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Enterprise Rich Internet Application:Ajax, Java, Flash,.NET and Market Landscape (1)

2006 April 27
by Coach Wei

This is the first post of Enterprise Rich Internet Application Series.

Welcome to a New Paradigm

The Web began as an environment for content sharing and small-scale data transfer via e-mail, newsgroups, and so forth. These initial uses quickly led to more sophisticated applications, particularly in the e-commerce arena. However, the Web was not architected with rich application services in mind. Its document-centric model has by-and-large thwarted developers looking to leverage the Web as a platform for enterprise-class applications.

Beginning in early 2005, popular new Web applications like Gmail, Google Maps and Flickr have awakened the entire Internet community to the possibility of a far richer Web experience. Web developers were quick to discover and leverage the technical approach that these applications used, which was first termed AJAX (for “Asynchronous JavaScript and XML”). The excitement around AJAX also served to focus more attention on the wide spectrum of Rich Internet Application (RIA) development tools and approaches that are currently available.

Gartner calls RIAs “ the next evolution of the Web.” RIAs represent the next big evolutionary step for enterprise application development. RIAs deliver the high performance and robust functionality of desktop or client/server software combined with the universal reach, no-install deployment and centralized management of browser-based applications. RIAs represent the next paradigm for building, deploying and maintaining enterprise applications. The impact of RIAs on businesses will match that of PC desktop computing; bringing operational efficiency and productivity to a whole new level, while decreasing costs.

Enterprise RIA vs. Consumer RIA

In general, Rich Internet Application can be classified into two categories: enterprise RIA and consumer RIA. Enterprise RIA refers to RIA whose users are primarily business users. This includes enterprise internal IT applications as well as B2B applications. Consumer RIA refers to RIA whose users are primarily individual consumers, such as consumer websites as well as B2C applications.

Enterprise RIA Opportunities

A growing number of Fortune 1000 companies have already adopted Enterprise RIAs, or will do so in the near future. According to Gartner, “By 2010, at least 60 percent of new application development projects will include RIA technology, and at least 25 percent of those will rely primarily on RIA (0.7 probability).

Organizations that seek competitive advantage or greater operational efficiency are increasingly exploiting RIA technology to re-architect traditional client/server applications, such as those written in Visual Basic or Java Swing. RIAs can offer all the rich features and performance benefits of these “thick client” alternatives, while eliminating the need to install and maintain a custom client on user desktops.

Enterprise RIA technology is also of great value to companies that wish to improve the performance and user experience of traditional, HTML-based Web applications. RIAs can radically improve the responsiveness of browser-based applications because they enable processing to take place on the client, thus reducing network demands in comparison to HTML’s inefficient “click-wait-refresh” model.

Moreover, Enterprise RIAs mesh perfectly with Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and Web Services initiatives (See references Dion Hinchcliffe and Dana Gardner ). Their role in this model is to deliver SOA-based services to users via a wide range of devices, while at the same time reducing the cost and complexity associated with managing networks and client-side deployments. In particular, RIAs can reduce the need for development teams to create multiple interfaces to applications using disparate technologies, as is the case with client/server and HTML-based architectures today. As SOAs become the method of choice to deploy both new and existing business services, enterprises will increasingly employ RIAs to bring those services to their end users.

References

1. Gartner Research Note: Rich Internet Applications Are the Next Evolution of the Web , G00126924, M. Driver, R. Valdes, G. Phifer, May 4, 2005.

2. XML Journal: “XML for Client-side Computing” ( http://www.sys-con.com/story/?storyid=44013&DE=1 ), Coach Wei, March 10, 2004.

3. ZDNet, “When the worlds of SOA and Web 2.0 collide”( http://blogs.zdnet.com/Hinchcliffe/?p=35 ), Dion Hinchcliffe, April 2006.

4. ZDNet, “Nexaweb draws a brilliant bead between SOA and AJAX values”( http://blogs.zdnet.com/Gardner/index.php?p=2269 ), Dana Gardner, March 2006.

5. Laszlo Systems, http://www.lazslosystems.com

6. Adobe Flex, http://www.macromedia.com/software/flex/

7. Laszlo Systems, http://www.openlaszlo.org/lps-latest/docs/reference/script.html

8. Nexaweb Platform, http://www.nexaweb.com

9. Nexaweb jRex, http://www.nexaweb.com

10. Dojo toolkit: http://www.dojotoolkit.org

11. Rico Ajax toolkit, http://openrico.org/

12. DWR, http://getahead.ltd.uk/dwr/

13. Thinlet, http://www.thinlet.com

14. Apache Kabuki, http://kabuki.apache.org

15. Nexaweb aRex, http://www.nexaweb.com/products.aspx?id=326

16. Microsoft, XAML and Windows Vista, http://msdn.microsoft.com/windowsvista/about/#wpfx

17. Backbase, http://www.backbase.com

18. JackBe, http://www.jackbe.com

19. Isomorphic, http://www.isomorphic.com

20. Bindows, http://www.bindows.net

21. Laszlo Systems, “Laszlo Systems Announces Plans to Extend OpenLaszlo Platform to Support Delivery of Web 2.0 Applications in Browsers Without Flash™” ( http://www.laszlosystems.com/company/press/press_releases/pr_mar_06.php ), March 2006.

22. Nexaweb, “Nexaweb to Introduce Ajax Developer Edition” ( http://www.nexaweb.com/news.aspx?id=329 ), March 2006.

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