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What’s Hot in Application Architecture, Development & Integration

Earlier this month we attended the Gartner Application Architecture, Development and Integration (AADI) Summit in Las Vegas.

This is the big annual event where application development and integration leaders gather to get the goods on what is hot and what is not. All in all, this was a great conference that covered some very important topics. I was impressed at the variety and depth of the sessions, and felt that the coverage was a lot more practical than in past years.

While Gartner provides a lot of teaser material on their web-site, only subscribers and attendees can access the full content, so I wanted to share my takeaways from sessions and conversations at the show:

Agile Still Rocks (Yes!!!)
I’m a huge fan of agile, so I was happy to see that this is one trend that lives on even stronger than before. I really enjoyed the depth of the sessions that explained practically speaking how to use agile in your development organizations. I won’t go into depth on this topic here because there is tons of great info on the web, but I will just mention that the Atlassian talk rocked! I can share my notes with anyone that is interested.

The Rise of the Citizen Developer

What is a Citizen Developer? The term was created by Gartner as “an end user who creates new business applications for consumption by others using development and runtime environments sanctioned by corporate IT,” essentially people who are not formally trained as computer programmers but yet are now able to develop their own apps! If you have kids, you know what I’m talking about ☺. Citizen Developer was mentioned a lot, and in the spirit of agile development and our newest product XRebel, let’s not forget Citizen Tester!

Back in 2011, Gartner predicted that by 2014, citizen developers would build at least 25 percent of new business applications. (source: I’m not sure we are quite there yet, but we are well on our way.

NoESB (long live APIs)
The “NoESB” message came out loud and clear on Twitter and in conversations during this event. While I am no longer personally focused on integration software, I think we all have known from the beginning that ESB was no nirvana for integration. Now the buzzwords appear to be all about services gateways and APIs (back to the future?), but the fundamentals of SOA and being componentized, decoupled, etc still hold true. Similar to the notion of a Citizen Developer, the idea of a Citizen Integrator was introduced, enabling more than just integration experts to be able to integrate.

Citizen Integrator

UX Matters A Lot More (No, duh!)
“An app is different than an application.” Well this comes as no surprise. Now that we are all fiddling with totally incredible usability on silly flappy appys and other super powerful apps on our smartphones, we naturally demand more from our apps at work, and so do our consumers.

A slide from Gartner Analyst Van Baker on usability for mobile devices:

User Centric Mobile Apps

Mobile is Different (*really* different)
Do you remember the Sesame Street skit “One of these things is not like the other.” Mobile seems to be that way. Mobile apps allow the collection of data that wasn’t possible before, and demand a user experience like no other. According to Gartner, smartphones now have 17 different sensors, and I can imagine tons of apps that could use those. Mobile is obviously a huge opportunity for innovation.

mobile apps smartphone sensors

Ian Finley talked about the need to understand mobile business processes, methods and moments. He used Uber as an example. Uber is very mobile centric, they completely rethought the business moment of getting from point A to point B, they reinvented it and they made it better, behind that they had to invent a bunch of new business processes. They didn’t recreate the taxi experience on mobile.

He talked about the device horse race being like the browser wars on steroids, that there are 1,000s of permutations and this market won’t converge to centralize around a single vendor. Makes sense.

There was a lot of linkage between IoT and mobile, with Ian Finley calling the smartphone “your universal link to the IoT”. He predicted that by 2020, more than 50% of domestic objects will be able to communicate with a smartphone.

For smartphones and platforms from an enterprise perspective, Gartner expects 40% to pick Apple, about 20% to pick Samsung, 9% Microsoft, and the rest is other and Blackberry (which is about .5% today!).

mobile apps are different

The most interesting mobile prediction from Gartner in my opinion is that 90% of enterprise apps will be HTML5 or Hybrid in the enterprise in 2015. Only 10% will be Native.

Hybrid HTML5 will dominate mobile apps

On the back-end, BaaS (back-end as a service) provides a mobile application integration platform – something you might also want to learn more about.


Internet of Things (IoT) is Big
It’s no secret that IoT is hot. Gagan Mehra of Terracotta wrote a blog summarizing his thoughts from the Internet of Things roundtable at the Gartner AADI Summit. Essentially, IoT is still in the early days, and some of the most important things he mentions:

– Be realistic about the latency needs from the platform
– Factor in data growth before architecting the platform
– Always plan for new data sources getting introduced as the platform scales
– Not ignore historical data while generating the insights from streaming data
– Think twice before not storing all the ‘noise’ in the raw data

Jeff Schulman talked about how there is a new architecture required for Internet of Things (shocker?!) and Intel showed off its new IoT platform.

Internet of Things Architecture Diagram

Are there some useful real-world implementations of IoT? You betcha. The neatest I’ve seen is this story from ThoughtWorks about using wearables with cows. Yup, cows.

Don’t Worry be Crappy
Guy Kawasaki explained the old days at Apple developing the first Macintosh. And it sounded a lot like the Lean Startup approach with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). He encouraged us to be “crappy” and I agree with the sentiment of getting something out there (an MVP). “The first Mac was crappy but it was a revolutionary piece of crap.”

minimum viable product lean startup

Got PaaS? (you should!)
Gartner predictably recommends (once again) PaaS (Platform as a service) as an important enterprise IT initiative. Since calling 2011 “The Year of the Paas” Gartner’s support for PaaS as a strategic initiative has remained strong. Yefim Natis covered much of his research in this area. Apprenda, a private Paas vendor, does a nice job of summarizing the Gartner PaaS research on their site for your reference.

Leadership (Be a Coach not a Bad Boss!)

Leadership was a recurring, powerful theme at the event. Nathan Wilson discussed how a command and control manager doesn’t work in agile. He encouraged attendees to become a servant leader. I really appreciate this leadership style and I think it is fabulous advice.

servant leader agile coach

He talked about how typical leaders will do what is given to them, but high performing leaders will actively shift priorities to other buckets for growth and transformation. Having an experimental budget is the way to get acceleration, but there is a higher rate of failure with experiments, so be prepared to lose any experimental investment.

There was a fascinating session by Tina Nunno on Machiavellian leadership. She warned that CIOs should be more like wolves not bunnies in their leadership styles, because while bunnies are nice, they are also “small and tasty”. I am definitely going to be picking up some Machiavelli and also checking out her book.

Wolf in CIO's Clothing book cover

I am not exactly a newbie to this event. I would highly recommend this event to anyone who manages application development for a large organization, just for the networking opportunities alone.

I believe the trend to empower developers to do more and more advanced things, faster, and with less skills, was my biggest takeaway. It was a thread throughout many of the sessions. At ZeroTurnaround, we are focused on exactly this. JRebel and XRebel help Java developers write better code, faster. I also loved the emphasis on leading versus following, and I believe that IT leaders that don’t follow this advice will be out of a job. I’d love to hear from other attendees about your thoughts on this event, so please share in the comments or ping me on twitter @debdeb.

Happy New Year 2015 and the exciting trends yet to come!

(Sources: Gartner AADI Summit, Twitter)

  • Debbie, I agree with your points. At a high level, if the
    applications were designed and built to be easy to use, reliable, and easy to
    support then the suggestions you make would be much easier to implement or even necessary for the architectural design and development.