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Need to Upgrade Your Enterprise App to Angular?

Posted by on Nov 04, 2014

One of the keys to success in web development lies in knowing how to best use your tools. From smaller organizations looking to get a new product off the ground to larger organizations looking to optimize internal processes, an intelligently-applied Angular application can both ease implementation cause and speed deployment. In this sample case study we’ll look at how an Angular app can save time – and resources – as a front-end to a large internal database.

The Backstory

The case in question is a large company (more than 10,000 employees) with an internal product database. The database is used to track warehouse inventory as well as internal organization resources, and has been in use for nearly a decade. The database – consisting of dozens of tables and millions of rows – has grown with the company, and is a vital resource accessed by hundreds of employees on a daily basis.

The Problem

Unfortunately while the database has grown, the performance of the front-end hasn’t kept pace. The data is stored in an Oracle database – which has no problem handling the load – but is accessed via an antiquated front-end written by a consulting firm in C++ against the Windows operating system. As the expertise doesn’t exist in the company to maintain the software, a lot of the access terminals have simply not been upgraded in the meantime.

The Desired Solution

The company is looking for a responsive application that can evolve with their technology choices – something OS-independent while also offering a way to secure the valuable data history stored in their existing Oracle database. As the system will be deployed across the entire company, it needs to operate in several different locations seamlessly, while being performant enough to allow for simultaneous access by the hundreds of employees who make use of it on a daily basis. The project stakeholders opted to develop the application in-house, and are looking for a tool set that is both secure and extensible.

The New Needs

In essence this case is looking at a new application built on top of the existing data store. While the data storage hardware is largely in place and can continue to operate without significant modifications, the entire technology stack will need to be revamped in order to be flexible enough to meet the demands put upon the application. Furthermore, the company doesn’t want to be locked into a specific operating system or platform – having suffered far too many issues with their setup as it exists today.

The JavaScript Solution

Luckily, many of those needs can be met with a single lightweight technology stack. A modified MEAN (MongoDB, ExpressJS, AngularJS, and NodeJS) stack can be applied here to achieve nearly all of the company’s goals. NodeJS offers a lightweight web server that is robust enough to meet the load needs for the company’s database access, while also offering the flexibility of being deployable on every available operating system. ExpressJS provides a highly performant API layer, allowing for quick implementation of a business layer that allows for easy extensibility. AngularJS, driving the front end, eases the task of accurately representing the application’s functionality. NodeJS is easily modifiable to allow access to the existing Oracle database, and has an extensive package management system for adding the tools necessary to secure the application. With the entire technology stack written in Javascript, the internal development team can maintain a highly-focused set of expertise and reduce the need for cross-training. Finally, with the application being entirely web-based deployment is a simple matter of exposing an internal web server to all of the employees who need to use the app.

Increasing Efficiency with Backand

While the JavaScript framework approach detailed above can certainly handle the application’s requirements, you still need to rewrite the entire business logic again in JavaScript and rebuild all the front-end pages. There are still places where efficiency can be improved. The approach above necessitates implementing a security layer for user access, as well as a port of any existing data management code. Translating the existing application will cost development man-hours that can be expensive and will increase the time required to develop the application by months. Backand offers a solution that takes the company’s existing application’s database and reverse engineers it into a robust back-end via a process that takes days, not months. The initial process can cover up to 90% of the system business logic while the other 10% can be completed only by configuration. Moreover, Backand provides Bootstrap- and AngularJS-bound directives that can generate many of the application’s pages with no code at all. The pages that do need to be coded can be done easily in Angular while the management dashboard provides an out-of-the-box admin section. Backand can handle the hardware as well, offering a fast, secure and scalable back-end for the inventory application.

Conclusion

As seen above, a JavaScript stack on top of a sizable existing data store can provide a flexible web stack that can ease deployment and allow a company to quickly get an application deployed to hundreds of users. By implementing technologies using NodeJS, ExpressJS, and AngularJS to drive the functionality, your application development team can remove the need for reliance upon a specific operating system or hardware setup, but you will still need to spend a lot of time re-implementing business logic in code – a process that may still take months to complete. Taking advantage of a service like Backand, though, can greatly reduce this effort. Backand allows your organization to have a product in a demo-ready state in days – not months – and make an immediate impact in your transition efforts. For an internal migration project porting an existing application to a JavaScript stack, Backand takes a lot of the headaches – and the cost – out of development and deployment.

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