Mobile enterprise application platform
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A mobile enterprise application platform (MEAP) is a comprehensive suite of products and services that enable development of mobile applications. The term was coined in a Gartner Magic Quadrant report in 2008 when they renamed their "multi-channel access gateway market".
MEAPs address the difficulties of developing mobile software by managing the diversity of devices, networks and user groups at the time of deployment and throughout the mobile solution’s lifecycle. Unlike standalone apps, a MEAP provides a comprehensive, long-term approach to deploying mobility. Cross-platform considerations are one big driver behind using MEAPs. For example, a company can use a MEAP to develop the mobile application once and deploy it to a variety of mobile devices (including smart phones, tablets, notebooks and ruggedized handhelds) with no changes to the underlying business logic.
Platform applications are best for companies that wish to deploy multiple applications on a single infrastructure, scaled to the size of their current mobile field force and available in an online and offline mode. Mobile platforms provide higher level languages and easy development templates to simplify and speed the mobile application development timeframe, requiring less programming knowledge for mobile business application deployment.
Rule of three
The Rule of Three refers to a concept developed by analyst firm Gartner, whereby companies are encouraged to consider the MEAP approach to mobility when they need their mobile solutions to:
- Support three or more mobile applications
- Support three or more mobile operating systems (OS)
- Integrate with at least three back-end data sources
According to Gartner, using a common mobility platform, like an MEAP, brings considerable savings and strategic advantages in this situation.
Components and Features
A MEAP solution is generally composed of two parts: a mobile middleware server and a mobile client application. A middleware server is the solution component that handles all system integration, security, communications, scalability, cross-platform support, etc. No data is stored in the middleware server – it just manages data from the back-end system to the mobile device and back. Most MEAPs also come with a mobile configuration/development toolset that allows companies to create and adjust the mobile solutions.
Mobile applications are software that connect to the middleware server and drives both the user interface and the business logic on the device. These applications are often able to transfer seamlessly across the Mobile operating system, as a platform to launch applications upon. Mobile apps can be deployed as "thick" applications—or native apps that are installed on the device - or rendered in the device's browser using technologies such as HTML5 (something that's often called the "thin" approach). Whether a "thick" or "thin" application is deployed depends on application complexity, device support, requirements for user experience, and the need for app availability in the absence of network coverage.
Features and capabilities
- MEAPs can support more than one type of mobile device and operating system without having to maintain separate sets of code.
- MEAP typically contains a mobile middleware server where integration connectivity, security, app management are supported.
- Writing a custom app extension is very easy with most MEAP solutions because they use 4GL techniques that do not require writing code. This toolset comes in the shape of plug-in for an industry standard IDE, such as Eclipse.
- The step forward in developing the MEAP type of solutions is evolving the principle of defining the mobile business support workflow and embedded functionalities by moving beyond 4GL tools towards using the graphical environment and dedicated script language solutions.
- Integrate with multiple server data sources for leverage SOA services from backend systems.
- Leverage development skill and tools you already know and expertise you already have. More details are in the Mobile application development section.
- Centrally manage mobile applications. The management of the actual devices that is more tailored for B2E scenario and it is typically done with the MDM. As well, some of solutions are enabling BYOD feature by integrating MDM solution.
- Enhance existing business platforms by making them accessible to users anywhere, at any time.
- MEAPs Can be run on the cloud 
The MEAP software market is constantly evolving and expanding. According to TechNavio's analysts, “the Global Mobile Enterprise Application Platform market will reach $1.6 billion in 2014.” 
- Cross-platform software
- Field service management
- Mobile App Server
- Mobile application development
- Multi-channel app development
- Mobile Backend as a service
- "We've renamed the multichannel access gateway market to the mobile enterprise application platform market, reflecting its maturation, Apple's entry, and the move of mobile tools and platforms to the application development mainstream." Michael J. King, William Clark, "Magic Quadrant for Mobile Enterprise Application", Gartner Note G00162969, 18 December 2008. The following year Gartner added the "mobile consumer application platform" category in another magic quadrant report.
- Michael Brandenburg, Technical Editor. "Mobile enterprise application platforms: A primer". Searchmobilecomputing.techtarget.com. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
- Gartner RAS Core Research Note G00211688, Michael J. King, William Clark, 20 April 2011
- "MSP, Mobile Service Platform". i-Rose, Ltd. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
- "Many-device-to-many-platform Mobile App Integration is No Longer a Challenge". Configure.IT. Retrieved 2014-11-20.
- "Global Mobile Enterprise Applications Platforms (MEAPS) 6206411". Marketresearch.com. 2011-03-24. Retrieved 2013-05-08.