Nomadic Computing with Mobile Devices

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Nov 24, 2013 (3 years and 8 months ago)

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Nomadic Computing with Mobile Devices
With the explosion of smartphones and tablet computers, software
developers must exploit opportunities at the application layer, applying
location- and presence-aware data to deliver services that are relevant
to both enterprises and consumers.
Executive Summary
Dramatic advancements in mobile technology,
combined with the wide availability of sophisti-
cated mobile devices, have enabled us to conduct
our daily personal computing and communica-
tions activities on the go. As a result, we are fast
becoming a society of nomadic computer users
or, simply, nomads.
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The vast majority of users today are able to
perform the same tasks on their mobile devices
as they traditionally performed on their laptops
or desktops. And although most users perceive —
and use — their smartphones simply as portable
laptops or desktops that offer the convenience of
mobile operation, these devices can be, in fact,
much more than that.
Still missing, however, is full support of nomadic
computing at the applications layer. This white
paper describes a new paradigm that extends
nomadic computing to the applications layer.
Adoption of this paradigm will enable a new level
of powerful applications to attract value-driven
users, creating tremendous business development
opportunities for enterprises to offer electronic
customer relationship marketing (e-CRM), data
mining and internal and external cross-selling
services that generate revenue for the business.
We also demonstrate the tremendous potential
of this new paradigm for both enterprises and
consumers, alike.
From the Beginning
Anyone who accesses his or her computing envi-
ronment from different locations is a computing
nomad, or simply a nomad. Leonard Kleinrock,
recognized as one of the founders of the Internet,
first coined the term in the late 1980s, when he
and his colleagues discovered the limitations of
the Internet infrastructure in supporting nomads
as they moved from office desk to conference
room, living room, bedroom, den, hotel, airplane,
automobile and school.
The Internet protocol suite, specifically TCP/
IP, assumed that users and their devices and IP
addresses would always be found in the same
location and would be tightly coupled. The problem
was that users moving from one location to the
next needed to reconfigure their IP addresses, set
Domain Name Services (DNS) gateway addresses
and so forth — and needed significant technical
knowledge to do so. In short, nomadic computing


