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AppConfig Panel: We Can Do Better on Mobile App Development

  • Ashley Speagle By

Just a year ago, the ACE (App Configuration for Enterprise) community launched at Mobile World Congress to promote an open-standards approach to mobile app development. Since then, more than 60 members of the independent software vendor (ISV) community have joined to simplify app development and drive enterprise adoption for mobile apps.

Last month, leaders in enterprise mobility management (EMM) came together on stage at Mobile World Congress to announce the rebranded and relaunched AppConfig Community. Check out some of the highlights from one of the biggest announcements at the 2016 event.

Watch the AppConfig Community panel conversation with Tom Mulvehill, mobile security strategist at IBM MaaS360; Nick Amundsen, director of research at JAMF Software; Sean Ginevan, senior director of strategy at MobileIron; and Mimi Spier, senior director of marketing and strategy at VMware AirWatch.

Why Is AppConfig Important?

Every panelist agreed, the AppConfig Community is a necessary step towards creating a better experience for mobile app developers, IT administrators and, in turn, end users. “We fundamentally believe that this will drive mobile adoption in business significantly,” said Mimi.

IT no longer needs to waste so much time trying to figure out configuration, and ISVs no longer have to focus on unique and proprietary requirements for each EMM vendor, said Tom. Instead, developers can focus more on providing a better user experience, and enterprise IT organizations can rapidly deploy secure mobile apps on a greater scale. After all, despite being competitors in the EMM market, said Tom, everyone on the panel shares this common goal: “to help our customers advance their mobile strategies and to embrace mobility to transform their businesses.”

“It’s hard to go and roll out applications,” said Sean. “We need to actually go through and provide best practices around things like single sign-on, or around things like security settings, to provide common frameworks.”

“Today, we have to configure our apps as soon as they’re installed,” said Nick. “We believe it could be made better through native frameworks that are built into today’s modern OSs, and that’s led by Apple’s iOS, with technologies like managed app configuration, per app VPN, single sign-on frameworks that are built into the OS, eliminating the need for rebundling apps, for using SDKs, to be able to accomplish those goals.”

How Does AppConfig Work?

So how does AppConfig work for developers? “With the XML schema, you’ll basically be able to go through and define with XML exactly how you implement and manage AppConfig into your application,” said Sean. “That ends up getting consumed by your EMM system—something like a MobileIron, or a JAMF, or an AirWatch, or a MaaS360—and it basically interprets that schema to say, ‘Oh, the developer meant this variable to be paired with this particular value.’”

This drives consistency not only for developers but also for IT administrators, said Sean, who no longer need to know all the details behind an app’s development to manage it. In turn, Nick elaborated, this benefits end users because IT will be able to quickly deploy huge sets of apps.

“Another big benefit to the IT administrator is that we’re going to be able to show a better user interface in our tools as a result,” said Nick. “For example, if there’s a true or false value that the application is asking for in configuration, they’re going to see radio buttons instead of a text field for that.”

Every resource developers need is available now at AppConfig.org. “Any ISV can download it, use it, configure it,” said Mimi. “We hope that they’ll be part of the community officially with their logo and share with the rest of the world that they have done this standard.”

What’s Next for AppConfig?

The AppConfig Community will continue working with ISV developers to identify other problems they’re running into and how AppConfig can solve them, said Sean. For example, AppConfig is looking into broadening platform support for Google and Windows so that the ISV community can meet the needs of all enterprise users.

The AppConfig Community is an ongoing collaboration, said Tom, and the charter members hope to see other EMM vendors join, contribute and collectively advance the initiative in the near future. Mimi added, AppConfig also benefits the EMM vendors because they can now focus less on providing software development kits (SDKs) and spend more energy on strengthening security, protecting privacy and improving end-user experiences.

Hear what panel host Nick McQuire, vice president of Enterprise Research at CSS Insight, said about the AppConfig Community when he sat down with VMware TV. And follow the latest news on social at #AppConfig.

[Related: What Is #AppConfig?]

Ashley Speagle

Ashley Speagle

Ashley is a content marketing specialist for VMware AirWatch.

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