Q: What does the Global Solution Center (GSC) do?
A: Global Solution Centers provide application development and testing services to partners and customers to accelerate solutions development and provide assurance before large scale deployments.
Q: Would you explain those services at a glance?
A: Our core services include the following
- Proof of Concept & Design
- Application Development JumpStart & Optimization
- Test & Validation
Q: What is included in the Proof of Concept & Design service?
A: If partners or customers have a solution in mind that can potentially resolve their business problem, the Solution Center can work with them to help assemble the components – mobile devices, peripherals, software(s) – into an integrated solution and test out the concept before they are deployed in the field. During this type of undertaking, a Solution Center engineer may develop a new software interface and/or find new ways to incorporate various Zebra’s technologies to meet end users’ requirements.
Q: What is the Application Development JumpStart & Optimization service?
A: Application Development JumpStart is a consulting service that the Solution Center provides to partners and/or customers to accelerate their application development on Zebra’s mobile devices. Whether it is integrating scanning functionality or porting an existing application to a new platform, Solution Center engineers can help with “How do I?” type questions.
Solution Centers may provide sample codes or utilities that can accelerate partners/customers’ development cycle; we may provide guidance on deployment with staging and device management.
If partners/customers are further along the app development phase, the Solution Center can also work with them to ensure that the solution performance is optimized on Zebra mobile devices. Factors like battery life issues, communication to peripherals (e.g. Bluetooth, DEX, or other serial communications), WAN/WLAN connectivity and other aspects of mobility use cases are considered. Quite often, issues like memory leaks, random lockups or unexpected app behaviors can be prevented as a result. When needed, a Solution Center engineer can work with developers directly to conduct code reviews to diagnose the issues and provide technical guidance to ensure every aspect of the solution is addressed.
Q: What is the 3rd party App Test & Validation service?
A: Traditionally, Global Solution Centers offered 2 levels of third party application testing to application partners (ISVs) – Compatible and Validated. Compatible evaluates the interoperability of software running on Zebra mobile devices. Validated is a higher level testing, which in addition to interoperability, evaluates functionalities of the software.
Due to requests from direct customers starting in 2015, we are extending this testing service to customers who have developed their own custom applications and would like an independent group to conduct testing before the solution is deployed to their end users.
Q: Please explain how in practice a consulting service would work. Are they done on-site or remotely?
A: Solution Center engineers can be on-site at customer locations or work with developers remotely. We also invite partners and customers to visit one of our Solution Centers. Most of the services are performed remotely. If Solution Center engineers need to be on-site, customers will be required to reimburse T&E.
Q: Where are the Global Solution Centers?
A: There are 4 Solution Centers to serve all 4 regions. New York Solution Center, located in Holtsville, serves North and Latin America regions. Brno Solution Center, located in Czech Republic, addresses the EMEA region. Solution Centers in Beijing, China and Bangalore, India serve partners and customers in the APAC region. While these regional centers aim to meet local needs, they all execute with global consistencies and resources can be shifted to meet particular region’s peak workload.
Q: What are the Global Solution Centers’ skills?
A: The Solution Center engineers possess very diverse background and experiences in Enterprise Mobility. In addition to expertise in traditional programming languages such as C, C#, Java, Java Script, their talents range from network infrastructure to application testing. The core expertise of Global Solution Centers lies on a unique combination of mobile application development, testing and in depth knowledge on Zebra hardware, various platforms (WEH/CE/Android), and wireless technologies. With combined 70+ years of experience in mobile computing, application development and testing, the Global Solution Center teams are best suited to help partners and customers with delivering Zebra solutions.
Q: If I am an ISV why would I work with the Global Solution Centers or Zebra Application Services team? Do I not risk losing my IP?
A: Since our objective is to promote Zebra solutions and facilitate design, development, and implementation of Zebra solutions, ISV’s are not at risk of losing any intellectual properties. Additionally, a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) is always in place with PartnerEmpower members. When working directly with customers, Global Solution Centers execute a mutual NDA prior to initiating a project.
Q: If I am an end customer how is the service more competitive than a 3rd party development house?
A: As mentioned previously, Global Solution Centers’ services exist to help partners and customers to utilize Zebra’s solutions. We believe, GSC is most well positioned to help them with Zebra’s hardware and solutions better than any third party development firms.
Q: If a customer proposes an idea for an application or utility, can we develop it for them and help them commercialize it?
A: Our Proof of Concept/Design service may be able to help a customer with an idea for new applications or use cases. Global Solution Centers often work with OEM and Global Partners to incubate new solutions. The Custom Products team may be able to support this effort depending on the scope of the new idea.
Q: Can you provide some examples of how customers proactively utilized Global Solution Centers’ services to improve their mobile solution’s performance and reliability?
A: Two examples are as follows:
- A Major US Logistics Company
The Solution Center has worked with a large parcel logistics company to set up a fully functional test environment inside our own data center. This allows our equipment and test devices to stay up-to-date with any changes and updates pushed down by customer and allows our location to appear like any of their facilities. This test setup permits us and other groups within Zebra to proactively test the custom application along with any updates to our device and also provides a test bed for reproducing any existing reported issues.
