IBM MobileFirst Platform: An Overview

In this age of mobile technology, all the big companies in the corporate world are in growing need for a solution to connect employees and customers to in-the-moment insights with an elegant user experience in order to empower its workforce. To achieve this, they look for some Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP) that extends the existing back-end systems with development, user engagement, security and management capabilities. IBM MobileFirst Platform (MFP) is such a suite of products for the organizations that need to deliver multiple mobile apps quickly but lack the resources and expertise to develop standalone apps for multiple platforms and device types.

It is, in fact, too huge a topic to discuss in a single blog post. Therefore, in this post I’m going to stick with its key components and core features with some brief description for each.

Why choose IBM MobileFirst Platform?

Before choosing an MEAP solution, an enterprise basically considers certain things. For example,

User demands: To ensure the continuous improvement of a great user experience, the enterprise needs constant user feedback, monitoring and release of revisions.

Security: This is certainly one of the major concerns for the companies. To make apps and data secure, it requires specific governance like user authentication and measures against spoofing.

Contextualization and Personalization: Apps must capture, interpret and act on disparate context sources in real time using GPS, photo and video features to deliver a contextual app experience.

Richness of Data: Speed and scale requires new integration and database approaches for app developers. From seamless data scalability and delivery of responsive user experience to reduction of app development and maintenance costs, one should choose the right platform that suits the interests of enterprise the most.

Luckily, the IBM MobileFirst Platform offers a wide range of tools and services to ensure these all, which can be integrated into existing development environments. Moreover, development can be accelerated using cross-platform application tool through hybrid development.

Architecture of IBM MobileFirst Platform

The most simplistic architecture of IBM MobileFirst Platform can be portrayed as the diagram shown below:


Scroll down to get a brief overview of these components.

Key Components of IBM MobileFirst Platform

IBM MobileFirst Platform is composed of three parts:

  • MobileFirst Platform Foundation
  • MobileFirst Platform Application Scanning and
  • MobileFirst Quality Assurance

IBM MobileFirst Platform Foundation

Formerly known as Worklight Foundation, it is a platform for building mobile applications for the enterprise. It includes tools and services available both on-premise and in the cloud that enables rapid building, administration and monitoring of secure applications. Some of the basic constituent parts of the MobileFirst Platform Foundations are described below:

  1. MobileFirst Server: It’s the middleware tier that provides a gateway between back-end systems and services and the mobile client application. It enables app authentication, data endpoints/services, data optimization and transformation, push notification management and app/services analytics, to name a few.
  2. MobileFirst API:
  • Server-side API: It enables exposing data adapters to mobile applications. It has built-in security framework, unified push notifications accross multiple platforms and data translation/transformation services. This can be implemented using both Java and JavaScript.
  • Client-side API: It’s available for native Android (Java), native iOS (Objective-C), J2ME, C# native Windows Phone (C#) and JavaScript for cross-platform hybrid applications. It includes user authentication, encrypted storage, push notifications, geo-notifications, data access etc.
  1. MobileFirst Studio: This is a development environment for developers which is based on the Eclipse platform. But, this is not necessarily required. Using command line tools you can manage MobileFirst server, create data adapters and encrypted JSON store and more. Moreover, you can use other development environments of your choice with the corresponding SDKs.
  2. MobileFirst Console: The console provides a dashboard and management portal for everything happening within your MobileFirst applications. You can view which APIs and adapters have been deployed, set app notifications, manage or disable your apps, report on connected devices and platforms, monitor push notifications, view analytics information for all services and adapters exposed through the MobileFirst server, and manage remote collection of client app logs.
  3. MobileFirst Application Center: It’s a tool that makes sharing mobile apps easier within an organization. Basically, it’s an app store for the enterprise.

MobileFirst Platform Application Scanning

MobileFirst Application Scanning is a set of tools that can scan your JavaScript, HTML, Objective-C, or Java code for security vulnerabilities and coding best practices. With this you can conduct a static code analysis of a mobile app, both native and web content, to detect potential vulnerabilities earlier during the development cycle for data leakage, sensitive information exposure, high-risk API usage and more. This analysis can be an automated part of an organization’s continuous integration and build strategy and it can be run on demand as well. Static code analysis for mobile apps is an important part of raising an organization’s overall security posture. With MobileFirst Application Scanning this analysis is made easier to institutionalize as part of the mobile app lifecycle.

MobileFirst Quality Assurance

MobileFirst Quality Assurance is a set of tools and features to help provide quality assurance to your mobile applications. It enables you to capture feedback from users and testers with sentiment analysis and seamless bug reporting and prioritization, and more.

By this time, hope you have the basic understanding of what IBM MobileFirst Platform is. You can regard this post as a synopsis of the MFP. To go deeper into this topic, it will need a whole series of posts. For now, this should be all you need to get familiar with this platform. If you want to know further and dive straight into development, the links provided below should come to your assistance.

Useful links

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