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Introducing ASP.NET Core:

ASP.NET Core is a new open-source and cross-platform framework for building modern cloud based internet connected applications, such as web apps, IoT apps and mobile backends. ASP.NET Core apps can run on .NET Core or on the full .NET Framework. It was architected to provide an optimized development framework for apps that are deployed to the cloud or run on-premises. It consists of modular components with minimal overhead, so you retain flexibility while constructing your solutions. You can develop and run your ASP.NET Core apps cross-platform on Windows, Mac and Linux. ASP.NET Core is open source at GitHub.

The framework is a complete rewrite that unites the previously separate ASP.NET MVC and Web API into a single programming model.

Despite being a new framework, built on a new web stack, it does have a high degree of concept compatibility with ASP.NET MVC.

ASP.NET Platform exists for more than 15 years. In addition, at the time of System.Web creation it contained a large amount of code to support backward compatibility with classic ASP. During this time, the platform has accumulated a sufficient amount of code that is simply no longer needed and is deprecated. Microsoft faced a difficult choice: to abandon backward compatibility, or to announce a new platform. They chose the second option. At the same time, they would have to abandon the existing runtime. Microsoft has always been a company focused on creation and launch on Windows. ASP.NET was no exception. Now the situation has changed: Azure and Linux occupied an important place in the company’s strategy.

The ASP.NET Core is poised to replace ASP.NET in its current form. So should you switch to ASP.NET Core now?

ASP.NET Core is not just a new version. It is a completely new platform, the change of epochs. Switching to ASP.NET Core can bring many benefits: compact code, better performance and scalability. But what price will be paid in return, how much code will have to be rewritten?

.NET Core contains many components, which we are used to deal with. Forget System.Web, Web Forms, Transaction Scope, WPF, Win Forms. They no longer exist. For simple ASP.NET MVC-applications changes will be minor and the migration will be simple. For more complex applications, which use a great number of .NET Framework classes and ASP.NET pipeline situation is more complicated. Something may work and something may not. Some part of the code will have to be rewritten from scratch. Additional problems may be caused by WebApi, because ASP.NET MVC subsystems and WebAPI are now combined. Many libraries and nuget-packages are not ready yet. So, some applications simply will not have a chance to migrate until new versions of the libraries appear.

I think we are waiting for the situation similar to the transition from Web Forms to ASP.NET MVC. ASP.NET Framework will be supported for a long time. First, only a small amount of applications will be developed on ASP.NET Core. Their number will increase, but sooner or later everyone will want to move to ASP.NET Core. We still have many applications running on the Web Forms. However, no one comes to mind to develop a new application on the Web Forms now, everybody chooses MVC. Soon the same happens to ASP.NET Framework, and ASP.NET Core. ASP.NET Core offers more opportunities to meet modern design standards.

The following characteristics best define .NET Core:

  • Flexible deployment: Can be included in your app or installed side-by-side user- or machine-wide.
  • Cross-platform: Runs on Windows, macOS and Linux; can be ported to other OSes (Operating Systems). The supported OSes, CPUs and application scenarios will grow over time, provided by Microsoft, other companies, and individuals.Command-line tools: All product scenarios can be exercised at the command-line.
  • Compatible: .NET Core is compatible with .NET Framework, Xamarin and Mono, via the .NET Standard Library.
  • Open source: The .NET Core platform is open source, using MIT and Apache 2 licenses. Documentation is licensed under CC-BY. .NET Core is a .NET Foundation project.
  • Supported by Microsoft: .NET Core is supported by Microsoft, per .NET Core Support.

The Bad:

  • As for the “cons” one of the biggest issues are gaps in the documentation. Fortunately most of the things for creating and API are covered, but when you’re building an MVC app, you might have problems.
  • Next problem – changes. Even if you find a solution to your problem, it could have been written for a previous version and might not work in the current one. Thanks to open source nature of it, there is also support available on github. But you get same problems there (apart from searching).
  • Another thing is lack of support in the tooling. You can forget about NCrunch or R# Test Runner. Both companies say they will get to it when it gets more stable.
  • ASP.NET Core is still too raw. Many basic things, such as the Data Access, is not designed for 100%. There is no guarantee that the code you are using now will work in the release version.

The Good:

  • It’s modular. You can add and remove features as you need them by managing NuGet packages.
  • It’s also much easier and straightforward to set up.
  • WebApi is now part of the MVC, so you can have class UserController, which will return a view, but also provide a JSON API.
  • It’s cross-platform.
  • It’s open-source.

ASP.NET Core is the work on the bugs of the classic ASP.NET MVC, the ability to start with a clean slate. In addition, Microsoft also aims to become as popular as Ruby and NodeJS among younger developers.
NodeJS and ASP.NET have always been rivals: both – a platform for backend. But in fact, between them, of course, there was no struggle. The new generation of developers, the so-called hipster developers, prefer Ruby and Node. The adult generation, people from the corporate environment, are on the side of .NET and Java. .NET Core is clearly trying to be more youthful, fashionable and popular. So, in future we can expect the .NET Core and NodeJS to be in opposition.

