Cost Effective Smart-Device App Development

I noticed something interesting this morning. At my neighborhood Peet’s Coffee, where I ritually stop by every morning, usually I see a number of people hunched over their laptops, checking email, browsing the web, or doing some other work, a scene that is very similar across all coffee shops. However, today I noticed three people with iPads, one of them being myself.

This is a very high ratio for iPad. A single device from a single company against laptops and netbooks made by so many different companies, and for so many years. Clearly people love their iPads.

Colin Crawford in his blog The iPad Advantage competently argues how quickly these smart devices are growing and the fantastic opportunities that they present to content publishers. Same is true for business apps. Your users are on iPads and other similar devices scheduled to be released soon. Doesn’t it make sense for your apps to work well on them and deliver a user experience that is compatible with the strengths of these devices?

The problem is that creating native apps requires expensive traditional development. For most apps there simply isn’t adequate ROI. Furthermore, apps made for one platform, say iPhone, are incompatible with other platforms, such as Android or Blackberry.

However, two standards are supported by all smart devices: HTML and JavaScript. You can create great web apps that come very close to native app user experience. Provided that your application engine renders its user interfaces in such way that takes advantage of the strengths of smart devices.

Caspio’s platform-as-a-service has proven to be very effective in enabling the creation of such web apps cost effectively and without requiring any development skills. Since the introduction of our kit for iPhone, iPad and Android we have seen a growing number of our customers creating such applications.

The ROI is phenomenal. No coding and no upfront investment is required. A point-and-click application builder that is designed for non-developers guides the users to create polished, scalable and user friendly web application that rival native apps. What’s more is that Caspio can also power traditional web apps competently. It’s new paradigm in application creation that CIOs and business owner need to know about.

Are the users of smart devices expecting a better experience with your apps and databases than what you are offering on your web site?

Microsoft Dumps Access Developers

In my early days as a developer, and soon after dBase became irrelevant, Microsoft Access was my primary tool of trade. It offered a relatively easy database and tools for creating forms and reports fast. Developers like me took advantage of it and an untold number of apps were developed, some of them still in use.

Then came the internet and Access wasn’t ready for the job. Yes, you could build web apps on Access but it was slow for large data sets, took too much server resources, didn’t perform well in multi-user environments, was not secure and just didn’t meet the requirements of web apps. MySQL gradually became the database of choice for most web developers.

Now Access 2010 is released, but it is still beating a drum that is different from what mainstream Access developers want to hear. Sure, you can make apps for SharePoint, but how many people are building apps exclusively for SharePoint?

Online databases are now all the rage and Access simply isn’t one. Our Caspio online database has most functionality available in Access but it lets users build highly scalable, multi-user web forms, reports and apps that can be deployed to any website, including SharePoint. On top of that, no programming is required.

Microsoft’s lack of interest in making Access more suitable for the web is understandable. It suffers from conflict of interests. By making Access better for the web, it would compete too much with Microsoft’s more profitable SQL Server. Microsoft online database strategy is SQL Azure and they are working hard to bring developers to it. Microsoft wants Access developers forget about Access and get going with Azure. However, SQL Azure is too complex and too expensive for the market that Access was serving.

Such an iconic application is stagnating without a clear direction for the future. Now that Microsoft Access 2010 is out it appears that the days of Access are over.

Access users of the world! Do not lament. Online databases are ready to serve you in such ways that Access was never able to. Caspio is certainly setup to help Access developers migrate their old apps to the web and build new ones fast and with confidence that their skills, experiences and knowledge are completely transferable to the Caspio platform.

Come check us out!

Wasting Taxpayer’s Money

At Caspio we work with a growing number of government agencies on their Open Government and eGovernment initiatives.

One issue that keeps coming up again and again is that we have to be registered in each state in order to do business with that state’s government entities. This is an inefficient requirement that is costly, time consuming and doesn’t serve any real benefit to the government.

The real effect of this requirement is reduced competition, which in turn results in fewer companies bidding on projects and as a result tax payers end up paying much more than they should.

Here is an example of such requirement.
Cumberland County

How Do You Pay for Your Platform-as-a-Service?

It astonishes me to see that except for Caspio all platform-as-a-service (PaaS) providers base their pricing on a per-user basis.

Before PaaS came into existence, people had to write code to make apps. You write the code, you own the app and you can have it used by as many people as you want. You only have to worry about adequate infrastructure to support your users.

PaaS makes the infrastructure an on-demand service. In the case of Caspio it also eliminates programming. However, with or without code, you still create your apps in a PaaS environment.

It seems unreasonable to pay the PaaS vendor for each of your users. A usage based pricing is more appropriate. That’s what Caspio has been doing since 2001.

Pricing models remnant of traditional desktop and enterprise software are stuck in the past. Usage based pricing must be the norm rather than the exception.

Caspio Celebrates 10 Years of Cloud Innovation

anniversary-sealTen years ago about this time I terminated my early retirement to get back to the startup world to work on my vision of a code-free application development platform.

A year later Caspio Bridge 1.0 hit the market. It was a modest start, but we had built a Microsoft Access equivalent for the web. Initially the backend was an Oracle database and the middle tier was in Visual Basic. But the front-end was the most sophisticated AJAX user interface anywhere.

Most importantly, it delivered on the promise of allowing users to build web forms and searchable databases quickly and without coding. Our still-unique JavaScript deployment model meant that users could place these forms and apps on their own websites while Caspio remained their database and application engine entirely behind the scene.

