Welcome!

IBM Cloud Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Stefan Bernbo

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Mobile IoT, IBM Cloud

Microservices Expo: Article

IBM Acquires Worklight

A brief look at the Worklight solution

How about we start this post off with some facts?

- Mobile data traffic exceeded voice traffic in 2010 (Wireless Industry News, August 26, 2010)

- Shipments of smartphones exceeded the shipment of PCs for the first time in 2011 (2011 Economist)

- Ten billion mobile connected devices are expected to be in use by 2020 (2011 Economist)

- 74% of surveyed CIOs indicated mobile capabilities were a top investment priority over the next three to five years (2011 IBM Global CIO Study)

As you may surmise from the above, the mobile computing space is hot. Companies are already doing mobile, and many have already or are looking to define their three to five year strategy. In that respect, this month's acquisition of Worklight by my employer, IBM, is not at all surprising. Let's take a little closer look at exactly what Worklight is and what it delivers.

A quick perusal of existing Worklight material provides us with the simplest explanation of the solution:

Worklight is an open, complete and advanced mobile application platform for HTML5, hybrid and native apps.

While I grant you that the above statement sounds like something right out of a product brochure that does not mean it is not accurate. We need to go a bit deeper than that though, and the best place to start is with an architectural diagram of the Worklight solution:

As you can see, the Worklight solution is made up of four primary components. These include the Worklight Studio, Worklight Server, Device Runtime, and Worklight Console. Let's tackle each one of these in turn, starting with the Worklight Studio.

The Worklight Studio is first and foremost and Eclipse-based IDE. When installed, it augments your Eclipse runtime with a powerful set of tools focused on helping you to develop every aspect of your mobile enterprise applications. Worklight Studio embraces open web technology such as HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript by proffering a model where developers start with a common, shared code base for their application. From that common code base, Worklight Studio makes it easy to create subcomponents of the main application that are optimized for specific platforms. This makes it quite simple to start with a common code base and build a deployable application for Android, Blackberry, iPhone, WinPhone, and more.

All of this is not to say that you cannot create rich mobile applications that access native device functionality. Worklight Studio includes the PhoneGap library that provides a device-agnostic JavaScript bridge to native device functionality such as the camera, accelerometer, and geolocation facilities. Furthermore, Worklight Studio provides native device SDK integration as well as the ability to develop applications that freely move between native and non-native screens.

Next up is the Worklight Server. First and foremost, the Worklight Server provides a central distribution point for your mobile applications. You deploy your mobile application assets to the Worklight Server, and you have a central point where you can manage application versions, push direct application updates, and handle application versioning, up to and including disabling old versions. Beyond these capabilities, the Worklight Server facilitates many mobile application security aspects. It provides the means to enforce secure connectivity from client devices, and it is capable of checking the authenticity of applications with which it is communicating.

There are a few other capabilities worth pointing out in regards to the Worklight Server. First, the Worklight Server plays host to what Worklight refers to as ‘adapters'.  Adapters are JavaScript code that provide connectivity from mobile applications to backend enterprise information systems such as REST-based services, web services, databases, or just about anything else to which you need to connect. Seeing as these adapters run in the Worklight Server (within a Rhino container), you have the means to secure these as is necessary for services that reach into your Enterprise Information Systems. Secondly, the Worklight Server delivers a unified push architecture that makes it simpler to send push notifications to applications running on a number of different client device types. Effectively, this unified push architecture serves to hide the complexities associated with pushing messages across the different mobile platforms and lets administrators focus on simply reaching their application users.

Next up in the breakdown of the big four is the Device Runtime component. Worklight provides a client-side shell within which your mobile applications run. This shell provides several features and qualities of service, starting with cross-platform compatibility. The shell ensures that your applications have ready access to JavaScript bridges that enable accessing native device capabilities (PhoneGap) and that integrate with native display capabilities like tabs, badges, etc. (part of the Worklight client API). Another important part of the Device Runtime is the ability to create an encrypted, client-side cache. The Worklight shell extends the concept of local storage in HTML5, to provide a secure manner with which to store application data that can later be retrieved to avoid unnecessary service calls or support offline access.

