For Enterprise App Developers: BlackBerry MDS Connection Service Helps Make Connectivity a Simple Task


As someone who has been engaged with our enterprise customers for the past 11 years, I’ve had the luxury of seeing so many well-built applications really change the way in which a business operates. These range from simple tasks like allowing an internal intranet page to be viewed on a smartphone to fully integrated workflow applications. I’ve also seen many of them never leave the proof-of-concept state. The number one reason that these fail is because in the end they cannot interact with real data, meaning that they do not have any connectivity to a backend data source where the relevant information resides. Unfortunately what often happens is that the application is built first and then shown off to executives and stakeholders with dummy data. Once they’re committed, the developer or project owner faces the sizable challenge of connecting a front-end mobile application to back-end data. This often requires additional investment and can prolong the development.

When building custom enterprise apps for BlackBerry® smartphones connected to a BlackBerry® Enterprise Server or BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablets connected to BlackBerry® Device Service, we’ve worked to make it simple to create this type of connection. A component is available called BlackBerry MDS Connection Service (or MDS-CS), which helps to provide a VPN-like connection to the backend, allowing your application to easily connect to important data. It connects apps on BlackBerry devices to information stored on an organization’s servers or web servers, processing push and pull requests for data. Data conversion, optimization, authentication methods, access control, and much more can be configured using MDS-CS.

Take this scenario, for example: You have a workflow application to provide your executives with the ability to approve a time-sensitive contract. In this instance, you can build an application for BlackBerry smartphones without trying to reinvent the connection; it’s already there. Unlike VPN connections, there is no need for the end user to invoke a session, nor do you need to build that into your app. It is simply just there.

Here’s a high level overview of the architecture that allows for that inherent connection in BlackBerry devices. Develop along these lines with confidence; MDS-CS will remain part of the future for the BlackBerry Enterprise solution.

Let’s get that app off of the drawing board and into the hands of a mobile workforce – don’t forget connectivity, and when it does come time, consider the elements that are already in place with BlackBerry smartphones and tablets connected through enterprise servers. Learn more by checking out the Feature and Technical Overview for MDS Connection Service.

Has your organization developed a custom application? How does it connect to back-end data? Share in the comments below.

About Gregg Ostrowski

Since joining Research in Motion in 2001 Gregg has always been focused on the Enterprise. While running the in field Technical Account staff he also ran the BlackBerry Innovation Forum in North America. Currently Gregg is the Senior Director, Enterprise Developer Partnerships focusing on enterprise developer and "behind the firewall" applications. In his spare time he spends time with his wife and daughter as well as riding his Appaloosa.

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