Day One at WWDC 2015

WWDC2015_ApplethroughtheGlass

By Husain Al-Badry and Calvin Lai

Apple’s WWDC (World Wide Developer Conference) is arguably the most anticipated developer conference in the world. Apple uses the event as a platform for making big announcements and showcasing key milestones within the company and the wider tech industry. Eight years ago, Steve Jobs presented the iPhone to the world at WWDC, and a year later he followed up with the App Store: the tool that gave birth to digital giants around the globe.

More recently, the event has focused more on Apple’s software changes, and this year was no different.

Needless to say, the keynote did not disappoint on news from the technology giant. The highlights were:

  • Announcement of OSX 10.11, El Capitan, containing a series of enhancements focused on user experience and performance.
  • Announcement of iOS 9, packed full of features such as a smarter Siri and multi-tasking for the iPad, as well as a gambit of toys for developers that really showcase the maturity of iOS’s native development platform.
  • Announcement of watchOS 2, which finally allows native apps to run on the Apple Watch, making it more independent from the iPhone.
  • Announcement of Swift 2, now becoming an open source language that also runs on Linux (yes, Apple is doing open source). This is huge news that could see Swift becoming a real Java competitor.
  • All the developer tooling becoming free, including developer accounts which will now use a freemium model.
  • Steve Jobs’ famous “One More Thing…” moment at the end of the keynote to launch Apple Music, a new music streaming platform that combines Dr. Dre’s Beats Music, Beats 1 Radio (a global radio station), and Beats Connect (a social platform for artists).

While the keynote was more consumer-oriented, it gave developers insights into the vast number of new features they’ll have access to, and will need to adjust their apps for. The follow up session was the Platforms State of the Union, which gave a developer-focused view into the new features under the hood in OSX El Capitan, iOS 9, watchOS 2, and Swift 2.

For iOS 9 in particular, there were some enhancements that really showcase the maturity of the tooling. This includes Crash Logs, which now integrates all the way from XCode into the App Store to track app crashes and provide a way for developers to track the issue fixing lifecycle end to end: a strong enabler for Continuous Delivery. The benefits of this extended issue tracking will help developers provide better support to customers and an improved experience for end-users.

Apple wrapped up the day with the Apple Design Awards, which give the industry the benchmark for designing innovative, beautiful, engaging apps that focus on the user experience in great detail. Some really stunning apps and games were showcased here, with developers and designers who demonstrate their passion for applying great design thinking to create app experiences which delight users. These awards were something every developer in the audience should have drawn inspiration from and aspired to achieve.

The days that follow will focus in on the details. This WWDC is lined up to be a cracker, and for developers, this really is the WWDC of watchOS. We’re looking forward to bringing our insights home with us and sharing them with customers.

5 Bring Your Own Device Best Practices

By Julian Buckley

Just because Bring Your Own Device is new to your organisation doesn’t mean it hasn’t been done — successfully — before. We can learn from those businesses that immediately jumped on the BYOD bandwagon. Use these lessons of right and wrong to do even better with your BYOD programme.

1. Give controlled freedom

Yes, BYOD is all about the employee and what mobile device and platform he or she wants to use. That doesn’t mean your IT department can’t implement some restrictions, such as allowing workers to choose from a pre-approved list of devices it has already “tried and tested.” The hard truth is that IT will only have capacity to support certain devices. It’s the organisations that let their workforces choose from a BYOD buffet that tend to see support costs soar; locking this down to a known list of devices can help organisations baseline these costs.

A best practice identified by the International Data Corporation (IDC) involves IT letting employees choose from a shortlist of mobile devices that can be supported in-house. How do you create this shortlist? Do something bold — actually talk to your employees. Ask them about the devices they use at home, why they use them and how they differ from the devices offered at work. You’ll be able to get an early picture of what your BYOD programme will look like — and how your IT department can support it.

2. Don’t put all your apps in one basket

Do you really need to make all your legacy applications available to your mobile workforce? Focus first on business-critical apps that carry solid value, such as dashboards covering metrics and goals and workflow charts. You can use the same survey approach here that you did with the devices: which tools and applications help employees get their jobs done best?

Also keep in mind the need for ongoing mobile app development, especially if different versions need to be written.Outsourcing application development to a provider that can tackle mobile device integration and connectivity so all your employees can take advantage of the custom mobile application is one way to avoid sucking up your IT staff‘s resources.

3. Innovate and compromise

Many organisations are finding that an innovative, supportive BYOD strategy helps retain staff, attracts new hires and ensures better use of technology within a workplace. Just because there’s a new operating system (Mac’s Mountain Lion or Microsoft’s Windows 8) out on the market doesn’t mean your organisation should ban or block it from entering into your BYOD strategy. Enabling your workforce to use the latest and greatest can be a great productivity-improver and assist with staff morale and greater freedom.

4. Secure the data and the device

Treat the device as the first barrier to entry and lock down the data where possible. What if the worst happens and a hacker or street-side thief does get into the phone or tablet? If corporate data is inaccessible — sitting in the data centre instead of on the actual mobile device, for instance, — the rogue individual won’t be able to steal it. Leveraging technologies such as Citrix XenApp or VMware Horizon can bring the applications to the users whilst retaining the data centrally in your environment. Having user policies in place that restrict access to corporate information and applications for certain employee groups also prevents sending too much sensitive data into the world.

