Magellan's Blog

What is Gesture Recognition?

Posted by Carolyn Trinta

Sep 22, 2014 9:00:00 AM

what is gesture recognitionYou use it on your phone, and with your favorite video game console, but you might not even realize what this technology is. Welcome to the future: it’s gesture recognition.

Just when you think we can’t make any more breakthroughs in technology, we do. And while we’ve been using gesture recognition for years (the XBox Kinect was released in 2012 to the public), there’s been a push forward for more applications to use it in the past year or so.

 

Gesture recognition  — a perceptual computing interface where a computer captures and translates gestures into commands — extends beyond just video games and mobile device usage. Here are a few exciting examples:

  • Custom Gestures: If you’ve watched Minority Report, you’ll be excited to see that you too can act like Tom Cruise and manipulate screen data with hand gestures with Seemove software. The software can be customized for whatever gestures you want to assign tasks to.

  • Healthcare: Developers at Siemens Healthcare are developing gesture recognition tools that would allow surgeons to manipulate digital images without compromising sterile procedures.

  • Automotive: Google and Ford have paired up to work on tools that drivers can use to gesture to adjust air conditioning, windows, or windshield wipers.

How it Works

Just like touch screens helped us be more efficient on our computers and mobile devices, so can gesture recognition tools.

If you have an XBox Kinect or a phone like the Samsung S5, you’re already familiar with how gesture recognition works from the consumer point of view. If you want to start a new Dance Central game, you swipe in front of your body. If you want to scroll down on a website on your phone, you run your hand alongside the phone.

In a given device, a motion sensor sees a human gesture, such as a hand wave, and interprets it based on the data that’s been input. So if programmers set up the system to recognize a hand wave as a signal that the user wants to turn on his computer, that’s what it’ll do.

In setting up the software, programmers create a library of gestures tied to specific commands. That, by the way, is a great example of the kind of data we can store on our M2 servers. While some libraries are relatively small, others will be much larger, and that data is important to house somewhere it can be accessed quickly with no delay.

It gets pretty complex, even with your kid’s XBox Kinect, which can not only recognize hand gestures, but also skeletal and facial tracking, voice recognition, and a user’s height.

 

The Drawbacks of Gesture Recognition

Like any emerging technology, gesture recognition has its limitations, though those are sure to be remedied quickly, as technology is speeding up. For one, the systems are sensitive, so if there’s “noise,” meaning it’s difficult for a device to discern a person from the furniture around her, the system may not know what to pay attention to in order to receive commands. A user has to be a specific distance from the scanner: too far away or too close, and it can’t read gestures.

And there are still several players in this new space, which means there’s varying quality among them, and they don’t necessarily play well together. I expect we’ll see some consolidation as bigger entities (surely Google’s on that list, and maybe Amazon) snatch up the more successful gesture recognition companies and others run out of funds for R&D.

For the time being, I look at gesture recognition as being full of potential, and look forward to seeing new applications of it in industries like retail, transportation, and education.


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Topics: Mobile Industry

Why a Common Code Base for Mobile Development Matters

Posted by Carolyn Trinta

Sep 15, 2014 5:00:00 AM

Why a Common Code Base for Mobile Development MattersMobile app developers will feel my pain here, though maybe you less technically inclined folks won’t even be aware of the situation: you develop a fantastic app- I’m talking the next Flappy Birds. But, it’s only programmed for Apple products. Or Android.  And you know that to really make a splash in the app market, you need it available on both platforms, not to mention Windows and BlackBerry. But they all have their own programming language.

For mobile app developers, that means plenty more late nights of programming in your future. For businesses who hire these developers to create apps, it means more cost and time to market.

Does this sound familiar?

What if I told you it didn’t have to be this big pain in the app? What if you could design your app once and have it work on any operating system? Pshaw, you say. That’s a pipe dream.

Only it’s not.

Welcome to the Common Code Base

At Magellan, we’ve got plenty of experience designing mobile apps, so we know what a pain reproducing an app for each OS can be. That’s why we’re proud to offer a common code base. That means the applications we build for you can be quickly and inexpensively modified to work with any operating system – no need to build separate apps for Android and iOS. Time and cost are reduced and future updates are simple to make.

