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What can be behind Flex?

Posted by Harry Vikatos | July 24, 2008 .

Focusing enough on Flex capabilities we shouldn’t overlook the fact that Flex is a Rich Internet Application development tool, and as such will almost always have to exist ontop of an IT infrastructure, providing data persistence, logic, workflow and messaging. Actually there is a lot in that backend stack, that makes a whole difference in the range between a flashy toy and an enterprise grade application. Things that every Flex developer should know when addressing different business needs.

SaaS Arch 

Refraining a bit from coding tips, I ‘d like to give here the big picture of the various backend options to an RIA, so as in future posts provide an insight of a more hands-on experience. Furthermore I ‘ll start building a case for enterprise grade applications in the cloud (SaaS) and how RIA’s are relevant.

Most flex developers, should be familiar with integrating their flex client with either public web services (typically based on http post calls – REST), or a LAMP infrastructure living in a shared or dedicated hosted server. In the 2nd case, options most typically are based on REST and if looking for a tighter, more efficient interface, on some flavor of AMF (an Adobe protocol, now open sourced).

Where does the above setting get you? To a web service showcasing your idea to a tech blog, or to a VC, or to a limited number of users. Limited in terms of numbers and expectations. The way forward is for you either to start thinking about managing your server/OS/AS/DB  infrastructure or consider making use of one of the Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings that exist today. Enter the world of cloud computing as realised by an inceasing number of providers, in various forms and flavours:

…and the list is by no means complete.

Do you actually see what this means? This is you, a team of Flex developers and domain experts, able to target a market that demands high scalability and availability and compete on the ground where most enterprise software suffers and you shine: UI design, user experience and agility. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

What are the player’s offerings though? What can you do on their platform and how can you integrate with it? These are issues I hope to explore, after a short summer break.

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4 Comments so far
  1. Matt  July 24, 2008 11:17 am

    We’ve been running our Flex product on AWS for a while now and have been really happy with the flexibility it’s afforded us.

    We’re actually using a combination of cloud computing and traditional hosting solutions for various components of our infrastructure. For example, there were certain spam considerations we needed to account for and a traditional server host setup was the way to go for us.

    An interesting aspect of AWS is that you can “resell” instances with your app on it. For white labeling, it’s compelling because you can put a margin on the AWS rates and allow a customer to run your app on a “dedicated” box in the cloud.

  2. Moxie  July 24, 2008 11:42 am

    I think this is a discussion every RIA developer should start engaging. I believe RIA in general has reached the tipping point that more design and architecture consideration shall start at the server side. RIA started as a UI and app use experience solution technologies stack. It’s about time to expand RIA as full and sound IT solution and architecture accordingly. Having said that, I’d like to see, instead of injecting all sorts of J2EE flavored design patterns into the client side of RIA via chunks of “frameworks”, we should embrace them as client+platform as a whole.

  3. jeremy mooer  July 28, 2008 11:49 am

    Random note: Change EC3 to EC2 in the image — unless we’re talking about the governmental organization working to further discuss and create solutions for technology issues that impact the business of government. But since it’s beside App Engine, I’m going to guess you meant EC2.

  4. Harry Vikatos  August 12, 2008 2:17 am

    You’re right Jeremy. It’s not EC3 and not S3, so it’s corrected to EC2

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