Enabling legacy web applications for mobile access can be integral to the success of a mobile first or Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiative. It can be made especially challenging with the declining budgets some enterprises have for overhead projects. Just after clicking "send" on my last TechRepublic article of 2013, I heard from Capriza, a startup founded by former principals of Mercury Interactive that's aiming to help companies mobilize their web apps.
The Capriza platform is a subscription-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) virtualization platform that enables you to use your existing business applications, technology infrastructure, and security policies that your company already has in place.
Capriza Designer and the Concept of the Zapp
Capriza Designer is a workflow creation tool that lets you
design workflows based on your web applications to create a Zapp (their take on
a mobile app), an HTML 5-based workflow. Here's a high level overview of
creating a Zapp:
- Navigate to an existing web application using
- Create the Zapp using drag and drop web objects. You have the option to change screen layout, text strings, and custom themes to the Zap.
From the demo that Capriza gave to me, it appears well-designed and quite user friendly. While I expect a learning curve for a new Capriza user, you aren't going to need a developer or even somebody who hacks code on the side. The below figure shows an example of the Capriza Designer open to SAP CRM:
Mobile users need to download the free, lightweight Capriza app in order to run a Zapp on their mobile device. There are versions for both iOS and Android:
The Capriza app functions as a shell for the HTML 5-based Zapp
When a mobile user launches a Zapp from their devices, Capriza launches a browser session running on a secure virtualized server running within the Capriza Cloud or behind the corporate firewall. Capriza translates actions on a mobile device running the Zapp to the browser session as if the user is taking the actions directly from a PC. Capriza shows this part well during the two demos I got of their platform. When their marketing person first showed me a demo, it was in split screen, where I could see the actions on a mobile device simultaneously happening on the web application running beside it. The below figure shows a Zapp open on a smartphone:
Capriza supports a flexible Zapp distribution strategy including:
- Capriza Store, built into the Capriza Platform, with tools for managing user targeted or enterprise-wide Zapp deployment
- Integration into enterprise app stores and other distribution platforms
Challenges to Capriza
Ironically, Capriza's challenges may end up being more industry status quo versus actual technology. The challenges I see for Capriza include:
- Enterprises already moving legacy Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications to the cloud because of budget issues.
- Mobile initiatives from SAP and other legacy application vendors that could nudge Capriza out of medium and large enterprise accounts.
- Professional services firms who depend on the "butts in seat" business model of app development where a solution may take a second chair to hourly rates. Capriza could disrupt this business model for sure, and I don't expect these companies to take it sitting down.
- Offshore mobile app development could also face disruption if Capriza takes hold in some industries.
These challenges approached singularly or altogether could prove challenging to even a larger better-established company with marketing dollars to burn. It'll be interesting to see how Capriza meets these challenges as they advance in the market.
Capriza was shy about details around pricing for their platform. While often typical for early stage start-ups such as Capriza, it's a point that needs to be ironed out during any negotiations. Capriza's pricing is going to be a major weapon against the challenges in the previous section.
I eased one of my personal rules about not trying out the product I'm writing about so I can't give Capriza a full recommendation. While I respect their founder's background, Capriza makes some hefty promises and one or two product demos can't truly show if a technology can live up to its promise. While Capriza has a crisp well-crafted demo, I had a hard time telling if their technology can provide mobile app solutions for the long term or if they are just a spot fix.
However, I see the need for a non-programmatic solution to mobilize legacy web applications for enterprises that may not have the budget or the programming staff in-house. If Capriza sounds like a potential solution for your organization, I encourage you to sign up for a trial and put their technology through its paces.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.