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was not transparent to users, and it certainly was
not convenient.
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Kleinrock and others attempted to eliminate these
shortcomings and create a nomadic computing
infrastructure that would support “nomadicity,”
which Kleinrock defines as follows:
“… the system support needed to provide
computing and communications capabilities
and services to nomads as they move from
place to place in a way that is transparent,
integrated, convenient and adaptive.”
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Users should not have to deal with what Kleinrock
called “discontinuities” between different devices
and locations, such as network connections,
connection mechanisms, intermittent connec-
tions, access to files, file system synchroniza-
tion, printer configuration, bandwidth and load
problems, etc. The ultimate goal was to make
these configuration and access issues transpar-
ent to the user.
The Internet infrastructure and the hardware
and software products we enjoy today represent
the success of nomadic computing researchers.
Today, connecting to the Internet from home is as
simple as connecting a modern router, plugging in
a computer and running an
install script. Connecting
to a wireless router is
even simpler and involves
only selecting the network
to which to connect. The
complexities of setting
DNS server addresses
and configuring security
protocols are hidden from
the user. That is, achieving
connectivity and service
availability is transparent,
convenient and adaptable.
Today’s mobile networks extend the nomadic
computing paradigm and engineering achieve-
ments of the Internet pioneers. Anyone’s grand-
mother can use voice and data services to make
phone calls, send multimedia messages and send
e-mail, anywhere, whether stationary or mobile,
local or roaming. Here again, connectivity and
service availability are transparent, convenient,
integrated and adaptive at the network layer and
below.
But what about the applications layer that sits
atop the network layer? Can we extend the
paradigm that gives us nomadicity at the network
layer up to the applications layer? If so, what
would a nomadic computing infrastructure look
like at the applications layer? And what are the
benefits?
We contend that the paradigm represented by
nomadicity can be extrapolated to the applica-
tions layer — for both fixed and mobile users.
For the purposes of this paper, we will focus on
mobility because the business development
opportunities are far more dramatic in the mobile
domain than for fixed or stationary networks.
When this vision is realized, the user experience
on mobile devices will be greatly enhanced, and a
more powerful platform will be created that will
benefit users and create new opportunities for
the enterprise.
Nomadicity for Mobile Networks
and Devices
Why is nomadicity on mobile devices so
important? How is the mobile platform different
from the laptop or desktop platform? Why do
mobile devices promise to be the cornerstone of
a powerful new paradigm for applications when
outfitted with an applications-layer nomadic
computing capability? To answer these questions,
we need to take a closer look at the technical dif-
ferences between mobile networks and stationary
networks (the so-called fixed Internet).
Dynamic, Continuous Network Connectivity
At the risk of stating the obvious, mobility is
really the inherent characteristic of mobile
networks. And the one characteristic that most
differentiates mobile networks from so-called
fixed networks is that mobile networks support
dynamic mobility and dynamic network connec-
tivity. Whether a user is stationary, walking or
riding on a high-speed train or roaming from one
network provider’s cell tower to another’s, he or
she can use the phone’s voice and data services
without interruption. The network transparently
handles such functions as cell site hand-offs,
network address updates, security, authentica-
tion and roaming.
This dynamic connectedness is the manifesta-
tion of nomadicity at the network layer. Users
connect to and use the network transparently,
conveniently and adaptively. In contrast, the fixed
Internet isn’t quite so flexible. Arguably, it is this
flexibility that has contributed to the impressive
adoption rate of mobile devices. Adoption rates
are also a result of user perception of the novelty
Can we extend the
paradigm that gives
us nomadicity at the
network layer up to
the applications layer?
If so, what would a
nomadic computing
infrastructure
look like at the
applications layer?
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and convenience of mobility (as discussed later in
this paper).
Dynamically Updated Physical Location
Information
Mobile devices have one other important dis-
tinguishing characteristic: Dynamically updated
physical location information, provided by their
built-in global position system (GPS) receivers.
This difference — in conjunction with the dynamic,
continuous connectivity of mobile networks —
renders the mobile device a profoundly powerful
platform on which to build a new computing
paradigm at the applications layer.
Mobile vs. Portable
The dynamic nature of mobile devices makes them
more than just conveniently portable consumer
electronics that mimic our desktops and laptops.
To see why, let’s contrast the paradigm that
dominates our computer use today with the new
one enabled by the mobile infrastructure.
Many Internet sites, such as Yahoo, Google and
Yelp, were originally built to address fixed-loca-
tion users. These mainstream sites encourage
desktop and laptop users to enter personal profile
information that the site can use to provide useful
information and services. For example, based on
your ZIP code, the site can present ads for local
businesses, offer a starting point for driving
directions, provide pertinent local weather infor-
mation and so forth.
The limitation of this paradigm is that user infor-
mation is static, which doesn’t accommodate
nomads. Yelp does fine when you search for a
local restaurant near your home — when you’re
actually at home. But what if you’re out of town
or even across town and you’re trying to find a
nearby restaurant? Instead of search results
showing restaurants in proximity of your actual
location, you still see listings within proximity
of your “home” location. Of course you could
change your profile ZIP code, refresh the portal
page and begin a new search, or you could enter
the current location address for each action. This
need for manual intervention is not convenient,
transparent or adaptive; that is, it does not reflect
the qualities of nomadicity and, therefore, does
not serve the nomad.
Mobile devices, on the other hand, have a built-in
GPS receiver that provides dynamic and accurate
physical location information that is available
to any application without user intervention.
Combined with underlying mobile network
support for continuously connected mobility,
applications can provide useful information to
the nomad, and the nomad can enjoy a rich user
experience.
Mobile applications have
already started to take
advantage of the power
of the mobile device’s
dynamic location informa-
tion capability. For example,
search results in the Google
Maps mobile application are
ordered by first displaying
matches that are closest to
the user’s current geographic location. However,
at this stage in the development of such solutions,
each effort is largely isolated. Each applica-
tion must be built with its own infrastructure to
provide the full scope of services needed, from UI
to database.
One piece is still missing from the technologi-
cal landscape needed to support a generation of
these applications: the applications layer infra-
structure across the enterprise that will enable
the presentation of useful applications to the
nomad.
Nomadicity at the Applications Layer:
A Closer Look
It’s clear that mobile devices support true
nomadicity at the network layer and below, but
full benefits require nomadicity at the applica-
tions layer. Applications-layer support enables
applications to behave in a way that is trans-
parent, integrated, convenient and adaptive. Of
course, a nomadic application — like any other
software application — utilizes the platform’s
support beneath it; nomadic applications utilize
the nomadicity support at the network layer and
below.
Still, what really is a nomadic application? A
nomadic application is one that behaves in a way
that is transparent, integrated, convenient and
adaptive from the perspective of the user. Let’s
look at what this means in the context of mobile
devices.


