SAN FRANCISCO: Oracle has updated its Mobile Application Framework (MAF) to build in more security to apps and protect corporate data on personal devices, and is also looking to allow non-technical users to start building mobile apps.
Oracle said that MAF is being more closely coupled with its Mobile Security Suite, which aims to bring a variety of benefits for firms and mobile developers.
These include single sign-on, so users can use the same username and password to access mobile apps as well as other web apps via integration with the Oracle Access Management Suite, and encrypting all local data stored on the smartphone or tablet in files or databases.
A container tool also embeds a secure area on an employee's personal mobile device to prevent unauthorised access to sensitive data. This also means that when users leave the business, the firm can remotely wipe sensitive data, without having to wipe the entire phone.
The integrated MAF and security features are available via Oracle JDeveloper and the Oracle Enterprise Pack for Eclipse. Once the apps are developed, they become available in the container on mobile devices.
Oracle also unveiled the Mobile Application Accelerator, a feature being added to the Oracle Mobile Cloud to let business users create mobile versions of their own work functions via a web browser.
The accelerator can be used on mobiles and desktops to develop mobile apps for Android and iOS. Its user interface offers a live view of the app during the development and editing phase, making it easy to use for non-technical users who do not have coding skills.
Speaking at the OpenWorld show in San Francisco, Oracle executive vice president Thomas Kurian said the latest products are aimed at solving three key mobile problems facing businesses.
First off is mobile access to enterprise apps. "Firms want the ability to take all of their enterprise systems, their databases, their packaged applications, their legacy systems and then to expose services from them so you can build mobile applications that can access this," Kurian said, adding that the Oracle Mobile Cloud Service offers this feature.
Second is multiple device support. "People in the company bring their own device to work – you have iOS and Android, maybe Windows and BlackBerry depending on the company. So that’s two or four. Then you have small tablets and big tablets, now you have six, plus you have the browser so you have seven different platforms. And rolling out that many different versions of an application is very difficult and challenging," Kurian explained.
"The Mobile Application Framework allows you to write one single code base, and it adapts natively to iOS and Android, whether a phone, small tablet, big tablet or browser, so it's simplifying the development experience for users."
While Kurian referenced Windows and BlackBerry as examples, Oracle MAF user Richard Childe, applications database administrator at engineering and maritime organisation Lloyd's Register, told V3 that those mobile platforms are not available currently via the framework. He added that he would be interested in extending his firm's mobile app to Windows and BlackBerry users when it becomes available.
Finally Oracle is looking to solve the mobile security challenge via the single sign-on and container aspects.
"Since everybody has got both a PC and a phone, you don’t want to have different user names and passwords for your phone applications versus your web applications because otherwise you’re going to have to double the number of user name and passwords you have to manage," Kurian said.
"Traditionally people have been worried about having ERP data or HR data or some highly secure data from my company and people are accessing that on the phone. You can put your applications inside the secure container that runs on the device."
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