Major phone operating systems such as Android and iOS are structurally different in their architecture. It is no wonder, therefore, that both cause massive trouble for developers trying to make apps that cut across their products. Google and Apple encourage code to be written in contradicting ways, making it very difficult for programmers to write a singular code base that is efficient on both platforms. It also means that developers will have to duplicate code and keep tweaking it to work for both platforms. For businesses like yours, that means you pay for each operating system you want your app to work on. Who wants that?

The solution is in the cloud computing.  Magellan’s M2 cloud server houses a tool that writes the code, which is written in a particular software language and then the tool translates it to the various languages.

In layman terms, say we write code in English, yet the French, German and Spanish speaking countries need it translated. The tool that exists in M2 is literally a translator.  So no matter what operating system the platform is being run on, the tool writes code and then translates it to the various languages.  When something needs to be added into the app, the code is written, the tool translates and it spits out an updated version or addition to the app.

Why It Rocks

Using a common code base helps all sized businesses and enterprises to take control of their digital strategy by delivering consistent app experiences across the multitude of devices available today and in the future. You can build an app once and provide the app to every channel – smartphones, desktop, tablets, and more.

As user expectations grow, you need ways to simplify and streamline app design, development and deployment. Hand coding apps for multiple devices is too time-consuming, produces inconsistent results, and is way too expensive. Common code base fits the bill, and helps you look like a rock star.

 

 


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Topics: mobile app expertise, BaaS, MBaaS

5 Reasons to Consider Custom App Development

Posted by Carolyn Trinta

Aug 18, 2014 5:00:00 AM

5 Reasons to Consider Custom App DevelopmentIf you’re trying to muddle through developing a mobile app on your own, you might be struggling if you’re not a professional app designer. Or maybe you’re a programmer, but lack design skills. Or a Marketing Manager without the tech team to help you in-house.

If the process of getting an app developed is filled with obstacles, you’re less likely to even finish the project. And that means you’ll have wasted time and money rather than invested in a new stream of revenue with your mobile app.

Do yourself a favor: think about custom app development. Here are 5 reasons it’ll make your life easier.

1. You’re Not a Mobile App Developer

Be honest with yourself: this is not your wheelhouse. You may know what you want your app to do, but unless you create apps for a living, it’ll take you longer than it would take a professional, and you probably have other areas of your business you should be focusing on. Plus, you may lack the skills to even know what kinds of apps your customers want. That’s where a professional comes in handy.

2. It’s More Affordable Than You Think

If your reason for going it alone is to avoid what you think will be tens of thousands of dollars to hire a firm to design an app, welcome to 2014. App development no longer exceeds a small business’ budget, and, while costs can vary depending on the level of detail your app has, you can get by with a simple app for a few thousand dollars. If you’ve got a solid mobile app strategy, this is money you will quickly get back through the growing sales of your app.

3. Cookie Cutter Only Takes You So Far

There are tools you can use to create an app cheaply using common templates, but ultimately, you won’t end up with an app that does every little thing you want it to. So you might be able to use a template that uses geolocation to find out where users are and push coupons to them, but you might not be able to set up the functionality to customize offers based on past purchases with a template. Customization of your app means the sky is the limit!

4. You Want to Charge More

Ever wonder why apps like Keynote can charge $10 while most apps hover around the $.99 range? The more expensive apps deliver more value. There’s even a bar exam app that charges $999! But you can bet that this app is customized to deliver tons of content in an easy-to-use format, and that users are willing to pay the price tag to get that value. If you want to charge more, deliver more.

5. You Don’t Have Time

Maybe you do have the skills to design a killer app, but you simply don’t have time to do it. Outsourcing your app’s customization can free up your time, and you can still have a hand in guiding the designer to building the app you’ve envisioned. But if you’re running a business or a department, app development may not be the best use of your time.

Mobile app development isn’t something to skimp on. If you’re going to get into the game, do it right by building -- with the right partner -- an app that delivers full functionality and value to your users. If you’ve used basic cookie cutter services in the past, talk to us about how M2 Matric can take that app and enhance it to reengage your users and keep them coming back for more.

