Your Next Mobility Evolution: IBM Maximo Anywhere 7.6.4
The Maximo Anywhere 7.6.4 release brings an exciting and much anticipated architectural change to the deployment of mobile applications for IBM Maximo. While mobile solutions for Maximo have been circulating the industry for some time, the improvements in this release shine on Anywhere’s capability to deliver on the ease of installation, application deployment and administration.
Mobility is becoming increasingly significant in today’s workforce, from accessing online or offline information via a mobile device to enabling users to work remotely on their desktop. IBM Maximo addresses all of these by having the ability to be connected or disconnected through the Anywhere application and through Everyplace for a connected only application.
Implementing a mobility solution, such as Maximo Anywhere 7.6.4, comes with many benefits and helps companies remain competitive in today’s business context, which requires flexibility and agility.
Some of these benefits are:
Operational time loss reduction and efficiency increase: With mobility solutions, employees can access and complete their tasks and send their reports through a mobile device. It saves the user the time required to access and start-up their desktop workstation. This benefit boosts productivity by reducing the “motion” in processes considerably, one of the 8 common wastes identified in Lean Management.
Data collection and consistency: Data is a key asset in today’s business model for analysis and decision-making processes. Mobility enables data consistency to work remotely in areas with limited connectivity, collect and process data with offline application features, and sync data once back online.
Collaboration and communication: Mobility solutions foster communication in the workplace with real-time information processing and reporting. This fact improves collaboration horizontally among peers and vertically between management and staff.
Maximo Anywhere is an add-on product for IBM Maximo, which provides nine mobile applications. Users can access and update their Maximo records using their cellular phone or tablet device. The applications support both connected and disconnected modes.
After users have authenticated their device in connected mode, they can access the applications to create and update their Maximo data even without an internet connection. The data is synched with the Maximo server when the user reconnects.
IBM Maximo Anywhere 7.6.4 Highlights
The enhancements in the new release include:
Streamlined architectural changes:
Functionality previously implemented using the MobileFirst Server has been migrated to the Maximo application server;
There is no longer a requirement to install a separate MobileFirst Server or a database for MobileFirst.
Simplified installation and upgrade process;
Easier build and deployment process;
Enhanced Anywhere Administration application in Maximo;
Optional Maximo Anywhere Application Container installation to generate device-specific binaries.
Maximo Anywhere Constant Optimization
We have seen IBM simplify the architecture of Maximo components in the past with great results. In Maximo 5.2, the server’s internal integration components communicated with a separate webMethods integration server to deliver transactions to an external system.
The Maximo 6 release implemented the routing capability to deliver messages directly from the Maximo server, thus eliminating the need for a separate integration server installation. It gave us the basis for the Maximo Integration Framework (MIF) we know today. In fact, the MIF’s REST APIs are used in Maximo Anywhere as the communication mechanism between the device and the server.
Similarly, the MobileFirst server, previously required for Maximo Anywhere, is no longer needed for the 7.6.4 release. The functionality has been streamlined into the Maximo application server, enabling a simplified and faster installation and the ability to manage your Anywhere deployment from your Maximo server. It also reduces the cost and complexity of managing a separate middleware application.
While improvements have been made to the back-end management of the Anywhere platform, the application development and user interface are consistent. It is an easy transition for developers familiar with creating application enhancements on the previous releases — the Anywhere folder structure, coding, and application XML files are the same format.
Additionally, by keeping the same development structure, many previously developed enhancements can upgrade without issues. User training for the new release is minimized since the applications have the same look and feel as the previous release.
Two Deployment Options for Maximo Anywhere 7.6.4
This release has two options to build and deploy applications to mobile devices. The option will be primarily selected based on the implementation requirements. The main questions to consider are:
Which devices will be supported?
Will users download applications from the Google Play/Apple App Store, or will the applications be deployed with an MDM?
Are there any development requirements requiring access to the device’s native features?
The first option for deploying Anywhere applications is installed by default with the Anywhere installation process. This option’s build process generates application archive files, which are deployed to the Maximo server. The archive files can be built on a Windows computer and read by Android or Apple devices. Users download the Anywhere applications from the Google Play or Apple App Store, then input the application URL to the Maximo server.
The Anywhere Administration application has been enhanced to include a new tab for managing your application deployments. It displays both the active deployment and deployment history. The deployment history allows for an administrator to revert to a previous deployment. The build process is remarkably faster and automatically updates the active deployment in the Maximo Administration application.
The second option requires the additional installation step of the Maximo Anywhere Application Container. This option’s build process generates native application binaries, file types specific to the type of device. The build must be performed on a machine that can generate the correct file type. For example, one can use a Windows machine to build the Android file type, Mac for the iPhone/iPad file type, or Windows with Microsoft Visual Studio for the Windows device file type.
This option is used when the application code must access the internal, device-specific functionality. For example, the use of push notifications requires this type of installation. It is also required to distribute the mobile applications without the Google Play or Apple App store or build and install Windows devices’ applications.
Why Should I Upgrade to Maximo Anywhere 7.6.4?
The new release’s enhancements focus on the installation, deployment, and architecture of the Maximo Anywhere platform. Although this release does not highlight new user functionality, the advantages of upgrading are plentiful.
Reduced overhead of maintaining a separate middleware server;
Significantly reduced installation time;
Seamless application building to the Maximo Server;
No Maximo downtime is required to deploy Anywhere development;
Faster application deployment time accelerates development cycles;
Easily revert to a previously working deployment.
As an Anywhere developer, I was pleasantly thrilled with the architectural improvements. The feature which strikes me the most is the quickness to deploy application changes to the Maximo development server and see them update on my device. As an avid supporter of change management procedures, the ability to back out a change to a previous deployment with the click of a button in Anywhere Administration sparked off my interest.
In all my years working with Maximo, I am always impressed to see the added back-end enhancements and features. Although not always apparent to the everyday user, it is these types of improvements that allow administrators and developers to support the system better.
The 7.6.4 IBM Maximo Anywhere release marks an important milestone in the product’s architecture. With my excitement over these changes, I can’t help but wonder, what could be the next step in the evolution of Maximo Anywhere?
Please contact us should you wish to learn more on Maximo Anywhere 7.6.4.