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Jul 23 14

The Business Drivers of the Modern Application – Part 8: Architecture Pillar: Scalability Aspect

by Mikhail Shir

In Part 8 of this series, we are going to discuss on the Scalability Aspect of the Architecture Pillar.

As a reminder, the Architecture Pillar focuses on ensuring that the application is built using modern development techniques to create maintainable, scalable and resilient applications.

Scalability Aspect

Traditional applications can scale, but usually require long lead times and high cost to provision additional capacity to support an enterprise-scale user base.

Modern applications can scale elastically, quickly and cost-effectively to support an internal-scale user base.

Consumers expect that their applications will be able to scale elastically to support a very large user base.  Consumers have seen startups like Instagram with significantly fewer resources than their enterprise be able to grow to support millions of users.  Their expectation is that enterprise applications will have the same ability to scale to meet an enterprise user base.

Modern applications are built with elasticity in mind to ensure that they can be rolled out to a large enterprise user base and maintain performance.  They are built to be elastic.  That is, they are built to be scaled up and down quickly to meet user demands at appropriate costs.

Successful IT Organizations think about scale early on in the development cycle.  Modern applications are designed to be elastic and thus favor a virtualized, scale-out model where more servers are added instead of a scale-up model where larger hardware is required.  Development teams collaborate with operations teams to ensure that additional capacity can be added quickly through the use of pre-configured virtual servers.  Development teams work with data teams to ensure that the data tier can scale effectively and efficiently to meet user base demands.

Join us next week for the next of the business drivers – Availability.

Jul 16 14

The Business Drivers of the Modern Application – Part 7: Architecture Pillar: Responsiveness Aspect

by Mikhail Shir

In Part 7 of this series, we are going to discuss on the Responsiveness Aspect of the Architecture Pillar.

As a reminder, the Architecture Pillar focuses on ensuring that the application is built using modern development techniques to create maintainable, scalable and resilient applications.

Responsiveness Aspect

Traditional applications strive for good enough performance.

Modern applications require great performance and are built with scalability and speed in mind.  They are performance and load-tested throughout the development cycle to validate the application’s responsiveness.

Every millisecond counts for consumer applications.  A 2009 Akamai Study found that 49% of people expect web pages to load in 2 seconds. A New York Times article in 2012 found that impatient web users were fleeing slow loading websites.

Consumers’ application performance expectations are based on consumer-driven websites like Google, Bing and Amazon.  Consumers are putting pressure on their IT department to continually improve the performance of their internal applications to meet their expectation which are based on consumer web sites that they use daily.

Modern applications are built with responsiveness in mind to ensure the highest quality user experience.  They have adopted many of the consumer website techniques and tools like content caching, progressive rendering and Content Delivery Networks to meet those heightened expectations.

Successful IT Organizations plan for responsiveness early on in the development cycle.  They design applications to be responsive for their expected concurrent user base.  They test application performance continuously throughout the development cycle.  They establish preproduction environments that closely mirror production environments and take steps to ensure that acceptable performance can be maintained at expected levels of scale in production.

Join us next week for the next of the business drivers – Scalability.

Jul 10 14

The Business Drivers of the Modern Application – Part 6: Architecture Pillar: Security Aspect

by Mikhail Shir

This is the first post where we are going to discuss the Architecture pillar.

The Modern Application Architecture Pillar focuses on ensuring that the application is built using modern development techniques to create secure, maintainable, scalable and resilient applications.

Security Aspect

Traditional applications are developed to secure a user’s information through application-level security.

Modern applications are developed to secure a user’s information using multi-level and multi-factor security techniques.

Both consumers and enterprises take information security seriously.  The difference is that consumer applications are more vulnerable to attack because they are publicly available to a diverse audience on the web.  Attackers are aware of this heightened vulnerability and continually attempt to exploit websites and networks.

As modern enterprise applications increase their access and reach, they also increase their attack surface.  They are run on an employee’s mobile device with access to the corporate network and may potentially store both personal and corporate private data on the consumer’s device.  Traditional applications were able to secure data by storing it behind corporate firewalls.  Increasingly, corporate data is dispersed amongst many different devices, which greatly increases the exposure to risk. Lost or stolen devices, for example, are a source of increasing vulnerability and liability for personally identifiable information.

This increased level of accessibility will drive the need for multi-level, multi-factor security including data encryption mobile devices to ensure the security of user and corporate data.

Successful IT Organizations are investing in multiple levels of security to ensure that their sensitive information is not compromised.  This includes multi-factor authentication, application level security and data encryption at each appropriate tier within the application.

Join us next week for the next of the business drivers – Responsiveness.

