Implications of Rich Web Applications for Business are Multi-fold

As organisations roll out Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), they will turn to Rich Internet and Web Applications (RWA) for the final link: the human-machine interface. This is according to a report just published by Europe’s leading IT research and advisory organisation, Butler Group. The report ‘Rich Web Applications: The business benefits of web-enabled applications development,’ says RWAs offer the reach of the Internet and the convenience of the Web browser for deployment, plus rich behaviour similar to desktop applications.

The Internet is transforming society and business. The current wave of this technology revolution, called Web 2.0, followed the initial wave (Web 1.0) that collapsed with the dot com boom and bust.

“Today, ‘always on’ pervasive broadband is making access to the Internet easy enough for it no longer to be considered ‘technology’ but a part of the fabric of modern living, like telephone and television,” says Michael Azoff, Senior Analyst with Butler Group and co-author of the report. “The key advantages of using the Internet can be summed up as ‘always on and everywhere’, reachable from mobile devices, laptops, to desktop machines.”

The Web is increasingly important for business. A measure of how business has turned to this medium is revealed by the latest advertising expenditure figures. They show that for the first time on-line advertising in the UK has passed that of national newspapers, at #2 billion (in 2006). Furthermore, the Web is almost the equal to TV in holding on to peoples’ time, making it the place to reach out to new and existing consumers. This business activity is just one indication of why the Web is important for business.

Innovations in modern browsers allowed vendors to build the first RWA: applications that could split the application logic between presentation logic that runs on the client-side and business logic and data models that run on the server-side. The rich Web application User Interface (UI) is as rich as in desktop applications, and runs in the browser using a combination of languages. One approach uses Asynchronous JavaScript And XML (Ajax): All modern browsers support JavaScript and this means that with Ajax all that is necessary to run the application is a small JavaScript rendering engine that is downloaded and held in memory while the application is running.

Today, additional technologies compete with Ajax to provide a similar concept of desktop-like behaviour, but with superior multimedia capabilities: browser plug-ins such as Adobe Flash Player, and the recent entrant to the market, Microsoft Silverlight. In addition RWA solutions are also possible with the Java platform and with Microsoft .NET Framework version 3.