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IBM buys in to mobile middleware, acquires Worklight

The drive to ‘develop once and deploy everywhere’ has become more acute as small and big enterprise IT shops have needed to support a wide array of mobile devices. This has led to the appearance of mobile middleware that acts as a moderating stage between the enterprise backend and the mobile frontend.

”One of the challenges for companies is to keep up with the pace of mobility. It is difficult – updating [mobile apps] in some cases on a monthly basis,” said Steve Drake, analyst, IDC. That is where the mobile middleware trend gets impetus.

The trend proved vibrant enough this week for IBM to scoop up Israel-based mobile middleware house Worklight for an undisclosed sum.

As part of its ”enterprise mobile application” platform, Worklight supports open source PhoneGap HTML5 and JavaScript cross-platform tools and runtimes. PhoneGap was originated by Nitobi Software, now part of Adobe. Software like Worklight’s is an important addition to IBM’s mobile portfolio.

Growth of mobile and client fragmentation presses IT development resources, said Scott Hebner, Vice President Marketing, IBM Tivoli Software.

”Worklight has an extensive set of libraries. These are APIs that you write to. It supports HTML5, JavaScript, CSS 3, and it supports native [mobile operating systems],” he said. The software will be integrated with existing IBM WebSphere middleware, he indicated.

”It’s a good move for IBM. It really kind of steps up their mobile offerings,” said IDC’s Drake. ”They certainly needed a bit of a boost when it comes to a need for a mobile application platform.”

Clearly, there is an intersection of cloud computing and mobile application underway, and Big Blue’s moves — it has also purchased firms like mobile security manager Big Fix, which last week was officially integrated into IBM with products rebranded as IBM Tivoli Endpoint Manager – show it is determined to be a big mobile player.

”One of the big drivers of cloud is mobile. You will see us enable mobility, analytics and cloud across the portfolio,” Hebner said. ”Mobility is a strategic [goal] of IBM.” – Jack Vaughan

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