Mobile Cloud Computing: What’s the Big Hold Up?

As the world expects the next wave of cars to talk to homes and refrigerators to communicate with phones, the interoperability of the Internet of Things (IoT) is a critical need. One step towards that would be mobile cloud computing. If fully realized, mobile cloud computing will simplify hardware architectures and domain-specific software needs, erasing integration borders among IoT-enabled devices.

Mobile cloud computing essentially means uploading all applications and software components to the cloud - a database kept outside the grounds of a cellular carrier.

Mobile cloud computing has its perks:

  • For developers, cloud deployment of applications means features are no longer device-specific, making them more manageable than ever
  • For device producers, a simple terminal gives way to a more boundless innovation, making them more attractive, versatile, and user-friendly
  • For consumers, the benefits of cloud devices are affordability due to lower hardware requirements and heightened user experience.

For all these reasons, the time to move mobile devices into the cloud is more than ripe.

Though heads are nodding at the benefits of mobile cloud computing, not everyone is moving forward at the same speed. So what’s the big hold up? Pinpointing the reason requires a closer examination of all divisions involved in the cloud computing process.

Key players face migration challenges

There are three fundamental players in mobile cloud computing - infrastructure groups like global cellular providers; platform developers like Google, Samsung, and Apple; cloud service providers like Amazon and Microsoft - and of course, the individual application developers.

In terms of readiness, Amazon Web Services and other cloud service providers are at the forefront. Not far behind, many cellular providers have already moved or begun moving their base stations to the cloud. Platform providers like Google and Apple have been diligent in deploying services to the cloud as well, as is evident in their public Google Doc and iCloud offerings.

While most application developers are looking to bring their services to the cloud as well, they are facing perhaps a bit more of a struggle.

  • First, they need to figure out how to integrate cloud storage and computing to their apps, which requires expertise beyond traditional application development.
  • Second, testing of cloud-based mobile applications requires a comprehensive platform.

They may leverage a wide range of available resources offered by the other key players like Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and the like, or consider the practical alternative of outsourcing the cloud deployment process to knowledgeable experts.

Still, the simple fact is that mobile cloud computing is a “coming together” of various devices in heterogeneous cloud resources.1

The complex, non-uniform ecosystem brings in key challenges for all the above players, such as the following:

Mobile computing offloading

There is a need to identify and partition resource-intensive components, create virtual machines and migrate over and monitor the outsourcing process. Hurdles include latency, heterogeneity, security, code portability, and cloud-mobile interoperability.

Seamless connectivity

With applications in the cloud, an always-on connectivity is required for the user to connect to the application at the “base station” - the database in the cloud. Establishing this seamless network connection requires varying network technologies and a reliable inter-system signal handoff scheme. Key challenges are how to overcome problems such as unstable wireless bandwidth, low wireless network security and signal interception during utilization of cloud services for mobile augmentation.

Long WAN latency

Cloud-mobile applications that consume too many resources can impact a device’s energy efficiency and interactive response. To reduce latency, Cloudlet, MOMCC, SAM and the like can be used to create proximate clouds to access nearby remote resources.

Mobility management

Integration of heterogeneous wireless networks is a challenge, where efficient mobility management is required. Protocols such as AdaptNet are needed to facilitate Intra and InterSystem mobility to help rate adaptation and congestion control.

Context processing

Heightened amounts of information gathered from cloud-based applications will require cloud infrastructures to process them efficiently in an energy-saving manner. In addition, reliable and robust data migration and communication are definitely required for mobile cloud computing to happen.

Other challenges related to mobile cloud migration include security and privacy, elasticity, cloud policies, service execution and billing. Of course, the testing process is a standalone challenge on its own.

The testing challenge

For mobile devices, any type of application testing must be done across multiple platforms and operating systems, taking into account application-based interruptions, network challenges and more. The testing that goes into cloud computing is even more complex and requires running tests across diverse components and environments to identify problems.

In order to make sure that a cloud-based application works across all mobile devices, application developers need to use a certain degree of testing automation. Again, there are thousands of devices and manual testing of any type of mobile application is extremely inefficient. Developers need to use manual and automated testing in the most optimal way to meet testing requirements and keep costs down and ROI high.

Several vendors offer dedicated cloud testing platforms like Xamarin, Perfecto, Saucelabs, and more. Aricent’s own Remote Testing Platform Remote Testing Platform allows you to test across the spectrum of devices, from any location. For more complicated migrations that require even more customization, the most effective solution is to consult specialists to analyze which types of tests to automate for mobile cloud migration, whether it should be unit testing, regression tests, memory leak tests, and more. An optimized set of automated tests will ensure the quality of cloud-based applications over all platforms and devices with a high ROI and efficient finish.

An inevitable future of cloud devices

Moving mobile applications to the cloud is a necessity now more than ever, as new generations continually drive mobile development and innovative applications are cranked out in increasing quantities. Connected devices are becoming saturated with features and applications like never before. Yet interoperability of devices requires them to be simple and robust, an expectation that moves devices ever closer to their cloud-driven terminal versions.

A unanimous move forward among service providers, mobile service developers, and application developers is inevitable, in spite of cost-related challenges. Leveraging testing automation efficiently is critical for developers heading in the direction of total mobile cloud computing, and Aricent expertare available to help move your mobile products into the future.

 

1. http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/articleDetails.jsp?arnumber=6517049

 

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