Transparent: Computer science defines trans-
parency as “functioning without the user be-
ing aware of its presence.”
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Transparency
Each application
must be built with its
own infrastructure to
provide the full scope
of services needed,
from UI to database.
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moves the user further away from the underly-
ing technology and from knowledge of design,
structure or implementation details. For exam-
ple, users do not need to be aware of how or
from where data is retrieved, such as whether
a browser was used to retrieve data or from
which Web site the data came.
Consider a scenario involving the mainstream
browser-based version of the Google Maps
application. The user provides search text, and
the application displays a map with a red pin
denoting the geographic
location of each match.
As a result of the user
selecting a pin, the applica-
tion launches the device’s
Web browser to display a
Web page with informa-
tion about that location.
The experience is not
transparent because the
user clearly recognizes the
browser, its address bar,
the URL displayed and the
familiar browser display
window — the same view the user would see if
he or she launched the Web browser directly.
Most of today’s applications are similarly not
transparent in this manner.


Integrated: An integrated version might em-
bed the browser function in the application.
Now the user sees the same content, albeit
in a view that has the same “skin” as the con-
taining application instead of the stand-alone
browser application’s view, which results in a
consistent look-and-feel across all application
views.
The integration that results in embedding the
browser and “hiding” its use also achieves
transparency. The user does not need to be
aware of how the application presents the
content.


Convenient: Integration also engenders con-
venience. The application takes the user to
the screen that performs the appropriate
task, precluding the need for manually launch-
ing multiple independent applications. In the
Google Maps application, the user does not
have to launch a browser manually to look up
the restaurant information on the Yelp Web
site.


