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  1. Hardware
July 8, 2015

Choosing the right enterprise technology solution

Mihajlo Nikolic, Athlon CTO, looks at what needs to be considered when it comes to brining in a new front-end technology solution.

By Cbr Rolling Blog

When it comes to implementing a new front-end technology solution (whether it’s a new app, website or enterprise mobility software), it’s likely that you’ll be working with a team of developers. Whether an internal team or external agency, you all need to fully understand the project’s business decisions and desired outcomes before defining the technical considerations.

Firstly, take a step back from the brief and its requirements. Instead of approaching a new project from the angle of your own experience and expertise, take a fresh approach, Try to understand as much as possible about any dependencies, prerequisites or other showstoppers.

The following considerations allow you to question the important details: a mix of risk assessment and solution architecture.

Business decisions

You must first understand how the solution aligns to the business’ needs:

– Budget and project timings
Whilst quality and features are key, let’s be realistic: businesses need to be profitable. Start with an initial evaluation and than work backwards to meet the targets. The resources investment should be balanced between the perfect solution and the minimum viable product (MVP).

– Skills and knowhow
Do you want to align the solution to past or present experience and knowledge or take a new approach?

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– Resources
Do you have in-house developers, an existing code base and data migration requirements? All of these can impact the tech stack.

– IT dependencies
What requirements are there to integrate with existing infrastructure? For example, do you need to use the on-premise setup, which will restrict the use of cloud-based solutions?

– Legal restrictions
Enterprises often have specific legal requirements for their services or products. From copywriting to free and open source software, sometimes the hassle to approve something simply isn’t worth it and a workaround is preferable.

– IP, patents and licensing
Using pre-existing software may restrict re-selling or transferring IP and ownership. Don’t assume or estimate: take these elements into consideration.

– Maintenance, support and updates
What are the needs, costs and processes required to keep the solution stable and updated? Are there expectations about content update intervals, management needs, team roles and responsibilities?

Targets and goals

The next phase will enable you to determine the aim of the project and set some expectations.

– Longevity
Is this a fast turnaround or a long-term project with many developmental stages and a large team to support it? That alone can sometimes define a solution. At one end, reusable code can be used; at the other, an entirely new set-up may be required if the project needs to be well documented and supported by a larger team.

– Audience
Consider people and their habits; consumer vs. B2B solutions. Typically projects targeting end users require broader support for devices and browsers, compared to enterprise technology solutions where more specific platform support is sometimes sufficient (although not ideal).

– Platforms
Will your solution sit on mobile and desktop, be a native or a browser app? If possible try defining a road map and future plans: what do you want the solution to do long-term?

Technical considerations

It’s now time for the (mostly) obvious part.

– Cross-platform vs. native platform-dependent development
What are the benefits of each option? Are there any limitations? To understand what a technology is good for, get your hands dirty and try it out first. Learning by doing is the way to go.

– Scalability?
Whilst everyone would like to believe this is a key consideration, short-term wins are sometimes more essential. Think of how a MVP prioritises features over long-term concerns.

– Security
What data do you have to work with and how critical is security? (Security on its own is a whole separate topic.)

– Testing and automation
Bear in mind that automation testing requirements can define the tech stack and development process.

– Expected traffic
Large traffic is not always the norm, as some products target a limited audience. Consider using frameworks rather than bespoke scalable and high-availability solutions.

– Content needs
Media content is heavy but has specific requirements (e.g. transcoding, META data etc.) to manage it. Concerns over data ownership or the need for non-standard features might mean building everything from the ground up. If that’s not the case, consider existing solutions. There are many affordable video-hosting solutions, content delivery networks and cloud solutions with a geo-distributed setup to deal with speed and load times.

– Hosting
Options include centralised, distributed and specialised for different types of content. Apart from the technical considerations, the total cost is also important. Aim to find the perfect balance between initial cost, monthly running costs, features, security and sustainability: not always an easy task as a lot of options are available, each with its own risks and hidden costs. ??

 

There’s a lot here to consider, but if you can take all considerations into account during the planning process, your project is more likely to stay on time and on budget, and deliver an enterprise solution that meets your requirements.

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