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The New Gartner Mobile Reference Architecture

by Paul DeBeasi  |  August 13, 2012  |  7 Comments

Summary: Gartner has introduced the first and only Mobile Reference Architecture for enterprise IT organizations. The Mobile Reference Architecture is an integrated set of research that helps IT organizations make technology, infrastructure and policy decisions that support their mobile initiatives.   The Mobile Reference Architecture will help IT organizations:

  • Accelerate mobile solution deployment
  • Satisfy a broad set of mobile requirements
  • Facilitate iterative decision making
  • Adapt to changing requirements
  • Increase institutional mobility knowledge

Mobility is about making the right tradeoffs

Over the past year I’ve spoken with hundreds of enterprise IT organizations about their mobility challenges.  These organizations often focus on a single overriding mobility issue (e.g., user experience). However, their focus on a single issue can mask other important issues (e.g., expense management) and result in unintended consequences (e.g., increased risk). Many enterprises don’t fully understand that the process of creating a mobile solution requires that they deal with numerous conflicting tradeoffs. These tradeoffs must address not only technical questions but also business and organizational questions, such as:

  • How do we analyze our mobile business requirements?
  • How do we define and prioritize our mobile use cases?
  • How do we establish mobile governance?
  • How do we manage human resources in a mobile culture?
  • How do we satisfy user needs while balancing security and usability?
  • How do we manage our mobile expenses?
  • What identity, privacy and security controls should we use?
  • Which application architecture should we use?
  • How do we choose appropriate wireless solutions?
  • How do we assess our management requirements?

Enterprises need to iteratively repeat the process of analyzing tradeoffs across all the relevant mobile questions so that they understand the consequences of their decisions. But many enterprises fail to consider all of the relevant questions because the mobility team:

  • Does not include all of the stakeholders (e.g., IT, legal, HR, sales, marketing and users)
  • Does not know which questions to ask
  • Lacks the experience to analyze conflicting, interdisciplinary trade-offs
  • Views mobility through a narrow lens (for example, mobile application development only)
  • Gets so entangled in the details of one question (for example, "How do I select a mobile device management tool?") that it fails to see a broader perspective

The risk of failing to consider all of the major questions is that enterprises may make choices that are in conflict with each other and that have unintended consequences (for example, unacceptable risk, excessive cost, poor user experience and unmet business requirements). It is easy for this to happen because the conflicts may be subtle, and, oftentimes, no single person or team completely understands the "big picture" of how the mobile solution is interrelated.

Introducing the Gartner Mobile Reference Architecture

On Tuesday, August 21st, at the Gartner Catalyst Conference in San Diego, Gartner will introduce the first and only Mobile Reference Architecture. The Mobile Reference Architecture is an integrated set of research that helps IT organizations make technology, infrastructure and policy decisions that support their mobile initiatives.

The reference architecture includes five research components (see figure):
Gartner Mobile Reference Architecture
Solution Path: The Solution Path helps IT organizations navigate the through the process of making choices to create a mobile architecture that satisfies business requirements and user needs (see figure) . It provides hyperlinks to the other components in the reference architecture.

Solution Path

Decision Points: Decision Points provide detailed technical research that helps enterprises make specific technical decisions.  Examples include:

  • Decision Point for Mobile Endpoint Security
  • Decision Point for Selecting a Mobile Application Architecture
  • Decision Point for Choosing the Right Mobility Management Options
  • Decision Point for Identity and Access Management in Mobility Projects
  • Decision Point for Mobile Cellular In-building Technology
  • Decision Point for Wireless LAN Technology

Template Diagrams: Template diagrams provide illustrative figures that identify the key mobile components and their interrelationships.

Mobile Research Reports: Mobile research reports help IT organizations use the mobile reference architecture by providing supportive research.  Examples include:

  • Creating a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy
  • Data Mobility and The Information Requirements for Mobile Solutions
  • Creating a Defensible Business Case
  • Mobile File Synchronization Evaluation Criteria
  • Evaluation Criteria for Mobile Device Management
  • Confidential Email Delivery: Ready for the mobile age?

Mobile Solution Analyzer

The mobile solution analyzer (MSA) is a tool that helps enterprises understand the interrelationships among disciplines when creating a mobile architecture. The MSA is a simulator and is not intended to replace proper architectural analysis. The intent is for enterprises to use the MSA in conjunction with the Solution Path and other components of the Mobile Reference Architecture. The MSA can help enterprises understand the big picture by enabling mobile architects to perform “what if” analysis. It shows how decisions made in one area can impact (in most cases by limiting) options in other areas.

Enterprise benefits

The Gartner Mobile Reference Architecture provides a decision-making methodology that:

  • Accelerates mobile solution deployment by facilitating rapid decision-making using a repeatable process
  • Satisfies a broad set of mobile requirements by providing vendor-agnostic research that helps IT make architectural decisions
  • Facilitates iterative decision making by guiding the mobility team through a process of methodically making tradeoffs among conflicting requirements
  • Adapts to changing requirements by encouraging continuous experimentation and learning
  • Increases institutional mobility knowledge by using an auditable (and defensible) methodology to make key mobile decisions

If you can’t join us in San Diego then be sure to read my next blog post later this week where I’ll explain how you can learn more about Gartner’s new Mobile Reference Architecture.

Category: architecture  mobile  mobility-2  wireless  

Tags: android  architecture  ipad  iphone  mobile-2  mobility  security  wireless  

Paul DeBeasi
Research VP
5 years with Gartner
29 years in IT industry

Paul DeBeasi is a research VP within Gartner IT Professionals Research. Mr. DeBeasi manages the research agenda for the Burton Network and Telecom Strategies coverage area. Read Full Bio


Thoughts on The New Gartner Mobile Reference Architecture


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  3. […] 10 months ago DeBeasi and his colleagues began working on a Mobile Reference Architecture, which they rolled out for the first time on Monday. The architecture is designed to help IT […]

  4. […] to consider every variable and cover every base. Gartner has introduced something it calls the Mobile Reference Architecture to help IT and business leaders with that. Here’s part of […]

  5. […] fact, Gartner has introduced what it calls “The Gartner Mobile Reference Architecture” for […]

  6. Paul.
    I notice the claim “the first and only Mobile Reference Architecture for enterprise IT organizations. ”

    I would point to our Enterprise Mobility Framework and Reference Architecture, which is in the public domain, and precedes the publication of Gartner’s. See http://everware-cbdi.com/enterprise-mobility-framework

  7. Paul DeBeasi says:

    Hi Larry,

    The Gartner Mobile Reference Architecture is more than a framework. It is a detailed decision support system to create a mobile architecture. Click here and then click on the Mobile Architecture tab to see further details. Thanks for your comment. Paul



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