Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Dan Blacharski, Elizabeth White, XebiaLabs Blog, Kong Yang, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Java IoT, Mobile IoT, Linux Containers, Agile Computing, @BigDataExpo

Microservices Expo: Article

In Defense of Mobile Platforms

The real benefits of platforms lie in the ways they enable you to predictably develop, manage and experience your applications

In several past articles published here, the ever opinionated mobile expert Peter Roger's shared his belief that the age of traditional mobile platforms had passed.  In this article however, guest blogger and mobile expert David Akka shares a different opinion.
***
Over the last six months I met with a wide range of customers and prospects in order to understand how they understand enterprise mobility, and especially to learn whether they see it as a business opportunity or just another piece of technology. It's no secret that the past few years have seen a debate between two paradigms: whether to write specific code for different devices, or to take a wider approach. The rapid advances in mobile technology have led to a world where there is no single accepted approach, but history looks to be repeating itself from the desktop world, and I believe that application development platforms are the way forward.

In general, the company I work for has two types of customer: ISVs, who develop solutions and typically have some investment in a certain paradigm or technology; and end users across industries from financial services in banking and insurance, through logistics, leisure and more, who may have a preference for one internal environment but who have usually ended up with a mix of technologies. This range makes their perspectives on mobile technologies varied and fascinating.

I have written a lot on the application technologies war, mostly focusing on HTML5. What I'm seeing in the market is that people who have been convinced to develop specific code for each device are sticking with this route, as are those who have chosen to use HTML5 web apps. However neither of these approaches is completely issue-free.

Regardless of whether you choose to code natively or use HTML5, there are both pros and cons. Organisations using HTML5 for mission-critical applications find that they suffer from delays caused by the need to deploy patches; while custom code has proved to be very expensive in terms of time and effort needed to support the multiple versions needed for different mobile ecosystems and device types and keep them all up to date. Just take a look at the iOS and Android Facebook clients for an example of this. The question is, how to move forward?

Once upon a time...
I have long been an advocate of using a mobile business platform in order to build applications with true multi-platform and multi-channel capability, and this is not a choice between developing HTML5 or native applications. Platforms can do both, and which you choose is a deployment, not a development, question. This is not about generating code, rather, it is about pre-packaged functionality that can be configured through a development process and activated across any platform, whether native or HTML5.

Handy component pieces
The real advantage of using platforms is that they provide a uniform approach to develop, deploy and manage applications. From collecting data and processes from multiple sources, whether these are located on premise or in the cloud, traditional enterprise systems or social media, and reusing it in an auditable and governable way, to consumption of data services and user interface across multiple devices. For example, you can set policies to ensure that certain data or applications can only be accessed in certain countries, or only when an employee is working from home, via geofencing.

Platforms have the ability to encode auditability and governance automatically into your applications, going beyond the user interface. You can determine policies for how the application should handle data when there is no connectivity, such as underground or on trains. Offline access needs to be built in, as does security. Today's enterprise mobile users are carrying out tasks that would previously only have been available behind the firewall, so it's increasingly important that security is built in at the device, application and user levels. Platforms enable all of this, not as a patch-based solution but as a single-stack solution to enable features to be easily built in.

I have written many times about the benefits of platforms, but I find that their benefits are often misunderstood. Especially in organisations where there is a strong understanding of HTML5, mobility experts fall into the trap of believing that just because they can make HTML do what they want that this is all their solution needs. For example, just because you can fire a HTML wrapper at a problem doesn't mean that this is the easiest solution to maintain, upgrade or deploy to multiple devices.

The real benefits of platforms lie in the ways they enable you to predictably develop, manage and experience your applications, such as allowing you to concentrate on service consumption and provisioning at all levels and across all your applications. Rapid development is also a benefit, as the pre-packaged functionality in the platform allows you to reduce your development time by up to 80%, thus reducing your time to market as well as costs. Likewise, this rapid, agile development allows end users to participate in all stages of development, ensuring that the resulting applications are better adapted to user requirements and market needs. As most platform vendors incorporate the latest mobile technology into their platform via updates, allowing you to use it without researching the technologies in great detail, it becomes easy to keep your applications up to date. This has always been a benefit of using platforms, but it is especially noticeable with mobile due to the rapid evolution of the technology, especially when it comes to security, data standards, and ecosystems.

