What is a DIL Environment?

Disconnected, Intermittent, Limited bandwidth (DIL) environments can occur more often than you think. In a tunnel, elevator, or driving down a scenic country road are all places where you are likely to experience this condition. Your mobile device is either out of range or simply blocked from connecting to the nearest cellular tower or wifi network. You have now entered a DIL environment. So what does that mean for your mobile device? A loss of network and internet connectivity makes your web browser useless, but does it have to render your mobile applications useless as well? This is an important question to consider when designing and building your mobile app.

Why is it Important for Mobile Developers to Consider?

Most mobile applications are designed to utilize various web based services – and for good reason. The native resources of a mobile device are limited in both processing power and data storage capacity. It is only natural to want to connect to a web service to access superior resources remotely in order to enhance the capabilities of an application beyond what the mobile device can provide on its own. We often take for granted that there will be a fast and robust connection to the internet available to the user at any given time, but what about when it is not?

Thinking About Strategies

There are strategies that can be implemented in order to mitigate the effects of this loss in resources when entering a DIL environment. The U.S. Department of Defense has attempted to tackle this problem with a variety of techniques. Sophisticated software and hardware solutions have been devised to enable mission critical applications and resources to remain available for military personnel to utilize on their mobile devices in hostile territory where secure and reliable connections to their tactical cloud resources are non-existent. One solution calls for the implementation of forward-deployed, discoverable, virtual-machine-based tactical cloudlets that can be hosted on vehicles or other platforms which provide a limited substitute for normal network connectivity.

Military hardware solutions are impractical to implement in support of consumer applications in a normal civilian environment. But are there ways to mitigate the limitations of a DIL environment without utilizing costly and impractical hardware solutions? As a Xamarin mobile developer at Bytelion, I will explore this issue further in my next post. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!