The future of enterprise applications: containerisation in the cloud

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Enterprise mobility is now vital for any business looking to keep up with competition and, for many, it's enterprise mobile applications that are a key ingredient to seeing success. Today's organisations, especially those reliant on field and remote workers, utilise a magnitude of enterprise mobile applications to keep employees productive and business operations running efficiently. 

You don't need to look far to find companies which have workers in the field – manufacturing, retail, logistics, transportation and healthcare are just a few industry examples. But while field workers aren't exactly a new concept, advances in connectivity and cloud computing has contributed to the rise of mobile and remote workers. Employees in these sectors are increasingly dependent on mobile applications across smartphones and tablets to carry out every-day operations. A significant proportion of today's enterprise applications are Android-based. With its wide 2.9 million application ecosystem and mobile market share, Android is a common choice for businesses looking to empower their workers. However, the challenge for enterprises and app developers is more than just developing an app that provides a good user experience. They need to be able to securely and cost-effectively distribute and manage mobile applications in a consistent manner across a fleet of devices, while having the ability to flexibly scale based on need. 

Enterprises undergoing digital transformation are turning to containerisation in the cloud to deliver mobile applications on smartphones or tablets to their mobile workforce. A dedicated platform which can run containerised Android application workloads in the cloud allows businesses to develop, test and then deliver an on-demand application experience on any device or operating system, while taking advantage of the compute and storage that cloud provides. This process is particularly useful for high-end, more energy and resource intensive applications. During internal application development, this process significantly reduces engineering costs and complexities by developing a single application which can be used across different form factors and operating systems. For mobile app developers with CI/CD pipelines, running containerisation application workloads in the cloud makes it possible to simulate multiple Android devices across different test scenarios. 

Once ready to deploy, containerisation via the cloud allows for scalability by enabling the distribution of mobile applications to any number of devices, without the need to download the application locally on said device. For example, imagine a warehouse scenario where employees scan devices. Rather than buying hundreds of scanning devices, the scanning application can be accessed from any device - no matter its form factor - via the cloud, reducing the CAPEX of equipment investment and the OPEX of maintenance. 

This process also offers a variety of hosting options, depending on the business and its workforce's needs. The ability to host these containerised applications in the public cloud provides high volumes of storage capacity and agility. Whereas the option of hosting on a private cloud edge enables low latency, and is especially important for enterprises which require increased data privacy and security. 

For example, the healthcare industry is seeing an increase in mobile health workers who are using mobile applications to assist them with patient care while on the move. By using a platform which enables Android application containerisation in the cloud, healthcare trusts can enable their workers to log onto an app from any device. This removes the need for sharing devices from shift-to-shift and reduces the risk of unsolicited access to sensitive information, all while using the security of the cloud to keep patient data safe. 

As we head into a new 5G and cloud-first era, we'll expect to see more applications processing and delivering larger datasets, and more businesses turning to applications as part of their digital transformation efforts. Many are looking towards containerising applications in the cloud, reaping the rewards of more control over performance, better cost-efficiency, and increased scalability. 

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