In its advertising campaign, Microsoft is betting on unusual positions for it: high performance, scalability, cross-platform. Do you think that ASP.NET “crawls” on the territory of NodeJS? Please feel free to share your thoughts with us.

Thank you in advance!

 

Darya Bertosh

Darya Bertosh

Business Development Manager | LI Profile

E-mail: darya.bertosh@altabel.com
Skype: darya.bertosh
www.altabel.com

Do you remember the first Pong arcades with unsophisticated graphics launched nearly 30 years ago? Since then video games have become an instant hit among youngsters. However the technology is improving at a rapid space and computer graphics are pushing the limits of photorealism. Today scientists and engineers are integrating the graphics from your television and computer screens into real-world environments. This advanced technology is called Augmented Reality or AR for short, which is about overlaying pieces of a virtual world over the real world (in contrast to Virtual Reality (VR) that is about replacing the real world with a virtual one). AR is a beautiful blend of digital and real images enhancing what we see, feel and smell or hear, e.g. you can point your camera at a movie poster and watch its trailer, or you look at the sky and ask for the weather and it gives you that information. So, basically AR comes down to the following three vital questions: where to display, what and how. Let’s find out.

Let me start with the last question: “How?” Below I’m going to itemize five of the numerous AR tools that exist at the moment and that can be used to develop apps for smart-phones, tablets or even smart-glasses.

  1. DroidAR is a free and commercial framework that gives location-based AR functionality to Android apps. For instance, gesture detection or support for static and animated 3-D objects that the user can interact with like clicking on them. Another vivid appliance is marker detection. It’s a part of the functionality offered by DroidAR, however the documentation that exists for the project is under fulfilled. Nevertheless there is a section on the project README file on GitHub that gives an overview of a closed-source version of DroidAR, DroidAR 2. Compared to its open-source fetch it has impressive improvements.
  2. Vuforia is available for Android, iOS and Unity. It has become the industry leading AR platform – with 10s of thousands of apps, and 100s of millions of app installs. The main Vuforia SDK features are multi-target detection and tracking (e.g. images, English text, objects), virtual buttons. There is also a version of the SDK for smart glasses (namely Epson Moverio BT-200, Samsung GearVR, and ODG R-6 and R-7). That is currently open for early access applications from experienced developers.
  3. Wikitude AR SDK is available for Android, iOS, Smartphone, Tablet, Smart Glasses, Cordova, Titanium, Xamarin. Wikitude’s all-in-one AR solution includes image recognition and tracking, 3D model rendering, video overlay, location based AR and so much more.
  4. With the help of AR Browser SDK you can add and remove POIs without refreshing the view, interact with them by touching them or pointing the camera to them and perform activity on them, for instance send SMS or share on Facebook. AR browser SDK is available for Android as well as for iOS. The mail features include 2D POIs, custom callback on clicked POI or on centered POI, video support, great performance and memory management, customized elements: pop up label, radar and radar dots, very simple interface API for developers, start and stop functions to prevent memory or battery starvation and finally check sample code.
  5. Metaio SDK is a perfect tool for developing AR apps on Windows PC, Mac OS and in Unity. You can deploy apps for iOS and Android. Metaio’s functionalities are 2-D image, location tracking, 3-D object, barcode and QR code scanning, continuous visual online and offline search and gesture detection. Moreover, Metaio has also created its own AR. It allows software engineers to develop AR apps using typical web technologies (HTML5, XML, Javascript) and deploy them passim.

Hope I gave a full answer to the question “How?” and now let’s move to the questions “Where? and What?”. The yesteryear AR usage was limited mostly to military applications, which were designed to give helicopter pilots and ship captains more definite methods of acquiring targets and tracking enemy movement. Nowadays, tech companies have an entirely new vision for the opportunities that augmented reality provides, hoping that with advances in computing power and miniaturization, soon the number of people wearing an AR-capable device will compete the same stats we see with smartphone ownership in 2015.

According to the prognosis by 2017 more than 3.5 billion AR applications will be downloaded, 600 billion dollars will be spent in AR technology revenues by 2016 and Compound Annual Growth Rate of global AR market will make up 132%. But if you still can’t figure out where you will be able to use this bleeding-edge technology, I will point out some real ways where people all over the world from different spheres such as medicine, public service and finances will benefit from AR adoption.