 

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Topics: Customer Service, Mobile Apps for Small Business, Small Business, Marketing Mobile Apps, Enterprise

Could Your Mobile App Use a Visual Overhaul?

Posted by Carolyn Trinta

Aug 12, 2014 8:05:26 AM

Could Your Mobile App Use a Visual Overhaul?If you’re a programmer at heart, designing an appealing, visually friendly app may not be your forte. You could have the neatest app in the world, but if users don’t like the looks of it, your app sales will never hit your goals, and you might not even recuperate your investment. You’ll then assume mobile apps can’t help your business (which simply isn’t true).

How to Know if Your App Lacks Visual Appeal

You may not have even considered that the design of your app might be causing problems and slow sales. But there are certain signs to look for that can tell you that the lack of curb appeal in your app might be the issue:

  • Do you see a high number of downloads, but then see that use trickles off quickly after install?
  • Do you have few app reviews in the marketplace, or even low-ranking ones?
  • Is your app filled with too many graphics or seem jumbled looking in any way?

If you’re still not sure, run a focus group and get new users to download the app and give their honest feedback. Not only do you want them to say that the app itself runs smoothly and is engaging, but you also need to hear what they think of how the app looks. If you get lukewarm (at best) responses, ask specifically what they don’t like about it, and take notes.

It can be eye-opening to get this insight from your users, so be open to the feedback you receive, and be willing to make changes to make your app a better experience for all users.

Your Options for Improvement

Again, visual design might not be your area of expertise, and that’s fine. Just like with any small business, you as the business owner aren’t meant to do everything. Instead, hire out for the design. Your first option is to find a reputable app designer who can take the “skin” of the app and make it more appealing. They won’t change the integrity of the programming or functionality, but they will know how to best appeal to your audience through color, layout, and images.

Another option is to use templates that make it easy to change the color and other simple visual cues without requiring an art degree on your part. You can always customize the back end to serve the function you need your app to have, while maintaining visual consistency on the front end.

Constant Tweaking Over Time

Even if your initial app had beautiful design, it may be worthwhile to revisit it a few years down the road. Styles change, such as when Apple popularized -- and subsequently patented -- its rounded corners icons, and then was copied by others. Keeping up with the latest trends can ensure that your app is getting downloaded across all app marketplaces and stands out against other apps that haven’t had an overhaul recently.

Final Tip

Also don’t forget to continue to update those screen shots in the marketplace. They’re the visual imagery that help a potential user decide whether to download your app or not. Having updated screenshots -- and your most appealing, and plenty of them -- will boost your download numbers significantly.

The wording of your app description in that marketplace, too, will make or break your app sales, so make sure it’s reviewed and rewritten as necessary.

Investing in a mobile app is an investment that will pay off over time, but you’ve got to give your app every chance for success. Do that by partnering with the right design experts to ensure that your app attracts new customers, and you’ll see that mobile strategy can be a key part in the growth of your company.

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Topics: mobile app expertise, Mobile Apps, Mobile Apps for Small Business, Marketing Mobile Apps

M2 Matric Nominated For 2014 Small Business Influencer Awards

Posted by Carolyn Trinta

Jul 29, 2014 12:31:00 PM

Small_Business_Influencer_AwardFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

M2 Matric Nominated For 2014 Small Business Influencer Awards

Cleveland, OH, July 29, 2014 - M2 Matric has been nominated for a 2014 Small Business Influencer Award in the category of Apps.

The Small Business Influencer Awards honor those who are influential to small businesses in North America, through the products, services, knowledge, information or support they provide to the small business market.

The Awards are designed to recognize the unsung heroes of small businesses - those who support and encourage entrepreneurs and small business owners, and help them achieve success and stay successful.

Says Anita Campbell, CEO of Small Business Trends and one of the co-founders of the Awards along with Ramon Ray of SmallBizTechnology.com, "Influencers are those who play crucial roles in the small business ecosystem, but who often are in the background. Many of the nominees are themselves small business owners, entrepreneurs or small businesses. The impact of the Awards goes well beyond nominees, however - the awards also encourage and excite the nominees' employees. The Awards are intended to provide that added little boost in motivation and morale that can make a big difference in results. Being nominated also distinguishes the nominee from competitors, and in that sense can lead to competitive advantage."

