New IBM service shines a light on mobile device and app performance

The company is also unveiling cloud-based virtual desktops for mobile devices

With mobile devices rapidly becoming the tools of choice for enterprise work, IBM wants to help IT departments make sure they can serve all users.

Developing and delivering software to laptops and desktops is only part of the battle these days. IBM has signaled that mobile is a big part of its enterprise future through the partnership it announced with Apple in July. No new products from that deal have surfaced yet, but on Tuesday, in a separate development, IBM added to its Mobility Services portfolio.

One new service helps IT departments gauge how applications on mobile devices are working, while the other offers a way to deliver them virtually. Both are available now and work on any major mobile OS, said Linda Lyding, director of portfolio strategy and development.

IBM Mobile Infrastructure Analytics Services can show how well mobile applications are performing, both in terms of speed and the user experience. It's designed to help CIOs make decisions about enterprise IT infrastructure and work with software development teams to make sure users are getting what they need out of each application. It's packaged as SaaS (software as a service).

The service can gather data in real time from the company's network and servers and the mobile devices themselves. A dashboard presents that data so IT can act on it.

For one thing, this provides background information such as what kinds of devices a company's employees are using. It also can show information whether an app is running slowly on users' devices and why that might be, including shortfalls in back-end computing, bottlenecks in the LAN or problems with how the code runs on devices, Lyding said.

The user-experience end of the service is powered by IBM's Tealeaf CX Mobile, a tool that's also used to manage the customer experience on apps offered to the public. Here, it's dedicated to internal app use by employees. Tealeaf can tell development teams immediately about problems users may have in using an app.

Companies can monitor all this after an app has been released to all users or during the testing phase.

"Those kinds of testing through the analytics can help the development team and the end-user experience team revamp that application proactively before it actually gets rolled out in production," Lyding said.

Though users' mobile experience in the field might also be affected by problems within a carrier's network, Mobile Infrastructure Analytics Services doesn't look under the covers at those networks to analyze where they may be faltering.

IBM has also extended desktop virtualization to mobile devices through the cloud infrastructure it acquired with SoftLayer last year. By tapping a screen icon, mobile device users will be able to call up their personal desktop, subject to rules set by the enterprise based on roles and other factors. IBM is selling a prepackaged subscription service that includes the Citrix Workspace Suite, but the service can work with other desktop virtualization platforms, Lyding said.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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