  • Digital Marketing. AR use in digital marketing is notably appealing. It’s recognized as an enhanced marketing application, as not only can additional content be put within 2D advertisement, but also can result as interactive, awesome and high viral potential eye-catching tool. Key digital aspects: advergaming, Augmented packaging, interactive consumer products, street marketing and geolocalized apps. As a rule consumers react very positively to amusing and ingenious marketing. Thus the brands become memorable.
  • Customer service. Nobody likes to call to a customer support and listen to the endless scripts recited by a rep. However in the future if you have any problems with setting up TV or the cables cut off, the customer support can come to you. Imagine having a service technician come to your house to fix your washing machine. He’ll point his head-up display at the washer. A camera will capture the model number and then upload it to the corporate cloud. That will prompt a download of schematics and instructions, along with an overlaid virtual-reality view of the machine’s components on his display. So instead of hearing generic instructions, like “Press the red button” and “recheck the port,” someone could walk you through the process and see the things you’re seeing, enabling the customer service rep to point things out in more detailed, visual way and helping problems get solved in a more efficient way.
  • E-commerce and M-commerce. AR can offer a virtual fitting room where clothes can be tried on live. It gives you a chance to browse a virtual catalog of clothes, shop directly within your favorite magazine, or go to a virtual store and avoid the queues. Rosenthal of Goldrun, the creator of an AR pop-up shop for Airwalk in a New York City park says:” Augmented reality is going to radically change the shape of commerce.”  AR can turn such public places as parks and airports into shopping centers. It’s a perfect way to kill time and a clever way for business owners to economize money on commercial real estate.) However even real shops could benefit from integrating AR into their design. They could display their items that will be on shelves soon, or items that aren’t sold at that location – and soon you’ll even be able to feel these items with the help of your phone. It’s obvious for everyone that augmented reality could juice up window displays and cut costs.
  • Urban Exploration. Are you in a new neighborhood or in an unknown city? You can throw away your guidebook and turn on AR-application with real time display of enhanced maps. Acting as a GPS, Augmented Reality provides classified and suggestive information that you are looking for whether it’s a restaurant, bar, grocery store or museum and library, etc. And another awesome way to explore your city – or any city -is to overlay 3D maps that show what the city looked like at any point in history. If you’re walking down Broadway, you would be able to “see” horse-drawn carriages parked on the street in front of old parlors. It’d be as if you were walking in a history book.
  • Educational resources. Seeing the potential for AG in educational sphere isn’t hard. Education will be emphasized by Augmented Reality systems and can be used to re-create historical events, activate regular books into 3D images, or even present structures of the galaxy; all superimposed in real-time. So when viewed through the lens of smartphones one can see the picture of an engine animated in an engineering textbook or a working 3D model of a beating heart that you can walk around of rotate by hand.
  • Rescue and Safety operations. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to avoid emergencies in our life. Rescuers, firefighters and policemen very often find themselves in a chaotic situation where they need to make sense of the environment and navigate a place they’ve never been. Wouldn’t it be great if they could see a virtual map of the site or have “X-ray vision” to see sewage or power lines?

While some years ago there was a vast debate about its foreseen impact on society, today AR applications are becoming mainstream. There are apps that allow a museum exhibit to tell its own story, that help you decide which furniture looks better in your bedroom, that bring a tiger you just drew on a piece of paper into life, or that warn you about all the signs you ignored while you were driving. These are examples of already available apps that provide some sort of AR functionality. The one thing is for sure is that smartphone population is rising, thus the level of processing power as well. As long as the resulting augmented content remains engaging and innovative, consumers will certainly adopt augmented reality as a new and fun twist to conventional marketing and services.

Besides I would like to notice that the new era of true digital immersion is waiting just over the next horizon and now is a perfect time to implement AR technologies into your business. It is now up to you – developers, designers, entrepreneurs, scientists, educators, investors, artists, marketers, hackers, journalists, and more – to bring the augmented reality experience to consumers in a fun, productive – and lucrative way. If you have already tried it, you are welcome to share your experience in comments. If not, it will be interesting to know what predictions you have re AR. What is your opinion? Please, feel free to share your thought below.

Thank you for your attention:)

P.S. By the way, did u know that in 1901 author L.Frank Baum first mentioned electronic display spectacles overlaying data onto real life, in 1975 television weather reports were the 1st application of AR on TV, in 1989 the term “virtual reality” was coined by Jaron Laanier, today AR is already used by Boeing, BMW and Volkswagen on assembly lines and in the nearest future AR contact lenses will be implemented to the United States Military.

 

Anastasiya Zakharchuk

Anastasiya Zakharchuk
anastasiya.presnetsova@altabel.com
Skype ID: azakharchuk1
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Microsoft Azure (called Windows Azure before 25 March 2014) is a cloud computing platform and infrastructure, created by Microsoft, for building, deploying and managing applications and services through a global network of Microsoft-managed data centers. It is a growing collection of integrated services – compute, storage, data, networking and app.

It provides both PaaS and IaaS services, which for the general public means a powerful combination of managed and unmanaged services. These services let you build, deploy and manage applications any way you like. Its hybrid cloud solution allows you to store data, backup, recover and build applications in your data center and the public cloud.

With cloud and hybrid services expected to reach US$108 billion by 2017, demand for Microsoft’s cloud products including Microsoft Azure is booming. For now:

  • 57% of Fortune 500 companies are using Microsoft Azure
  • It welcomes 1,000 new customers per day
  • Currently 1.2 million businesses and organizations use Microsoft Azure Active Directory
  • Microsoft Azure gains two times the compute and storage capacity every 6-9 months

What benefits do companies gain from using Microsoft Azure?

