends, only slower. Less extreme, but equally aggressive.
It took a bit longer (as it should be), but the Enterprise world is finally catching up, and is now fully aligned with consumers’ trends: high-end smartphones, modern operating systems which are mostly used by consumers, tablets, location based services, analytics on the move, we all need them to maximize our utilization rate and increase our efficiency…
In the past only specific groups within the organization were given mobile devices: laptops for senior people, BlackBerries for the business, rugged mobile devices for the field users and so on.
But nowadays, the requirements have changed, the scale has changed:
- Much more people are now accessing back-end data from their mobile devices, and they are consuming this data 24/7…
- People want to use their personal phones for work purposes (“heck, I did not purchase my bran-new Samsung Galaxy S2 just to continue carrying this company’s old BlackBerry Bold in my pocket…”) – creating a real need for a cross platform support
- People want to use more than one device and expect everything to run seamlessly on all of them (“Just got my new iPad, it’s great for doing emails, managing my to-do list, taking meetings summaries; it’s a [fun] working tool!”)
- People expect to do more with their mobile tools (“of course I want to monitor my team’s performance from my iPad, what else can I do with it [besides playing stupid games and the things marked in item 3 of course…]?”). It leads the way for more functionality requested to be available from mobile.
The challenges: quantity, volumes, diversity, high expectations:
More people, more devices, completely different platforms, much more functionality.
What a mess!
Now think about the mobile software vendors out there that need to support all of that messy environment and high expectations – after all, providing an enterprise-grade product is nothing like a small iPhone app, or a game – it needs to be flexible, configurable, manageable… now all of this should be working on all the devices, and for different roles and business units?!
On top of that – IT managers are also taking part in this fun game: they are the ones requested to deliver those solutions: they need to choose the right software vendor, support the project and all of those new demands.
The new mobile requirements:
Just 3-4 years ago everything seemed to be steady, it was all Windows Mobile and BlackBerry and the requirements where technically hard but seemed to be rational:
- Support for Windows Mobile, Windows, BlackBerry
- Support for Touchscreen (not always)
- Support for different screen resolutions
- Offline capabilities
- Store & Forward middle-tier with push capabilities
- Strong device management capabilities with remote wipeout, remote diagnostic, pushing patches and large data
- Integration with peripheral devices such as barcode scanner, camera, printer, GPS
While many of the above are still relevant today (with slightly different priorities), we certainly see new requirements coming from enterprise organizations starting 2011:
- Device agnostic solutions (able to run on iOS, Android OS, BlackBerry OS, webOS, Windows, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7).
- Support for significantly different screen sizes: from 3.5 inch to 10.1inch (smartphones to tablets) and even beyond that (when talking about laptops or ToughBooks).
- Zero footprint applications; History repeats itself and just like the shift we have witnessed 10 years ago while all the back-office tools evolved from being “windows-based” into becoming “web-based” – the same evolution is now happening to mobile applications.
- Integration: Client side integration with peripheral devices and data is still required, but more than that – integration with just about EVERY back-end system and the ability to mobilize just about anything.
- Easier device management. With so many devices and so many different platforms, things must become easier to manage; much of the security management, policies distributions and other capabilities are all supported by the mobile operating systems, reducing the need for dedicated or proprietary device management tools, but also raising the platform expectations to a higher level.
- Two devices (and sometimes even more) per user: We, at ClickSoftware Mobility, have seen this trend becoming more popular than ever in the past 10 months: organizations looking to equip their field users with 2 devices: one for complicated (and sometimes offline) kind of activities such as long reports, data capturing etc. and one for short, ongoing, in-time updates. The first type of activities will typically require a laptop or a tablet, as the second type requires smartphones of any kind.
The perfect answer – HTML5:
While Adobe, Apple, Google and Microsoft were fighting to win the cross platform development war, HTML5 arose, and changed everything. The giants have all lost the fight. Silverlight, Flash, Google Gears, Java are no longer considered to be cross platform development languages.
There is only one player left in that area and that is HTML5; a codename for the newest web technologies also including Java Script and CSS3. Technologies that have proven to be solid, reliable, efficient, enterprise-proof, and mobile-wise, proven to be capable of working offline, securely, on any modern device.
HTML5 seems to be the answer to many of the enterprise needs (as well as consumers) and as momentum is growing it has the potential to stand up to the expectations.
But as usual in the Enterprise, nothing is so simple…
(To be continued…)