March 2020 saw the anticipated arrival of IBM Maximo Anywhere 7.6.4. This major release of Maximo Anywhere includes some significant changes to the software architecture and installation process. This article highlights these changes and considerations for anyone upgrading to Anywhere 7.6.4 or installing Anywhere for the first time.
The most noticeable change in Anywhere 7.6.4 is the removal of MobileFirst 7.1. MobileFirst was used as the adapter to Maximo, and for Anywhere app distribution in previous versions. Anywhere 7.6.4 has a much cleaner footprint, as all the required components have been migrated to the Maximo application server. This also makes for a much simpler installation process, using standard installation manager packages to upgrade or install from new.
The standard installation consists of two distinct tasks; installation of the prerequisite Anywhere components, followed by the Anywhere application definitions. The installation process includes the standard app build script that deploys the selected apps to the Maximo server. Once the installation is completed the deployed Anywhere apps are ready for connections from the mobile device.
Anywhere 7.6.4 apps communicate directly with the Maximo Integration Framework and can connect to an existing Maximo application server cluster. The Anywhere application definitions are stored locally within the Maximo database, and management of specific deployments is enabled via the new Anywhere Administration application with Maximo. This application maintains a history of app deployments, and allows a deployment to be rolled back to previous version, if necessary.
New standard Maximo Anywhere 7.6.4 mobile apps have been released on the public Google Play and Apple app stores. These standard apps can be downloaded and installed by users and require a specific Maximo connection URL.
Alternatively, custom Anywhere apps can be built using the new Application Container project. This optional component enables users of Windows devices or customized Anywhere apps to build the app binaries as required. The custom apps can then be distributed via corporate MDM (Mobile Device Management) solutions or by direct device installation.
Anyone considering a Maximo Anywhere 7.6.4 installation or upgrade, should take note of their existing Maximo infrastructure and the IBM recommended sizing requirements. Each JVM created for Maximo Anywhere users should have a minimum of 2 CPU cores and 4-6GB of RAM for the heap. It is also recommended that the Maximo database server CPU and RAM capacity is increased by 30%.
This sizing should be adequate for up to 100 users per JVM however, specific installations may differ in terms of the server resource load during app synchronization. A separate JVM cluster could be created specifically to ensure resilience, and separate mobile user activity from the desktop users.
Maximo Anywhere 7.6.4 can be installed on Maximo Asset Management 188.8.131.52 or later however, at least MAM 184.108.40.206 is required to enable push notifications functionality. For those upgrading to Anywhere 7.6.4 from a previous version of Maximo Anywhere, the MobileFirst server can be decommissioned following the upgrade, or remain as-is, if a phased upgrade is planned.
The existing infrastructure should also be reviewed in terms of security. As the new Anywhere apps require direct access to the Maximo application server (or cluster), this may have to be managed to permit Anywhere user access from remote locations over the internet. There are many solutions that provide secure remote access, and these are complemented by Maximo Anywhere SSO using SAML.
Any customized apps should be rebuilt using the included Application Container project. All existing customizations and configurations can be upgraded given that the standard IBM development practices have been followed. Existing development tools, e.g. Eclipse, Xcode are supported however, Android Studio and the built-in emulator can also be used. This may be useful to developers that have used the MobileFirst emulator to test configurations in previous versions.
Maximo Anywhere 7.6.4 has delivered a significant improvement in architecture and simplicity of installation compared to previous versions. Removal of specific components such as the MobileFirst application server and database also standardize the overall Maximo architecture, aiding support and scalability of the product. Anywhere developers can continue to use a familiar development environment and will be reassured that existing configurations and customizations will be maintained.
Although the upgrade may appear a little light in terms of an improved user experience, this is a platform that provides a sophisticated and scalable Maximo mobility solution that will develop even further moving forward.