Mobility: The Challenge of Heritage Applications

Thinking mobility, including for its heritage applications, no longer appears as an option, but as an imperative. For Gartner, more than 60 percent of organizations will need to support access to historically-developed applications for Windows across multiple device types by 2017.

In particular, says the firm, “companies still have many legacy systems and applications that are related to the desktop, whether they are mainframe applications, Microsoft Win32 applications or Web applications that should run on older browsers. ”

Certainly desktop virtualization may appear as a solution, “because it involves little or no integration or development of backend APIs.” In addition, it helps to circumvent any regulatory compliance issues.

But for Gartner, there is no need to mislead: “There are functional limitations that can make virtualization incompatible with some mobile application usage.”

We naturally think of the ergonomics of the user interface of these legacy applications, unsuitable for mobile terminals, including tablets. But the firm highlights the problem of offline access, which can be supported with native mobile applications, but not, “usually” with virtualization.

Gartner also discusses the issue of performance, highly dependent on those of mobile networks, or the inability, through virtualization, to take advantage of features related to mobile devices, such as geolocation, photography, or voice input.

In short, for the cabinet, it is advisable to examine the use cases and to select on a case-by-case basis the desired approach.

The virtualization of the conventional client station seems appropriate “as a solution for troubleshooting the basic display of information requiring little or no data entry via the user interface.”

Virtualization with automatic user experience enhancement capabilities, such as VMware Unity Touch and Citrix HDX Mobile, appears appropriate for “simple mobile apps that require only basic touch navigation”, with a bit of data entry, but “the mobile user experience is still not ideal”.

That’s when optimized virtualization comes into play via a dedicated development kit: it’s about “giving the user a native aspect of the virtualized heritage app” by integrating support for the hardware capabilities of mobile devices. . It’s better, but Gartner recommends “limiting the scope of features to minimize development efforts.”

The cabinet recommends indeed, to go further, another approach, that of reconstruction of the user interface. And evoking vendors like Capriza, PowWow, StarMobile, and Reddo, who are experts in the field: “They deconstruct the screens and logic of legacy applications and reassemble them into cross-platform mobile user interfaces using proprietary APIs and transformation protocols.” .

For Gartner, this approach indeed applies to “a range of mobile apps ranging from simple, data-driven apps to rich, workflows-driven apps.”

The good news ? The tools that make it easier to support legacy applications for mobility are where, at least, they are starting to come: according to Gartner, by 2018, more than half of the mobile business applications will have been created by analysts, without the least coding.

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