Jul 3 14

The Business Drivers of the Modern Application – Part 5: Experience Pillar: Cohesion Aspect

by Mikhail Shir

In Part 5 of this series, we are going to discuss on the Cohesion Aspect of the Experience Pillar.

Cohesion Aspect

Traditional applications are developed in isolation making it difficult to share information with other applications.

Modern applications are developed according to application and security standards to create a cohesive user experience across applications.

Consumers expect a cohesive user experience within a family of products.  For example, consumers are able to access all of their Apple, Microsoft or Google products using a single ID.  Applications within the family of products share information about the consumer to remove the friction of moving between devices and applications.

Consumers expect this experience with their enterprise applications because they see them as a single family of applications.  They expect to be able to sign in one time and to have that information shared through multiple applications.  Each application is allowed to access pertinent information about the employee to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of their work.

Consumers also expect applications to follow a common set of user experience guidelines so that they can easily transition between applications.  Consumers have seen consumer companies like Microsoft create cohesive user experiences for the Office suite based on the Ribbon User Experience.  They expect the same from their own company.

In many ways, a cohesive, secure user experience is necessary to enable Access and Reach.  Access and Reach can only be achieved if all applications are working together to authenticate the user, authorize the user and to expose information about the user in a secure fashion.

Successful IT Organization enable application cohesion by standardizing user experiences and security to allow users to seamlessly transition between applications.

Join us next week for the next of the business drivers – Security.

Jul 1 14

BlueMetal Architects and Jornata are Merging!

by Sadie Van Buren

We are thrilled to announce that BlueMetal Architects and Jornata have entered into a definitive merger agreement.

Both companies, founded by ex-Microsoft technology executives, provide technology strategy and architecture that leading companies in Boston, New York, and Chicago rely on when developing their technology roadmaps and modernizing their most mission-critical applications.  The companies are leaders in helping their clients succeed with business and technology consulting services specifically focused on custom application development and information management.

The merged company, to be headquarted in the Boston area, will have national presence with a network of regional offices.

Read the full press release here.

Jun 26 14

Three BlueMetal Speakers at SharePoint Saturday NYC, 7/26

by Sadie Van Buren

Three BlueMetal speakers will present two topics at SharePoint Saturday NYC on 7/26.

Beatrice Baciu and Derek Cash-Peterson will present Leveraging My Sites and User Profiles in SharePoint 2010 and 2013 – a 300-level course in the Advanced .Net Developer track.

Jonathan Ralton will present Must Love Term Sets: The New and Improved Managed Metadata Service in SharePoint 2013 – a 200-level course in the SharePoint Developer track.

This year the NYC event is twice the size it was last year, due to its new location.  BlueMetal is a Gold sponsor of the event.

Location:  Microsoft New York, 11 Times Square, New York, NY 10036.

Click here to register.

Jun 25 14

The Business Drivers of the Modern Application – Part 4: Experience Pillar: Reach Aspect

by Mikhail Shir

In Part 4 of this series, we are going to focus on the Reach Aspect of the Experience Pillar.

As a reminder, the Modern Application Experience Pillar focuses on ensuring a great user experience.

Reach Aspect

Traditional applications have a single user interface targeting a single audience.

Modern applications enable a multi-device, multi-cultural experiences.

Traditionally, employees worked at a desktop in a cubicle with applications developed only in US-English.  At best, the employee would be given a company BlackBerry to check email and make phone calls while away from the office.

The expectation has been flipped by consumers who are blurring the lines between personal and enterprise hardware.  Instead of asking the company to provide a mobile device, employees are asking to use their devices on the company’s network to access corporate information.

They expect the company’s applications to have a user experience that’s compatible with applications that they use on their mobile devices.  It’s not enough to just ensure that a website will run on a mobile device; it must function consistently with the way that other applications work on that platform.  The application should have a mobile-optimized website or must be available as a native application.

Increasingly, companies must provide consistent user experiences for cross-cultural employees and customers in the ever-widening global economy.  The application must be able to address the geographic and cultural needs of employees and customers around the world.

Successful IT Organizations are enabling multi-device, multi-cultural experiences for both employees and customers to ensure that they can access the information they need, when and where they need it.

Join us next week for the next of the business drivers – Cohesion.

Jun 18 14

The Business Drivers of the Modern Application – Part 3: Experience Pillar: Access Aspect

by Mikhail Shir

In Part 3 of this series, we are going to stay with the Experience pillar and focus on the Access Aspect.

As a reminder, the Modern Application Experience Pillar focuses on ensuring a great user experience.

Access Aspect

Traditional Applications only allowed information to be accessed from within the application.

Modern Applications make it easy for information to be accessed from multiple sources through a consistent user experience.

Consumers expect to be able to access personal and publicly available information easily from a consolidated source even though that information may span multiple backend systems and locations.

