Brendan Coveney is a funny man. He’s also head of Americas and Asia/Pacific for Nuxeo. At last year’s Nuxeo World he gave an entertaining and insightful – seems the two can go together – analysis of content optimization. This year at NuxeoWorld he took on the no less stimulating top of the Power of the Platform for building apps, nudist beaches, and the features a great platform should have.
Application v Platform v Nude Beaches
OK, you’re probably scratching you head over the nudist beach remark, but it did provide a fairly visual image of what Coveney was getting at. Beautiful platforms, he says, are hard to find, just like beautiful people are hard to find on a nudist beach. When you strip them bare all the bragging gets left aside and you are left with — the bare essentials.
Personally speaking, it is probably easier to find a beautiful platform than it is a naked person when everything is exposed, and during his 40 minute discourse on platforms and their relevancy to businesses he made some notable points that business users should probably keep in mind.
What, you might ask, has this got to do with Nuxeo? Well, clearly Coveney believes that Nuxeo is one of the few beautiful platforms on the market at the moment, and it is from this starting point that he beings.
The Advantage of the Platform Approach
There is a lot of media coverage and press plaudits for vendors that claim to be developing, or building a new release of a vX of their platform. However, in many of these cases what they are really talking about is an application, and not a platform.
For non-technical users this may sound like hair-splitting, but there is a very distinct difference that impinges quite dramatically on the functionality of the software you may be investing in.
Many vendors argue that because they have an API they must be a platform. Coveney knocked that one on the head right from the beginning. If the would-be platform’s API can’t build an application then it’s not a platform, it’s an application with an API, he says.
By extension, this is a key element for enterprises that are looking at investing in IT. Enterprises that are looking to build their own applications need to be sure that what they are investing in can actually build the necessary applications.
So what does Coveney understand to be a platform? For this he turns to Gartner, which has, on many occasions outlined what its understanding of a platform is.
A platform, Coveney says, is a comprehensive ecosystem that enables application developers and application deliverers to remain productive by building applications. But there is more to it than that. It should also be able to design, code, test, implement and maintain the entire lifecycle around the applications that businesses need.
In this respect, we don’t really want to go down the road of pointing fingers, but he did mention Box and the claims that Box is a platform. Box, he says, is not a platform, it doesn’t support the full richness of all content, which is where the whole discussion of nakedness came up. Many of these vendors — and he is not talking specifically Box here — can only manage naked content.
7 Great Platform Considerations
While there is clearly a whole discussion to be had here around platforms vs applications, particularly for enterprises, there are a few things that business need to consider — and which he implies Nuxeo provides, (although he didn’t explicitly state):
- Great API’s: The API of any platform should encourage developers to explore, to make them push the boundaries of the platform further, to achieve new business possibilities. In sum, they should be consistent, inspire and challenge.
- Standards: Neither businesses nor developers should get nailed down by standards whatever they are. By all means use them, but look beyond them if they are not fulfilling your needs.
- Evaluation: Platforms should be evaluated using a two pronged approach. They should be evaluated for the technology benefits that they deliver, but should also be assessed on the basis of the business benefits they bring.
- Digging: A good platform should not punish your company for going deeper. It should enable developers push the boundaries in the safe knowledge that when they do, that push won’t come back to haunt them later in the project by forcing them backwards again.
- Protect: It should also protect companies for the endless cycle of technology adoption for the sake of it. It should enable enterprises to focus on their business needs, and not on upgrading or investing in new technologies. The bottom line here is business need.
- Testing: A great platform should facilitate testing at every stage of the development cycle. Test, he says, is not a four letter word. It should include testing on every level including unit testing, financial testing, continuous integration testing. And there is no point in testing unless you know what it is you are testing and what the results actually mean.
- Forecasting: All platforms should be future tested. While no one yet can predict the future, platforms should be built so that when a new wave hits — in much the same way cloud, or mobile has hit now — a great platform will enable developers in the future to adapt to the changes on the way. Platforms need to be timely, cost effective and future-proof.
Heading into the afternoon session, we will be looking at more on this different element in the Nuxeo platform.