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Enterprise app security tops list for enterprise mobile deployments

Sean Martin, Contributor

Despite the explosion of mobile devices in both the consumer and business environments, a recent survey found that most enterprises have "mobilized" only a fraction of their applications. Providing security for mobile versions of enterprise apps was ranked as the topmost desired feature, but perhaps it's been a roadblock as well.

According to a recent survey of nearly 200 respondents that mobile application development platform provider moTwin conducted, nearly one-third of responding organizations have not moved any of their enterprise applications to the mobile platform, while an additional 38% have only converted 10% of their applications to function on a mobile device.

Most organizations claimed that the number of active users their mobile apps serve is still small; a surprising 57% noted they have fewer than 1,000 active users for their mobile applications. This implies that most of the current mobile apps are focused on employees instead of consumers.

Lack of resources and expertise were found to be the biggest barriers to mobile app development among the respondents. With the expected cost of mobile application development listed by nearly half the respondents as $25,000 to more than $100,000 and with nearly 25% listing their budgets as less than $10,000, the findings imply that the budget allocated to mobilize their enterprise applications is not quite there for custom app development.

According to Allan Denis, CTO for moTwin, "It appears that the delay comes in part due to a lack of resources, but also a lack of understanding in how best to implement a mobile solution. This can be witnessed in some of the other finding in the report related to hosting -- including on-premises vs. cloud, coding choices and multi-platform support."

As an example, desires for hosted vs. on-premises deployments were split down the middle with roughly 45% of respondents preferring to place their mobile application platform on-premises while roughly a third would rather employ a hybrid platform model, mixing on-premises with cloud-based deployments. This result might be based on the criticality and sensitivity of the data associated with the business applications being developed and deployed.

Again, there does not seem to be a clear winner between HTML 5 and native apps as companies remain divided on which technology to use based on their specific requirements. In fact, some organizations are choosing to use a hybrid model where roughly 10% of the respondents are using both. Although HTML 5 provides the convenience of writing once for all mobile platforms as well as the Web, native apps provide a much better user experience. This native method also gives access to device-specific features such as the camera, calendar and near field communication devices.

However, building for a single platform is not a feasible approach. "Building to multiple platforms at once while maintaining the native user experience is both difficult and costly -- this proves to be a huge deterrent for companies to move their apps to the mobile environment," Denis said.

Building in security also adds cost and complexity, but respondents say they want it. "Of the security features desired, mobile authentication, secure app containers, secure access to enterprise servers, app-level encryption, and granular IT policy control top the list," Denis said.