Using a cloud computing platform service like Microsoft Azure provides companies with a number of benefits apart from premium storage space and high-performance. The business benefits include:

  • Efficiency – Azure Solutions and Services are known for delivering better-quality products as well as high operational efficiency because of reduced capital costs. Customers and partners can truly realize a huge reduction in total cost of operations and reduced workloads in a small time period.
  • Increased scalability to match demand – as your customer base grows and the usage of your application increases you can just add additional capacity to make sure your application is running smoothly. You don’t have to worry about running out of server capacity.
  • More flexibility and creativity – applications can very quickly be deployed to the Microsoft Azure platform which means that changes can be applied without any downtime. This makes it an ideal platform for your developers to add functionality to your application.
  • Agilitydevelopers would find a host of development tools to take benefit, including automated service management and improved data center presence internationally to reply faster to diverse customer needs.
  • Simplicity – Azure makes use of prevailing development skills in familiar languages such as .Net and even open source languages like Java and PHP to produce and manage applications and services.
  • Trustworthiness – Windows Azure delivers enterprise-class service with consistent service level agreements based on Microsoft’s unbelievable service experience.

Among Azure customers are such companies as HEINEKEN, GE Healthcare, Temenos, Zespri International, 3M, Skanska USA, Xerox, Diebold which speaks for itself:)

What position does Microsoft Azure takes up in public cloud?

According to Rightscale releases 2015 state of the cloud report Azure is progressing among enterprises, while Amazon Web Services (AWS) continues to dominate in public cloud with 57 percent of technical professionals saying that they run applications on AWS. That’s up from 54 percent a year earlier.

By comparison, Microsoft Azure’s cloud platform and infrastructure posted a combined score of 19 percent. But Microsoft is making gains, posting a 6 point jump in the number of tech professionals using its cloud infrastructure.

Google’s Cloud Platform offerings came in behind Azure, with 8 percent of survey respondents using Google App Engine, and only 5 percent using Google’s infrastructure products.

Microsoft has put huge amount of work towards marketing Azure to large enterprises, so it’s not surprising to see that large businesses are Microsoft’s core customers. There’s also room for that business to grow: a majority of enterprise users responding to the survey said that less than 20 percent of their company’s app portfolio is in the cloud.

What do you think of Microsoft Azure? What future do you predict for it? Thank you for sharing your thoughts:)

Yuliya Tolkach

Yuliya Tolkach
Yulia.Tolkach@altabel.com
Skype ID: yuliya_tolkach
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

It is expected that within the next 5-7 years there will be billions of devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). However, on the way to this bright future, there are certain practical barriers.

The traditional model of the Internet of Things requires a centralized system for data processing, which handles all the data from connected devices. Nevertheless, this approach is seriously flawed in terms of cost of lifecycle and business model in general. For example, a company that produces “smart TVs” should support a centralized processing infrastructure and data management of the device for more than 20 years. While it earns revenues only once, when selling this device. This imposes restrictions on the Internet of Things. So far it is available only in the premium devices or those that are rarely used.

Nowadays, most of the IT companies are competing in invention IoT platforms and systems.

IBM: Adept

IBM’s solution is to use the web’s most innovative p2p technologies to create distributed cloud environment which means that all the devices will be integrated together. Thus, every device will be self-sufficient for managing and will use distributed public infrastructure to communicate with other devices. In this way, producing company won’t have recurring costs in maintenance. Such a system will be stable for the lifetime of the devices, and it will be equal to its clouds. The network will be fully autonomous, while the device remains in it, without requiring the cost from producer. However, centralized control becomes almost impossible with all the potential billions of devices on the network.

Their system Adept will rely on three different technologies to resolve a number of issues related to IoT development and commercialization: Block chain, famous from the crypto currency bitcoin, will allow IoT devices to communicate and interact with one another, BitTorrent (provides a stable and capable data distribution system ) and Telehash (private messaging protocol with end-to-end encryption).

Apple: Homekit

Apple is not idle in the IoT field. They introduced a new ‘smart home’ platform – Homekit this summer (2014).

Homekit is a framework and network protocol for controlling devices in the home. It promises a seamless user interface for organizing and controlling connected devices, all part of iOS 8. As part of this announcement there is also a new microcontroller SoC (system on a chip), containing a low-power WiFi, ZigBee and Bluetooth. It combines what had been separate components into a fully integrated unit. As with many other Apple products you will need a certificate, in this case Apple’s MFi certification (Made for iPod, Made for iPhone, Made for iPad).

Google: Nest

In January 2014, Google showed its commitment to the emerging Internet of Things by purchasing Nest for $3.2 billion. Nest’s main product is a learning thermostat connected to the internet that uses sensors, regional data, and learning algorithms to preemptively change the temperature of your house automatically. Thus, Google gains a direct entry point into the home to collect data, learn, and possibly advertise to end users in the future. Google’s purchase of Nest was considered an important indicator that the Internet of Things is poised to explode.

