Applications: Context is king

Microservices hold such potential for contextually aware apps, but so much of that potential was going unfulfilled. Until AppMesh.

Suraj Kumar Suraj Kumar

In-car navigation systems aren’t new. In fact, in 1981 you could have bought a shiny new Honda Accord with a $2,750 add-on called the Electro Gyro-Cator.

This primitive GPS-like box featured a gas gyroscope that used the car’s movements to (somewhat accurately) plot your progress along a map.

While the Electro Gyro-Cator might have helped you navigate city streets like a pro, it was a far cry from modern navigation systems like Waze. Why? Because of context.

It is context that helps a navigation app know how many people are stopped in traffic a mile ahead – and then suggest an alternate route. It is context that tells you how long it will take you to get home, since traffic is traveling at 55 mph instead of 75 mph because of a rainstorm.

But context isn’t only important when you’re trying to circumvent fender benders on your commute. It’s also what unlocks the gate towards better customer experience.

Context-aware applications will help you better engage based on the past, present and future of your customers.

The past – meaning what they have done before they land on your website. If you know what they bought two weeks ago, what will you show them on your homepage when they come back?

The present – meaning everything you know about them in this moment. What device are they on? Where are they in the world? What is the temperature there? What are they clicking on? All of this context in the moment can help you optimize their experience.

And the future – meaning what are they likely to do next based on what they have done previously? Or what have people like them done in the past?

But while context-aware applications lead to better customer experience, you need to ask the question: What leads to better contextual awareness in applications? Applications today are assembled by making existing data and services available via APIs and microservices. This introduces challenges that didn’t exist in the days of monolithic architecture.

Herding cats

Managing all of the connections between individual microservices gets exponentially harder as the scope of an application grows and as individual services evolve over time. And making them all work together in a contextually relevant way quickly starts to resemble herding cats. (But cats that each are managed by complicated strings of code.)

What is missing is a rules-based layer that can not only manage the connections, but integrate the past, present and future of your customers to deliver what they need. With rules, you can configure, not code. Without them, having an app that adapts to your users is a very steep – and constantly moving – mountain to climb.

This was our moment of clarity before creating AppMesh. We knew that microservices held such potential for contextually aware apps for you, our customers, but so much of that potential was going unfulfilled. Now that AppMesh is available, we are excited to see what you can do configure context into your customer experience.

As microservices proliferate, and as they become easier to manage through context layers like AppMesh, you will start to see a difference in how aware your apps are – and start to expect it from everything you interact with. As that bar rises, enterprises will have to adapt quickly. Now is the best time to start by clicking below.