Mobile Apps: Should we be on Cloud?

Several industry analysts predict that mobile applications will be accessed and executed directly from the cloud through a mobile web browser interface. The predictions say there will be mobile applications running 12 times more from cloud in 2016, as compared to 2011.

The advantages of Cloud Computing being done on a connected network are tremendous. This inherits the properties of cloud of having data on demand and the service providers managing the access. For the applications, they are run on a remote server, which reduces your capital costs and also share the advantage of sharing the infrastructure which is scalable. It has always been a history that the early players in adapting to new technology benefit the most in terms of adding business value through innovation and market strategies in meeting their customer expectations.

Application providers for Home Security Systems and similar services which allow users to create location based social networks have adapted Mobile Cloud Computing. Any application need, that requires social networks without having the geographic bindings have the future of Mobile Cloud Computing, for examples: Gaming, entertainment, education, shopping and supply chain.

Whereas, mobile solution providers such as appMobi, have started to offer integrated mobile browsers that allow users to access applications directly from the websites of their publishers, eliminating the need to go to an application store. This is possible through a mobile web browser interface built using HTML5. One of the HTML5 features enable offline application cache on the user handset, so that user may continue to experience an uninterrupted application service, even though he is not connected to the network or despite fluctuations in network service delivery. This feature is a strong facilitator to adapt to such upcoming technologies.

The current statistics of selling the tablets, smartphones and other mobile phones support the fact that mobile users will expect for Applications On -Demand in near future. Moreover, with the advent of 4G, the first-release Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard, mobile networks, which are fundamental for supporting large-scale mobile cloud deployment; users will experience better service accessing their mobile applications in the cloud.

When you have an application such as Citrix, and you’re hosting it in the cloud, it opens the door to delivering a wide range of high-end business applications,” says Shara Evans, chief executive at communications consulting firm Market Clarity. “High quality, high bandwidth 4G networks are providing the horsepower for a range of real-world business applications on-the-go.”

Stylus Advantage:

RadicalRooting™ is an in-house development of Stylus Systems Pvt. Ltd. that helps you look intently at your business’s pain points and spend time resolving them, before moving into the solution conceptualization stage. We have been the leaders in consulting and developing BI solutions for Mid-Sized businesses since 13 years with the latest in technology. www.stylusinc.com

Architecting efficient Cloud applications

Devices connect to Cloud.

Traditional web applications have a lot of interaction between the browser (client) and the server. The client is lightweight and the server does most of the heavy-lifting. Most operations are synchronous in nature and the same server generally serves up all the resources required by the application.

Cloud hosting changes the rules. Cloud offers numerous benefits like elastic scaling, zero administration, automatic backups and redundancy, geo-targetting, etc. However this comes at a price. You are charged by the amount of disk space you consume, the network traffic your application handles, the processing load on the server’s CPUs, the messages you send, etc. This means that you now have to build your application keeping in mind the actual resources it is consuming and ensure that you do not run up a huge monthly bill on your cloud hosting account.

A cloud optimized application would have the following features:

  1. Extensive use of caching – both at the browser level and at the server level. Caching at the browser level reduces the network requests that the browser has to make for the same resource every time it needs it. Caching at the server level reduces the CPU load as well as the load on the database servers.
  2. Static resources like images and scripts are served out through a Content Delivery Network (CDN) service wherever possible. CDNs are highly optimized to serve out static content and typically cost less than if your cloud web server had to serve out those resources.
  3. Rich Client – The browser in a cloud-optimized web app would do a lot more work. Browser capabilities have increased tremendously over the past 2 years and we can build web apps now that come pretty close to native apps. And the more the browser does, the less the server has to do. A good cloud app would use features like local storage to store as much data as required locally to minimize trips to the server. Computed values, previously done on the server would now be done in the browser to reduce CPU load. Persistent sessions would be replaced by restful ajax calls using authentication tokens.
  4. Thin Server – Cloud-optimized web apps will have thin restful services on the server side. This will allow these services to be consumed by different applications targeting different devices. These services will be hosted on geographically optimized redundant servers, so persistent sessions are not a good idea. Processing will be broken down into small asynchronous tasks, so the server will be able to handle more client requests without blocking or breaking into a sweat.
  5. Use of NOSQL – These are non-relational databases. While they are not suitable for every scenario, a lot of our data can be stored in these. They can be scaled more easily than relational databases and typically cost less. A good cloud app would mix relational and non relational databases judiciously.
  6. Metrics – A good cloud app would have built in metric to allow measurement and control of all relevant factors that affect cost and performance. Will many cloud providers offer metrics as part of the infrastructure, the application sometimes needs to hook into those to offer meaningful data.

That’s why a number of so-called Cloud application fail to deliver on their promise of cost reduction and “pay for use”. At Stylus, we carefully look at not just the medium and the technology, but also the problem that our clients expect to see solved at the end of the project they engage us for. We believe that the Cloud does help solve some problems better than before, but it will not work in every scenrio. If you’d like us to study your requirements and evaluate whether a cloud based solution will work for you, please contact us.

HTML5 based Enterprise software for Devices

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13 years ago, Stylusinc was among a growing number of software companies that warmly embraced web applications and what it portended for SMEs. At that time, we were firm in our belief (in spite of the many naysayers) that the web would transform the way software was constructed and deployed. Keep in mind that at the time, websites were seen mainly as a marketing tool, a place where SMEs could put up brochure websites that showed off their products and services, and enterprise applications were all about locally installed Client/ Server applications. How things have changed since then, is plain for all to see.  There is probably no area of business that has not been enabled, in some way, by internet and intranet based applications.
However, neither needs nor technology are static. We quickly moved from Client /Server Architecture as the predominant approach to a 3-tier, and subsequently n-tier Web architecture.  With web services and Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) coming to the scene, it became possible to separate the layers and the functionality, both logically and physically.
Mobile computing, however, has opened up a whole new landscape for interactivity, and pervasive computing. The first generation of native mobile apps made sure that our smartphones became our personal productivity enhancement and entertainment) tool of choice. We predict that the next generation of mobile apps will follow a Device/ Cloud architecture, which will allow users of mobile devices (both smartphones and tablet devices) to seamlessly connect to cloud based enterprise applications.  This is because with the release of HTML5 with offline application caching, two major issues have been addressed –
  1. The first issue is that of data security. Although today, web applications have overcome this problem, mobile applications have been hampered by the fact that they still store data locally on the device. Unlike a computer, mobile devices are most often personal devices, and storing sensitive enterprise information on them opens the risk of data leakage. Itis, of course possible for users to use web applications using browsers on mobile devices, but this often leads to another second issue.
  2. The second issue is one of connectivity. Although web applications can be accessed via mobile devices, mobile devices by their very nature are devices that are expected to be mobile. This makes them especially prone to connectivity disruptions, and makes them so unstable, that for all practical purposes, they are not useful data input devices for any enterprise requirement.
In order to address this, Stylusinc has come up with its unique Device/Cloud Architecture, a way of constructing software using HTML5 ’s offline app and data caching, that allows the enterprise to take advantage of the online data store benefit of web applications, while still providing for the seamless, responsive and interactive experience of a regular client application. Our applications behave much like client server applications, except that they run off the browser, and no data is stored on the client.  By using HTML5 ’s Offline App and Data caching feature, Stylus has already launched a number of applications that allow for users to access, upload and save large amounts of information without having to worry about whether the device is connected to the online server or not.
If this is something you think you can leverage, or if this has been a problem that’s given you sleepless nights, talk to us. We’ll give you a solution that gets the job done, and allows you a good night’s sleep.