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AJAX World RIA Interview: 2009 Will Be "The Year of RIA" for Enterprises

Exclusive AJAX / RIA Q&A with Chief Strategy Officer of

"Improve the user interface of old client-server applications and delight your users while reducing the TCO," says Curl Chief Strategy Officer Jnan Dash in this Exclusive Q&A with SYS-CON's AJAX & RIA Journal in the run-up to his session on October 20 at AJAX World RIA Conference & Expo in San Jose, California (October 20-22, 2008). Dash feels the low hanging fruit for Web 2.0 deployment in the enterprise is called “RIA”.

Jnan Dash is the Chief Strategy Officer at Curl Inc. He spent ten years at Oracle Corporation and was the Group Vice President, Systems Architecture and Technology till 2002. He was responsible for setting Oracle's core database and application server product directions and interacted with customers worldwide in translating future needs to product plans.

View Jnan Dash with Curl Chief Scientist Bert Halstead Live on SYS-CON.TV






AJAX & RIA Journal:
The Curl Data Kit was released in June – how does this CDK aim to improve v6.0 of Curl’s Rich Internet Application Platform?

Jnan Dash: It enables local persistent data store for offline processing. One of the key requirements of a “Fit Client” architecture is to be able to process transactions offline and then get synchronized when connected. Very different from the “browser-centric” thinking so far.



AJAX & RIA Journal: So how big a part do you think Occasionally-Connected Computing is going to play in the future of enterprise (and/or personal) computing?

JD: OCC (Occasionally Connected Computing) is very essential for the next generation of RIA – called RIA+ or Desktop 2.0. Traveling sales people can use this feature with clients and get persistent data stored in the client for subsequent upload to the server. Imagine getting lots of work done while flying.



AJAX & RIA Journal: Where does the Curl Run Time Environment fit exactly in the application development universe?

JD: Curl Runtime is a client-based architecture for rapid rendering of complex graphics, heatmaps, record grids. It does not disturb the server-side ecosystem, but becomes a key component of the client side SOA. For application developers, we are part of the Eclipse ecosystem and the client GUI components can now be developed along with server-side work.

Curl architecture is best suited for enterprise class RIA (large datasets, large number of concurrent users, high security). The entire technology was based on three years of research at MIT.


AJAX & RIA Journal: Is your notion of “Fit Client” still a powerful organizing principle for you?

JD: Yes, very much. The “Fit Client” is a synthesis of four client evolutions – fat client from the client-server era, thin client running browsers, RIA platform client from a browser, and gadgets/widgets (tiny applets running on its own). All these are merging into one we call the Fit Client. This is the future.

 

AJAX & RIA Journal: The CDK is open source, as was both your Web Services Development Kit (WSDK) and the Curl Development Utilities (CDU). Why does Curl set such great store by the open source model? How does the company monetize the Curl platform?

JD: Our open source strategy is to get as many useful solution components on the Curl RTE. Our monetization will come from serious usage by enterprise users who need fee-based components like security, advanced testing, and high performance.

AJAX & RIA Journal: What informed your choice of the Apache V2.0 ?. What were the chief considerations there?

JD: Apache 2.0 is most widely used by the open source community. IBM had adopted it for WebSpehere back in 1997 when it had 50% penetration. Now it’s probably over 90%. Oracle endorsed it during late 1990s. It’s the most widely used web server. We picked the Apache license because it's widely recognized and because it allows our customers to use the open-source software in their products.



AJAX & RIA Journal: How far along are enterprises in the US with building enterprise RIAs – compared, say, to the Japanese?

JD: Our Japanese customers are at least 2-3 years ahead in practical deployment of RIA at the enterprise-level. That may be due to more custom development by large companies. In the US, there is more “packaged application” usage. However, the awareness of RIA and its benefits are growing in the US and we have seen much more interest this year compared to 2007.


AJAX & RIA Journal: What specifically does the Curl platform offer in terms of enterprise app development that can’t just as easily be developed with AJAX or other smart client technologies?

JD: It’s now well known that AJAX is not very suitable for large scale enterprise RIA. There are several issues of complex development, security threats via JavaScript, DOM architecture, etc. Performance is also a big bottleneck for enterprise-scale usage.

Curl was designed from the start to address enterprise RIA. Instead of two or more languages (e.g XAML+C#; MXML+ActionScript; JavaFX + Java), Curl is one language that addresses the entire spectrum of text, graphics, grids, and object-oriented programming. Our benchmarks have shown huge savings in lines of code for the same application written in Curl over Ajax and even Flex. Curl also outshines everyone else in performance for large datasets. Interestingly the Curl IDE and VLE (Visual Layout Editor) are written in Curl.


AJAX & RIA Journal: How about corporations with legacy client-server applications? Does Curl offer any migration path?

JD: Curl has one tool in Japan called V2C (Visual Basic to Curl) which customers find useful to migrate from client-server to the Web 2.0 world. Another partner in japan has a tool to migrate Excel-based applications o Curl. We are always looking at more tools like that for easy migration. Sometimes, it may be better to re-do the application for the Web, as many architectural changes would be required for optimal performance. We have methodologies and services components to help migration.



AJAX & RIA Journal: What are the biggest meta-trends you see in terms of the RIA space in 2009?

JD: The industry has been debating the meaning of “Enterprise 2.0” (how to bring Web 2.0 technology to the enterprise). Andrew McAfee has talked about the SLATES mnemonic (search, linking, tagging, authoring, extensions, and signals). Many companies have developed Wikis, Blogs, Tag clouds, Mashups, but the ROI is unclear. We feel the low hanging fruit for Web 2.0 deployment in the enterprise is called “RIA”. Improve the user interface of old client-server applications and delight your users while reducing the TCO. We have many proof points in Japan, where large global clients have shown significant savings in cost and improvement in process by adopting RIA. We feel 2009 will be "The Year of RIA” for enterprises.

 

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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