- A Global Beverage Company
Each year an ISV, who specifically develops their application for a global beverage company, visits the Solution Center to validate the latest version of their application on existing devices, as well as new and pre-released devices. In addition to fleshing out any issues introduced since the last visit, portions of the application code are reviewed - we provide suggestions on how the application can be improved by following some best practices of our device API or even by integrating new API features.
Q: How about examples of the Global Solution Centers’ role in customers/partners with application development?
A: Some examples are a European-based retailer and our internal project, RxLogger.
- European Retailer
The Solution Center helped develop a proof of concept inventory tracking application that was used by the account team in a training session and sales pitch to a potential customer, who was looking at the MC40 as a next generation device. The proof of concept included integration of an MQTT client which enabled push notifications without relying on Google Play Services or any cloud services.
- RxLogger development
The Solution Center led the development of RxLogger, the next generation debug and diagnostic tool for our enterprise devices. RxLogger was the Android replacement for eMscript monitoring on Windows Mobile/CE. RxLogger records detailed information about the health of the running system and all applications on it. It is widely used by customers, partners and internal support personnel alike and now comes preinstalled on all Zebra Android devices.
Q: Do Global Solution Centers have any experience with troubleshooting application issues?
A: Global Solution Centers often work on troubleshooting application issues, in concert with product engineering and technical support teams.
- A U.S. Based Food Delivery Company
A customer had deployed a complex solution consisting of multiple Application Partner solutions for delivery tracking, vehicle fleet management, and GPS navigation. The applications were validated independently previously, however the mix of all three simultaneously caused slow scanning and other issues on the device. The Solution Center worked directly with all 3 application partners to reproduce, troubleshoot, and suggest application changes to allow the applications to run well concurrently without any compromise to performance.
- European Parcel Service Company/CSP development
Parcel carrier was experiencing issues on the TC55 in certain depots within Germany, where cellular coverage was low and the devices were unable to connect back to the server. Even purchasing cellular contracts with multiple providers did not help the situation as the device would not switch unless the primary carrier was completely unavailable. The Solution Center developed a custom CSP plugin to MX that would allow the application to query the state of current available networks and proactively choose the best network to connect to.
Q: Have Global Solution Centers helped partners/customers with application porting?
A: With more customers and partners porting their applications to Android, the Global Solution Centers are engaged in several application porting projects
- Epicor/U.S. Major Retailer
A partner, Epicor, was developing a payment application on our TC70 device that would integrate with the PD40 Bluetooth payment device. As the application was being developed with Xamarin, there was no direct access to the device scanner nor PD40 APIs. The Solution Center provided sample code to Epicor for creating a Xamarin binding for the EMDK and to access the scanner and payment device directly from their Xamarin application.
- Evaluation of iFactr
iFactr is a cross platform development framework that allows developers to use the familiar C# programming language to develop applications that will run on modern operating systems like Android, iOS, and Windows phone while maintaining backward compatibility with Windows CE and Windows Mobile. The Solution Center was involved in evaluating this framework by developing a small inventory tracking application that can run on Android and Windows Mobile with a single C# codebase.
- An U.S. Transportation & Logistics Company
The Solution Center worked side-by-side with customer during the porting of their application from MC75 on Windows Mobile to TC75 on Android. This included the integration of scanning using Xamarin as well as reviewing code and providing best practices for using the Android Bluetooth API to communicate to peripherals. The Solution Center is also working to host a live test environment that mimics a real customer distribution center in order to facilitate the rapid resolution of any arising issues and to support the addition of new features.
Q: How about staging and deployment? Do Global Solution Centers get involved with MDMs?
A: Global Solution Centers are responsible to test new releases of AirWatch and SOTI across all Zebra Android devices. Those test results are published on SE Zone. Holtsville and Brno Solution Centers host an instance of AirWatch and SOTI, demo of StageNow. Some customer engagements on MDM solutions are as follows:
- Germany-based DYI Retailer
Customer required a specific staging scenario that enabled the use of staging barcodes and four slot Ethernet cradles. The Solution Center provided instructions and a demonstration video on how to rapidly stage many TC70 devices using SOTI and staging barcodes to assist the account team for delivery to the customer.
- Turkey-based Retailer
Customer was deploying a large number of ET1 tablets with a custom keyboard configuration and the Enterprise Home Screen. The Solution Center provided guidance on the staging options available with the ET1. A custom application was also provided that enabled access to WiFi settings from the Enterprise Home Screen without compromising the security of other system settings.
Q: How does a partner or customer acquire these Global Solution Centers services?
A: As with other GSS professional services, partners or customers can purchase GSC services using the following SKU’s: PS-APP-JUMPSTART (for Application Development JumpStart & Optimization) and PS-APP-TEST-VALD (for test and validation).
Q: Where can I go to get more information about the Global Solution Centers?