Adding mobility with Antenna Software
Editors' Blog I recently had a chance to talk to a couple of execs from Antenna Software - Gregg Plekan, SVP Product Development and Jim Somers, VP of Marketing – about its Antenna Mobility Platform (AMP), announced at San Francisco Gartner Symposium/ITxpo on April 23, 2007.
Antenna Software has been around since 1998 or so and claims to be able to “mobilise anything” - SAP, Oracle, Remedy, in-house applications etc – and not just with point-to-point spaghetti, but with proper composite applications for all sorts of field workers.
This may be of interest to developers because AMP is a third generation product for Antenna, which incorporates a lot of “good practice” knowledge and pre-built error-handling logic. And, it has just now been released to general developers in the form of Eclipse plug-ins.
AMP promises to let developers “write once and deploy everywhere” – BlackBerry, Pocket PC, Palm – taking advantage of each platform&'s pointing device and delivering a native application user experience. It particularly emphasises separation of the presentation layer from the business logic and database layers, citing a company cutting over between two CRM systems without its users noticing. It also talks of “real world” service availability with support for disconnected use and “voice system” backup over ordinary phone lines – and offers both hosted and in-house services.
So far so good – but does AMP actually work? And is it fun to use? haven't had practical experience with it – and this is just a news “heads up” in our blog, not a formal review. But I can say that it seems to have the right characteristics for being a workable development tool or platform:
- At least one reference customer using the new product to add mobility to CRM systems: AT&T.
- The right sort of layered architecture and a promise that not much coding will be needed; thus freeing developers up to work on harder problems.
- An open standards approach with Eclipse plug-ins (it reckons that Eclipse has the widest range of developers in its space) and Linux support on the roadmap.
- Good provenance and the right sort of customers and partners: not just AT&T but it is also, for example, partnering with Microsoft on mobilising its business systems.
I am fairly sure that most applications will soon be expected to provide “multi channels” to the customer/user, including mobile, and that low-level coding for specific mobile devices is hard and distracts people from delivering better business systems. AMP is worth a look, at least. ®
CRM system changed without users noticing
I said in the article that someone had done this.
Well, Gregg Plekan (SVP Product Development at Antenna) tells me that it was EMC:
“For us, EMC is the perfect example of why a Service Oriented Architecture and Web Services approach to mobility is so critical in today’s business environment,” he says. "In one weekend, the company needed to migrate from its previous CRM system to a new one and do so without disrupting its business operations and employee productivity. However, since EMC had been using the Antenna Mobility Platform -- in an on-demand, hosted environment -- the migration was transparent to end-users, who likely had no idea that the plumbing on their mobile CRM solution had been completely replaced. In other words, the user interface looked the same as always, but the pipes to the back-end systems were brand new.”
It's a nice trick if you can manage it, I guess!