About the Small Business Influencer Awards

The Small Business Influencer Awards, now in their third year, enable the small business community to nominate and show their support for those that influence and support them. The Awards have an open nomination period, with community voting, and then a judging period by a group of industry-knowledgeable judges.

The Small Business Influencer Awards initiative is produced by Small Business Trends, an award-winning online publication, serving over6,000,000 small business owners, stakeholders and entrepreneurs annually, and SmallBizTechnology.com, a media company that produces online content and live events educating small and mid-sized companies on how to strategically use technology as a tool to grow their businesses. The Awards can be found on the Web at: SMBInfluencers.com.

CONTACT:

Anita Campbell, Co-Founder Small Business Influencer Awards admin@smallbiztrends.com Twitter hashtag: #SMBInfluencer

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Topics: In the News

How Telecom Can Benefit from the Big Data Problem

Posted by Carolyn Trinta

Jul 28, 2014 3:25:00 PM

How Telecom Can Benefit from the Big Data Problem

There’s a giant wave headed toward us, and little we can do to prevent it. I’m talking about a tsunami of data that threatens to overwhelm every industry, but especially telecom.

As we gather more and more data from smartphones, applications, websites, networks, and customer databases, few of us know what to do about it. Now, certainly, there are ways to take advantage of this wealth of information; it’s just a matter of knowing what we’ve got and finding ways to leverage it.

Wrapping Our Arms Around the Problem

The problem isn’t simply that there’s more data than we can possibly process, but that’s a big component. It’s also that this data is collected in silos throughout a telecommunications organization. There’s little in the way of trying to connect the dots between departments and to reduce redundant content.

When you have that much duplicate content, it devalues the quality of that data. If it’s updated in one silo, who’s responsible for updating the other versions of that same document?

You want to analyze your data? Forget about it. You don’t have a system smart enough to sift through the piles of bits and bytes you’ve got to make any sense of it. So you just leave the piles and bury your head in the sand.

And then there’s the issue of storage. You might have have developed a storage solution to fit a couple of elephants’ worth of data, but what happens when you have infinite elephants that multiply daily?

Finding a Solution

Don’t worry too much; there are people who have been hard at work coming up with solutions for the Big Data problem. And the telecom industry is willing to pay for a solution.

In fact, according to Heavy Reading’s Big Data & Advanced Analytics in Telecom report, the industry will move from the $1.95 billion it spent on Big Data and analytics in 2013 to $9.83 billion in 2020.

That means you will (if you haven’t already) be looking for tools that help you quickly scan that data, sort it, and make sense out of it. You’ll invest in cloud storage solutions that help you scale as that mass of data grows.

Monetizing Big Data

And while solutions are already present that will help you ride that wave of data, the question is: how can you profit from it? The Heavy Reading report also dives into how telecom companies can use the power of Big Data to their advantage.

1. Monetize it. Brands like Telefónica O2 are figuring out how to provide valuable analytical insights to customers to help them become more effective. Using mobile network data, telecoms provide valuable details into shopping habits.

2. Sell Subscriber Insight Data. Other companies like AT&T are looking at selling aggregated customer data to marketing and advertising firms.

3. Advertise Smarter on Mobile. Still other brands are using Big Data to strengthen their mobile ad campaigns. SingTel recently acquired mobile advertising platform Amobee, in an effort to help clients better reach their target audience and deliver more relevant offers.

4. Better Analyze Set Top Box Data. Using the data that today’s sophisticated set top boxes offer may provide new revenue streams from targeted ad sales and more customized and personalized content services.

Imagine having the best of both worlds: having the tools to analyze the growing amount of data and content your business is generating, and also finding ways to make it profitable.

This deluge of data isn’t a threat; it’s a serious opportunity to take your telecom business in a new, exciting, and yes, profitable direction.

 

 


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Topics: BaaS, In the News, MBaaS, Telco

Where File System Storage Fails Today's Businesses

Posted by Carolyn Trinta

Jul 21, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Where File System Storage Fails Today's Businesses

While certainly, your business doesn’t want to spend money you don’t have to or make any technology changes unnecessarily, if you’re still using a file system to store important data, you’re actually putting your company at a disadvantage technologically and financially.

