Framework vs Application

05 Dec 2013

Ben Parkison Photo
Ben Parkison

Commercial, off the shelf software. Custom designed, professionally developed applications. Homegrown solutions. Shared, Excel-based tools. Standard and nonstandard manual processes.

Chances are your organization has all of these solution types and more, working in some level of concert across your teams. IT portfolios like these are the norm, in part because the applications making up these portfolios are continually being updated, evolved, retired and refactored. What one application is tomorrow will be a function of the current state of technology, your in-house skill sets, budget and a million other factors. IT strategy is often based around making the best of this patchwork solution with whatever resources are around that year.

This model is changing. For the past two decades we've been learning to manage more and more of, first, our personal lives and, second, our professional lives using online tools. User familiarity with a web-based environment has been continually growing to the point that even concepts like "online vs. offline,” mobile, remote access and stored data are blurring into a single state of online processing and access.

And now, web development is fast. It's mature. And it's based on technologies and languages that every tech-focused new-hire you bring it is familiar with. Internal enterprise applications are now the last holdout in a technology world where everything from entertainment to finance to education is moving online. It's time for that to change.

By making web-based framework development a focus of your organization's IT strategy you allow for the same variety of development and maturity in your application portfolio, only more so. Web frameworks are, almost by definition, designed to accommodate custom point solutions written by your team, as well as full scale, professionally developed web solutions. By leveraging the modular and SOA design principles inherent in web technology today, you're designing a framework that will evolve with technology, in-house skills and changing enterprise and customer needs.

By making web-based framework development a focus of your organization's IT strategy you're creating the foundation on which truly modern tools can emerge. All of your favorite buzzwords: "Big Data," "The Cloud," "Advanced Analytics." If you're working with siloed, off-the-shelf tools restricted by their own design limitation, you're not really doing any of it. By working in an open, integrated framework, your team can leverage analytics gains and system optimizations beyond the vision of just a single product owner.

Lastly, by making web-based framework development a focus of your organization's IT strategy you're allowing your IT portfolio to evolve and adapt in the same way that all other technology does today. You're creating a space focused not on a single application or purpose, but focused on accommodating the variety of tools and resources your team needs, developed at whatever level best fits your budget and skill sets. And, most importantly, the system itself is built to change as the world around it, both internal and external to your organization, continues to change.

After a decade of web solution evolution, the tech world is embracing and investing in mature, modern web technology. It's time for enterprise companies across industries, both large and small, to make the move. The people saying that you should have been investing in web yesterday aren't just selling something. They're right.


Ben Parkison