Discover Performance

HP Software's community for IT leaders // October 2012
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5 factors for building better mobile apps

Why—and how—to ensure performance, security and a positive user experience.

Enterprises are increasingly driven to create mobile applications that facilitate internal productivity or improve customer experience. Yet the many networks, devices and user expectations evolve rapidly, making it hard to deliver a consistent, top-notch mobile app experience.

A key aspect of app development is QA testing, which in a mobile era needs to evolve—and get faster. There are a lot of questions to be answered as you lead that evolution. Start by considering these key issues:

  • Performance: The variability of bandwidth on mobile networks can have unforeseen impacts on performance of mobile and legacy applications. If a system is not architected to account for mobile device access, you may end up with serious performance degradation.
  • Security: Mobile devices present unique security challenges. If your CEO tells you, “I lost my smart phone,” are your applications and data still secure?
  • End-to-end user experience: Understanding your end-users’ experience is essential if you want to address problems before they become major issues. As the pace of change in the mobile device industry grows, development teams must be closely aligned with the testing and operations teams supporting mobile applications.

Your mobile apps strategy should include ways to address five primary challenges: Functional validation, performance validation, security, monitoring production and operations alignment.

Functional validation

QA teams can’t just validate their mobile apps’ functionality. They also need to adapt their testing methods to make sure they’re really addressing the needs of mobile users and their various devices. Manual testing is too inefficient, especially given the range of carriers, operating systems and regions. You’ll need automated testing processes that cover a wider range of variables than your slower manual processes could handle.

A key question with automation is whether to use emulator-based tests (less costly) or real-device testing (better results).

Keep in mind, too, that many mobile apps are access points to larger systems. Teams looking to reduce risk and increase test-case coverage must be able to test not only the mobile app functionality, but also the functionality of a transaction as it moves through the various components of the entire system.

Performance validation

You must ensure that your mobile apps can perform as they should despite flaky data connections. This is a design issue, but one that must be addressed in the testing phase, as well.

A less obvious performance challenge is the effect that the shared mobile network can have on the performance of a mobile app. Adding mobile access can dramatically slow—or even crash—the system. Mobile devices tend to take longer to complete transactions, monopolizing server resources that are normally used and released quickly.

Security

Even with a secure app design, what if a senior executive’s mobile device is lost or stolen? Could you guarantee the security of the apps and data on that device? Establish an approach to test and validate the app’s authentication, encryption and wireless security.

Monitoring production

To continue to offer the highest quality of service for mobile apps, you need an approach to monitoring the end-to-end health of mobile business services, from the application through the device, carriers and back-end infrastructure.

It’s better to take care of these concerns up front than to hear about end-user problems on Facebook, Twitter or other social media.

Operations alignment

It’s impractical—scratch that, impossible—to test for all mobile combinations and situations, which guarantees that patches and updates will be needed for any given app. That’s a style and pace of work that requires you to eliminate the traditional silos between the development and operations teams. With mobile device applications, development and operations must partner and work together closely to monitor applications and consistently drive future enhancements and bug fixes.

For a deeper look at these issues and HP’s comprehensive approach to mobile testing, read the full white paper, “Five mobile application challenges for IT.”


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