Microsoft: Windows 8.1 for IoT

Microsoft does not want to be left behind and has its own plan to bring Windows Developers to the Internet of Things with its new version of Windows 8.1 – operating system tailored for the Internet of Things. This version of Windows is designed to use in microcomputers, wearable electronics, and possibly, toys and household gadgets. At this point the preliminary version is only available to developers. Windows 8.1 distribution for the Internet of things weighs only 174 MB. For comparison, the size distribution of the full version of Windows 8.1 is around 3 GB. Slim enough to work on a single-core processor Intel Quark with a clock frequency of just 400 MHz. But the boot time is poor – 2 minutes instead of the traditional 3-30 seconds.

Intel: Galileo

The first platform that is compatible with Windows 8.1 for the Internet of Things is Intel’s Galileo. It is built around a processor, Intel Quark has 256 MB of RAM, a slot for cards format SD, two ports USB, PCI Express interface and a network adapter Ethernet 10/100 Mbit / s, and a pocket friendly price of just $ 50.

Samsung: Smartthings, Smart Home

Samsung, Intel and Dell announced in July 2014 that they are combining forces to create a new wireless standard for the Internet of Things, connecting sensors, appliances and gadgets to the Internet in the home, business and automobile. The Open Internet Consortium will include hardware component builders Broadcom and Amtel as well as embedded software provider Wind River.

Also it would be unfair not to mention the fact that Samsung has bought an internet of things (IoT) company called Smartthings (the startup that makes smart-home controllers) for about $200 million. Samsung is planning to use it to bolster its smart home plans. Smartthings will run as an independent entity within Samsung, and will continue to support its existing customer base. This system provides a smartphone app that users can employ to control features and functions around the house.

Smart Home platform will provide users with three main services: Device Control, Home View, and Smart Customer Service. Device Control will allow users to access customized settings for all of their devices on their smartphone or on their Smart TV. Home View allows users to take advantage of the cameras built into many of Samsung’s connected appliances to take a look at what’s going on at home. Smart Customer Service will notify users whenever it’s time to service an appliance, and also provide assistance in after-sales servicing.

Other companies such as Vodafone, Cisco, MediaTek, etc are also a part of this great revolution in IT environment, and most of them have very prospective projects.

1

IoT Top10 Companies

Nevertheless, one should accept that the Internet of Things requires some technical and educational level from the society, and while in some countries this seems to be difficult to put it into practice, the Scandinavian region, more specifically – Sweden, invests in such projects at the national level. The vision of its industry is to increase competitiveness and to use innovation effectively in such social spheres as healthcare, welfare and sport. Business life is focused on getting benefits by implementation of IoT technology as well.

The connected world is too big to belong to somebody exclusively. So will Apple, Windows, IBM, Oracle, Google and others be able to all work together in this IoT universe? Or will the grand idea of a seamlessly connected Internet of Things environment slip away?

Will be thankful to hear your opinion on this subject. Share your thoughts here in comments or send me a message.

11d78a3 Svetlana Pozdnyakova
svetlana.pozdnyakova@altabel.com 
Skype ID: Svetlana.pozdnyakova
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Sitecore’s CMS flexibility, scalability and security make it an enterprise favorite, powering more than 32,000 websites around the world from financial powerhouses like American Express to some of the largest international sporting tournaments like Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Let’s try to find out why Sitecore is so popular nowadays especially among companies which have got high traffic sites.

What is Sitecore and why it is a choice for so many companies and businesses?

From the start, Sitecore’s architecture is able to meet every unique business need with speed, flexibility and dependability. The large variety of organizations are using Sitecore’s CMS solutions – companies (more than 3,000 of the world’s leading brands such as Experian, Toshiba, Canon, Nestlé, American Express, Carnival Cruise Lines, easyJet, Heineken, and Microsoft), schools, and government agencies all over the world in every vertical sector are leveraging from Sitecore CMS to create business advantage and online success.

Sitecore is one of the leading enterprise-level content management systems built on ASP.NET, enabling web content editors and marketers to have full control over all aspects of their website from social integration and blog posts to advanced personalization, e-commerce and more. Launched in 2001, Sitecore has used the .NET platform from the beginning of the language itself, and has been growing in popularity over the last few years. Nowadays Sitecore is a quite popular CMS in the U.S.A. and Western Europe.

Sitecore CMS brings the power of personalization and conversation management right in the hands of your marketers and business users. The CMS incorporates a powerful desktop interface that is controlled by a fully-customizable role-based system. This desktop is very similar in look and feel to a Windows desktop, which makes it easy for users new to Sitecore to pick up and learn the system. Developers will find Sitecore’s powerful technology platform and open API architecture provides them the flexibility and scalability they need.