The first release of Caspio Bridge went live in 2001. Since then we have kept improving the platform by adding capabilities that our customers have asked us to add. We have certified the platform in several ways including PCI certification that Microsoft Azure lacks, and have made it perhaps the most robust platform for building web applications available anywhere.

Today we power over 300,000 apps for companies as large as Fortune-500 conglomerates to small one-person shops, universities, government agencies and non-profits in the US and over 40 other countries. Caspio is the de facto standard in the online news category where over 80% of the largest American newspaper websites use Caspio to build community applications, publish government and local data and to accept citizen submissions and feedbacks.

I contribute our accomplishments to mainly two factors. First is perseverance. Caspio survived two economic downturns and initially slow customer adoption, but we persevered. In our guts we knew this is the future, it’s just that we are early. The second factor is that we never raised any external financing. To date Caspio is free from Venture Capital investment. We don’t even lease equipment. Our operation is entirely funded by our own revenues. We have no “run-way” that is about to end. This gives us the freedom to do what we must do, and that is serving our customers. Some of the competitors who raised VC funding are no longer around, because when going got tough, VC’s backed out and the company was shut down.

Caspio is now stronger than ever before. We feel that we’re just warming up. The world has begun to notice and understand the concept of Cloud Computing. Companies of all sizes realize that they need to establish their own cloud strategy. It’s exciting times for Caspio which has been working on this vision for 10 years.

Innovation, the Real Benefit of Cloud Computing

The National Institute of Standards and Technology cites the following as the benefits of Cloud Computing:

  • eliminates upfront capital expenditures and dramatically reduces the administrative burden on IT resources,
  • allows organizations to add and subtract capacity as their needs change and to pay only for what they use,
  • provides reliable services, large storage and computing capacity, and 24/7 service,
  • enables agency IT resources to focus on business-critical applications,
  • means organizations are no longer faced with choosing between obsolete equipment and software and high upgrade costs; they are always using current technology.

Sure, no one can argue with any of these, however what we have come to see firsthand at Caspio again and again is that the simplicity and the low cost of building apps in the cloud fosters creativity and innovation the likes of which has never existed.

No longer big budgets or advanced technical skills are a requirement to bring new novel ideas to the market. No longer must business professionals get complete buy-in of corporate IT departments to introduce a new efficiency or a new automation to the enterprise. That’s the true benefit of the Cloud Computing that can propel business and government forward.

Where Does Your Time Go?

During the last days of 2009 I made an effort to teach my two oldest daughters who are 12 and 10, the value of goal setting. To make it exciting, I bought each of them their own particularly nice note book exclusively dedicated to writing their goals in.

Working with them to set goals for themselves turned out to be an easier task than I had prepared myself for. We worked together to set goals in each of the seven major areas of life: Health, Family, Financial, Intellectual, Social, Professional, and Spiritual. The kids had a lot of great ideas, albeit most of it was about all the places they wanted to visit, and once they got the hang of setting SMART goals, they were on their way to come up with their goals.

Of course the real work just began. They must develop the habit of breaking their big goals into smaller actionable tasks, measuring their results and refining their process. So far, 3 days into the New Year, things are going well. They have already started some of their new activities.

The truth is that how we spend our time determines what we get out of our life. There is an interesting interactive chart on New York Times’ website that shows how people tend to spend their time.

How we spend out time

Source: New York Times - http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/07/31/business/20080801-metrics-graphic.html

The question for all of us is, where does our time go? We better have our own written goals and make sure a good amount of our times goes toward small actions that get us closer to them.

How will a web page look like 10 years from now?

If you are in the web business you may have considered this question before. It can have a significant impact on your business. Those who get ahead of the curve can gain handsomely from it. Look at Tim O’Reilly and his Web 2.0 ideas.

On one hand more and more non-pc devices are used to browse the web. Then you have a fast growth in video on the web and phenomena such as Twitter.

Love to hear what you think.

Caspio Launches Official Blog

Last week, Caspio launched its official Company Blog. Besides covering industry topics and company news, the new blog will provide tips and tricks on database application creation, feature showcases, and customer successes. Add it to your RSS and stay in the loop!

Government Turning to Cloud Computing

Last week, the Obama administration presented its plans to utilize cloud computing to reduce federal IT costs and accelerate innovation. The shift to hosted information management will allow the federal government to free up some of the $75 billion it currently spends on IT, $19 billion of which is taxpayer dollars.

U. S. Postal ServiceThe U.S. Postal Service is already ahead of the curve, recently signing an enterprise-level agreement with Caspio. USPS manages 34,000 retail locations and delivers to every address in the nation – but unlike other agencies, it doesn’t rely on tax dollars to pay for operating expenses. Caspio Bridge will undoubtedly help USPS reduce costs and IT backlogs, while improving information processing time.

Caspio currently serves many government offices at all levels, and the maturity of the platform lends itself well to the strict security and service-level requirements in this sector. Caspio Bridge offers control for all intricate procedures involving secure data storage, organization and retrieval. The platform itself employs multiple layers of security including top-of-the-line firewalls, data encryption, and hosting at a leading SAS-70 certified datacenter. Learn more about our platform security and reliability.

It’s exciting to see a positive shift towards cloud computing at the federal level. Caspio has seen great success with our Fortune-500, SMB, media and education customers, and we look forward to empowering more government organizations as they move to the cloud. Caspio invites government agencies to request a demo today.

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