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Mobile Application Matters

Last week when I posted about the decline of interest in PBXs, I listed out the topics that our Enterprise Connect Orlando 2014 audience said they were most interested in. Not too surprisingly, Mobility Solutions was among the highest, ranking third among almost two dozen choices.

Yet the general trend when it comes to enterprise mobility has been not to break it out as a separate issue, so much as to recognize that just about everything the enterprise does, must have a Mobility component. Voice systems have to incorporate Mobile devices; policies have to include BYOD; and applications have to include versions that will work for mobile employees.

On this latter topic, I also recently wrote about the challenge that mobile device battery life presents for real-time applications. As a follow-up, I want to look at a related issue, one that was raised by re/code, Walt Mossberg's new website, in a post that covers a report put out by Alcatel-Lucent this week.

The post, written by Dawn Chmielewski, focuses on ALU's findings regarding battery consumption, along with the related demand that mobile apps put on cellular network bandwidth. And of course the finding is that the most popular applications, including two-way video and music streaming, are the biggest consumers of resources. She notes, however, that another factor in both bandwidth and battery consumption is the "chattiness" of the protocols running the application.

Those of us who go back a few years will remember that application "chattiness" was a big issue when network managers were first struggling with optimizing their LANs and WANs for real-time traffic. At the time--about 5-8 years ago now--Microsoft Office protocols were often pegged as the culprit in chewing up a lot of resources with their excessive back-and-forth messages.

When it comes to applications over the cellular networks, Chmielewski writes: "The most efficient applications are among the first to appear on mobile devices: mail apps including Gmail, Yahoo Mail and AOL mail. Developers have refined these apps in a way that reduces the demand on networks (and devices), downloading mail when a user opens the app instead of sending continuous notifications when each new message arrives."

As applications and business cases such as customer experience-oriented apps start to proliferate (see these No Jitter posts by Zeus and Sheila for the latest on that), designing these applications wisely will be critical to ensuring that they're actually something that customers want to use. Partly that'll be a technical concern--making sure the application runs well--but it'll also be partly an economic imperative: If your mobile customer care app sucks up huge chunks of users' cellular data plan allocations; or if its widespread use brings public WiFi hotspots to a performance crawl, you'll lose more than you gain by having this cool new app.

Real-time multimedia over wireless is bound to use more battery and bandwidth resources than simple email, but device and network efficiency will still be a critical factor in designing these apps.

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