Feature Article

March 04, 2014

The Future is Mobile: Are You Ready?

By TMCnet Special Guest
Dirk Paessler, CEO of Paessler AG

Do you remember Doc Brown, Marty McFly and their stunning time machine? After having messed things up in the first “Back to the Future” movie (letting Biff get his hands on the almanac), Marty could simply go back in time to reverse the horrifying effects of his mishap. It’s a real shame we don’t have a flux capacitor at hand to erase the consequences of a server crash or any other fatal incident—especially when it comes to downtimes that could affect thousands or even millions of users.

Today users are accustomed to being constantly online and to synchronize data between their mobile devices and the cloud. This development challenges the network infrastructure of software providers as well as the networks of companies which allow their employees to bring their own mobile devices (known as BYOD—Bring Your Own Device). Are you ready to deal with the consequences of this development for your network infrastructure?

The Rise of the Smartphone

It doesn’t come as a surprise that mobility is gaining more and more importance nowadays. A vast majority of users can’t even remember when they traded their dumbphone for a smartphone as it happened quite a while ago. In some emerging markets, for example in Africa, where 167 million people used the Internet until June 2012, smartphones are not simply the devices of choice, but the only web-enabled devices in these households.

The sales figures for corporate and consumer desktop PCs have decreased worldwide since 2012 and the growing usage of tablets is additionally accelerating this effect. While approximately 350 million desktop PCs were sold in 2012, 1.7 billion smartphones and tablets found a new owner. Another fact showing the shift in Internet usage towards mobility is that in 2013 almost 50 percent of daily active Facebook users exclusively used their mobile device to surf the site. 15 percent of the worldwide Internet traffic is caused by mobile devices with the percentage being substantially higher in emerging markets. India’s mobile Internet traffic, for example, is even adding up to 56 percent. Some forecasts predict that already by 2017 the number of mobile devices like notebooks, smartphones and tablets will exceed the global population.

Don’t Forget About the Backend

When you look at these numbers one thing is obvious: The future is mobile. BUT it doesn’t mean you can disregard classic network components like routers, firewalls or servers. With the focus on apps, web pages and software, which enable their users to access information anytime, anywhere and from any imaginable device, it is easily forgotten that the requirements for the backend are also becoming more and more demanding.

Most apps, cloud storage providers and SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions constantly process data on the server-side of their infrastructure and exchange this data with the frontend of their service. Hence IT infrastructures need to be highly flexible in order to adjust to market needs or bring new services to market quickly. Imagine this: What if a major problem occurs on the backend of such a service provider and millions of users can’t access their data? This is not only a technical, but most importantly an image problem. It can and probably will cost the company a substantial amount of time and money to recover from such an incident.

User Expectations Trigger Monitoring Needs

The growing complexity that comes with the user’s expectation of 24/7 mobile availability brings new challenges for network, server and backup structures. Monitoring is increasingly necessary to manage the complexity of networks. The sophistication of these tools will need to match customers’ evolving needs for location-independent flexibility. For them unplanned downtime is not acceptable, under no circumstances. In this environment the responsible administrator has to be even more aware of issues before they have a noticeable effect on the provided service than in the prime of desktop computing.

In today’s exciting mobile world, pro-active monitoring is an absolute necessity—and since you can’t go back in time, you have to make absolutely sure nothing goes on without you knowing about it. For us it is crucial to fit our users’ current monitoring needs and adapt to the future, not putting them within any constraints.

As an example, PRTG Network Monitor helps customers monitor the network infrastructure they need to provide software and services for this mobile future. The growing complexity also requires network administrators to be more flexible than ever. New mobile apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone (also working on Blackberry support) will help users get all the information they need even when they are on the move (and don’t have a flux capacitor at hand).

Dirk Paessler, CEO of Paessler AG, is an engineer, entrepreneur, computer networking professional and software guru. In addition to founding Paessler AG, provider of the award winning PRTG network monitoring solution, Dirk has a long track record of co-founding successful internet platforms.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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