DevNet Create is right around the corner again! This 2-day conference is unique in the industry. It is 100% focused on the innovative outcomes that can be delivered by coders when their applications are aware of and integrated to the physical infrastructure all around us.

If you are a traditional software developer you may be thinking to yourself “I don’t care about the network as long as my application is online.” But the network is no longer just about connectivity. It is pervasively present – from the cellular traffic providing social media updates, to Wi-Fi at a sporting arena. And this network is now entirely programmable, with open APIs that can be leveraged by software developers to do more than just provide simple connectivity. In this article, we’ll show how an application developer, with no networking knowledge needed, can use this widespread platform to:

  • improve application performance
  • deliver unique end-user experiences
  • solve problems relevant to your business

Boosting Application Performance

Today, milliseconds of delay in your app could mean the difference between 9% and 99% user satisfaction. Now application developers can detect performance issues within their apps, infrastructure, and micro-serviced architectures in real-time. Whether identifying code exceptions or tracking user adoption of API endpoints, AppDynamics provides a holistic view of the health of your architecture, and can tie the data to actual business transactions taking place.

But proactive monitoring isn’t the only way you can improve performance. Now you can actually run your application inside the network. This new concept of edge computing allows developers to host their applications directly on any network device. This opens the door for developers to solve many business problems – one of which is latency sensitive operations that just can’t be solved with remote servers. By hosting applications within network infrastructure, containerized applications can run miles below the surface of the ocean collecting data from oil well sensors, preventing disasters in real-time. Your cloud application can now exist as a microservice delivering data on a bus in remote rural areas when there is no cellular connectivity. Use-cases for edge compute have only just started to be explored, and application developers who understand its potential will have a leg up for this next industry transformation.

Existing applications can be easily optimized as well. iOS developers, through a partnership between Apple and Cisco, can prioritize business critical traffic just by making a small change in their apps. This means your voice, video, and real-time data gets to be first in line and your app gets priority in malls, stadiums, schools, hospitals and more – without having to change your application’s architecture.

Building Innovative Experiences

While a developer should care about their app’s performance, it doesn’t mean much if the application experience doesn’t provide great value. In the era of machine learning and big data, data sources are the precious resource, and Cisco’s platforms provide a rich mine to collect from, allowing innovative user experiences that would otherwise not be possible. Cisco’s IoT platforms allow the right data to be sent securely to the right application at the right time. This means developers get access to a wealth of information, while maintaining the operational security of your business and maintaining ownership of AI/ML algorithms.

The network doesn’t just pass useful data, it generates it as well. Utilizing data from Wi-Fi installations, developers can receive rich indoor location data. The ability to locate Wi-Fi clients with high accuracy enables use-cases such as providing indoor wayfinding to customers, or tracking important asset locations as they traverse a warehouse or manufacturing facility. Wi-Fi networks can also detect Bluetooth devices, as well as broadcast beacons to mobile devices. By leveraging existing infrastructure to emit Bluetooth signals, developers can deliver retail experiences with tailored shopping suggestions, targeted promotional savings alerts, or most recently – allowing developers to find the location of VC investors at the SXSW festival!

As a developer you also don’t want to build every component from the ground up. Cisco now hosts many experiences in the cloud that you can easily embed in your own applications – such as easily adding video or voice calling to your application with just a few lines of code. These types of experiences can be completely white labeled with your own custom UI. And if you wish, you can integrate your application to an enterprise’s existing collaboration investments allowing application developers to service enterprise requests without any specialized knowledge.

Solving Business Problems

Many relevant business problems can be addressed by awareness of how your application interacts with infrastructure. Where your application lives can determine the experiences you can deliver. Edge computing allows delivering privacy or security sensitive data to users without it ever leaving the network. For example, a mobile health application can be served from the cloud but real-time health record data can be delivered from the edge, allowing scalable solutions that remain compliant with data sovereignty requirements, opening up new possibilities for patient care in the medical industry.

The interface you send business relevant data to your users through matters as well. Exposing your application through new UI’s can drive expanded adoption of your platform. Well-designed chatbots enable enterprise workers to be more productive by helping them quickly find a Salesforce report, book a conference room, optimize interactions for business workflows, or any other business process you’d like to quickly enable for user interaction, bringing relevant data to where your users and employees are already getting work done.

Managing all of this innovation within a business can be a challenge. Developers have created continuous integration and continuous development (CI/CD) processes that allow agility but preserve stability. And now that the network is defined in code, the same CI/CD pipeline you use as a developer can define the entire infrastructure of your organization. CI/CD tools and best practices such as source control, test environments, and deployment environments used in developer pipelines can be applied to the network – allowing agility, scalability, and reliability in your infrastructure that wasn’t previously possible.

IoT and App Dev Evangelists, Jock Reed and Ashley Roach, share a laugh
with DevNet’s Mandy Whaley during a session at last year’s DevNet Create.

Come to DevNet Create To Learn More!

Last week Hank Preston wrote an excellent blog about why network engineers should learn programming skills – because it makes them more relevant and valuable in the future! The same is true for application developers. The network is an immense platform for innovation and the application developers that understand this will be able to create solutions that others can’t.

Cisco DevNet’s goal is to provide application developers all the resources they need to understand what is possible, and the tools to quickly get started – even if they don’t have any networking knowledge. We have getting started resources for application developers with step by step learning labs, sandboxes (where you can test your applications), and active support. This has created a vibrant and growing community of developers.

At DevNet Create, this community meets with industry experts who will talk about lessons learned, outcomes they have created, and the next generation of applications they are building tied to infrastructure components.

  • Alex Ellis from VMWare will be speaking about deploying serverless functions to containerized workloads.
  • Bhavana Srinivas with PubNub will talk about managing IoT security with network APIs.
  • Tague Griffith from Redis will discuss managing real-time location data at scale.
  • Mathieu Gerard will speak about his open source initiative indoorlocation.io to consolidate location standards.
  • Avantika Mathur from Electric Cloud will be discussing best practices for CI/CD app architectures.

With a great speaker list and nearly 80+ sessions and hands-on workshops all focused on how application developers can use the network as their platform for innovation, you don’t want to miss out.

If you are an application developer, we hope you will join us at DevNet Create, April 10-11 in Mountain View, California.  It’s a great opportunity to learn more!

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Casey Bleeker

Technical Lead, Software Engineering

Cisco DevNet