Online banking applications are great examples of how personal information stored in multiple backend databases are provided to consumers through a single unified user interface.  Online banking applications generally provide account, bill payment, credit card and investment information from a single user interface despite data spanning multiple backend databases.  The banking website consolidates the information to provide a 360 degree view of the user’s information and a consistent user experience for all of it.

Consumers also expect to be able to search public information.  The Google search engine is a prime example of how publicly available data is used for both personal and business purposes.  Increasingly, employees want to search and mine company information for business purposes just as they can on the web for personal purposes.  They will ask, “If Google can make web searches simple, then why can’t I just as easily query internal company information contained in databases, documents and big data stores?”

Successful IT Organizations allow employees to access multiple sources of information from a central access point.  The interface makes personal, enterprise and external data available through a consistent user experience within security boundaries.

Join us next week for the next of the business drivers – Reach.

Jun 11 14

The Business Drivers of the Modern Application – Part 2: Experience Pillar: Design Aspect

by Mikhail Shir

Let’s start the detailed part of the series by focusing on Experience.  The Modern Application Experience Pillar focuses on ensuring a great user experience.

Design Aspect

Traditional Applications required users to adapt to how the application was designed.

Modern Applications are designed to work the way users prefer to work.

One of the most significant trends of the past decade has been the infusion of user-centric design into application development.  The trend, not surprisingly, is strongly represented in the consumer space where companies vie for the attention and ultimately the loyalty of their customers.  At these companies, product owners partner closely with user experience teams to ensure that the product supports the way that consumers want to work.

This is a significant shift from the way that corporations have traditionally functioned.  In the past, there was no competition with internal applications.  Users had to conform to the tools their enterprise provided.  Today, there is indirect competition between a company’s internal applications and public alternatives.  Publicly available applications are designed to attract a large, loyal user base through exceptional user experiences that reset expectations about what’s possible.  Consumers, in turn, are demanding similarly well designed applications from their IT staff.  Consumers expect enterprise applications to work the way that they want to work when they want to work with them.  This is driving IT organizations to incorporate user experience design into their application development process.

For example, a financial advisor at a bank could not choose the software that they used to create financial illustrations for clients.  However, that same employee has access to public, web-based tools that perform similar functions and can use those applications to augment the information provided to clients.  Each time that the financial advisor uses the well-designed public site successfully, they will increasingly ask, “Why can’t my company’s application work just as well?”

The internal application must adapt to meet the employee’s functional and user experience requirements in order to be seen as successful within the organization.

Successful IT Organizations engage design and user experience teams during application envisioning.  This allows organizations to better understand their user challenges and how to build applications that support the tasks that their users perform on a daily basis.  This is done in collaboration with the product, user experience and application development teams.

Join us next week for the next of the business drivers – Access.

Jun 4 14

The Business Drivers of the Modern Application – Part 1: What is a Modern Application?

by Mikhail Shir

Over the next several weeks, we are going to explore the key business drivers behind the Modern Application through a series of blog articles.  This post is Part 1 in a series.

The software development landscape has changed dramatically over the past decade.  Disruptive technologies and design approaches have introduced entirely new types of applications and ways to build them.  The Modern Application captures a snapshot of best practices across multiple disciplines.  These practices are not static and will continue to evolve just as our understanding of customer needs and development platforms evolves.

The Modern Application is user centric.  It enables users to interact with information and people anywhere on any device.  It scales resiliently and adapts to its environment.  It is designed, architected and developed using modern frameworks, patterns and methodologies.  It is beautiful in its user experience as well as its technical implementation.

There are three pillars of modern applications:

  • Experience.  The experience pillar focuses on ensuring a great user experience.  In order to ensure a great experience, the application must be responsive, must be designed around how the user wants to work and must fit cohesively into the application ecosystem.
  • Architecture.  The architecture pillar focuses on ensuring that the application is built using modern development techniques to create scalable, secure and resilient applications.
  • Process.  The process pillar focuses on how software development teams are engaging with their business partners and customers to build applications.

These three modern application pillars work in conjunction to support the company’s business strategy.

The past decade has seen an increasingly knowledgeable and demanding technology consumer.  Exposure to rapidly evolving, personalized offerings such as smart phones and social networking has elevated consumer expectations and awareness.

Consumers not only bring heightened demands with them to every product that they buy for themselves, but they also bring those expectations with them to the office every day and exert pressure on their IT staff to meet those needs.

Successful IT organizations have evolved their technologies, design and methodologies to support increasingly savvy consumers.  These blogs will explore how the democratization of technology and information is transforming the workplace and how modern organizations are responding to meet their needs across the pillars of modern applications.

They will focus on aspects of three pillars of modern applications, with the business drivers broken out as follows:




Join us next week for the first of the business drivers – Design.