Improving the Mobile Cloud Experience

Although most agree that mobile cloud computing holds a great promise for delivering cloud solutions to individuals and even critical corporate applications to employees by enabling access from anywhere, there are still several barriers that need to be addressed to elevate its usefulness and capabilities. For mobile cloud computing to reach its full potential, the following three critical challenges need to be addressed, as detailed in a recent article by Bryan Betts:

  • Lowering network latency to meet application and code offload interactivity
  • Increasing network bandwidth for faster data transfer between the cloud and devices
  • Providing adaptive monitoring of network conditions to optimize network and device costs against the user’s perceived performance of cloud applications

None of these are easy to accomplish, but service and network providers are already making important steps to improve the mobile cloud experience.

Overcoming latency limitations

Latency increases with distance, and the number of network nodes that the data needs to pass. As a result, moving  applications as close to the user as possible decreases latency effects. There are examples of providers taking steps to address this. Ericsson, for example, made a strategic partnership with Akamai earlier this year which will enable service providers that run on Ericsson infrastructure to route internet traffic intelligently based on user location and add caching capabilities to a mobile network. This technology is expected to increase user experience and advance mobile e-commerce and banking. Dynamically moving the data towards the mobile user is clearly the best way to minimize latency issues and save bandwidth.

Improving bandwidth utilization

More and more mobile service providers have started offering 4G/LTE mobile services within restricted areas. One of the greatest advantages of LTE is capacity. Each LTE cell supports up to four times the data and voice capacity when compared to HSPA (UMTS High-Speed-Packet-Access). Other advantages include low latency, plug and play, and support for both frequency division multiplexing (FDD) and time division duplexing (TDD) in the same platform.  In theory, LTE is capable of downlink peak rates of 100 Mbps and an uplink of at least 50 Mbps. Similar to GSM and UMTS, LTE operates at different frequency bands and can be deployed in clear spectrum with bandwidth as wide as 20 MHz of paired spectrum (20 MHz Uplink, 20 MHz Downlink). The high bandwidth of a single carrier radio can deliver unparalleled economies when

Dynamic Network Monitoring

Several new technologies promise a more intelligent deployment of network resources and may minimize latency. For example, HTML5 offers data caching , allowing users to experience fewer problems due to intermittent network performance or network congestion. When it comes to the mobile cloud, network performance management becomes increasingly important. Better mobile network monitoring systems enable dynamic traffic re-routing and swapping, or handover, between cells based on traffic load patterns and user location.

All these will help to improve the mobile cloud user experience and make it more viable for corporations that are interested in providing mobile access to many of their core applications.

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  1. internet latency pales in comparison to latency on the wireless end (assuming 3G/4G network connectivity), using CDN won't have users see much noticable benefit because of that. as for bandwidth utilization, carriers are responding of course by imposing data transfer caps because 3G/4G doesn't scale at all, the average smart phone user does what, 200MB of data transfer a month? Imagine when the average person is doing 5-10GB a month. Wifi doesn't even scale, where I live last I checked there was 42 access points broadcasting SSIDs(who knows how many others are in passive mode), I put my wifi client within 10 feet of my wifi router and I get between 65-75% signal quality, only when I get within 10 inches does the quality go above 90%. The net result is the wifi interference is so bad that doing a "internet speed test" over wifi results in throughput that is 1/3rd of that done using a good 'ol CAT5 cable with the same computer.

  2. using things like sugar sync and dropbox from your iPhone for pretty good fun mucking around with documents etc... but roll on 4G and then we'll really be there

  3. 1E has a product (Nomad) that can maximize and manage the network bandwidth intelligently.

  4. Where I am all for HTML5 and all it offers, I don't believe (from my experiences so far) that this is yet a sustainable standard. At least until the browser developers get their fingers out. :)