To examine why platforms are so important, let's take a trip to "ancient history", or as you might know it, about 20 years ago and the early days of ecommerce on the web. When websites first became important business tools they were written directly in HTML, and while there were some very impressive efforts, overall this trend led to sites that were little more than an online version of the company's paper catalogue or brochure. This also led to pages becoming increasingly complicated as revisions were made or new technologies adopted. Consider that in the space of a few years customers started to expect embedded media, secure payment, live stock levels, mapping and online reviews: trying to code all of this into a page by HTML was very complicated.

The solution to the ever-increasing complexity of webpages was to use platforms which allowed new technologies to be implemented as standard objects, rather than having to write everything from scratch, to the point that today webpages resemble a Lego model rather than a hand-written essay. For example, if you want to create a blog site, using platforms such as WordPress or Eblogger is an obvious choice, while Magneta, Shopify and Voluta easily handle the complexities of an e-commerce website, and for a CMS there is a plethora of choices such as Drupal, Squarespace, and Movable. Platforms can also be easily updated to cope with new requirements, thus simplifying maintenance, while custom HTML or Java is used to customise rather than create. Remember that the purpose of mobile apps is not just to present information, but to be able to reuse existing business logic behind a new user interface.

Is the past relevant to mobile?

I believe that the picture in mobile today is very similar in that while many organisations have used HTML or Java to create a mobile experience, but today they are finding that it is no longer enough to wrap these around a page to make a mobile app.

The challenge is that users are trying to do far more on mobile now. Mobile apps don't just need to present data to a user in an attractive way: users need to be able to update that data, and the more we do, the more important it becomes to ensure the right data gets to the right people, when they want it. Today's mobile apps need to be able to set intelligent policies regarding who can access what data, they need to have security built in, along with management tools. As users increasingly rely on mobile, offline access becomes critical, and apps need to be updated rapidly as demands change, in a world where "rapid" could mean "within 30 minutes".

Further, as users try to complete more of their computing tasks on mobile, the mobile experience needs to grow far beyond the cut-down "mobile interfaces" we have come to expect. Mobile users are expecting to have all their workflows at their fingertips, and the logical, integrated processes that result are no less at home on desktop. This means that it makes no sense to separate mobile apps as a standalone page: because we need a template, the full business logic and workflows, mobile is moving beyond a "look and feel" issue. What we are moving towards is a world where collaborating and sharing data is enabled by seamless processes, making users quicker and more effective.

This look at the past shows that many organisations today are just dealing with a thin layer of what mobility is all about. Yes, you can easily design HTML pages yourself, but it is hard to upgrade the look and feel, maintain the applications or assign and control user rights. Learn from the dotcom era and content websites, and move toward using a platform today, to better manage your logic, processes and data in a maintainable way for the long run.

The industry has already acknowledged the key role of platforms in its mature desktop web technology: now it's time to learn from the past, embrace platforms in mobile and avoid a future disaster.

