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«JS Hello, I’m Jonathan Stark and welcome to Inside The Brackets. Today, we’re talking about HTML5 in the enterprise and the special challenges ...»

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Transcript for Episode 4:

Takin’ Care of Business—HTML5 in the Enterprise

(November 2013)


• Jonathan Stark (JS), Mobile Strategy Consultant and Series Host

• Ganesh Rao (GR), Engineering Manager, Developer Products Division, Intel

• Bill Giard (BG), Principal Engineer, IT, Intel

• Marine LeRoux (ML), Chief Technology Officer, Sencha

• Alex Williams (AW), Enterprise Writer, TechCrunch JS Hello, I’m Jonathan Stark and welcome to Inside The Brackets. Today, we’re talking about HTML5 in the enterprise and the special challenges facing IT managers and developers who need to build apps in a business environment.

Joining us today are Ganesh Rao, Engineering Manager, Developer Products Division, Intel; Bill Giard, Principal Engineer, Intel IT; Marine LeRoux, Head of Global Mobile User Experience, Thomson Reuters, and Alex Williams, Enterprise Writer from TechCrunch.

Alex, I’d like to start with you. What are some of the key trends that you see in the enterprise when they’re developing their own apps or maybe exposing APIs, uh, in the back end?

AW I think it’s trying to make it work for the people who are using the apps and part of the complexity right now comes with the actual workflows. How you define those workflows? How do you enable those for people in the workplace? There’s been a struggle with some of the fundamental issues such as security.

But I think there’s a next step and that’s the actual development of workflows so people can create apps for very small tasks. They want these apps to do very specific things, and so that means a lot of apps. And so you need those app marketplaces and you need those APIs and you need the security.

JS So when you say “marketplaces” you mean like an internal app store type of thing?

AW Yes.

JS Bill, are you using anything like that? Does that all sort of resonate with your experience?

BG Certainly, security is a big, big deal in the enterprise. I think when you’re developing solutions to work across multiple environments, getting them securely working and functioning is a huge consideration for us.

Transcript for Episode 4: Takin’ Care of Business—HTML5 in the Enterprise 2 You certainly have to conquer the password problem—you know, credentials for the device, credentials for the application, access to the data. So, balancing security and usability for your users and their expectations are increasing, right.

They’re asking us to deliver solutions that are much more usable than what we traditionally have got away with before.

AW We are starting to see the abstraction of passwords behind management platforms and that is slowly starting to become a reality, but it’s going to take some time. The chief security person at Google said at our conference this week that, at Google, passwords are dead. And I think when a company like Google says that, you know, it means something for the rest of the market.

ML We have a lot to learn on that part. We have passwords. We have RSA tokens.

We have pin numbers. It takes a hacker to get into our apps and it’s a problem that we really have to tackle. The more the user wants something usable and accessible, the more their own IT wants security, because we’re presenting their own confidential content onto our applications.

AW It’s an issue not just with the users, but with the developers, too. The developers, for instance, are used to spinning up instances on Amazon Web Services and they get issues—you know, they create a key pair and they don’t really pay much attention to that private login that they have and then they’re accessible to an attack very easily.

JS Speaking of developers, I have a question for Ganesh. So you’re responsible for creating tools for developers. And I’m wondering what some of the things Intel is doing to support app and API development in the enterprise.

GR We develop tools on the client side to be able to create HTML5 and consume services that you create on the server side. Intel has invested in software services that create APIs, make it easy for developers to access these APIs, and then potentially secure a way. And on the client side, we’re focusing on making sure that we not only handle specifications, but we get user stories to see how we can include guidelines as part of development. So some of the security items that came about here have to do with how developers create software. We want tools that provide security from the time the code starts getting developed, and not necessarily something that you put in after everything is put together.

JS Yes, secure right from the start.

–  –  –

BG The landscape’s changed. It used to be that we would run an application in our own IT data center and then we could have control over the machine that it ran on, the servers that it ran on. Making sure the application is secure from the time you launch it, and in post-production, and maintains security feature sets after you’ve already developed a release, becomes extremely important when you start (JS) Jonathan Stark, Mobile Strategy Consultant and Series Host (GR) Ganesh Rao, Engineering Manager, Developer Products Division, Intel (BG) Bill Giard, Principal Engineer, IT, Intel (ML) Marine LeRoux, Chief Technology Officer, Sencha (AW) Alex Williams, Enterprise Writer, TechCrunch 2 Transcript for Episode 4: Takin’ Care of Business—HTML5 in the Enterprise 3 deploying your solutions across multiple platforms and into the Cloud, and taking advantage of a lot of the things that are happening elsewhere in the industry.

JS I’m wondering if you think that enterprise developers have different unique needs compared to more consumer-facing developers?

BG I think there are two things that I see as being key differences. One is the social coding collaboration needed across teams. You would design solutions and take advantage of reusable libraries and everybody would try to take advantage of the single thing, but there’s so much innovation happening in the HTML5, the cross platform, the JavaScript libraries that people are hungry for understanding what’s the latest and greatest way to do things, and so they’re working better across teams at least internally. And the other element is there’s more data and system integration that I’ve seen in the enterprise, so you have to consider, “How am I going to integrate content and solutions from other teams?”

JS Marine, do you have similar challenges?

ML We do have, yes. Our challenge definitely is based on the silos of the company and not having any one platform, any specific efficiencies, allowing that social sharing of code. Until about 2 years ago, that didn’t really exist. At that point, the company realized that something needed to happen in terms of creating some consistencies and guidelines and better resources and shared resources across those silos to get our apps faster to market cheaper and even distribute the resources in terms of talent across the company. So the company decided to put together a small team which I joined about 2 years ago—a center of excellence for developers and for designers to help them bring their content to a mobile platform in a more efficient way. And as we go forward, we’re looking at ways that we can develop faster and we’re looking at cross-platform development.

