Cloud Inside

I’ve just written a Go Faster plan that will allow HarrisData to re-engineer our entire enterprise application portfolio – including HRIS, ERP, and CRM applications – into next-generation web applications in a matter of months

Why risk a complete re-engineering of what already works? Not so long ago, PC World named the original Sony Walkman (with the cassette tapes) as the greatest gadget of the previous 50 years. Yet Steve Jobs and Apple created the iPod (#2 on the same list) about 20 years later to replace what already worked. A comparison of the two shows both how similar they were, and how different in terms of scale and flexibility. The Walkman offered a theoretically unlimited song catalog (by switching cassettes that held about 36 songs each), had replaceable batteries, and played Beatles music from the beginning.  But even without the phone or the apps, the iPod offered the ability to store and play thousands of songs in a smaller, lighter device  – revolutionizing portable music. With virtually limitless access to Internet-based music catalogs (for a fee), these portable devices and their peers have transformed the entire music industry in a little over a decade.

Enterprise applications are due for a dramatic increase in scale and flexibility as well. They need to leverage the power of the Internet technologies that run the world’s biggest web sites in order to manage the massive amount of enterprise data that needs to be captured and mined to improve business performance. However, faced with the prospect of re-engineering their entire software stack and replacing millions of lines of java and/or C code, many vendors are unwilling to take the next daring step. To take that step, its time to put the cloud inside the application.

What does it mean to put the cloud inside the application? It means that enterprise applications need to be built to leverage what works on the cloud from the inside out. Vendors that are trying to keep up with the web are scrambling to add SOAP and REST APIs to their existing products. They believe that the massive, tightly integrated applications they developed 20 years ago need only be connected to the world of the web to gain the (marketing) advantages of being ‘on the web.’ The approach is not unlike the efforts to use ‘screen-scrapers’ to make applications look like Windows applications over a decade ago. This saves them from having to re-examine and re-write millions of lines of java and/or C code, but prevents them from taking the big step forward. Breaking the enterprise application into independent web services and loosely coupling them through resource identifiers enables the next generation of enterprise applications to scale and grow in ways unimaginable to the prior generation – in the same way the iPod seemed magical to those who owned a Walkman, even though it accomplished fundamentally the same task.

AppsInHD™ delivers this kind of loosely-coupled set of enterprise web services that are woven into applications by the resources that are defined to them.  AppsInHD fundamentally uses REST and its emphasis on resources (“pieces of information”) to create a network of services which work together. The AppsInHD network is defined in a way that allows new resources to participate in the network of services simply by defining the resource and any unique behaviors. To develop new applications, we design the resources (“pieces of information”) unique to the application and any actions unique to the resource, and deploy the application through AppsInHD. The Go Faster plan now focuses the work on application design, with coding, documentation, and testing phases focused and minimized to the unique facets of the resources in the target application. Watch carefully and see how fast HarrisData rolls out applications based on AppsInHD. 

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