AnyPresence is one of an increasing number of vendors offering mobile backend as a service (MBaaS). While a seemingly random and overly technical term, the idea behind MBaaS is logical and is a reaction to two strong trends in the marketplace. First, organizations are increasingly reliant on mobile software solutions as an interface between their staff, suppliers and customers and the organization itself. Mobile development is now a critical task for many organizations.
At the same time we have a second trend, that of immediacy and iteration. Rather than developing software to a known and relatively conservative timeline, organizations are now following a lean model where they create solutions quickly, and innovate upon them even more quickly. This is where MBaaS comes in. By providing many of the infrastructure elements on top of which organizations can build and run mobile apps, MBaaS makes it quicker and easier to create mobile applications.
But increasingly MBaaS does not sit in isolation as a product area but is rather a vector by which different data sources, endpoints and systems, communicate. As such, MBaaS is critically reliant on the touchpoints it controls. It is for this reason that building some control over those touchpoints into the MBaaS solution is a smart move.
This is what we're seeing from AnyPresence with the announcement that it is expanding beyond pure MBaaS and delivering an API solution. APIs are, of course, application programming interfaces, or the glue that binds applications data sources and devices. With this move, the company is helping organizations bring APIs to market, and run them in a consistent manner.
This is something of an unblocking move for AnyPresence. The lack of APIs is often cited as a reason that mobile applications cannot be created. By helping those APIs get to life, AnyPresence is easing its own sales process. So, what is the company actually rolling out with this offering? AnyPresence's new platform includes:
- SDKs with Direct-to-Source Integration - AnyPresence now generates SDKs that can connect directly to REST web services without going through the backend server. This functionality is critical when an API management gateway is used between the mobile app and backend server. In traditional MBaaS solutions, the SDKs are tightly coupled to a backend server rendering them useless when working with an API gateway. AnyPresence enables developers to leverage the benefits of client-side SDK accelerants by connecting directly to any API gateway, which can then pass the call on to the AnyPresence backend server as required.
- Integration Kits – AnyPresence adds “integration kits.” These are pre-configured components that can be used to enable specific functionality such as connecting to an IoT hub, authenticating against a specific LDAP directory, or implementing business logic such
- Quick Connect Adapters for SOAP and HTTP – AnyPresence now provides integration to enterprise data sources via HTTP and SOAP connectors. Legacy or custom web services can be transformed into RESTful APIs via declarative configuration within the AnyPresence Designer, minimizing the amount of code and technical debt that needs to be created and maintained.
- New Database and Authentication Adapters – In addition to expanding support for enterprise databases such as IBM DB2, AnyPresence now includes a custom HTTP-Authentication adapter. This adapter allows apps to authenticate against virtually any HTTP-based authentication management or identity management system, including SSO solutions such as Ping Identity.
- Designer Audit Logs – Keep the compliance team happy via a detailed history of all user actions on app definitions made within the AnyPresence Designer.
This all makes sense but, increasingly, provision of API services on top of a backend development solution is seen as table stakes. I see some very useful tools here from AnyPresence, but the rapid rate of change in the sector is an example of the very real arms race that is going on here.