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Building apps for the future: a modern web architecture story

Building apps for the future: a modern web architecture story

June 11, 2014 0 Comments

Today, we all take for granted the way we use computers, smartphones and tablets to get the information we need, when we need it. Need to access a spreadsheet or email in a remote location? No problem – in just a few taps of a screen it can be in front of you, thanks to the new, app-enabled ecosystem that we live in today. But how can we make sure that, as innovation increases, we can maintain this level of on-demand access to the information we need the most?

The answer is that, at the heart of all modern business applications, lies the architecture on which it was constructed. This is a trend that is set to continue for the foreseeable future. Historically, the emergence of ease-of-use productivity business applications has played a key role in supporting the evolution of hardware used within devices. The ‘Bring Your Own Device’ phenomenon is a good example of this. It’s worth remembering, for instance, that without effective applications to run seamlessly on them, innovations such as the iPhone and iPad would never have taken off as business productivity tools.

The truth of the matter is that, the increase in innovation has seen business applications evolve and become much more sophisticated. We’ve already seen them moving beyond the stage where they help workforces to become more mobile with their hardware. Instead, greater emphasis is being placed on spreading the effectiveness of these applications within organizations, and making them quicker to develop and deploy. As a result, architecture such as Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is becoming increasingly critical to the modern business.

In future, we’ll see PaaS treated, not as a mere technology enabler, but as a key strategic component across the organization. Using a PaaS gives a greater number of people access to applications that will allow them to be more effective at what they do. It can also help them to create those applications themselves.

The future of application development will be in using PaaS to clarify, improve and strengthen their application development processes. Indeed, it’s already helping many who come from a business - not an IT - background to develop their own applications and tailor them to the specific needs of an individual or a department.

It’s clear that the business value that PaaS adds is at the application layer. However, like any technological shift, PaaS adoption is going to require changes in how people work and collaborate to ensure success. Just as the rise of the smartphone and BYOD forced us to adapt and change the way we work, so the role of PaaS will have a fundamental impact on the way we interact with technology, as innovation increases.

Ask somebody five years ago to develop an application for you and they might, justifiably, respond that they don’t have the coding or programming skills they need to perform such a task. Technological changes are likely to dictate that tomorrow’s applications are going to be hugely complex and reliant on multiple data sources. A shift towards a model where these skills are not a development prerequisite might take a lot of getting used to, but you can, at least, be sure that the apps of the future will be built on PaaS solutions!

Want to talk more about how you can prepare your business for the future of application development? Catch one of my sessions at Cloud World Forum. I'll be participating in a panel on Tuesday, June 17 at 9:35 BST on exploring opportunities, methodologies and tools in enterprise app development. I will also be speaking on trends in platform and application architecture at 14:00 BST. If you can't make either of these, follow along on Twitter at @ProgressSW or tweet me directly @MattRobinson140.

Matt Robinson

Matt is VP of Technology at Progress where he works on strategy and corporate development. Before Progress he was co-founder and CEO of Rollbase, a Platform as a Service (PaaS) vendor acquired by Progress in 2013 to become a core component of the Progress Pacific platform. Prior to Rollbase Matt was co-founder and CEO of Recruitforce, a cloud platform for talent management applications acquired by Taleo in 2005 and subsequently Oracle in 2012. Now known as “Oracle TBE Cloud Service” the platform is in use by over 5,000 businesses globally. Matt is co-author of the Java programming books “Swing” (Manning, 1999) and “Swing, 2nd Edition” (Manning, 2003) endorsed by James Gosling, creator of Java. He has a BS in Mathematics from Bates College.

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