Adaptive: The most obvious example of adap-
tive behavior is the device’s GPS receiver. Con-
tinuing with the Google Maps example, the dy-
namically available user location information
enables search results to be ranked according
to proximity to the user’s current location. So
a search for a location will first display those
matches that are closest to the user’s current
location. This adaptive behavior is certainly
convenient for the user, who doesn’t have to
explicitly provide his or her physical location
as is necessary if using a laptop or desktop.
The nomadicity qualities of transparency, inte-
gration, convenience and adaptive behavior
are all closely related. And generally, the more
integrated and transparent applications are, the
more convenient and adaptive they become.
The goal of achieving these qualities is particular-
ly important in the mobile arena, because the vast
majority of users are not technical professionals.
Moreover, the small screens and challenging user
interfaces make it more difficult for the average
consumer to feel comfortable with relatively non-
intuitive swipes and taps. The simpler and more
intuitive the user experience, the greater the
adoption rate for nomadic devices and the more
potential for business.
Nomadicity Throughout the Enterprise
So far, we’ve focused on the user interface in elu-
cidating nomadicity on mobile devices. Although
the user interface represents the application to
the typical user, in reality, it is just a façade or pre-
sentation component of the application.
The majority of today’s networked, distributed
applications reside throughout many tiers of
the enterprise. Therefore, a complete treatment
of nomadicity must include a description of it in
every tier of an application’s enterprise architec-
ture. Specifically, nomadic applications require
support for nomadicity across all tiers of the
enterprise architecture.
The realization of nomadicity in enterprise archi-
tecture will be the lynchpin of enterprise solutions
that are capable of driving user adoption and
creating business opportunity. The reason for
this, stated throughout this paper, is the growing
acceptance of mobile devices resulting from
the novelty and convenience of mobility. As
more nomadic applications become available,
consumers will change the way and extent to
which they use their mobile devices.
Today, however, there is only a fledgling presence
of support for nomadicity across the entire
enterprise. As a result, users still see their mobile
The realization
of nomadicity in
enterprise architecture
will be the lynchpin of
enterprise solutions
that are capable of
driving user adoption
and creating business
opportunity.
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devices as conveniently portable, cute, miniatur
-
ized versions of their laptops and desktops and,
consequently, use them as such. They fire up one
application for one task, another for another task
and so on. The reason for this interaction model is
that applications are largely silos that exist inde-
pendently from one another. Although applica-
tions such as Google Maps or Yelp exhibit some
aspects of nomadicity in their UIs, there is no
integration of services and data.
Nomadicity across the enterprise addresses the
transparency, integration, convenience and adap-
tive behavior of services and data. Each applica-
tion focuses on providing a specific function to the
user, and the back-end enterprise infrastructure
behind each UI is a “silo.” That is, the Google Maps
application uses Google’s map database and enter-
prise services, and Yelp uses its own database of
information. Even the Google Now application uses
Google’s databases of information.
Applications that exhibit many nomadic charac-
teristics today, such as Google Now and Google
Anywhere, are still the exception. And despite the
noteworthy achievements of these applications,
even applications within the same company are
not integrated. For example, Google Mail, Calendar
and Voice are not integrated, and access to them
is certainly neither transparent nor convenient
for the user — even on the desktop. In fact, even
Google Voice itself is not well integrated as a
unified communications platform.
Another factor amplifying the problem of silos
of services and data is user account and profile
management. Yelp users each have a dedicated
account, with personal preferences for food,
location and so forth. Yelp’s mobile applica-
tion uses its own back-end services. A Yelp user
might have a Google Maps account with another
personal profile that stores preferences such as
starting locations for driving directions, favorite
places, etc.
Each user account is maintained separately, and
users duplicate profile information many times
over. They also have to remember where they
have such accounts, along with the account
names, passwords and other details. Even if there
is a mobile application that provides an alternative
to using a browser, the user must use each such
application independently. The overall user expe-
rience of accessing services and data is neither
integrated nor convenient nor transparent.
Google applications won’t necessarily use Yelp’s
database of information, and Yelp users won’t
benefit from having detailed Yelp account profiles
when using the Google Maps application. As a
result, there will still be competing silos of appli-
cations.
Competition is an obstacle to sharing services
and information, so it’s not likely that Google,
Yelp, MapQuest or other
companies will be motivated
to provide services or data
that benefit their competi-
tors’ applications. But even
if competition were not a
factor, it’s a difficult task to
provide services and data
that serve the needs of all.
Thus we have the silos of
service we see today.
Nevertheless, there is still
tremendous opportunity for
companies to produce very
specific company- or brand-
centric nomadic applica-
tions in which all elements are controlled by the
creator. A given company could build dedicated
applications using its own services and data that
can more easily be made to support nomadicity.
And these services and data could deliver a level
of detail not possible when one data provider
