At the Crossroads of Enterprise, Mobile and the Cloud

It won’t be long before there are Android-based tablets and derivative devices. Will tablets kill notebooks? Steve Jobs said it well at the D8 conference early June when he likened future PCs to trucks as opposed to cars, important vehicles to be sure, but not the average person’s way of getting around. We see tablets overtaking notebooks in late 2011 or early 2012 when the price of an entry-level iPad has dropped to $200 with competing products costing even less. What we are witnessing is another major transition within the computer industry, if you can still call it that, where mature devices are replaced by newer, cheaper, and better ones.

Enterprise cloud
Meanwhile, cloud providers have made setting up complex software applications relatively easier and much faster, provide dashboard status display and controls, and are being supported by a growing number of cloud infrastructure services (IaaS). Start-ups no longer need to raise capital and expend time and waste brainpower designing proprietary distributed data centers. Instead, they “rent space” on the cloud. While some apps download and store user-specific data locally on the device, the more advanced apps, especially ones dealing with enterprise or social networking, store the data on remote servers “in the cloud.” By leveraging the cloud, app developers can deploy more sophisticated apps more quickly. Google itself is working hard to establish a cloud-based app ecosystem based on their web-centric Chrome operating system and browser combination.

Let’s cut over now to enterprise software systems employed by corporations to operate their businesses. Most existing systems today are closed and proprietary. Any effort to push part of the system over to mobile platforms is significant and expensive. While the first crop of tablets are today eschewed by enterprises for limited security, poor app control and high wireless bandwidth reasons, we see tablets as evolving into natural companions to corporate IT with their thin client milieu, low learning curve for new employees and tremendous portability and flexibility. The big players in enterprise, HP, Oracle, IBM, among others, are already looking to make their codebase more tablet and cloud friendly, not only to reduce the overhead of internal enterprise IT processes, but also to make them extensible for mobile platforms and more accessible by vendors, customer and the public at large.

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