HP Software helps create, secure, build and manage Customer-facing mobile apps

In the last post in this mini-series, I talked about my belief that we need to think about customer-facing and Enterprise mobile apps slightly differently because they have different requirement sets.

 

In this post, I'll look at customer-facing mobile apps.

 

First, I'll consider the requirements for such apps and then I'll list the ways in which HP Software can help with the creation and running of these apps.

 

The Requirements of Customer-facing Mobile Applications  

Agility

Customer-facing mobile apps are downloaded from public, very public, app stores where all apps are rated. If you don’t get 4 or 5 stars, you don’t get downloaded. So, you have to iterate your app’s functionality until you are well rated. And should a competitor release a better app, you have to iterate again till you match or beat your competitor.

 

Also, there are 3779 Android devices out there. You can’t test all these (even with HP Software’s excellent mobile device Testing-as-a-Service). You need to quickly bring out a fix should you discover that an untested device has a problem.

 

The “five stars or die” and the “3779 devices” challenges lead to a need for what people term “ultra-agility” for developers of customer-facing mobile apps.

 

Serving up context-aware mobile content 

We want to be able to serve up content to our mobile customers in a way that varies depending on their preferences, their demographic and where they are.  I like to visit historic buildings. So, if I’m standing in an old German town, I might get served information about the 12th century town hall. My son likes metal music. So, in the town he might get served information about the metal band that grew up in the area.

 

Augmented Reality

You get a super-cool new cooker. It has all sorts of features. Point your smartphone at the feature you are interested in and your smartphone displays an “augmented reality” showing you how to use the feature. Or, a light flashes on the dashboard of your car. You point your smartphone at the light and it tells you what the problem is and maybe, shows you how to fix the problem.

 

This is augmented reality -  the smartphone recognizes an image (your car, your cooker, an advert for a movie) and displays augmented content super-imposed on top of this image.

 

aurasma A merc cut.png

 

(Diagram above :  If you pointed your phone at this print advert, it would recognise the image and give you an augmented reality video of the car in motion)

 

Augmented reality is very engaging and allows your customers to create mobile applications that are more useful and fun than their competitor’s.

 

End-to-end functionality testing

Apps that “do things” – that update Systems of Record – have two halves. There is the app on the mobile device, but there is also the back-end server functionality that actually talks to those Systems of Record. So, we need to have the functionality of the mobile app, the functionality of the back-end server and the combined functionality tested. Testing mobile app functionality on its own is not enough.

 

End-to-end performance testing and management

Compuware performed a study into the impact of poor mobile app performance.  This study shows just how important good mobile app performance is:

  • You lose 74% of your users if your mobile app takes longer than 5 seconds to load a page
  • 50% of users are unlikely to return to a poorly performing app
  • The most common user compliant about mobile apps is performance (38% of complaints)

So, we need to be able to test and manage the performance of the “whole experience” – the mobile application, the mobile comms to the device (which can be very unreliable) and the back-end service serving the mobile application and updating the Systems of Record.

 

Testing and monitoring this holistic performance is the (relatively) easy bit. The hard bit is figuring out where a performance problem lies should you find one – is it on the phone, in the mobile app, in the mobile comms, or on the server app and if so, in which layer of the server app?

 

While the majority of us like to start our transactions on mobile devices, Google research found that 55% of us will continue our transactions on a PC or Mac. We therefore need our functionality and performance testing tools and our performance management tools to support both mobile and fixed clients.

 

End-to-end security

We need to ensure that our mobile app and the server app (the portion looking after our Systems of Record) are secure.

 

Let’s now look at how HP Software meets these customer-facing app requirements.

 

How HP Software meets customer-facing app requirements  

Ultra-agility

  • The new Agile Manager manages the agile development process 
  • The Service Virtualization product can simulate devices, allowing developers to “get going” without having the devices their code will run on. Service Virtualization can do the reverse - it can simulate the services that the mobile app will use, thus allowsing the mobile app developers to write code before the server-side code to which it talks is ready
  • Using HP's mobile TaaS (testing-as-a-service), you can automate the real-device testing of the app on hundreds of devices 
  • HP's automation technology (CDA and CSA) allow you to deploy your app quickly and accurately. To cloud or datacenter or a mix of the two. Because the application model is reused in development, testing, deployment and management, the modelling of the automation is make much easier.
  • HP's topology discovery technology will discover your app and put it under management. Automatically

Serving up mobile content

  • Autonomy serves up mobile content in a profile, demographic, and device-dependent way
  • Autonomy allows you to test different page layouts using click stream data to determine the best choice
  • Autonomy allows you to run mobile content-based marketing campaigns

Augmented Reality

  • Autonomy’s Aurasma product allows you to create augmented reality to better market products, to help customers use products, and for education (kids “get” augmented reality and find it really engaging)

End to end functionality testing

  • ALM is able to test the build-up of the end-to-end solution. Start by testing the server-side app and then add in the mobile app. Test the app on both mobile and fixed clients 

End to end performance testing and management

  • HP Software can test and manage the performance of the whole end-to-end app, pin-pointing where performance problems lay – mobile app, comms or server-side app, and in which layer of the server side app.
  • HP Software can test and manage both mobile and fixed client-based applications (Google research found that people like to start transactions from mobile devices, but that they often finish them from a web-based client)
  • HP Software can simulate all kinds of mobile comms setups in a test lab environment. I have a friend who develops mobile apps. He says he spend ages working out what will happen under different "messy mobile comms" scenarios. Being able to test such situations without taking your app to far flung places is very important. Such "messy comms" include secure comms, slow GPRS, and sessions that keep dropping out 
  • You don't control the mobile device your customer is using. And you don't have the ability to instrument the comms between that device and your back-end services. So traditional monitoring solutions need augmenting. Enter "IT Operations Analytics" - the ability to record all metric, event, log, and change data into a "Big Data" store (based on Vertica, of course) and then ask questions of this store using what you know about the service hierarchy of the solution. HP's new IT Operations Analytics provides this functionality, and it's something I'll be blogging on soon

End-to-end security

As with functionality and performance, it’s no good just testing the mobile app. We need to test the mobile app and the server-side app to which it talks

  • Fortify can test the security of the mobile app
  • And, it can test the security of the server-side app too 

In the next post, I'll look at Enterprise mobile apps; those mobile apps that serve internal employees and partners.

 

Author : Mike Shaw

Comments
zincsulfate | ‎09-03-2013 02:05 AM

I see.

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About the Author
Mike has been with HP for 30 years. Half of that time was in R&D, mainly as an architect. The other 15 years has been spent in product manag...
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