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Imagine every app, travel plan, meeting & reservation were seamlessly connected. It’s almost here.

The application architecture called MASA could mean big things for you and your customers.

Travel can be a pain. Imagine this scenario — your flight is delayed, you miss your connection and you won’t make it in time for your car rental and hotel reservations.

But what if that information is streamlined in one application, so you’re not only notified of the delay in advance, but your entire itinerary is altered to reflect those changes. Plus, your travel preferences, medical conditions and other pertinent information is taken into account.

This isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. With MASA, this will be possible — and more.

If you haven’t heard of MASA (Mesh App and Service Architecture), it refers to solutions that link apps (mobile, web, desktop and IoT) with services, micro-services and connected devices — basically, it’s an interconnected mesh of independent apps and services.

However, users only see one unified app — and they only see what’s relevant to them (think Uber drivers versus Uber customers using the same app).

A new approach for new applications

Gartner describes MASA as the preferred application architecture for the digital age. “MASA applications natively support optimal, multichannel user experiences, and their agile architecture enables continuous delivery of new capabilities.”

Compare that to the traditional three-tier architecture that companies have been using for the past 20 years — an architecture that was designed to support applications prior to the emergence of web and mobile apps. Obviously, things have changed. Aside from web and mobile apps, we’re also seeing explosive growth in IoT and the emergence of new connected devices.

The market for IoT is expected to grow from $170.57 billion USD in 2017 to $561.04 billion by 2022, according to Markets and Markets. Gartner estimates that 20.4 billion devices will be connected by 2020, while Cisco forecasts that to be a whopping 50 billion devices.

And, with the proliferation of devices that collect and deliver data — and users accessing apps on everything from tablets to wearable technology and smart appliances — the traditional approach to networking isn’t going to cut it anymore.

MASA makes life easier with meshed apps and services

How MASA meets the need

That’s where MASA comes in. A MASA app is made up of several independent apps and services, and knits together these different endpoints into a cohesive whole. It allows ‘things’ to talk to each other, thanks to its ability to interpret massive volumes of data. As we see more IoT apps link to this mesh of back-end services, MASA will provide a consistent user experience across devices — whether you’re accessing the app on your laptop or on your refrigerator.

Through MASA, businesses can tap into this meshed network to more accurately address the needs of disparate customers, “sometimes meeting customer needs before they even realize the need exists,” says an article in Brainstorm. “Due to the real-time nature of accessing the data pool and making use of the information that suits their purpose, businesses can make decisions faster and innovate ahead of the curve.”

If your organization is still using traditional client/server technology, it’s time to start thinking mesh. But how do you prepare for MASA? After all, it requires a complete shift in your approach to development and the infrastructure required to support it.

MASA leverages cloud computing, containers, micro-services and APIs — and that requires an architectural shift. It requires a cloud hosting service for availability and scalability, it must be modular and adaptive, and must be able to address high volumes of web traffic in real time.

“Focus must be placed on creating software-defined applications and services that can work across all cloud and on-premise architecture, all of which must offer web-scale performance,” according to the Brainstorm article, which adds that software needs to be ‘mobile’ and able to work across multiple networks, IoT sensors, cloud-native applications and technologies.

Security issues?

This approach, however, comes with its share of challenges — namely, security. The more apps and services and devices that are interconnected, the more important security becomes. Whatever your approach to MASA, securing customer data should always be a top priority.

MASA is complex — and there’s a steep learning curve.

As Gartner says, MASA will require changes to the architecture, technology and tools used to develop solutions. “Solutions ultimately support multiple users in multiple roles using multiple devices and communicating over multiple networks. However, MASA is a long-term architectural shift that requires significant changes to development tooling and best practices.”

So, if you haven’t started down the road to MASA, now is a good time to start thinking about taking that first step.


Up Next: The Internet has gone mobile, and you can too.

Vawn Himmelsbach

Vawn Himmelsbach is a freelance writer and editor based in Toronto. She has covered technology and travel for 15 years, for media outlets such as, The Globe & Mail, Metro News, ITBusiness, PCworld Canada and Computerworld Canada. She also spent three years living abroad and working as an Asian correspondent.

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