JS I assume it’s safe to say that developing natively across multiple platforms would be an expensive proposition?

ML It is. We’re not developing cross platform on all of our products. At this stage, we have a lot of iOS apps—iOS just happens to be the direction that a lot of developers within our product teams have chosen to go based the devices they’re customers are using. And we have a lot of apps that shouldn’t really be out there or have expired or are not being maintained. So, at this time, what we’re looking at doing is having fewer apps across platform.

JS Hmm, interesting.

GR I agree with that statement. In fact, one of the things that I’ve heard, um, talking to developers is fewer apps and crisper user stories, so these apps do not necessarily do everything that it takes over from, but instead, do the most important things well.

–  –  –

(JS) Jonathan Stark, Mobile Strategy Consultant and Series Host (GR) Ganesh Rao, Engineering Manager, Developer Products Division, Intel (BG) Bill Giard, Principal Engineer, IT, Intel (ML) Marine LeRoux, Chief Technology Officer, Sencha (AW) Alex Williams, Enterprise Writer, TechCrunch 3 Transcript for Episode 4: Takin’ Care of Business—HTML5 in the Enterprise 4 BG Our multi-platform journey started with multiple desktops to some extent in certain business lines. Then mobile was clearly starting with iOS-based applications.

Certainly, a large user increase in the number of Android devices coming into the environment … what we have across multiple operating systems … and so, approaching that more holistically without having to redo it and report is a huge issue.

JS So HTML5 has been a big win for you there, right?

BG Yeah, we started with native applications and we’ve since taken a different approach. We don’t prescribe one specific way of doing development for our developers. We have a thousand developers in our organization that are actively writing code and we want them to take advantage of what’s happening. And what we’ve seen over the last 9 months, 12 months, is a significant shift from native application development to browser-based HTML5 development. HTML5 is where the majority of our internal development is putting their focus, probably to the tune of 4 or 5X … browser-based HTML5 solutions versus the native solutions that still happen.

JS Just to give people a feel for the scope of it, what’s the mandate, or scope, of platforms that you are forced to support?

BG Within Intel IT, we have 1400 applications or so that we own and manage. There’s another broader set across Intel—3,000 or so—that we either procure or develop or bring in-house. Our target is to get 80 percent of the 1400 applications working across multiple platforms within 3 years. So we want to extend Windows, OSX, Android, iOS, Linux. We want to remove the OS and browser dependencies, we want to support multiple OSs and browsers such that when a user brings in their device, they can be immediately productive. Over 42,000 non-traditional devices— you know, consumer bring-your-own-devices—have come into the environment, and that number is growing dramatically month on month.

JS Wow, that’s huge, huge growth. So it strikes me that I think, Marine and Bill in particular are talking about two different things when they use the word “app.” I think I’d like to tease that out a little bit.

BG We describe an app around anything that delivers a business transaction, serves a business function. Our primary focus is certainly business applications—you know, your ERP, your CRMs, your supply chain solutions, your design solutions. But it extends beyond that. There are helper apps. There are HR apps that help you find a conference room, that do more than procure material or work on the factory floor.

So, it’s a pretty broad brush for apps that we have.

ML When we talk about apps, we talk about customer-facing apps. I think of apps being mobile apps more than desktop apps. Of course, we do have all of our products are in desktop apps as well, but we also differentiate mobile apps from mobile websites, or mobile-optimized websites.

(JS) Jonathan Stark, Mobile Strategy Consultant and Series Host (GR) Ganesh Rao, Engineering Manager, Developer Products Division, Intel (BG) Bill Giard, Principal Engineer, IT, Intel (ML) Marine LeRoux, Chief Technology Officer, Sencha (AW) Alex Williams, Enterprise Writer, TechCrunch 4 Transcript for Episode 4: Takin’ Care of Business—HTML5 in the Enterprise 5 BG We are certainly taking a pretty direct approach that we want our apps to work across desktop and mobile, so we’re moving past the “you have a separate mobile app and then a desktop app” and we’re pushing quite dramatically to have our applications—and ideally, one app, using HTML5, responsive web design—be able to support small form factors, tablets, desktops, and even big screens.

ML We are also going towards that path as well with all of our apps being on desktop and then slowly shifting over to mobile. They have to be mobile because that’s the customer’s expectation … they want to take exactly what they have on desktop and move it to a mobile platform. What we’re trying to educate and push the company towards is going with mobile first—so, thinking about creating an application that is specifically designed to be used on a mobile device as opposed to on the desktop and on mobile as well. But of course, we’re also looking at having all of our desktop apps ported over—at least, displayed properly—on a mobile device through HTML5 and good responsive design. And that’s something that we’re just tackling right now.

JS Alex, does this follow larger trends overall in the enterprise, do you think, or is this specific to these types of companies?

AW Cross platform for sure, definitely a trend. One of the things we’re starting to see is creating apps with a wrapper around them so they can be updated quickly or the server can be better – easier server calls.

JS So Ganesh, what is Intel doing tool-wise to help people who do need to create native experiences on mobile, so something that has to access the camera or the accelerometer or that sort of thing?

I’m working on a tool called the Intel® XDK for cross-platform development kit.

GR HTML5 offers a lot of good facilities, but at the same time, you want to be able to have a call into the native layer so you can get a native-like performance. So, within the tool, we support Cordova, which is a fairly popular API, to be able to call into native. We also have our own native API to provide the flexibility to the developer who is having this challenge of creating apps, whether it’s customerfacing or internal, but at the same time, have native-like functionality, be able to work across Android and iOS and the desktop. Our goal is to have the widest reach in terms of being able to target all these applications, but make it easy for developers.

ML Awesome. We need that!

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