Wavemaker pitches Docker to rapid developers

Phil Wainewright Profile picture for user pwainewright September 21, 2014
Summary:
App development platform Wavemaker reappears with a trendy new pitch to help so-called rapid developers bridge the enterprise app gap - but has it got what it takes?

© reborn55 - Fotolia.com
Since the dawn of IT, there have always been vendors pitching development platforms at the non-technical developer — even COBOL, the mainframe programming language created in the late 1950s, was supposed to make coding accessible to business types.

In a 20-year career in IT, I've seen more than enough of these. Sometimes I've grappled with impenetrable trials, more often I've simply listened with skepticism to the latest citizen developer pitch. Everyone — even to the extent of putting it on junior school curriculums — wants to make coding accessible to the masses.

So when Wavemaker CEO Samir Ghosh briefed me this month about the company's latest offerings, it was refreshing to hear him carefully sidestep the 'citizen developer' mantra.

I think there's confusion over that term. We're using the term rapid developers.

He explained that Wavemaker's role is to speed development by packaging up pre-built solutions to some of the key elements that delay projects. One target community might be Java developers that lack mobile skills or want to leverage containerization, another might be business application developers that lack integration skills. The platform also caters to IT governance and oversight.

Enterprise app gaps

wavemaker samir ghosh
Samir Ghosh, Wavemaker

With the demand for new applications in the enterprise outstripping supply, anything that can help speed their creation seems like a good idea, provided it's manageable by IT. This is the market Wavemaker aims to serve, as Ghosh explained.

I call it bridging the enterprise app gaps. The front end guys don't know how to do the back end stuff. Developers want containerization. Now we can go to IT and say, here's an easy way to deliver it and manage it.

WaveMaker is back in the fray after Indian software maker Pramati acquired it from VMware last year. That makes it one of a number of companies that have been through what is starting to look like a rite of passage for a certain class of software businesses. It joins a growing list bought and then sold off by VMware that includes Zimbra, Sliderocket and, arguably, the entire Pivotal spin-out.

Relaunched last week, the thoroughly modernised and remodelled Wavemaker stable now includes a number of Pramati assets alongside the original Wavemaker Studio rapid development tool. The result hits a laundry-list of hot buttons for the modern enterprise developer, including Docker containerization, plug-and-play API consumption and the popular AngularJS framework for building mobile HMTL5 applications.

Docker containerization

Pramati's platform as a service product has been relaunched as Wavemaker Enterprise. Architected to make use of Docker containerization technology, the platform was already proving a hot favorite with developers at the recent VMworld show according to Ghosh.

Containerization is currently all the rage as a less resource-heavy alternative to classic virtualization. Ghosh argues that using Wavemaker Enterprise is a way for IT to retain control while allowing developers to take advantage of the lower operational cost of running multiple containerized apps on a single virtual server.

IT doesn't want the shadow IT problem ... [By using Wavemaker] the rapid developers can do it on an IT sanctioned stack.

To make it easier to handle APIs, Wavemaker now includes the concept of 'prefabs' whereby an enterprise developer can build an API-specific drag-and-drop module that others can then simply plug into their applications as needed. Said Ghosh:

One of the big things we did was around APIs. We've really tried to simplify the consumption for rapid developers. That's why we've created these drag and drop prefabs.

Once Wavemaker completes the product lineup with a gateway, developer portal and appstore, grabbing an API 'prefab' will simply be a matter of clicking on it and deploying it in the Wavemaker visual studio, he said.

Wavemaker is aiming to accelerate adoption with a hosted version of the platform that is available for up to 300 days free trial, depending on the number of users — for a single user, the trial lasts 30 days and then the length is extended 30 days for each additional user up to 10. Ghosh explained that the aim is remove adoption risk for the IT buyer while bypassing long-winded procurement cycles for developers.

Verdict

With a claimed 30,000 user base for the open-source WaveMaker Studio development platform, the company already has a market presence it can build on. On the other hand, much of what's been introduced in WaveMaker Enterprise this month is relatively new, albeit in tune with current fashions in developer circles.

By choosing to frame its appeal at so-called rapid developers, Wavemaker is emphasizing its claims to shortcut development cycles and plug those enterprise app gaps. But while its feature set is designed to have that impact, I suspect the reality in many organizations is not merely a shortage of the right skills but also a lack of collaboration between people with different skill levels.

The world is not divided into coders and non-coders. It's more a continuum in which each of us applies whatever skills we can bring to get things done. The vital missing ingredient in rapid development platforms is the collaboration support to bring those various skill sets together around achieving whatever business outcome is intended from the application project in hand.

Wavemaker Enterprise introduces some interesting new features that some will find useful. But I'm still waiting to encounter a development platform that not only provides some time-saving features but also addresses the need for iterative, collaborative development in the enterprise.

Image credits: © reborn55 - Fotolia.com; Samir Ghosh portrait courtesy of Wavemaker.

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