*************************************************************

Kevin Benedict Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation Cognizant View my profile on LinkedIn Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict Browse the Mobile Solution Directory Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict is an opinionated Senior Analyst at Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work, SAP Mentor Alumnus, speaker, writer, and mobile and digital strategies expert. He is a popular keynote speaker, and in the past three years he has shared his insights into mobile and digital strategies with companies in 17 different countries. He has over 30 years of experience working with enterprise applications, and he is a veteran mobile industry executive. He wrote the Forward to SAP Press' bestselling book on enterprise mobility titled Mobilizing Your Enterprise with SAP, and he has written over 3,000 articles.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
When you decide to launch a startup company, business advisors, counselors, bankers and armchair know-it-alls will tell you that the first thing you need to do is get funding. While there is some validity to that boilerplate piece of wisdom, the availability of and need for startup funding has gone through a dramatic transformation over the past decade, and the next few years will see even more of a shift. A perfect storm of events is causing this seismic shift. On the macroeconomic side this ...
Cloud promises the agility required by today’s digital businesses. As organizations adopt cloud based infrastructures and services, their IT resources become increasingly dynamic and hybrid in nature. Managing these require modern IT operations and tools. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Raj Sundaram, Senior Principal Product Manager at CA Technologies, will discuss how to modernize your IT operations in order to proactively manage your hybrid cloud and IT environments. He will be sharing be...
Back in February of 2017, Andrew Clay Schafer of Pivotal tweeted the following: “seriously tho, the whole software industry is stuck on deployment when we desperately need architecture and telemetry.” Intrigue in a 140 characters. For me, I hear Andrew saying, “we’re jumping to step 5 before we’ve successfully completed steps 1-4.”
Enterprise architects are increasingly adopting multi-cloud strategies as they seek to utilize existing data center assets, leverage the advantages of cloud computing and avoid cloud vendor lock-in. This requires a globally aware traffic management strategy that can monitor infrastructure health across data centers and end-user experience globally, while responding to control changes and system specification at the speed of today’s DevOps teams. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Gray, Chie...
To more closely examine the variety of ways in which IT departments around the world are integrating cloud services, and the effect hybrid IT has had on their organizations and IT job roles, SolarWinds recently released the SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2017: Portrait of a Hybrid Organization. This annual study consists of survey-based research that explores significant trends, developments, and movements related to and directly affecting IT and IT professionals.
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
NHK, Japan Broadcasting, will feature the upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special 'Internet of Things' and smart technology documentary that will be filmed on the expo floor between November 3 to 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to the BBC in the UK and the largest in Asia with many award-winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology and will be covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Val...
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Aruna Ravichandran, vice president of DevOps Product and Solutions Marketing at CA Technologies, has been named co-conference chair of DevOps at Cloud Expo 2017. The @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, and @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo Silicon Valley will take place Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Is your application too difficult to manage? Do changes take dozens of developers hundreds of hours to execute, and frequently result in downtime across all your site’s functions? It sounds like you have a monolith! A monolith is one of the three main software architectures that define most applications. Whether you’ve intentionally set out to create a monolith or not, it’s worth at least weighing the pros and cons of the different architectural approaches and deciding which one makes the most s...
Developers want to create better apps faster. Static clouds are giving way to scalable systems, with dynamic resource allocation and application monitoring. You won't hear that chant from users on any picket line, but helping developers to create better apps faster is the mission of Lee Atchison, principal cloud architect and advocate at New Relic Inc., based in San Francisco. His singular job is to understand and drive the industry in the areas of cloud architecture, microservices, scalability ...
This recent research on cloud computing from the Register delves a little deeper than many of the "We're all adopting cloud!" surveys we've seen. They found that meaningful cloud adoption and the idea of the cloud-first enterprise are still not reality for many businesses. The Register's stats also show a more gradual cloud deployment trend over the past five years, not any sort of explosion. One important takeaway is that coherence across internal and external clouds is essential for IT right n...
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
In large enterprises, environment provisioning and server provisioning account for a significant portion of the operations team's time. This often leaves users frustrated while they wait for these services. For instance, server provisioning can take several days and sometimes even weeks. At the same time, digital transformation means the need for server and environment provisioning is constantly growing. Organizations are adopting agile methodologies and software teams are increasing the speed ...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, CTO of Embotics, will discuss how automation can provide the dynamic management required to cost-effectively deliver microservices and container solutions at scale. He will discuss how flexible automation is the key to effectively bridging and seamlessly coordinating both IT and developer needs for component orchestration across disparate clouds – an increasingly important requirement at today’s multi-cloud enterprise.
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor – all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
Software as a service (SaaS), one of the earliest and most successful cloud services, has reached mainstream status. According to Cisco, by 2019 more than four-fifths (83 percent) of all data center traffic will be based in the cloud, up from 65 percent today. The majority of this traffic will be applications. Businesses of all sizes are adopting a variety of SaaS-based services – everything from collaboration tools to mission-critical commerce-oriented applications. The rise in SaaS usage has m...
The proper isolation of resources is essential for multi-tenant environments. The traditional approach to isolate resources is, however, rather heavyweight. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Igor Drobiazko, co-founder of elastic.io, drew upon his own experience with operating a Docker container-based infrastructure on a large scale and present a lightweight solution for resource isolation using microservices. He also discussed the implementation of microservices in data and application integrat...
We'd all like to fulfill that "find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life" cliché. But in reality, every job (even if it's our dream job) comes with its downsides. For you, the constant fight against shadow IT might get on your last nerves. For your developer coworkers, infrastructure management is the roadblock that stands in the way of focusing on coding. As you watch more and more applications and processes move to the cloud, technology is coming to developers' rescue-most r...
2016 has been an amazing year for Docker and the container industry. We had 3 major releases of Docker engine this year , and tremendous increase in usage. The community has been following along and contributing amazing Docker resources to help you learn and get hands-on experience. Here’s some of the top read and viewed content for the year. Of course releases are always really popular, particularly when they fit requests we had from the community.
Even for the most seasoned IT pros, the cloud is complicated. It can be difficult just to wrap your head around the many terms and acronyms that make up the cloud dictionary-not to mention actually mastering the technology. Unfortunately, complicated cloud terms are often combined to the point that their meanings are lost in a sea of conflicting opinions. Two terms that are used interchangeably (but shouldn't be) are hybrid cloud and multicloud. If you want to be the cloud expert your company ne...