Just like paper filing systems, digital file system storage had its heyday years ago. After all, it moved us from having one lump of data that couldn’t be filtered or sorted through to better organizing that content. But like all technology, this is one that’s on its way out.

Here’s why you should consider a serious upgrade for your data storage.

1. It Requires More Programming Than You’ve Got Time to Do

You’re a firm believer in the old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And while your archaic file system hasn’t broken, per se, it is taking you and your programmers a lot longer to perform basic functions than a cloud-based storage solution would. Don’t reinvent the wheel, people.

2. Your Data is Redundant

You’ve got the same document in 15 different files in your old system. That’s taking up valuable storage space, and what happens when one of those 15 files is updated? The other 15 are left alone, causing a potential problem when an employee accesses a document that wasn’t updated.

3. It’s Not Scalable

Your business stored much less data 10 years ago than it does now, and clearly your file system can’t keep up. If you want to be prepared for the Big Data revolution (and you do want to be prepared), you need a data storage solution that can scale with your rapid growth.

4. Faulty Data Sharing Leaves Huge Security Holes

Security’s the name of the game when it comes to data these days, especially sensitive financial or other customer data. With file system storage, it’s not easy to share data, and the systems that are in place for sharing leave much to be desired in the way of security and protection. How comfortable would your clients be, knowing their information is vulnerable?

5. It’s Difficult for Admins to Manage

You just want a simple report, or to add a new file, but it takes you an hour to get it. Why does it have to be so complicated? Having multiple file management programs doesn’t make this any easier.

6. Each Department Has its Own File System

As an admin, having different systems for each department in your company is just frustrating, since all data is owned by the company, and these siloes make for redundant applications and extra work for you.

7. Updates Have to Be Made in Multiple Documents

If you change one document, you’ve got to search to find all versions of it and ensure they’re all updated simultaneously. This takes you away from other work you should be doing.

8. Data Recovery is Clunky

With file storage, data recovery is all or nothing. And you can imagine that recovering all data takes much longer than recovering a single data set.

While you might simply be resistant to change, consider how file system storage is holding your business back. Cloud-based storage, on the other hand, makes it simple to plug and play common features and functions, scale as needed, provide real security for sensitive data, and manage that data more easily.

Overcome the urge to bury your head in the sand. Invest the time and money to set up cloud-based storage that will provide you more flexibility in managing your data, make it easier to access what you need quickly, and cut back on the time you spent managing the whole system.

 


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Topics: BaaS, MBaaS

4 Challenges for Telcos in the Over-the-Top (OTT) Era

Posted by Carolyn Trinta

Jul 14, 2014 8:27:00 AM

4 Challenges for Telcos in the Over-the-Top EraNow that the telco industry is loosening its grip on soon-to-be-antiquated means of delivering content, we’re seeing a new generation open up to OTT content (that’s “over-the-top”). It’s clear that the old way of running telco and cable companies is no longer relevant, so these major corporations are scrambling to catch up.

Here are a few of the challenges we’ve noted in the industry.

1. There’s a Resource Shortage

With the huge influx of mobile software startups in the Bay area, there are few engineers left with the skills telcos need. And the engineers that are for hire tend to be newer and less technical. They’re focused on basic computer engineering, rather than the complex levels of knowledge needed to really embrace OTT from the telco perspective.

2. Content is Decentralized

Historically, the value for telcos and cable providers has been in the physical wire that runs to a house to provide content. Any content providers -- HBO, for example -- had to pay for the privilege of entering a consumer’s home through that wire by giving a cut of revenue to the telco.

But now we have mobile devices, and those hard wires are no longer as important. HBO has a mobile app, and doesn’t have to give a cable provider 40% to get in front of subscribers. Content providers are now reaching consumers directly, and telco needs to figure out its role in all of this.

Another example of this is Amazon. Rather than having to pay a cell phone carrier to get its apps on a phone, they went “over the top” by creating their own phone, the new Fire. It doesn’t get more decentralized than that.

