Monthly Archives: May 2012

Lightweight Programming Models and Cost-Effective Scalability

The final pattern, but certainly not my last blog on Web 2.0… But before we get all emotional lets focus on the task at hand… The final pattern I will be discussing is “Lightweight models and cost-effective scalability” which refers to services, not packaged software, with cost-effective scalability.

Innovation within Web 2.0 is developing so rapidly that it’s no surprise that with each passing year much more can be done for less. This is becoming a growing trend within the web development industry by companies utilizing light-weight models and cost effective scalability to design their services, but what does that mean exactly? And how can the everyday web developer capitalize on this?

In a world where the user’s requirements are always changing and the priority for developers to meet the high needs and expectations of consumers, it is vital that the applications and services have to be faster and updated without downtime. There are a number of successful cases through using the lightweight programming models such as RSS, Google Maps’ simple AJAX (JavaScript and XML) interface.

With considerable changes over the years in cost, reusability, process and strategy, it has become to be expected services should be “doing more with less”. Additionally to this, new services should assume a cost effective and scalable business and development model to allow themselves to be opened up for efficient and effective expansion. This concept has seen massive growth in recent years like never before seen in any industry. An exceptional example for this is just look at how many apps are now available in Apple’s iTunes Store, and then check it again in 6months, or perhaps even check how many new ones even appear by the time you go to sleep and wake up again!! And more importantly this scalability is cheap and effective.

Tim O’Reilly suggests that “Lightweight Programming Models” are the obvious way forward. The three significant lessons from this design pattern he recommends when implementing Web 2.0 services are;

  1. Support lightweight programming models that allow for loosely coupled systems.
  2. Think syndication, not coordination.
  3. Design for “hackability” and remixability.

A perfect example of Lightweight Programming Models and Cost-Effective Scalability is  Windows Live SkyDrive, which is a part of Microsoft’s Windows Lives’ suite of Web 2.0 offerings. Providing you with a free 25GB, Windows Live SkyDrive, although having some limitations (Individual files can be no bigger than 50MB each) allows you to store any type of file to a Private, Public, or Shared folder.
 

Utilizing your Windows Live SkyDrive credentials, no one except you can access Private folders; but also allowing anyone on the internet to view your Public folders, and invite others to see Shared folders. Being one of the largest companies on the planet, Microsoft utilizes this pattern extremely well, with a service that is easy to maintain, build upon easily and provide an excellent user friendly service to the consumer.

Competitors to Skydrive consist of Drop box and Cloud drive among others which do have their advantages and disadvantages over SkyDrive. However what really sets SkyDrive apart from the rest is the fact that it is already tied in with your own primary email at Live. However, it does fall short with some features offered by the aforementioned like allowing you to stream stored audio files and perform automated backups and lets you synchronize data between two computers.

In a nutshell, the philosophy behind developing for Web 2.0 by using “Lightweight Programming Models and Cost-Effective Scalability” is that “less is more”. Its objectives are simplicity and efficiency. By designing light, adaptable applications companies are able to respond quickly to market needs as in the world of Web 2.0 success depends on the overall user experience and satisfaction.

References:

 Musser. John (nd) Web 2.0 Principles and Best Practices. Retrieved 11th May from,

http://oreilly.com/catalog/web2report/chapter/web20_report_excerpt.pdf

 Oreilly. Tim (2007) What is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software. Retrieved 11th May from,

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1008839

 Microsoft (2012) Why Skydrive? Retrieved 11th May from,

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-AU/skydrive/home

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Web 2.0 – Leveraging the long tail

Another complicated phrase right? What the heck is Leveraging the long tail?? Let’s start from the beginning… “The Long Tail” was a phrase first coined in 2004 by Chris Anderson, and later popularized as one of O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 patterns.

“O’Reilly describes it as, “the collective power of the small sites that make up the bulk of the webs content.”

As mentioned this term wasn’t originally aimed at the web, but in recent times has been used to describe the strategies used by internet companies to leverage the online market.

Anderson defined “The Long Tail” as a statistical curve showing the advantage that website based companies with a mass amount of items have other the traditional brick and mortal retail stores with limited shelf space for the mass markets.

The idea is that your traditional retail stores have evaluated that the cost of stocking low volume items on their shelves is just not the worth the shelf, storage and labor cost required in distributing them. However a website doesn’t have this problem, there is no shelf space required, simply a virtual shopping center that can order products on demand. Imagine if say Target or Kmart could remove the costs of real estate, staff and inventory stocks and give these savings back to the consumer.

Another key factor and advantage online retailers have over the standard store front retailers is that when you purchase a product, you are generally offered recommendations with links based on your purchase that encourage looking at several others.  Most notably the companies that sell book, video and music sales, where there is a vast supply of product, have benefited significantly from this approach. Amazon, iTunes, and eBay are great examples of this.

In 2006 Anderson pointed out that the long tail accounts for between 25 percent to 40 percent of Amazon.com’s sales”

As one of the largest industries on the planet, the tourism and travel industry boast many websites that utilizes this Web 2.0 pattern well. With over five million visitors a month, Lonenlyplanet.com has been successful by offering a unique way for travelers to plan their trips. Providing detailed information on numerous countries and cities around the world, as well as forums and newsletters offering travel advice and opinions from other travelers.

Additionally they offer an innovate accommodation system with a vast range of options from hotels to hostels and finally they also provide flight bookings, travel insurance and ultimately anything related to catering to your travel needs. Now you ask what has this got to do with a Web 2.0 pattern?? Lonely Planet follows some of the best practices of ‘leveraging the long tail’ by offering travel services different than the countless other travel websites by providing users with a system that is not just based on entering dates and looking for prices to your destination, but by allowing users to choose the country they would like to travel to, and then search for an activity that interest them.

Lonleyplanet.com provides a service that most store front travel stores simply just can’t offer such as;

More selection –Lonely Planet offers books on top destinations

Lower price – less overhead (no storefronts for either store)

Scalability –  Lonelyplanet.com can sell more ‘items’ by simply increasing the online ‘store’ – no extra shelving required, and they do not require any physical delivery or inventory to be held, they are simply selling a service or acting as an agent between two parties.

Wisdom of Crowds – By using this philosophy and encouraging user contributions in the form of feedbacks, reviews, rankings and user ratings.

Algorithmic Data Management – Lonelyplanet is great example of a site that helps customers find similar products based on their ‘clicks by endorsing their products in a ‘you might like…’ window based on the area of the world you are showing interest in.

In a nutshell, online retailers have a great advantage when “leveraging the long tail” of Web 2.0, due to the lack of inventory and additional costs required hosting a traditional store, and therefore can offer additional services and products to their consumers.

 

References:

Anderson. Chris (2009) The Long Tail of Travel. Retrieved 4th May from,

http://www.longtail.com/the_long_tail/2009/10/the-long-tail-of-travel.html

 Lonelyplanet.com (2012) Retrieved 4th May from,

            http://www.lonelyplanet.com/

O’Reilly. Tim (2005) What Is Web 2.0? Retrieved 4th May from,

http://www.oreilly.de/artikel/web20.html

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