Aggregation, Disaggregation, and RIAs

We (the AIR team) have been doing some thinking about the future of Rich Internet Applications as we start work on the next major release of AIR. Here’s a couple of relevant trends as I see them.

First, personal data is being aggregated onto a relatively smaller number of storage services. For example, calendars, email, photos, addresses, and so on are no longer always stored on individual machines. Instead, millions of people store this information on a limited number of storage services provided primarily by Microsoft, Yahoo!, and Google.

This aggregation of data is enabling the disaggregation of applications. Whereas before applications tended toward the monolithic and managed lots of local data, now the trend appears to be towards a larger number of smaller applications that depend on services to access the data they need. The data is accessed by multiple applications and each need only concern itself with the portion it requires. For example, I might browse my photos from a mobile device but reserve heavy-duty organization to access from a desktop with broadband.

Interestingly, this trend in the consumer space mirrors the existing architecture of most enterprises. Enterprises have long aggregated data into a small number of databases but provided various ways (forms, reports, query tools) of accessing and managing bits of that data.

I believe much of what I’ve seen done with early AIR applications fits the disaggregation trend: small, focused applications accessing some portion of much larger aggregated data sets. The next step is to think about how the Adobe platform–AIR, Flash, Flex Builder, et al–can better target developing these kinds of applications.

3 Responses to Aggregation, Disaggregation, and RIAs

  1. najier says:

    Most certainly the future application development trend.So now we have to examine this imipact on the RIA space.

  2. I’d agree. I do think we have yet to see the “flood” of all-encompassing applications. I am interested in finding that one app that will retire two or more apps for me.Plus, things will change when some AIR apps have been out for almost a year or so. Attitudes will change, and products will grow. I really think the .Net/Cocoa people don’t realize what’s coming over the horizon. 😉

  3. Maz says:

    Yep that is definitely an aspect of the trend in web architectures. But I think these new paradigms (web + desktop deployment, with AIR + Flex) will bring more than disagreggated apps (by extent small, focused applications). I tend to believe that major software will be ported to this new deployment model, and those won’t be just small applications. Look at the office web place (zoho, thinkfree, google) : I am sure AIR + Flex have been what they have been waiting for a long time !A Flex app to reach the largest audience, and an AIR enhanced app to bring a better experience (offline, local access, desktop integration..) with the same code base !All this to say that in what you say I suspect you want to evolve towards more tools like rapid prototyping tools. Those would definitely be great, but be sure you also strengthen the AIR/Flex framework with enterprise features (scalability, other technos integration, native extensibility, …).{Maz}