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Mobile applications can significantly increase the productivity of workers, especially if the workers can access enterprise applications in a timely and efficient manner using their mobile wireless devices. Organizations have embraced wireless e-mail thanks to effective options that are available today for small form-factor devices. Now many organizations are working to make other data equally available.
Mobile middleware platforms provide one means of achieving this objective, offering capabilities and functions that can simplify overall application deployment. The AT&T Mobile Enterprise Applications Platform (MEAP) is a comprehensive suite of products and services that enables enterprises to design, build, deploy, and manage dynamic mobile applications. Associated with this is AT&T Workbench an application that manages mobile web applications on the AT&T MEAP. It securely connects to the MEAP Gateway and allows administrators to deploy, provision and manage enterprise web applications, providing a container for the applications and associated data.
The definition of middleware is computer software that connects software components or applications, enabling services to interact over a network. The purpose of middleware is to facilitate client/server operations, access to host applications, and to enable complex distributed systems.
Mobile applications, especially when designed for handheld form factors, are not just ports of desktop applications. They must be able to deliver precisely the right information quickly and easily, and need to function in fundamentally different ways due to factors such as user interface constraints and wireless networks that function differently than wired networks.
Another challenge is that a mobile application may need to operate on multiple device operating systems and form factors as few organizations have standardized on just one device, users have device preferences, and it may be necessary to easily add new device types in the future. Given the different screen sizes and different underlying operating systems, supporting multiple device types flexibly can be challenging.
Companies regularly list security as one of their top concerns with mobile and wireless computing, so any mobile deployment needs to not only secure data communications, but also data on the device, and must properly authenticate users, as well as provide only authorized access to select information.
There is also the question of device management, which for larger deployments is essential. This includes items such as provisioning and updating software, and neutralizing lost or stolen devices. All of these functions can potentially be addressed by mobile middleware systems.