Cloud solutions Vs Thick Client Platform – Support
When comparing Cloud solutions Vs Thick Client Platform .NET platform solutions, cost is usually the first starting point for businesses as a cloud solution means the applications can run on less expensive devices such as Android handhelds, which can be the starting point for thoughts about BOYD. But, how do you support a roll-out with mixed operating systems?
Devices have been covered in a previous blog so here I will focus on the software issues, both local and server. Yes Android, Blackberry, iPhone iPad devices can be considerably cheaper then Microsoft .NET devices but this also means you’ll need to support several platforms rather than one. What will that do to your total cost of ownership?
Updates for the multiple Smartphone platforms are never scheduled at the same time. This means on day one all the Android devices may update to the latest OS version, the next day all the Blackberry devices may update. There is no guarantee devices will still continue to work with the application after an update and finding a fix for each platform can be very different and therefore difficult.
When HTML 5 applications are being developed, they are developed for specific OS API’s, i.e. Android 3.0. When the Smartphone is updated to the latest version 4.1, a or a new device is purchased, the application will need to use the 4.1 API. In the best case scenario the application will have to be re-built, tested, and re-deployed. This is a major task in itself as cloud based solutions do not incorporate development and application & data synchronisation as standard. In the worst case scenario the application code will have to be edited. This is a very lengthy process in which the mobile application is out of action.
Using a thick client based mobile application development platform with Windows Mobile devices the applications are fully backwards compatible and any platform updates are issued by the administrator not the network provider. This provides a hassle free deployment with simple support as all devices are using the Microsoft .NET framework. It also means access to a wide variety of devices such as
The thick client has the ability to lockdown the unit so the user cannot access important system files, or spend hours playing games. The device is there for a purpose and can only perform the tasks the application allows. How do you lock down a personal Smartphone belonging to your employees? In short you can’t. You can provide the facility to access a web based application (if they have an internet connection) but you can’t guarantee they are not texting, playing games or surfing the internet.
The last point to touch on here is how the application can be updated. The application for the HTML 5 platform requires coding, a lot of testing for each OS, compiling, and then deployed to a central server location. The coding could take days or weeks depending on the update. In the thick client platform the update can be made in minutes to hours and deployed instantly. Yes the HTML 5 application has a slight advantage here as once deployed to the server location it is live. The thick client device must synchronise to download the latest application. This in itself is negligible since the application is downloaded in the background while the current application is in use, or when the device is back in the cradle charging for the night.
The key question is: As time and costs increase supporting Smartphone devices each time the business applications change, is the initial saving worthwhile as future development wipe-out any short term benefits?