Apps are No Longer Apps

There’s been significant debate over the last couple years about where the future of application design will land - serverless, containers, microservices, bots or something completely new. The real answer - none of the above. The future of application design, and frankly the reality today, is hybrid. 
Apps aren’t self-contained code anymore. Apps today are really workflows that integrate multiple components to deliver a defined customer experience, address a business need or enable a product or service capability. These workflows often involve a mobile app talking to a SaaS service, connected to an on-premise data or a legacy tool. For example, look at the architecture of GE Predix. It’s inherently hybrid, bringing together data from on-premise resources and field locations to empowering remote workers and smart devices through the CloudFoundry microservices platform. While Predix is a platform, your use of it is what creates your hybrid app. 
This isn’t to say that the emerging app design approaches aren’t a big part of the future. If your development team isn’t investing in these areas today, you really ought to make this a priority. They ease customer interaction, increase your responsiveness and provide new means of interaction, insight delivery and experiences. Just as you didn’t fully replace your bare metal deployments with virtual machines, nor will you be migrating your SAP ERP system to a container anytime soon. 
If you want to get the most out of a new customer facing support bot, you should definitely integrate it with your ERP system and probably with your Salesforce.com implementation as well. This will empower your bot to leverage all the information you have about your customer, their orders, what they would be most likely to buy in the future and how they wish to grow their experience with your company. 
If this value proposition resonates with you, the next question to answer is how best to do this integration. Connecting different application models together can be painful and complex, especially when you have development teams who are experts in the given app design platforms but not in their integration - which is far too common. This is the core gap in DevOps teams today that needs to be prioritized and addressed.
If you remember the days of Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) then you understand the core problem - it’s back. In the early 2000s when this concept emerged, the idea of hybrid workflows was the focus but the concept was, as is often the case, ahead of its time. SOA sought to build apps by combining reusable app components and putting SOAP interfaces on them for other micro components to leverage when tapping into their capabilities. Sadly, SOAP had a few key flaws such as inconsistent communications interfaces. We have since evolved from SOAP to REST and evolved the app interface model to a more standardized mode of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). These interfaces and the tools that help you place APIs in front of any and all application components are key to today’s reality of hybrid applications
This is exactly why each of the leading cloud platforms have acquired API Management software platforms in the last three years, the most recent being Google’s acquisition of Apigee. Google knows that the key to getting you to leverage more of their cloud services is to ease the integration between your existing services and their new capabilities.
While these moves certainly ease cloud integration, as I stated in my last blog post, no enterprise is going all-in with one public cloud platform, so you may not want to invest in a cloud-specific API management service. This is why MuleSoft and the open source Kong API gateway have been gaining momentum. Both are investing heavily in microservices API management as application design architectures evolve. 
If your IT organization doesn’t have a dedicated team focused on hybrid app design, integration and management, now is the time to create one. This is the fastest way to turn your mixed collection of application assets - and all your new micro services, serverless and container-based capacities - into a rich pool of capabilities that can all be leveraged to build out new, winning customer experiences
And if your company is leveraging third party applications with poor or outdated interfaces, now’s the time to beat them up! :)

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