10 main reasons why companies should use Sitecore CMS

Some of the top features of Sitecore CMS include solutions that offer better insight to website user behavior as well as tools to increase site visitors:

1) Insight to Website Traffic Conversion;

2) Targeted Content Based on User Behavior;

3) Repurpose Content for Different Devices;

4) Easily Integrate with Third Party Tools;

5) Improved Search Engine Optimization (SEO);

6) Fast Integration with Microsoft Technology;

7) Highly Scalable;

8) Intuitive and User-Friendly Design;

9) Optimize Web Experience with Multivariate Testing;

10) Web 2.0 and Social Media Integration.

.NET-based CMSs: Sitecore, SharePoint, Umbraco – how to choose the right one for your business?

Comparing Sitecore and SharePoint

Firstly, let’s look at SharePoint and Sitecore, as it is often asked about the possibility of using Sitecore for an intranet or SharePoint for a public-facing website. While the idea of using one technology solution to solve both problems sounds promising, there are many things you should consider before limiting yourself.

Here are some thoughts in which cases you should choose Sitecore CMS for your projects and in when it is better to stick to SharePoint (these points are based on experts’ views as well as on Altabel’s own experience):

  • it is better to use Sitecore for a platform to customize the web user experience based on non-authenticated users;
  • choose Sitecore for a marketing driven platform;
  • for an external content focus, choose Sitecore;
  • choose SharePoint for an IT driven platform;
  • it makes sense to choose SharePoint for a collaboration platform;
  • for an internal content focus with enterprise level security requirements,  choose SharePoint.

Following the beaten path, many companies continue using SharePoint for creating public facing sites – they are well familiar with it and have already invested a lot of time, money, and knowledge in SharePoint. But actually it should be kept in mind that SharePoint was not developed for such sites so it’s worth adopting another CMS to develop them. There are some advantages Sitecore offers over SharePoint as a CMS for a public facing website:

  • Sitecore allows high flexibility for content editors and a logical hierarchical structure;
  • SharePoint is very limited to List Viewsfor content entry;
  • Sitecore’s Web Forms for Marketers makes building forms and triggering goals simple;
  • Frontend development for SharePoint is restricted and requires a lot of customized work, Sitecore on the other hand, is free of restrictions and able to do anything you want;
  • Sitecore offers fantastic technical support;
  • Sitecore offers easy multilingual configuration;
  • A/B testing is included with Sitecore, a must for a modern website. SharePoint does not come with any kind of A/B testing;
  • Sitecore’s DMS (Digital Marketing Suite) – SharePoint has nothing like this. Any website that has marketing in mind can greatly benefit from this tool included with Sitecore;
  • Sitecore is developer-friendly – Development in Sitecore is much easier and requires a lot less specific knowledge. More developers are able to produce a better solution, faster, cheaper;
  • Sitecore has a clear line between data and presentation making content easier to manage.

The bottom line is simple: If you’re looking to build a public internet site on the Microsoft platform, SharePoint makes sense if you meet a certain set of criteria.  But Sitecore provides an extremely compelling alternative that, from a business owner’s perspective, offers superior tools for engaging with the customer.

Comparing Sitecore and Umbraco

Sitecore CMS and Umbraco CMS are two leading content management systems based upon Microsoft’s ASP.NET framework. Their flexibility, functionality, integration capabilities and ease of use is why many have chosen to focus their technical expertise on these systems.

Let’s have a look at the similarities between Sitecore CMS and Umbraco CMS:

  • Easy integration with Microsoft Office;
  • Endless expansion possibilities;
  • Easy-to use User Interfaces (UI);
  • Design layouts are separated from the content;
  • Due to the large open-source Umbraco community and the expert development teams within the Sitecore network both CMS platforms are constantly evolving at a rapid pace;
  • Easily scalable and customizable through modules (Sitecore) or packages (Umbraco);
  • Can be integrated with your internal systems like ERP and CRM;
  • Comprehensive documentation and online help & guidance.

And now let’s get acquainted with the differences between these two CMS:

– Sitecore is an enterprise solution whereas Umbraco is suited to small-medium sized businesses;

– Sitecore is a license-based product. This means a license fee is paid to acquire it. Licensing options can be chosen, taking in consideration a number of factors, making it possible to use Sitecore in a variety of projects: from small non-profits, with websites running on a single server, to big corporations with millions of visits per day;

– Umbraco is an open-source product, meaning there is no license fee;

– In both North America and Europe, you can easily find an existing Sitecore customer. This is very helpful to further increase adoption as it means that new customers have some experience they can tap into. In addition, Sitecore has many government references where Umbraco has almost none;

– Sitecore 7.1/7.2 has advanced feature set;

– Sitecore is an established global player; much more so than Umbraco. Sitecore is in particular strong in the important and highly competitive US and UK markets.

Our opinion is that if you do a proper CMS vendor evaluation, you will probably find that the license cost is only a fraction of the overall project costs. Your criteria should really be to look at which system will meet your requirements most efficiently.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a .NET-based CMS, all these products will work – but right now, at Altabel we would lean toward Sitecore when looking for a pure CMS that provides fast development time, stable platform and ease of use for non-technical content creators.

