Now that we have a common understanding about governance first steps and mobile app types, let’s dive deeper into architectural considerations around a SharePoint mobility project. First, we’ll take a top-down view of our project to make sure it’s successful long term.
Mobile Project View from the Top
Our view includes financial aspects (capital and operational expenses), outsourcing (impacts to existing contracts), people, processes, policy (business operations), and tools (technology).
We must have a clear understanding of business operations, the required functionality, new technology required, constraints with existing technology (risks), policy that must be complied with (e.g., security and compliance) and operational realities (e.g., staffing, skill sets, third-party contracts).
Financials. This important knowledge helps you manage scope. It also provides you with a guideline for designing the operational staffing, processes, and tools required to operate SharePoint and its related technologies. Working with someone with expertise in this area is crucial.
Outsourcing. If you outsource certain business or technology elements, and if your outsourcing venders have an active stake in SharePoint and its related technologies, it’s very likely existing contracts will be affected.
In this case the vender’s scope of service will change and that most likely will net in a dollar figure to your organization.Therefore you can expect contract negotiations to occur once you have the scope change defined.
Business operations. Business context is important because it helps you map requirements to the technology and articulate how the technology will enable the business. The bi-directional dialogue with the business is important, using language that all can understand.
The best architects I’ve worked with have domain (e.g., pharmaceuticals, healthcare, financial) expertise and can talk business operations and how technology can help enable but also know where the risks are (e.g., technology constraints).
Technology. Expect multiple environments (with multiple purposes) to be assembled as you work through the process of architecting. Key to each environment is identifying the effects to the existing network and SharePoint environment (if you have one).
Set up a lab to enable you to learn the product--I highly suggest it be multiple servers, especially if you’re going with SharePoint 2013, as it introduces new server roles. Your lab should have separate web, cache, search, and SQL Servers since this will allow you to experiment with different scenarios and learn how to configure the different roles.
Proof of concepts will help you test design and configuration concepts and baseline performance characteristics. Pilot the chosen design and configuration with select business users to make sure the features, functionality, and performance are delivered as expected (and signed off on).
How Application Development is Affected
Developing new applications or augmenting existing ones for mobility can be quite the undertaking. The amount of change required in development depends on your organization’s reason for getting into mobility—whether it’s for business revenue generation, to improve customer service, or to reduce costs. If your organization’s in revenue-generation or customer-service-improvement mode, you’re likely to have a decent budget. Here are the some things to expect when adopting mobile technologies:
• Number of mobile platforms and application types will affect development
• Rapid technology change will force a faster, more iterative development cycle
• Quality assurance, publishing applications centrally, and governance gain importance
• Security policies relating to smartphones and application architecture require care
• Documentation and succession planning can’t be forgotten
Ultimately, it comes down to assessing whether to develop using native vender studios, HTML 5.0, or a hybrid of the two, or using a Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP). With this added workload, new development tools, and infrastructure, your staffing, design, build, quality assurance, implementation, and management processes, policies, and tools will be affected.
How Operations is Affected
Operations will have new technology, new day-to-day management activities, and new policy to follow. They must know what to expect as early in the process as possible, so they can staff, train, and ramp up on the solution, and create any support documentation and processes required for the architecture.
The following are impacts to expect on operations when adopting mobile technologies:
• New service offering
• New skills needed for application development
• New skills needed for managing infrastructure and applications
• New security policy needed for management and controls
• New third-parties to manage
• New end-user expectations
• New Help desk work load
Getting people involved early in the project is a good idea because it helps them prepare for what’s coming, and additionally, having an active role in the architecture benefits all the stakeholders. Taking advantage of their perspective and experience at the table just makes sense.
Now, check out part 4, which includes a deeper dive into apps.