3. The Space is Getting Smaller

If the acquisition of DirecTV by AT&T and the rumored merger of Time Warner and Comcast are any indicator, we’ll continue to see fewer companies in the telco space. Some companies will benefit from the condensing, while others will get gobbled up, due to their inability to move quick enough to adapt to changing needs.

4. There’s No Out-of-the-Box Solution

If the solution to this were easy, there would be no challenges to write about. But the telco industry is where Kodak was when digital cameras got popular. There’s a choice to be made: companies in this space can dig their heels in the mud and insist on continuing to do business as usual. Or they can adapt. (You see how popular Kodak film is these days, so take your pick.)

There’s certainly no easy solution. It’s up to each telco to determine how they can work with content providers to deliver value in innovative ways to consumers, while still monetizing in a decentralized space.

And speaking of consumers, they’re starting to demand new, custom-made media, and that’s something telco must address. Cox has done a good job of this with its Contour service, which provides personalized show recommendations, access to channels, and DVR for customers, all available through both a television, tablet, or phone. Other companies, like Time Warner, are bundling in more and more services in an effort to deliver value to customers. In addition to offering cable, Internet, and home phone services, Time Warner also offers its IntelligentHome service, which allows subscribers to control security, climate, and video surveillance from their phones.

It’s not an easy conversation to have, this “where do we go now” one, but it’s a necessary one for telcos that want to stand up and fight. And remember: Magellan’s M2 backend-as-a-service is here to help. We’ve been in the content delivery space long before mobile threatened the industry, and know how to keep telcos relevant in these changing times.

 

 

 

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Topics: BaaS, In the News, Enterprise, MBaaS

3 Must-Have Mobile Technologies (and How Magellan Can Help)

Posted by Carolyn Trinta

Jul 7, 2014 8:36:08 AM

3 Must-Have Mobile Technologies (and How Magellan Can Help)For so long, we’ve looked to the future for what’s coming soon in terms of technology. The smart kitchen was, for a long time, nothing more than a pipe dream for most consumers. Now it’s a reality. Flying cars were also way off in the future (well, we may not be there yet, but self-driving cars are definitely on the way). It’s been the same with other industries, including mobile.

But the future has arrived. We’re in the midst of exciting times in the mobile tech space, a point well validated in Gartner’s recent research entitled Top 10 Mobile Technologies and Capabilities for 2015 and 2016. And we don’t have to look to the future anymore to find intuitive and easy-to-use tools for mobile app development.

 

Here are a few of the cutting-edge mobile technologies Gartner says you need to build better apps, improve delivery, and find new business opportunities. We tend to agree.

Multi-platform App Development Tools

Just a few years ago, app developers focused on a single mobile operating system for their application, simply because it was too time-consuming -- not to mention costly -- to build it for every platform. Now we’ve got the ability to cater to the three big OS players: Android, Apple, and Windows with minimal effort.

Why You Need It

Your customers aren’t all using the same type of mobile device, and if you want greater market share, you’ve got to cater to that fact by having your application available for the Big 3. People come to expect your app to be available for each platform, so you should comply if you want to keep customers happy.

How Magellan Can Help

Our common code base eliminates the need to build separate apps for each system, and can be quickly and easily modified to work with each flawlessly.

Enterprise Mobile Management

You no longer need separate systems to manage your mobile app, keep it secure, and support IT functions. Now, total solutions help you do all of these things in the cloud. You don’t have to be an app developer to get the latest management solutions either; they’re user-friendly and more affordable than they’ve ever been.

Why You Need It

Paying someone else to manage your app isn’t always an option, and sometimes when you have sensitive data, you want to own that management. EMM lets you do that.

How Magellan Can Help

Our Backend-as-a-Service keeps your app running without errors and maintains the integrity of your sensitive data. You can worry about something other than your app, because it’s in good hands.

Location Sensing

This is especially important for retail stores with applications, where knowing that your potential customers are in close proximity makes for a sales opportunity you can leverage through your app. As technology makes location sensing tools more precise through the use of Wi-Fi, imaging, ultrasonic beacons, and geomagnetics, you don’t have to guesstimate how close a potential shopper is to your store.

