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Survey Identifies Back-end Integration as Major Mobile Challenge

Open source powerhouse Red Hat Inc. released details of a recent survey that indicates back-end integration is a primary challenges in enterprise mobile app development, almost on par with the perennial problem of security.

In its "mobile trends" survey, Red Hat polled customers around the world to find out what their mobile priorities are and the biggest problems they face.

"According to the findings, while mobile plays a role for 73 percent of organizations, nearly half of the respondents identify security (45 percent) and back-end integration (43 percent) as the top challenges for mobile app development," the company said in a statement last week. "Additional challenges identified by respondents include UI/UX design (35 percent), team collaboration (34 percent) and cost (24 percent)."

To connect mobile apps with back-end systems to provide database services, push notifications and so on, 55 percent of respondents are eschewing out-of-the-box solutions and still doing hand-coding from scratch or using external resources such as libraries, marketplaces and vendor services for homegrown development.

"This demonstrates a high dependency on do-it-yourself approaches to the complexity of connecting apps to enterprise systems," Red Hat said. "Although mobile application platforms and Mobile Back-end-as-a-Service (MBaaS) exist as effective solutions to integrate apps with enterprise back-end systems, less than one-third (30 percent) are using them, with one in five (20 percent) using application programming interface (API) management. In addition, 20 percent of respondents either use existing middleware technology or an API from their back-end software vendor to connect their mobile apps."

Red Hat acquired MBaaS technology and other mobile app development expertise last fall with its buyout of FeedHenry Ltd.

"As organizations shift to become more mobile-centric, back-end integration is where many are hitting a wall -- the back-end presents myriad challenges, while other challenges such as security continue to be a concern," said Red Hat exec Cathal McGloin. "In order to solve these mobile issues, organizations should look to maximize efficiency by leveraging mobile platforms to accelerate development while reducing complexity."

On the priority side of the survey's results, enterprises are gearing up in anticipation of the expected business impact of the Internet of Things (IoT).

"Most businesses are acknowledging the growing relationship between mobile and IoT by actively planning for the next wave of integration that will be required by connected devices," Red Hat said. "While 21 percent of organizations have already incorporated IoT projects into their business, more than one in four (28 percent) plan to do so in the next year, and 70 percent plan to do so over the next five years. Given the demonstrated pain point of back-end integration, companies should focus on a solution that effectively integrates IoT."

The growing importance of the IoT and mobile initiatives identified in the survey is further exemplified by efforts on the part of companies such as startup moBack, which recently offered a self-deployable back-end platform, and MODE Inc., a startup that last week unveiled a cloud platform to tie mobile apps to MBaaS systems.

Another business priority identified in the Red Hat survey is the expenditure of finite resources for the maintenance of core systems and applications, rather than the sexier mobile and IoT initiatives.

"Despite the appetite for mobile and IoT, when allocating IT resources for the year ahead, 60 percent of respondents are prioritizing maintenance of core systems and applications," Red Hat said. "This points to shadow IT as an increasing trend, where the business bypasses IT to create and use their own apps."

The survey of 112 global Red Hat customers was conducted by TechValidate in March and April.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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