Mobile Cloud Platforms: The Backend of Mobile Apps

The explosion of mobile applications and devices has lead to an extremely crowded and fragmented market leaving mobile developers searching for new opportunities to differentiate and improve the user experience. Increasingly, successful mobile apps are supported by data feeds and services in the cloud such as databases, messaging, location, and social networking status. At the same time, enterprises are realizing the importance of the mobile channel and are moving beyond devices and applications devising new strategies to broaden their reach. Extending enterprise data and services to mobile developers via APIs is an approach enterprises are increasingly pursuing. These macro trends are driving demand for mobile cloud services platforms.

Mobile cloud services platforms are software suites that help enterprises create and manage APIs that extend data to mobile developers. These platforms also help mobile developers integrate APIs into their applications and support the network side or back-end of their apps. Over the past few years, vendors have focused on either servicing mobile developers with mobile back-end–as-a-service (mBaaS) solutions or enterprises with API management platforms. These types of platforms are quickly merging into a single offering connecting mobile developers with enterprise data and back-end services.

We expect the market for mobile cloud services platforms to grow from $579 million USD in 2013 to $4.4 billion USD in 2017. A large portion of the revenues generated from the market will be from API management and discovery services, where as back-end services will comprise a shrinking share of revenues.

The myriad of Internet connected mobile devices that continue to come to market has overwhelmed content providers and enterprises in their efforts to support multiple device types with integrated applications. To overcome these challenges a new computing architecture is emerging that separates the client side UI from the content and server side logic. Mobile cloud services platforms are playing into this trend by providing uniform data feed and services that allow application developers to focus on building the client side of the application. This reduces cost as mobile application developers typically have limited experience with server side software and vice versa. The primary value proposition of mobile cloud services providers is helping enterprises “mobile enable” their data and helping mobile developers simplify the process of creating a back-end for their apps.

The expanding opportunity for mobile cloud services platform is attracting numerous competitors and the marketplace is quickly becoming crowded. The space has attracted significant amounts of venture capital and Fortune 500 companies, such as Facebook, Intel, and Ca are acquiring market players. Development tools vendors, enterprise software vendors, SaaS, IaaS, and start-ups will battle to influence and control the mobile channel. Vendors are competing in a number of segments of the value chain including discovery, aggregation, developer support, utilities, and API creation and management. Some areas of the value chain will generate higher revenues where others will be much more strategic.

1.0 Introduction
1.1 Macro Trends
1.2 What are Mobile Cloud Services Platforms?
1.2.1 Open vs. closed APIs
1.2.2 Mobile API vs. desktop
2.0 Market Structure
2.1 API Creation and Management
2.1.1 No code API builders
2.2 Service Discovery and Aggregation
2.2.1 API marketplaces and portals
2.2.2 API directories
2.2.3 Marketing distribution support
2.2.4 Aggregation APIs
2.3 Utilities and Developer Support
2.4 Adjacent Markets & Alternate Approaches
2.4.1Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
2.4.2 Integrated mobile application platforms
3.0 Market Opportunity
3.1 Drivers
3.1.2 New computing model
3.1.3 Disposable apps
3.1.4 Decoupling the front and back- end of the app
3.1.5 Reduced costs
3.1.6 Contextual awareness
3.1.7 Capital investment
3.2 Barriers
3.2.1 Service fragmentation
3.2.2 Discoverability & distribution
3.2.3 One size fits all REST APIs
3.2.4 Poorly designed APIs
3.2.5 CIOs need to change mindset
4.0 Marketing Strategies
4.1 Top Down or Bottom Up
4.2 Business Models
4.2.1 Service discovery and aggregation
4.2.2 Utilities and developer support
4.2.3 API development and management
5.0 Forecasts
5.1 API Creation, Management, and Discovery
5.2 Utilities and Developer Support
6.0 Competitive Analysis
6.1 Orchestrating APIs and Versioning
6.3 Granular Analytics and Tracking
6.4 Simplicity vs. Flexibility
6.5 Developer Relationships
6.6 Partnerships and Parents
7.0 Future Outlook
7.1 The Market Will Become Increasingly Crowded
7.1.1 Enterprise software vendors will continue to migrate web services into API management
7.1.2 Content vendors will look to mobile cloud services platforms as vital distribution channels
7.1.3 SaaS vendors enter the market with more UI components
7.1.4 Infrastructure players move up the value chain
7.1.5 Development tools providers will focus on cross platform cross device development suites
7.2 Contextual Access to Multiple Data Sources Will Become Very Important
7.3 Client Side Development Tools Refocus On Client
7.4 The Shake Out
7.4.1 Stand alone utilities and services providers will fail
7.4.2 Handful of technology leaders will stay independent and thrive
7.4.3 Limited opportunity for directories and 3rd party developer communities
7.5 Industry Moving Away From the Long Tail
7.6 Business Models Will be Reengineered
7.7 Opportunity for Consolidation Platform
8.0 Recommendations
8.1 Vendors Providing Simple Utilities and Back-End Services Need Partners
8.2 Vendors Targeting Enterprises Should Take a Multi-Pronged Approach
8.3 Be Flexible and Innovate
9.0 Profiles
9.1 Apigee
9.2 Intel (Mashery & Aepona)
9.3 Layer 7/ CA
9.4 Stackmob
9.5 Parse / Facebook
9.6 Software AG

Table of Figures

Figure 1 – Types of APIs & Services
Figure 2 – Value Chain
Figure 3 – Mobile Cloud Service Platform Value Delivery
Figure 4 – Components of Integrated Platform
Figure 5 – Total Mobile Cloud Services Platform Market Forecast: 2013-2017
Figure 6 – Total Revenues Generated From API Creation, Management & Discovery Forecast: 2013-2017
Figure 7 – Total Revenues Generated From Mobile App Back-End Utilities and Developer Support Forecast: 2013-2017
Figure 8 – Number of Mobile Apps Downloaded Connected to Back-End Utilities Forecast: 2013-2017
Figure 9 – API Calls to Back-end Utilities Forecast: 2013-2017
Figure 10 – Overlapping Market Participants

Table of Tables

Table 1 – API Management Vendors
Table 2 – API Marketplaces & Portals
Table 3 – API Directories
Table 4 – Aggregation services
Table 5 – mBaaS Vendors
Table 6 – Telecom Operators Providing Mobile Cloud Services Platforms
Table 7 – Invested Capital
Table 8 – IaaS / Mobile Cloud Services Platform Partnerships

Companies Mentioned

Blue Via
Deutch Telecom
Emergent One
HP Cloud
Layer 7
Lean Engine
Programmable Web
SOA Software
Software AG
Storage Made Easy
Unified Cloud API