5. Reduce support costs by educating users

Your new BYOD-inspired workforce might have some legitimate tech support issues. Many others will stem from a lack of self-help enablement and complex guidelines for things like user enrolment, switching approved devices and password reset. Give users the ability to do as much as they can on their own so they aren’t needlessly flooding the help desk with inane enquiries.

What BYOD best practices would you add to this list?

Julian Buckley is the Business Manager of Professional Services for Datacom in QLD.  Julian leads a team of solution architects, project managers and consulting engineers that evangelise, design, scope, deliver and implement purpose-built, client-focused infrastructure and virtualisation solutions for our customers. His team in QLD focuses on long-term relationships with clients, building end-to-end enterprise ICT architecture for corporate, education and government clients across Microsoft, Citrix and VMware technology sets. A local leader in virtualisation in the QLD market, Julian’s team can help all clients achieve greater return on investment, reliability and performance through best practice, industry-leading solutions.

Pros of Outsourcing Mobile Application Development and Management

Creating enterprise mobile applications for your organisation can improve efficiency, service, flexibility and productivity. If software development isn’t one of your core business functions, however, it can be hard to keep up with the ever-changing technology used in creating mobile apps, and your IT department will likely grapple with the development process. Outsourcing your mobile applications – both the development and management of them – lets your IT department continue focussing on its core competencies.

It alleviates device management headaches

Developing mobile apps is one thing; making sure you can deliver them to different devices is another. If you leave your mobile apps project with internal IT staff, they’ll likely spend considerable time addressing management and security features across a range of different tablets and smartphones. In addition to actually developing software for you, an IT outsourcer can oversee device integration and connectivity so all your employees can take advantage of the custom mobile application. IT outsourcers that offer field service support can help iron out any hiccups that occur duringapplication delivery.

It cuts down on testing time

Increasing fragmentation of mobile operating systems and device models has made mobile apps testing more complex. There is a serious risk that turning inward to the IT department for mobile apps development will run up costs and resources and extend project time. Outsourcing application development allows you to benefit from a proven testing methodology. For instance, Datacom software developers rely upon Test-Driven Development, a technique involving automated unit tests that guide application design and force decoupling of dependencies so software can continually be evaluated to ensure it remains working. This method ensures our developers only create production code when they understand the ultimate outcome and how to test the result.

It gives application management better attention

IT departments unfamiliar with mobile apps development might dust off their hands once they finish creating and delivering the new software. This is a mistake, as application performance and measurement won’t be addressed. In addition, mobile device application development might also require different management tools than traditional software, as it involves varied end-user behaviour and experiences. An IT outsourcer can help you take advantage of application managementbased on service-level agreements that account for reliability and availability measurements. The best outsourced mobile application services also allow organisations access to shared tracking systems so customers can continually monitor application performance.

How has your organisation benefited from outsourcing mobile application development and/or management?

Have Your Considered Virtual Desktop Infrastructure to Manage Bring Your Own Device?

There isn’t a single approach to managing Bring Your Own Device at organisations. A slew of different mobile device management and mobile application management tools exists for allowing access to apps and data on employee-owned devices, and organisations can choose one or several of these tools to work in tandem to cover all the different devices and platforms.

Other organisations are managing Bring Your Own Device through virtual desktop infrastructure. There’s some debate in the IT industry and the media over whether using VDI for this purpose is smart. You can decide for yourself by reviewing the benefits and disadvantages to this approach.

The pros

VDI delivers desktops through the data centre to any mobile device. This means all devices can essentially be managed from one location, providing easier administration and deployment and a more streamlined way to enforce compliance for all users. It also gives the end users better ability to connect to their virtual desktops from any device whenever they want.

Security is also strengthened because no corporate data is actually sitting on the employee’s phone or tablet—it’s all in the data centre. If an employee device falls into the wrong hands, the thief won’t be able to access work information.  IT retains complete control over both the operating system and the apps on the device.

The cons

With VDI virtualisation, users have to connect to the data centre to access the corporate desktop. This means network connectivity and bandwidth become factors the IT team needs to worry about for anyone in the company trying to do work from a personal device. Network performance can affect even the most basic of tasks if the network is sluggish. VDI also presents issues with running rich media on virtual desktops, which can prevent users from accessing certain functions, such as video, and can cause screen resolution problems.

There are also issues related to the lack of desktop customisation that crops up when you’re provisioning an image to a user’s device. In this way, VDI runs the risk of defeating the purpose of BYOD: allowing employees to have the user experience they want on their device of choice. The act of turning mobile devices into desktops via a VDI image means users won’t get the native experience of the device. There could also be problems when certain users need access to different apps and extra licensing costs for accessing the desktop through VDI on personal devices.

How to decide if it’s right for you

Deciding how to manage BYOD is a big decision for your organisation. Doing it in a way that allows your IT department to retain the right level of control while also letting users work the way they want on their personal devices is crucial. The right IT outsourcer will be able to assess your current infrastructure and systems to determine if your environment is right for both VDI and BYOD. If VDI isn’t the way to go, your IT provider will be able to make recommendations on the right approach and guide the design and implementation process.

How do you manage BYOD at your organisation?