Mobile IT management comes to town

Some observations:
  1. One of our key objectives has been to provide a unified, web based user interface for IT operations. We believe users should be able to navigate through management information seamlessly rather than being forced to jump between disparate tools and inconsistent user interfaces.
  2. Users are no longer content being forced to watch a specific console (or worse multiple consoles!) on a computer screen and should be empowered to control how (IM clients, email, SMS, etc.) and when they receive the information, and act on the information as necessary.
  3. After many years of anticipation, mobile revolution is here. iPhone is a viable computing device for many business applications, and there are 10s of millions of them (iPhone and iPod Touches) out there.
Conclusion:
We need to ensure users can work with management information from their iPhones (and other mobile devices) to be able to do their jobs effectively. So how should we do this?
As it is on the desktops, we have the option to develop a native application for iPhone or a web application since iPhone has a solid web browser. Some pros and cons for a native iPhone application:
  • Pro: A native iPhone application has many advantages as it can leverage native device capabilities such as push notifications.
  • Con: There are already different iPhone models and OS versions out there, and differences will likely increase in the future.
  • Pro: Installation of the applications is much easier than desktops through Apple's App Store.
  • Con: Although an application can be installed easily on an iPhone by the users, it seems to be extremely difficult to get an application (and updates/fixes to applications) into Apple App Store and then to users. It is simply not acceptable to wait weeks or months for Apple's approval to roll out bug fixes to an application in the enterprise environment.
  • Con: A native iPhone app requires learning a new programming language and a platform, where developing a web application for iPhone is just requires minor adjustments. This new development, combined with obstacles on deploying an application to an iPhone, makes it infeasible to make enhancements to the application in the field, which is a show stopper for us.

As can be inferred from the analysis above, we've concluded that a native iPhone app is not suitable for our requirements (as I suspect for many enterprise apps) and decided to develop a web application instead.

Technically, RapidOSS UI is already a web application, so once the various browser compatibility issues are resolved, it can be used as is. However, iPhone is a mobile device with a very different form factor than a PC, hence usability of the application can be increased drastically if we take the differences into account when designing the user interface.

So our objective is to extend the RapidOSS's promise into iPhone and other mobile devices, by enabling users to work with their IT management applications from a unified, consistent, web based UI that takes advantage of the unique capabilities and differences of iPhone.

The first version of the RapidOSS iPhone plugin targets events management. Using the same powerful search engine and saved query mechanism, Users can navigate through events, and take actions to acknowledge events, take ownership, change severity, etc.

If you'd like to give it a try, point your browser to the demo on our website. RapidOSS will detect an iPhone and serve you the right user interface. If you'd like to try this at your own environment, watch this space. The next release of RapidOSS (scheduled for Monday) will include iPhone support. Any feedback and suggestions are more than welcome!

Since RapidOSS already has integration with EMC/Smarts, IBM Netcool, etc. this means you can now use your iPhone to work with these systems, search and browse events, and take actions right from your iPhone. In the next post, I'll go through how you can use RapidOSS iPhone support and Netcool plugin to implement iPhone UI for Netcool. Stay tuned!