tries to service many partners. The key factor
for success, however, is that the provider must
have access to all the data necessary to make the
application useful to the end user.
An Example: The Theme Park
To help elucidate these ideas, let’s examine a
sample application. How could an amusement
park enhance the experience of its patrons if it
were to create a mobile application that took
advantage of nomadicity? One idea is an applica-
tion that people can use while visiting the park.
In fact, major theme parks have already begun
building this type of application.
Let’s say you are planning to take your family to
one of the company’s theme parks. Prior to your
visit, you download the park’s mobile application.
Before you arrive, the application aggregates
all of your profile information from the theme
park company’s Web portal, where you have an
account. As the one company that is the sole
creator of its enterprise systems, the theme park
Each user account is
maintained separately,
and users duplicate
profile information
many times over. They
also have to remember
where they have such
accounts, along with
the account names,
passwords and other
details.
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6
has a unified customer database through which
all of its enterprise systems across all operating
units have a single view of each consumer, patron
or online account owner. The system knows each
and every customer, as well as their interests,
food preferences, ride preferences, age and as
much information as the
customer cares to provide.
This application is also
location-aware, presence-
aware and nomadic. As a
family walks down one of
the main promenades in
the park, the application
points out details of the décor, design and history
of the attractions. It might reveal that a particular
area was a movie set or that the area is themed for
particular characters of the company’s cartoons,
movies or other brands. A pop-up lets the visitor
indicate whether she is interested in more of these
informational tidbits. If she previously indicated
interest in certain characters, for example, the
app could inform her exactly where the related
themed areas were and how to walk there.
The more information the application has about
the customer, the more it can cater to the
customer’s interests. If the visitor entered infor-
mation about food preferences, an alert can be
sent when a suitable restaurant, snack kiosk
or store that sells that food is nearby; or it can
guide visitors to restaurants corresponding to
their stated interests upon entering the park and
provide turn-by-turn directions to walk there.
Suppose another visitor finished eating the spicy
jambalaya at one of the park’s themed restau-
rants. Thirty minutes later, an alert could send
him to a park store that sells antacid or send an
alert when he passes such a store. It could even
send the alert to his dad but not his sibling based
on the visitor’s age stored in his profile (assuming
kids don’t get heartburn!).
As he approaches a ride, an alert could foretell
the wait time to board. It could reveal whether the
ride supports advance reservations and display
reservation time slots, allowing him to reserve
and send a reservation number. Upon exiting the
ride, a different kind of alert could say, “If you
The more information
the application has
about the customer, the
more it can cater to the
customer’s interests.
A Day in the Park
An example of nomadic computing in action could be found at a theme park. Park visitors
would download a location-specific app onto their mobile devices that aggregates profile
information from the company’s Web portal. Sensing where the visitors are in their
journey throughout the park, the app would make recommendations relevant to individual
needs and interests.
Cajun Cabin
“If you liked the spinning
swing ride, you might also
enjoy the spinning
octopus ride.”
“Tell us how you
liked this ride.”
“The gift shop ahead
sells antacids.”
“Child safety
alert. Jake has
wandered 75
feet away.”
“The best Jambalaya
you’ve ever tasted is
20 feet ahead.”
“Wait time:
7 minutes.”
“Stop in and see
Emma’s favorite,
Princess Flora.”
Figure 1
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liked that ride you might like this one, too.” Child
safety alerts could warn mom and dad anytime
junior strolls more than 75 feet away from them.
Perhaps at home, junior plays one of the games
online developed by the theme park on its Web
portal. Upon entering the park, an alert can
suggest a shop where his mom and dad might
want to take him to buy the game’s branded para-
phernalia. These examples depict how enterprise
data integration across all of a theme park
company’s services can support cross-selling
across all of its business units.
The park operator can use the data accumulat-
ed by the application to provide e-CRM services
to customers. For example, the app could ask a
customer if he or she liked the music played on
a particular ride or in a certain restaurant or
throughout one of the park’s themed areas and,
based on the answer, suggest music that fits
his or her preferences. As well as serving the
patron, this capability enables cross-selling of the
company’s brands and business units.
For companies with parks in multiple countries,
the app could be internationalized and localized
to cater to patrons around the globe, automati-
cally using location-aware offerings and localized
user experience elements.
The Business Proposition
The theme park example highlights the value for
both the user and the enterprise. The popularity
of mobile devices, coupled with the transparency,
convenience, dynamic nature and adaptability
of the application, make it easy, convenient and
enjoyable for users. And the ability to gather
dynamic, detailed, relevant information about
users is valuable to the enterprise.
For a business to sell to a consumer, it must know
something about that consumer. And to retain the
customer, it must demonstrate value. The enter-
prise needs the ability to collect information about
the consumer and offer something perceived as
valuable. The business then generates revenue
through the following functions:


