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Is Your Mobile Device Your Best Friend?

This is the first part of a three-part series exploring mobile enterprise and application platforms with Red Hat, a leader in the open source industry. Stay tuned in the next month for more!

We may not realize them as such, but our mobile devices have become extremely personal. Think about it: your device knows everything about you, from your news preferences to how many steps you take a day. It hosts photos of your family and loved ones, as well as your favorite tunes and TV shows. It knows where you are at any given time, and will tell you the best way home whenever you ask it.

And not only does your mobile device know everything about your personal life — it probably is pretty filled in on your work life, too. It’s likely you’re access working email, apps, sites and more via the same mobile device that knows everything about your personal life. It pulls double duty on both the life and work fronts for you.

Face it: If your mobile device were a person, it would be your best friend. And you probably rely on it as such.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to make sure that, when it comes to the work environment, you have the mobile support and infrastructure you need — and that you know how to pick the best fit for you and your agency for application development. In particular, in the public sector, you need to be considering a mobile application platform – a shared platform or service that enables you to develop and run mobile solutions and facilitates collaboration on launching mobile initiatives across the enterprise. Consider a mobile application platform as phase 2 after your agency has already implemented their policies Mobile Device Management for hardware security.

GovLoop sat down with Josh Bentley, Mobility Sales Specialist, Red Hat, to discuss everything from their recently launched mobile enterprise platform to figuring out when and why you need a mobile application platform – and how to make sure you are choosing the right one.

First, Bentley set the stage with a very real example about why mobile application platforms — and choosing the right one — is extremely critical to the public sector.

“Let’s say that there’s an agency worker who’s responsible for going out at times of disaster,” Bentley said. “You actually often have field workers, and they go out in a time of disaster, and they’re doing things like barcode scanning to locate, believe it or not, people.”

Bentley went on to explain that if a child has been lost in a tsunami or another disaster, a field worker would take a barcode, put it on their wrist, scan that barcode with their mobile device, and then take inventory of that child. And then later back at the headquarters of the disaster relief, they can look in a database of all of the people they’ve located from their mobile devices, by rescanning those barcodes and doing inventory of these people. Then, when someone comes in and gives their name and says ‘I’m looking for my child,’ their name is, they’ll type it and they’ll say yes, we have your child, and we located that they were last scanned at this latitude and longitude.

“So as you can see, mobile applications are critically important,” Bentley said. “It’s not just about in disaster time inspecting what buildings were actually flooded, and where you need to deploy an insurance adjustor to go out and see how much money you have to spend to fix the building. It’s about people as well.”

It’s clear for the public sector that the need for mobile application development is there – but how do you make sure you invest in the right technology? How do you know if a particular mobile application platform is what you need?

Bentley said you want to look at several considerations, amongst others: the ability for collaborative development; security; efficient delivery and deployment; and scalability.

Red Hat’s mobile application fits all these considerations: it supports the tools developers want on a platform, that enforces rules that IT departments set. It allows apps to be developed in standard web technologies (HTML5, JavaScript, CSS) and deployed across all major mobile devices and mobile web. It supports popular toolkits including native SDKs for iOS, Android, Windows and BlackBerry, as well as hybrid Apache Cordova, HTML5 and Titanium, as well as frameworks such as Xamarin, Sencha Touch, and other JavaScript frameworks. Also of note is the major partnership that Red Hat has formed with Samsung to deliver cross platform applications to any device built with the Red Hat Mobile Application Platform.

“In our mobile enterprise platform, we have a product that is meant to optimize the public sector’s challenges, whether or not they’re looking at cloud or they’re looking at it on premise deployment,” Bentley said. “We’re there to work with their teams and their departments to take their use cases and let Red Hat give them solutions that mobilize their data and helps them achieve greater value and overcome challenges that they’re facing as an organization.”

Interested in more? Stay tuned for future blog posts about how mobile can fit into your agency’s IT strategy and use cases to help you better understand the need for a mobile application platform.

Also make sure to check out Red Hat’s page about the mobile enterprise platform, and their report about Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (MBaaS), which attempts to fill the gap between traditional app platforms and mobile apps.

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