Of course, each organization is different, and it makes sense to check out the products and run them through your technology selection process to determine which is best for you.

Hope you have found the article interesting and helpful for you.

Also it would be nice to hear your opinion and practical experience. What CMSs do you use and for what kind of projects? What is your favorite CMS and why?

Thank you for your attention and looking forward to your comments.

 

mk

Marina Karabanova
Marina.Karabanova@altabel.com
Skype ID: m.karabanova
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

 

For years Microsoft has been the de facto desktop operating system. Now Apple is using its mobile devices to steal market and mindshare.

Pundits have long expected Apple to integrate its desktop and mobile operating systems; however, recent announcements at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) show that the company is doing far more than borrowing user interface elements. After some tentative starts, Apple has embarked on a full-scale integration between the company’s phone and desktop devices. With new releases of the software powering each, your laptop will soon be answering phone calls, and your phone will share text messages with your desktop, allowing you to fire off a missive from your MacBook to a colleague’s Android smartphone using standard text messaging. While not totally unexpected, the depth of integration is fairly impressive, and doubly so since I couldn’t help wondering during the announcements: why hadn’t Microsoft done this?

A constantly unfinished puzzle

By nearly any metric, Microsoft was years ahead of Apple in the smartphone and tablet space. While Apple was restructuring a fractured business and “playing” with handheld devices in the form of the Newton, Microsoft had produced several generations of its own PDA, and eventually a full-fledged smartphone that was feature rich, but failed to build a compelling user interface around its advanced feature set. Over half a decade before the iPhone launched, a lifetime in mobile technology, Microsoft was introducing tablets, only to be wiped off the face of the map by the iPad. Microsoft’s most obvious advantage in the mobile space was its dominance of the desktop.

If anyone built a mobile device that integrated tightly with the desktop, it should have been Microsoft.

Technology versus usability

While Microsoft may have missed a historic opportunity, more recently the company has been touting its merging of significant portions of its mobile and desktop code. Even user interface elements have begun to cross-pollinate, with the “modern” user interface that first appeared in Windows Phone featuring prominently on desktops and tablets. However, this technical integration is indicative of Microsoft’s larger problem.

As a company, Microsoft’s Achilles’ heel has been an inability to fully integrate different elements of its computing empire, and to present a user experience tailored to the task at hand, not pounded into a contrived, pre-existing Windows metaphor. From the Start button and stylus on a mobile phone, to its most recent technical integration of its environments that completely lacks in end-user benefit, Microsoft is missing the boat on developing a holistic computing experience. Frankly, I don’t care if my desktop and smartphone are running completely incompatible code from totally different vendors, as long as they’ll share information and work seamlessly together.

The Switzerland of computing?

While Microsoft may have missed this opportunity for its own devices, it still represents a key player in the overall computing landscape, and the long-predicted “demise of Windows” is likely several years away, if it occurs at all. An integrated experience between Microsoft smartphones and Windows desktops won’t meet with much excitement, primarily due to the limited market penetration of Windows phones. What would be interesting, however, is if Microsoft were to use its desktop dominance to integrate tightly with devices from Apple, Google, and others.

Such integration might seem far-fetched, but Microsoft already does this to an extent, with its Exchange server happily sharing mail, contacts, and calendars between everything from phones and tablets to laptops and web apps. Microsoft also has decades of experience integrating diverse hardware, and producing operating systems that run well on millions of combinations of hardware is no small feat. Just as Apple’s original iPod hit its stride when the company made it available for PCs, Microsoft could accelerate its cloud services and desktop OS, and ultimately make a compelling case for Windows Phone by providing tight integration with several mobile vendors.

In the mid and long terms, “winning” the mobility wars is not going to be about who sells the most devices, especially as computing transitions away from single devices and into a multi-platform, multi-device world. Microsoft has a chance to regain lost ground by tightly integrating its desktop and cloud services with today’s devices, allowing it to define tomorrow’s computing experience.

 

Kristina Kozlova

Kristina Kozlova
Kristina.Kozlova@altabel.com
Skype ID: kristinakozlova
Marketing Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Over the years dynamic languages such as Python and Ruby have become cherished by startups. As for .Net it is more rarely heard to be used by startups. That’s interesting indeed, because this platform is definitely bigger than most of the popular ones.

So I wonder why a platform as widely adopted and supported as .NET isn’t more visible in startup culture. Let’s try figuring out the main arguments in favor and against making .Net a startup technical choice.

1. Community culture

 Some people say the main reason is the culture of the .NET community itself, not anything specific to the platform. Being centered mostly around the needs of enterprise market .NET developers’ concerns are often regarding supporting legacy systems, building enterprise architectures, large systems for supporting business processes. This implies solving problems which are not so relevant for startups at least at their initial point.

As for members of the startup community, they fuss over different issues – concurrency, experience design, supporting multiple clients and browsers, etc.