E-CRM.


Data mining.


Internal and external cross-selling and
upselling.


Just-in-time inventory control.
A comprehensive treatment of each of these
areas is beyond the scope of this paper. Never-
theless, the overarching point is that this kind of
application, achievable today, can easily generate
very accurate consumer profile and demographic
information, which would enable more effective,
targeted marketing, as well as upselling, cross-
selling and sharing, ultimately generating more
revenue.
5

For example, a theme
park could integrate just-
in-time inventory control
that uses dynamically
collected data to re-order
inventory, ranging from
food to T-shirts, with finer
granularity to streamline
its operations and
operate more efficiently.
The data is also useful in
planning new rides, res-
taurants, products, ideas
for new movie themes,
etc., based on analysis of
data that indicates how many people congregate
around which attractions and at what time of day.
The potential for demographic data is effectively
limitless. Data could be made anonymous and
sold to partners or even competitors.
The Value for Users
Ultimately, the best way to generate revenue is to
provide features and services that users perceive
as valuable. If users accept and use the applica-
tion, the business will naturally benefit.
Consumers have grown weary of the incessant
assault from company solicitations from mail,
e-mail and applications with built-in advertising
messages. They will probably not easily accept
applications that simply appear to be aimed
at getting them to buy more. Instead, applica-
tions should suggest products or services that
consumers might find valuable. This determina-
tion should ideally be based on information about
their past buying preferences. That is, purchase
suggestions should now represent products and
services that are legitimately of potential interest
to consumers instead of a sales tactic that
attempts to entice them to just buy more.
Challenges and Potential for a Variety
of Applications and Enterprises
Any corporation could conceivably create a
customized application along the lines of the
theme park example to serve its business and
customers in a way that reflects the enterprise’s
This kind of application
can easily generate
very accurate consumer
profile and demographic
information, which would
enable more effective,
targeted marketing,
upselling, cross-selling
and sharing, ultimately
generating more
revenue.
Quick Take
Despite the vast potential for dynamic location-
and presence-aware mobile technology, there is
also the potential for abuse. Today’s smartphones
and tablets are vulnerable to malicious external
applications or software agents, which can com-
municate with open mobile devices even without
the user’s knowledge. Already, we’re seeing
examples of applications deployed by stores in
shopping malls that send unsolicited messages to
unprotected mobile devices as the device owners
walk within proximity of the store.
Today’s mobile devices have features such as auto-
matic sharing of location information and auto-
discovery and connection to wireless networks.
While aiding the transparent and convenient use
of services, these features also expose the device
— and the user — to vulnerability and disclosure of
private information.
It is imperative that any company building the
type of hypothetical application presented in this
paper take precautions to ensure the privacy and
security of the consumer. Technically, it is not dif-
ficult to do so. The company building the appli-
cation should control the complete system and
utilize its database of user information. Users
could be given the ability to specify the level of
personal information they want to be used or
shared, and the company need never share data
with any external system or organization. In short,
the company would control the whole enterprise,
from infrastructure to software to data.
In fact, it is more feasible to build this kind of an
application when one company controls all aspects
of the system. The problem of sharing meaningful
information between companies disappears. For
instance, the company gathers the data it knows
its application needs to create a meaningful user
experience. Gone is the problem of seeking that
information from a third-party company or think-
ing about how that data provider would be able
to represent the data and how the systems would
interact to exchange the information.
The result: Users would benefit from a rich appli-
cation experience while enjoying the security and
privacy of their personal information.
Privacy and Security
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cognizant 20-20 insights
own particular strategy, business rules, products
and use cases. In fact, many large companies —
particularly those flush with capital — have already
begun creating such applications to leverage the
dynamic, location-aware mobile platforms that
address their particular business domains and
markets.
As mentioned previously, the most viable
approach today would be for each enterprise
to build its own custom application, use its own
databases and brand its own self-contained appli-
cation with a unique look that extends its store-
front brands, trademarks, products, etc. A single
company can probably move more adaptively
than multiple organizations attempting to share
data and process siloes with each other, as the
capabilities for inter-enterprise data exchange,
meta-information tagging, Web services and
other technologies are still in the primordial
stages of development.
Nevertheless, not every company is going to
have the resources to build a map database that
rivals Google’s. In fact, Google itself recognizes
the need to adapt to the changing technological
landscape and is actively working on expanding its
map databases and creating more detailed maps,
street views, etc. The company is also forming
business agreements that enable it to create
detailed views and maps for private entities such
as museums.
But even Google is subject to constraints and
obstacles. Other companies such as Yelp want
to advertise their brand and are creating their
own mobile applications. In general, corporations
are reluctant to share data with each other for
competitive reasons. And even if they do, the
generalized data that must serve all consumers
of this data can never serve a specific group of
consumers as well as a focused application. In
short, although there is limitless potential, there
are also tangible obstacles
Regardless of which strategic approach is taken
— the enterprise-specific model or the services
model delivered to multiple clients — each mobile
application should strive to manifest the qualities
of nomadicity, and should target the nomad
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9
in order to realize the potential benefits. The
prognosis for success is very good because of
the unique combination of features of an applica-
tions-layer nomadic computing infrastructure on
mobile devices, including:


Popularity and enthusiastic adoption of mobile
devices.


Continuous mobile device connectivity.


Continuous and dynamic physical location
information.


Applications-layer support of nomadicity.
Nearly any enterprise could benefit from this
kind of application, including grocery stores,
book stores, department stores, airlines, real
estate companies and medical device monitoring
in hospitals or at home.
6
What we see today is
just the beginning of an evolution of technology
and applications that take advantage of nomadic
principles.
Building Nomadic Applications
Companies are building these types of applica-
tions today, but they represent just a fraction of
what is possible and just a few examples of the
kinds of enterprises such applications could serve.
Learning how to build such systems now is critical.
We’re already seeing pieces of the technology
and technological infrastructure being created
that will soon comprise the applications-layer
middleware needed to build nomadic systems. It
won’t be long before the pieces are integrated
into useful products at the enterprise level. Orga-
nizations that acquire experience early on will be
ahead of the competitive field.
Developers must consider the following factors
when conceiving, architecting, designing and
creating a nomadic application:


Congruence with company business model:
What are the business needs, purpose and val-
ue of the application?


