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Internet Failure: Why You Need to Build Offline Capabilities Into Apps

Businesses assume that the Internet will always be there when they need it. But a dire warning from the cyber security team at the global consulting firm KPMG shows you why that is no longer the case. And it shows why it's more important than ever for you to build offline capabilities into the mobile apps that you build.

Stephen Bonner, partner in the Cyber Security team at KPMG, warns that Internet blackouts are no longer accidents or isolated incidents—they're inevitabilities. Writing in Info Security, he points out that the Internet is dependent on factors well beyond the control of any business or any single ISP, such as reliable power and cooling, and the security and stability of the physical cables that carry Internet traffic.

Offline Capabilities to Match Growing Complexity and Increasing Data Usage

Even more problematic, he says, is that "the loads and complexity of Internet usage is growing exponentially, while the skills and capability to manage the systems is growing (at best) in a linear fashion."  And more troublesome still is that in 2013, "more than half of all internet traffic was created by machine-to-machine communication...More and more data is being transferred by an ever-more exotic collection of devices, from smartphones to smart TVs, and from fridges to pacemakers."

The upshot? It's this, he says:

In the near future, there may be substantial disruption to organizations and entire businesses failing by not appreciating that relying on the Internet means relying on third-party services for which there are no contracts or clear owners… The Internet is incredible, but this shouldn't blind us to the fact that it isn't a traditional utility and the possible risk of prolonged failures.

That's all the more reason that mobile app developers need to build offline capabilities into their apps. As I've written before, that's easy to say, but tough to do. There's a lot you need to keep in mind when writing apps that are built from the ground up to work as well offline as they do online. For advice on how to do it, I advise you to check out Alpha CTO Dan Bricklin's useful article, "Dealing with Disconnected Operation in a Mobile Business Application: Issues and Techniques for Supporting Offline Usage."

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About Author

Dion McCormick
Dion McCormick

Dion McCormick, Lead Solutions Engineer at Alpha Software, is a recognized expert on agile application development. He helps enterprise development teams around the world transition from slow legacy approaches to high-performance mobile, web, and desktop development using the Alpha Anywhere platform.

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The Alpha platform is the only unified mobile and web app development and deployment environment with distinct “no-code” and “low-code” components. Using the Alpha TransForm no-code product, business users and developers can take full advantage of all the capabilities of the smartphone to turn any form into a mobile app in minutes, and power users can add advanced app functionality with Alpha TransForm's built-in programming language. IT developers can use the Alpha Anywhere low-code environment to develop complex web or mobile business apps from scratch, integrate data with existing systems of record and workflows (including data collected via Alpha TransForm), and add additional security or authentication requirements to protect corporate data.