What’s Oracle up to in mobility?

The lay of the land for Oracle Mobility.

The last time we wrote about Oracle on BrianMadden.com was two years ago when they shut down Oracle VDI and Sun Ray. Now we’re paying attention to them again for their mobility efforts, and since Oracle OpenWorld was last week, it’s a good time for an update.

So what have they been up to? Oracle’s mobility efforts haven’t been as high-profile as SAP or IBM, but like almost every other enterprise software vendor they still have been doing lot of work. Also last week Oracle said that they would work with VMware to use ACE mobile app management principles in their apps.

The lay of the land for Oracle Mobility

First, just take a look in the public app stores—Oracle has well over a hundred apps in both the Apple App Store and Google Play. But that’s just one part of their strategy. With all of the customizations needed for enterprise mobile apps, Oracle also distributes source code directly to customers, who can then sign and distribute apps to employees on their own.

Then there’s the Oracle Mobile Cloud Service, a mobile backend as a service (MBaaS). MBaaS platforms have been gaining traction as a way to connect new apps to existing resources; MBaaS platforms typically have provisions for analytics and mobile-centric services like push notifications and data synchronization. (Read more about MBaaS here.) Oracle Mobile Cloud Service was announced last year at Oracle OpenWorld and became available this summer. As you would expect, Oracle Mobile Cloud Service is specifically designed to work with customers’ existing Oracle applications and systems.

For end-user mobile apps, Oracle provides the Oracle Mobile Application Framework. This is like a typical mobile app development platform that enables a write once / deploy anywhere approach. Customers can write apps in Java and use the Oracle JDeveloper IDE or write in C# and use Xamarin, and then deploy apps to iOS or Android. Oracle provides a pre-assembled components that customers can add to their apps, too.

(Remember, you can also always just write plain HTML5 apps or fully native iOS and Android apps and still take advantage of the Oracle Mobile Cloud Service MBaaS. Windows Universal Apps will be an option, too.)

For app management and security, recall that Oracle bought mobile app management vendor Bitzer Mobile in 2013. These days it’s called Oracle Mobile Security, and is part of Oracle Identity Management. Customers can use it to wrap apps and embed identity and typical MAM features. Oracle Mobile Security also does mobile device management now, and they have an eye towards shared device use cases.

Oracle and ACE

Just last week Oracle announced that future versions of the Oracle Mobile Application Framework will adopt VMware ACE (App Configuration for Enterprise) mobile app management best practices.

This is interesting because ACE is actually based on standards that are defined by Android and iOS, not by VMware—VMware is just advocating for them. Oracle could have supported all of the exact same standards on their own, but instead made the choice to publicly mention VMware and ACE.

I asked Oracle if there were any more particular reasons for the announcement, and they said they have customers who are deploying their mobile apps and have expressed interest having them be compliant with AirWatch containerization.

Also, with a company the size of Oracle, customers will be using a lot of different options for mobility. Other vendors have done the same thing—for example SAP has its own MDM and MAM (or more precisely some of the MAM capabilities are from Mocana), but they also work with AirWatch and are part of ACE.

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Thanks for the update here. Frankly I'm pretty shocked at how badly Oracle botches everything. I half expect them to do something stupid like buying Xamarin.

Why can't they just build a client based Java platform for iOS like Codename One?

I was at the previous J1 and spent some time talking to a high ranking VP that said some pretty nasty words about MAF (Mobile Application Framework). Having tried it I totally concur.