Enterprise architecture: What is the mani-
festation of a system that supports the busi-
ness needs? What are the critical obstacles to
success?
Conceiving a Viable Business Model
As with any application, it is vitally important for
an enterprise-scale nomadic application to show
business value and encompass a clear vision of its
purpose. The application must be attractive and
novel to users, yet it must also show some benefit
to the company.
Why will the application attract users? What
benefits will users derive from its use? How will
the nomadic qualities of the application cater
to the nomadic user? How will it support the
company’s basic business? What is the real
benefit to the company?
What is the revenue model
for the application? Does
the company charge for
the application or give it
away for free? If the latter,
can the company make
money selling anonymous
data collected about users,
demographic data, trend
data, statistics, business
analytics and so forth? Or
can it use data collected from the application to
support another aspect of its business?
An important success factor for nomadic applica-
tions is the strategy behind the application that
marries the company’s business needs with those
of the consumer.
Creating a Suitable Enterprise Architecture
In addition to an effective business model, the
enterprise architecture needs to ensure that the
realization of the system supports the business
vision. The enterprise architecture assesses an
application from multiple perspectives, such as
business, technology and infrastructure, and
it describes the manifestation of the applica-
tion that will support the business needs of the
enterprise.
Defining the right enterprise architecture is an
important step in ensuring the success of the
nomadic application. Nomadic computing brings
new challenges to the technical arena of the
enterprise architecture, such as the need for many
of the technologies in vogue today, namely “big
data” analytics, enterprise search, data mining
and potentially unstructured data. These types of
applications will challenge the enterprise archi-
tecture even more than the traditional enterprise
applications that use these technologies.
Once again, we see that it is the near real-time
— or dynamic — nature of nomadicity that adds
complexity to the mix. Presumably, the nomadic
application will be collecting user location data on
an ongoing basis. The collection and processing
of global personal location data is the corner-
stone of a whole new category of BI processing
that promises to generate information that could
The collection and
processing of global
personal location data
is the cornerstone of a
whole new category of
BI that promises huge
revenue streams for
companies.
cognizant 20-20 insights
10
potentially lead to huge revenue streams for
companies. (For more on this subject, read our
paper, “BI Goes Mobile: The Future of Information
is Here.”)
And, generally, these
applications will need to
perform dynamic analytical
processing, which becomes
much more complex than
simply updating the user’s
location on a map as he or
she moves around. Once
again considering the theme
park example, imagine the
amount of processing, per-
formance and scalability
required to play a song that
the user likes as he or she walks past a store that
sells that music or past a ride whose theme song
is one that the user previously indicated he or she
liked in an online profile. Contrast this scenario
with the analytical processing that a credit card
company might perform when offering coupons
for products related to previous purchases.
That kind of processing is done in “batch” mode
against relational databases, perhaps days after
the purchase. In fact, it can be done any time,
periodically throughout the month, quarter or
year. There is no need for dynamic processing.
The technology architecture is an important part
of the full scope of the enterprise architecture
that ensures an application supports the vision
for its use. The kinds of nomadic applications
described in this white paper require well-thought-
out technology and technical architectures.
Bringing such applications to fruition requires
a nontrivial amount of resources. There is
tremendous cost associated with the research,
planning, inception and realization of technology
infrastructures capable of supporting enterprise-
scale nomadic applications that might serve tens
of thousands of users or even millions of users.
Besides addressing the technical challenges, an
enterprise architecture can help in performing a
cost-benefit analysis with respect to the business
and financial considerations.
Technology choices naturally follow the needs
of the business and the application itself. Some
important factors to consider are:


Safeguarding of sensitive personal information
and general security.


Presentation of meaningful information that
can be managed by users.


Adaptability to changing usage profiles.


Effective leverage of consumer trends, media
and information.


Adaptability to changing platform technology,
such as mobile platforms.


Integration of technology components or
products that serve BI, data mining, analytics,
social media.


Performance.