As a result the startup community and the .NET community don’t overlap as much as they do for other technologies. That’s why startup founders don’t get much exposure to .Net and don’t think of it as an applicable tool for their purposes. The same way many .Net developers who want to work for hot startups don’t have as many opportunities to do so unless they abandon the platform for a more startup-friendly one or start a company themselves.

So platform doesn’t always dictate its use – that’s people who make the choice. Enterprise and startups aren’t mutually exclusive – they’re just different stages in the evolution of software, and there’s no reason why the startup community shouldn’t look at .NET as an attractive starting point for a new business.

2. Startup tech compatibility

A startup is a risky venture with no guarantee of success. So tech startups seek advantages in order to succeed. Hence startups take what big enterprises consider risky bets on technology. This objective can be achieved by using technology that is popular in startup environment.

Many features of .NET, facilitating the productivity of big companies, are not always useful to startups. There is too much choice of implementation methods. If anything, web startups are looking to have this choice taken away – their technology choices come from the subset that is built for the web.

Also it is said that innovation is quicker with other ecosystems which have a bigger set of libraries and tools. As for .Net there are a few open source projects however most of them are pretty much an implementation of concepts that have already been implemented for a while in the Java world, for example.

3. Open source vs proprietary

Although many startups don’t mind paying for tools and services, most of them still pick things based on cost. For a long time the “enterprise” level tools, services, databases, etc were hardly affordable by startups. That’s why startups adopt so much open source.

It’s also hard to justify the use of proprietary software from a business perspective. If you want to be acquired it is wise to develop your product using an open stack rather than Microsoft’s.

However luckily for many startups Microsoft saw a huge value in giving their stuff away to startups and startups have benefited greatly. Microsoft has been running their Bizspark program for several years, which eliminates most of the startup costs normally associated with employing a .NET framework. To get into the BizSpark program you just need to get checked by BizSpark team if your startup is eligible (developing a real product). Then you’ll get free licenses to basically every product they make, including SQL Server, and a free MSDN gold subscription, for 3 years. They figure 3 years is long enough for you to get going so after that they want you to pay for new licenses. The great part is that they let you keep the licenses you’re already using. So Microsoft has basically taken the cost factor completely out of the equation for new startups.

4. Velocity vs performance

Some people say that it’s all about the velocity. If you agree with an assumption that a startup goal is to find a niche vs build a product, then the goal of a startup is to learn about the market, customers, and product needs as quickly as possible. Python, Js, Ruby, etc allow you to iterate quickly without a lot of infrastructure and boilerplate. However a company that has already has a market has a little different goal, for them the objective is to build a stable product that they can maintain.

Some people say that .Net is not suitable for quick changes. This is a pretty outdated view of C# these days, it’s actually fairly easy to write extremely terse code with. As an added bonus refactoring is so incredibly easy compared to JS, Ruby, Python, etc. that it’s ideal for rapidly switching directions in code as you can refactor so fearlessly without being slowed down by massive amounts of tests. Unfortunately what’s bad about .Net is the tooling and the supporting ecosystem.

Python is much better suited to quick prototypes that can be fleshed out into a reasonably reliable product without too many headaches. The key difference comes when you have to change features mid-stream. The lack of strict typing and interfaces means you can add, change, and remove features much quicker than C# for example. On top of that, you just write fewer actual lines of code to get the same thing done, although sometimes readability can suffer if you get too concise. There is a price to be paid with Python and Ruby though and performance is the biggest one.

5. Team and project size

The team and project size always matters. So when the solution is being built with a small team, then it is easier to use something like Python. Obviously the goal is to be fast to develop in and have a bunch of libraries to be used. On the other hand when building something with a big team, you feel like using something like C#. In this case it keeps it safe to develop in and easy to catch mistakes. Any optional documentation provided by a developer is incomplete. On the contrary the quality level of the available .Net documentation is outstanding.

However if the company is starting as very small at the initial point, it hopefully grows and builds up quite a sizeable codebase by some point. Python, JS & Ruby are fine for small programs but anything more than that and they become their own enemies because the programs they make are quite brittle.

6. Scalability

The common opinion is that .Net scales well.So, if your startup does make it, you’ll probably have a much easier time scaling the .Net stack than you would with say Ruby or PHP.

Conclusion: it’s all about stereotyping

Eventually, I found different opinions on my question of .Net being not so popular with startups such as “platform lock-in,” “no open standards,” “licensing costs.” Sure, these are issues preventing many developers from adopting .NET in the startup space, but not enough to bar all of them from using it. Most of the arguments are just stereotypes that can be dispelled under closer examination.

All languages have strengths and weaknesses. For a startup, you need to do due-diligence and research what the right language to use for your idea will be because recoding in a different language can get costly.

So do you use .Net in your startup projects? Please share your feedback and experiences with us.
 

Aliona Kavalevich

Aliona Kavalevich
Aliona.Kavalevich@altabel.com
Skype ID: aliona_kavalevich
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development


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