In addition to all of this, the Worklight client API that is part of the Device Runtime component provides integration capabilities with the Worklight Server to enforce user authentication, check network connectivity, log user actions for reporting and analytics, integrate with the push notification capability of the Worklight Server, and much more. Finally, the Device Runtime enables the unique notion of skins. Skins allow you to apply different views for mobile applications that run on different device types within the same device family (e.g. iPhone and iPad). This means that you can reuse nearly all application artifacts across a wide array of devices in the same family, thereby significantly reducing development costs.

Our brief and I mean very brief, overview of the Worklight solution concludes with a look at the Worklight Console.  The console provides a web user interface through which you can manage many aspects of your mobile applications. First, you can manage application versions and easily take advantage of the capability provided by the Worklight Server to disable application versions. Through the console you can also manage push notifications to various applications across various devices, thereby taking advantage of the unified push architecture provided by the server. Finally, the console provides a central view of reports on mobile application usage and activity per the out-of-the-box statistics provided by Worklight as well as what your mobile applications report via the Worklight client API.

I hope this gives you a good, if not high-level overview of the Worklight solution that is new to the IBM family. I want to reiterate that this is in no means an exhaustive explanation, but more of a primer. I am sure I will be writing more on this topic in the coming weeks and months, but until then I hope to hear from you. If you have questions, let me know right here or on Twitter @damrhein. Until next time!

More Stories By Dustin Amrhein

Dustin Amrhein joined IBM as a member of the development team for WebSphere Application Server. While in that position, he worked on the development of Web services infrastructure and Web services programming models. In his current role, Dustin is a technical specialist for cloud, mobile, and data grid technology in IBM's WebSphere portfolio. He blogs at http://dustinamrhein.ulitzer.com. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/damrhein.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
The challenges of aggregating data from consumer-oriented devices, such as wearable technologies and smart thermostats, are fairly well-understood. However, there are a new set of challenges for IoT devices that generate megabytes or gigabytes of data per second. Certainly, the infrastructure will have to change, as those volumes of data will likely overwhelm the available bandwidth for aggregating the data into a central repository. Ochandarena discusses a whole new way to think about your next...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Big Data Federation to Exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO, colocated with DevOpsSUMMIT and DXWorldEXPO, November 12-13, 2018 in New York City. Big Data Federation, Inc. develops and applies artificial intelligence to predict financial and economic events that matter. The company uncovers patterns and precise drivers of performance and outcomes with the aid of machine-learning algorithms, big data, and fundamental analysis. Their products are deployed...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
All in Mobile is a place where we continually maximize their impact by fostering understanding, empathy, insights, creativity and joy. They believe that a truly useful and desirable mobile app doesn't need the brightest idea or the most advanced technology. A great product begins with understanding people. It's easy to think that customers will love your app, but can you justify it? They make sure your final app is something that users truly want and need. The only way to do this is by ...
CloudEXPO | DevOpsSUMMIT | DXWorldEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Cell networks have the advantage of long-range communications, reaching an estimated 90% of the world. But cell networks such as 2G, 3G and LTE consume lots of power and were designed for connecting people. They are not optimized for low- or battery-powered devices or for IoT applications with infrequently transmitted data. Cell IoT modules that support narrow-band IoT and 4G cell networks will enable cell connectivity, device management, and app enablement for low-power wide-area network IoT. B...
The hierarchical architecture that distributes "compute" within the network specially at the edge can enable new services by harnessing emerging technologies. But Edge-Compute comes at increased cost that needs to be managed and potentially augmented by creative architecture solutions as there will always a catching-up with the capacity demands. Processing power in smartphones has enhanced YoY and there is increasingly spare compute capacity that can be potentially pooled. Uber has successfully ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...