Innovation and Design Labs: Bringing Node.js to the Enterprise

In my last post, I wrote about a few of the complexities of deploying Node.js. I also posed several solutions to that with a somewhat extensive list of PaaS providers. The key being is that PaaS removes hosting complexities and provides a way to get an application live on the Internet ridiculously fast!

There is one major PaaS provider that I neglected. I held off for two reasons:

1. This provider has gone through many changes since the last time I worked with their services. And one of the changes was their addition of Node.js support itself.

2. Their initial pricing was cost prohibitive. Now it’s become much more competitive with other offerings on the market.

The provider in question is Windows Azure. It offers a solution for getting up and running with Node.js quickly, without the headache of trying to host it yourself. There are some great tutorials to help you get started. My two favorites are:

* Node.js Web Application using Express
* Deploying a Windows Azure App from Cloud9

The Major Question
For many years, it appeared that Microsoft did not want to be involved with Node.js. This has changed dramatically and that brings up a few thoughts and questions.

Microsoft is and continues to be involved with the enterprise market in a huge way. A large bulk of their sales and software goes to enterprise systems at large organizations. So what does Node.js have to do with these companies? How can Node.js be used in an enterprise is an effective way? Why is Node.js even useful in an enterprise environment? I’ll bring this full circle in just a moment.

Introducing the Enterprise Innovation Labs (AKA Design Labs)
Some forward thinking enterprises have set up initiatives to foster innovation, creativity and entrepreneurism within their organizations. Known as Innovation or Design Labs, these groups perform a vitally important role for their respective companies. They facilitate the creation of new ideas, practices, and provide a place to test those innovations.

A great operative example of this type of initiative is the Nordstrom Innovation Lab. It uses lean and agile methodologies to effectively create and assess new ideas. These enterprise labs are setup to work on high risk projects that push the envelope. Most projects last a mere one to three weeks, and many will be thrown away or fail completely. This is the way of innovation. One must try new things and be prepared to pivot on a pass or fail of the effort. Node.js could easily become one of the preeminent technologies that labs uses to prototype and test these theories.

Node.js Makes Pivoting Faster and Easier
So where do Node.js and the enterprise come together? Node.js provides one of the easiest and lowest barriers to prototype creation available today. Building a Node.js based application and hosting it on Windows Azure, Nodejitsu, AppFog, or a number of other hosts is frictionless. This gives enterprise innovation labs an easy way to build and test prototypes and experiments.

Add to these PaaS providers the plethora of libraries such as express.js, node redis, and cradle that are available and the capabilities bring node full circle. The enterprise is in need of Node.js, the capabilities and feature sets that are rolled into it and available via the libraries.

Within just two short years, Node.js has gone from an idea to a fully capable enterprise tool and framework supporting server. JavaScript has been for a long time now and Node.js has only extended its lifespan. The Node.js/JavaScript community is quickly growing and will soon be the largest development community in existence (if it isn’t already now). Throw in the possibilities in the enterprise and Node.js has effectively penetrated every market space in existence!

In my next post, I’ll dive into how to quickly get a prototype application built and deployed with Node.js and PaaS. Keep reading, the next blog entry will have more than a few lines of code. (Seriously, it will!)'

Adron Hall is a jovial, proactive, test & code, code & test, get things done well, software architect, engineer, code monkey, coder, and distributed systems advocate. As a coder, Hall plies a polygot language path including C#, Java, JavaScript, and Erlang lately -- as well as Pascal, Basic, Visual Basic, C++, C, COBOL, RPG, CL, and others in the past. He founded with Aaron Gray, Node PDX with Troy Howard, and more startups are in the works. You can read his blog at Composite Code ( View posts by .

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