HP announced on Tuesday the release of several tools aimed at simplifying the enterprise mobile application development and deployment processes.
HP announced Application Transformation Solutions, a suite of services and software that provide social media-influenced collaboration tools for development teams, intelligence and management tools for the development lifecycle, a platform through which mobile apps can be distributed to customers, and a mobile app testing service offered through a partnership with Perfecto Mobile.
Paul Evans, worldwide lead for application transformation at HP, says the Application Transformation Solutions are HP's answer to the growing demand for customized applications designed with customer engagement in mind. In order for enterprises to develop and offer these tools regularly, however, many will need to undergo fundamental changes to the way they develop new products, Evans says.
"We have got to change the way we think about software, how we build software and how we distribute software," Evans says. "And that is going to change."
Among other things, operational change in the age of mobile apps will entail more effective communication between line of business decision makers and the technology side of the enterprise, says Matt Morgan, global senior director of product and solution marketing for HP's IP solution business unit.
"The line of business is becoming more aware of the capabilities, largely through consumerization," Morgan says. "They go to the Apple Store and learn about all this stuff and ask, 'Why can't I have this?' So their requirements of their IT shop are evolving."
However, HP's best chance at establishing itself in this market is through its testing solution, says Dave West, Forrester Research vice president and research director serving application development and delivery professionals. HP's partnership with Perfecto Mobile gives it an edge by providing on-demand access to Perfecto's cloud-connected devices upon which applications can be tested for reliability, West says. Combined with HP's focus on mobile app deployment, testing tools will help set it apart from the rest of the market, he says.
"HP is in a good position. If it was all about custom application development, then they're not as strong as an IBM or a Microsoft or the open source world," West says. "But if it's about enterprise deployment, they have an incredibly strong offering."
However, one of HP's main strengths may also be seen by some customers as a weak spot. By partnering with Perfecto Mobile on its testing service, HP may instill uncertainty in potential customers expecting HP support, West says.
"Obviously, if you're buying from HP you'll want to feel some level of security in the situation," he says. "The thing that's interesting about this is it will make [the customer] question who owns this. If something goes wrong, who's on the hook? That's what it'll do. It'll probably slow down deals more than stop them."
With this in mind, West says HP is following a routine common among large vendors that are considering an acquisition. By introducing Perfecto Mobile to its customers, HP can evaluate its impact on the market and factor that into a buyout decision, West says.
"Mobile testing is a huge opportunity for the HP testing business in general, and they'll be in trouble if they haven't gotten anything," West says. "Perfecto Mobile seems to be a good solution."
According to research on CIOs' plans for enterprise mobile apps, HP may be getting into the market at an opportune time. Responding to a Robert Half Technology survey released last month, 43% of CIOs said they plan to offer a mobile app within the next 12 months. Another 22% said they'll release an app before the end of 2012, while 27% already provide one. HP Enterprise Collaboration, which Morgan dubbed "the most exciting" of the release, may be in high demand, as the most common challenge in the development process reported in the Robert Half survey was "collaborating across departments," as cited by 29% of CIOs.
With its new suite of tool, HP has gotten its foot in the door in a burgeoning market, West says. Now, if it makes the right moves from here, the company will have succeeded where some of its like-minded counterparts have struggled in the past.
"Traditionally, the enterprise vendors -- IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, CA -- have found the whole mobile space a bit complicated and have found going into it hard," West says. "I'm not saying [HP's] offerings are perfect or comprehensive, because they're not. There are lots of things they still need to do around mobility, in particular, but it's definitely a good first step."
Colin Neagle covers Microsoft security and network management for Network World. Keep up with his blog: Rated Critical, follow him on Twitter: @ntwrkwrldneagle. Colin's email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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