Scalability.
Although a discussion of each of these topics is
in itself an involved undertaking, the overarch-
ing concern is the specific requirements of the
nomadic application.
The Future of Convergence
Like any other domain or application, enterprise-
scale nomadic computing applications will have
their own challenges — some strategic and some
technical — and each specific application will have
its own set of critical-path issues to resolve. But
there is a genuine characteristic that distinguish-
es this class of enterprise-scale nomadic applica-
tions: the nomadic user.
Nomads, along with their nomadic devices, might
very well be the combination that catalyzes the
convergence of a very broad range of technolo-
gies into a single application. From innovative
mobile user interfaces to traditional data center
technologies, nomadic applications will inspire
the coalescence of many technologies and the
creation of new capabilities. While challeng-
ing, it is not only feasible but imminent. As
engineers and architects discover how to make
these offerings viable, we’ll undoubtedly see an
explosion of applications that bridge the gap
between BI, analytical processing, data mining,
reporting, social media and mobility.
The creation and availability of advanced mobile
technology has transformed us into a world of
nomads. Coming full cycle, society’s embrace
of that technology will continue to drive further
advances, which, in turn, will result in continuing
enthusiastic adoption. Already, in five markets,
there are more mobile users with data services
than home networking.
7
Tremendous potential
awaits those organizations that can create a sim-
pler, more powerful user experience for nomads.
From innovative mobile
user interfaces to
traditional data center
technologies, nomadic
applications will inspire
the coalescence of
many technologies and
the creation of new
capabilities.
cognizant 20-20 insights
11
New technology continues to arrive at an over
-
whelming pace. The availability of new technology
will be the catalyst that joins business ideas and
technical solutions to precipitate the creation
of new products. But as technology becomes
more complex, so does the need to insulate the
user from that complexity while still enabling a
more powerful, meaningful and convenient user
experience. That is the goal of nomadic computing
in the mobile device arena.
Bringing full nomadicity to the applications layer
and leveraging the power and potential of mobile
computing is a sound strategy. Transparency, con-
venience, integration and adaptability will enable
mobile solutions to leverage the power of the
mobile infrastructure, concomitantly achieving
the goal of insulating users from encumber-
ing complexity. Realizing an infrastructure that
exhibits these characteristics in the mobile
domain is particularly attractive because of the
continuing pervasiveness, popularity and allure of
mobile devices.
Many intelligent individuals are working toward
building on advanced technologies to create
stunning examples of nomadic mobile applica-
tions. There is plenty of opportunity in this area,
and now is the time to start your journey.
References


Ken Arnold, Ann Wollrath, Bryan O’Sullivan, Robert Scheifler and Jim Waldo, The Jini Specification,
Addison-Wesley, 1999.


Cisco Unified Presence Server Documentation.


“The Digital Object Identifier System,” The International DOI Foundation, April 2012.


Sam X. Sun, S. Reilly, L. Lannom, Handle System Namespace and Service Definition. Internet Engi-
neering Task Force (IETF) Request for Comments (RFC), RFC 3651, November 2003.


Sam X. Sun, S. Reilly, L. Lannom and J. Petrone, “Handle System Protocol (ver 2.1) Specification,”
Internet Engineering Task Force Request for Comments, RFC 3652, November 2003.


Sam X. Sun, L. Lannom and B. Boesch, “Handle System Overview,” Internet Engineering Task Force
Request for Comments, RFC 3651, November 2003.


Susan Veness, The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World, Adams Media, 2009.
Footnotes
1

Leonard Kleinrock, “Nomadic Computing (Keynote Address),” Telecommunications Systems, Vol. 7, 1997,
pp. 5-15.
2

Leonard Kleinrock, “Nomadic Computing,” Information Network and Data Communication, IFIP/ICCC
International Conference on Information Network and Data Communication, Trondheim, Norway, June
1996, pp. 223-233.
3

Leonard Kleinrock, “Breaking Loose,” Communications of the ACM, Vol. 44, No. 9, September 2001.
4

New Oxford American Dictionary, 2010.
5

Elisabeth Horwitt, “Busting Down the Silos,” ComputerWorld, June 7, 2012.
6

“Multi-Use, Multi-Revenue Networks for the Hospitality Industry,” Nomadix, Inc., June 2005.
7

John SanGiovanni, “The Phone is Poised to Usurp the PC’s Throne,” Gigaom.com, April 29, 2012.
About Cognizant
Cognizant (NASDAQ: CTSH) is a leading provider of information technology, consulting, and business process out-
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About the Author
Vartan Piroumian is an Enterprise Architect with Cognizant’s Information, Media and Entertainment
Consulting Practice. He is the author of two books on Java technology, Java GUI Development, J2ME
Wireless Platform Programming and several journal articles. Prior to joining Cognizant, Vartan was a
software systems architect with Sun Microsystems’ Java professional services group, where he worked
with a variety of technologies and, in particular, with some of the world’s largest mobile carriers in the
U.S., Europe and the Far East. He can be reached at Vartan.Piroumian@cognizant.com.