Why You Need It

Nearly ¾ of smartphone users utilize the location-based features on their phones. That’s a sizeable opportunity for you to send more foot traffic into your location if you incorporate it into your application.

How Magellan Can Help

Geolocation is a standard option for both our custom app development services and our DIY tool, M2 Matric.

As new technologies and capabilities open up in the mobile app development space, Magellan always has been and is right there, at the front of the line. Our aim is to help you get your hands on cutting-edge tools that make app development and management so easy, you don’t have to think twice about building one to grow your business.

 

 

 

 

 

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Topics: Mobile Apps, Mobile Apps for Small Business, BaaS, Enterprise

Understanding Infrastructure as a Service - IaaS

Posted by Carolyn Trinta

Jul 3, 2014 3:00:00 AM

Understanding Infrastructure as a Service - IaaSIt seems like every day, there’s a new “aaS” (‘as a service) appearing on the scene. There’s Backend as a Service. Software as a Service. Platform as a Service. Even Data as a Service.

So, now you’re afraid to ask: what’s Infrastructure as a Service?

The truth is, all these “aaS” things relate. As we learn to manage the massive amounts of data that we’re collecting, sharing, and storing, new tools come onto the landscape to make the work easier.

One of the newer service models is IaaS. Also called Hardware as a Service (really. They’re trying to confuse you!), IaaS allows enterprises to outsource the equipment used to store data, applications, and everything else that lives in the cloud, as well as access more technical tools to help boost their applications. They pay a service provider (like M2) to manage the information through its own hardware, servers, and networking components. That fee might be a flat monthly fee or a per-use fee.

What’s So Great About IaaS?

Really, these are benefits of all the “as a service” platforms:

  • They allow for scaling as needed

  • Eliminate costly hardware in the office

  • Make updates easy

  • Protect data by housing it offsite

  • Eliminate failure of access to data for customers

Public vs Private IaaS

Enterprises have two options when it comes to where they house their data through IaaS:

  • Public IaaS: While cheaper, its accessibility to the wider public leaves some enterprises concerned about security and protection of data. But it’s the easier of the two to set up. Great for:

    • Housing public-facing documents and data

    • Creating an online presence

    • Instant access and easy scalability

    • Out-of-the-box solutions

  • Private IaaS: Uses dedicated servers so that an enterprise doesn’t have to share. Particularly useful for sensitive data, such as what banks house. Ideal for:

    • Compliance in sensitive industries

    • Encryption of data

    • Enterprises with more money to invest

Private IaaS is more costly and involved to set up and maintain than public, but for companies who are concerned about protecting their customer data, private may provide more peace of mind.

Advantages of IaaS Over PaaS

If you’re confused about the differences between IaaS and its cousin, PaaS, you’re not alone. In a nutshell:

  • PaaS includes tools that make app development and deployment simpler

  • IaaS includes the hardware and software that houses all of these tools

PaaS is a canvas that developers can add layers of paint to (or tools, widgets, and applications, as it were). IaaS is more for those DIYers who want their hands in all the buckets of paint, including apps, widgets, operating systems, and data. You can place any platform on top of IaaS.

While there is some overlap between IaaS and Platform as a Service, there are a few key differences. While they both involve networking, storage, and computing, PaaS tends to take the headache away from the underlying IT details that some enterprises don’t want to worry about. Developers like PaaS because it gives them more control over applications.

But in scenarios where your demand ebbs and flows and scalability is imperative, IaaS really shines. Rather than have to invest in the hardware to keep up with your growth, you simply access more storage space in the cloud.

On the other hand, if you’re in an industry that is highly regulated, or if there are reasons for you to have physical storage and servers on-site, IaaS may not be a good fit.

All differences aside (or rather, perhaps because of them), we’re seeing more PaaS providers offer more IaaS-type services, and vice versa. It’s my prediction that they will morph into a single service system before long.

Ignore the hype around the latest and greatest “aaS” and simply focus on finding a service that fits what you’re looking for, whether that’s a little hand-holding or a lot. If you have developers who love creating capabilities from scratch, more power to them. But if you like tried and true functionality, IaaS might provide what your enterprise needs.
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Topics: Mobile Apps, Enterprise, MBaaS

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