However, the reality of succeeding in using real time to add value to an applications or create a new paradigm has proven to be much more challenging. Any organization planning to use real-time web capabilities will change the relationship of the user to the applications or solutions that are being real time enabled. In other words, real time becomes a key component of the value proposition of the solution. The flip side is that the overall application or solution is now evaluated on the quality, availability, and ease of use of the real-time component. An application can be dramatically enhanced by adding real time, but, if the real time component fails, it can reflect on the entire app.
For example, Facebook partnered with Skype (News - Alert) for a real-time component while investing in building Facebook Messenger. While this started with text, it has evolved to video and even pure audio. This evolution and the move from Skype to Facebook (News - Alert) Messenger is a reflection of extensive investment in the development of a complete real-time web solution from Facebook. Clearly, Facebook saw the requirement that a real-time service has to be rock solid so Facebook users would see it as an alternative to Skype or other real-time options.
A company’s decision process is driven by a number of factors:
- One is the skill set of staff and their ability to take on the real-time component effectively. Does the team have the skills to meet the required operation and availability levels that must be achieved to succeed in the value of real time?
- Another is the impact of human capital use. Is doing real time the best use of staff time? While an internal development may seem fast, an organization should consider potential alternative uses of these resources.
- Build vs. buy financial tradeoffs should also be considered. What is the cost to build the complete solution vs. the buy cost? A critical part of the decision process is clearly defining all that is required.
- Whether to go with a core element or an add-in should also be weighed. The level to which real time is critical to the overall success of the application/business proposition is another way to evaluate the required level of customization vs. using open available alternatives.
- Organizations should also calculate ongoing operational costs. Most real-time implementations have to be available 24/7, driving higher support costs than many simple web apps. Whether to manage this internally or to rely on an external partner can be a major part of the decision process.
The point is that understanding and evaluating the options is critical. While a framework may have cost based on usage, it eliminates much if not all of the upfront investment in human and financial capital. Using available components can reduce both time to market and investment to market as well as decrease risk.
Clearly, the only way to choose the right option for your real-time web development and deployment is to understand the options and contrast them with the needs of your solution, your organization, and your users. A great place to get the knowledge, meet the vendors and understand what others have done is the Real Time Web Solutions Conference Aug. 2 through 4 in New York City.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi