APPFORUM 2019 - Blog Series: What Zebra Going Cloud Means for Developers Part 1

                                                          Zebra’s Cloud Transformation is Game-changing for Developers

                                                                 By Nathan Clevenger, Director of Portfolio Management

                                                            Blog Series #1: What Zebra Going Cloud means for Developers

Zebra’s cloud transformation may sound like a subtle improvement of services. But the impacts of Zebra going cloud is game-changing for developers.

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To learn more from our experts, including Nathan Clevenger,  at Zebra's APPFORUM. Register open now for our Sydney event August 13-14 and Beijing event August 20-21, 2019 and  Las Vegas event, Oct 1-2, 2019

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As developers, you’ve known Zebra Savanna, our data intelligence platform, as the cloud representation of APIs on the device level. But now Savanna and Savanna’s enriched API layer, Savanna Data Services, are connecting edge devices to the cloud and providing a centralized source for customizable and out-of-the-box APIs to develop your own application solutions. 

Beyond conventional cloud services

Cloud enablement may seem obvious. It is when you are talking about using it with on-premise servers and middleware. For example, on-prem you might manage print jobs via USB, BluetoothTM or local IP network connections. For your RFID solution, using the LLRP protocol requires on-premise servers to initiate requests to the RFID readers. Some of the functionalities are cloud-based, but they do not offer the speed, simplicity, and cost savings that Zebra Savanna’s cloud architecture provides.

Traditionally, to write an app for printing or RFID you need on-prem hardware at every location and you have to write the app to support, control and manage the solution on-prem for each location too, which may run into the thousands. This often creates a nightmare for managability and supportability, with huge challenges to connectivity and data visibility.

That’s why Zebra is going beyond conventional cloud services. Enterprise solutions that have not traditionally been accessible or manageable via cloud APIs are now being expanded by Zebra Savanna and Zebra Savanna Services—solutions like thermal printing, RFID technologies, blockchain traceability, barcode intelligence, and more. 

Zebra is making enterprise industrial solutions capable of being developed and managed with cloud applications. Cloud connectivity is at the heart of digital transformation globally. Gartner forecasts that by 2022, 90% of organizations purchasing public cloud IaaS will do so from an integrated IaaS+ PaaS provider and will use both the IaaS and PaaS capabilities from that provider. (Gartner: Forecast Analysis: Public Cloud Services, Worldwide, 4Q18 Update, February 2019.)

What Zebra’s cloud transformation means on the ground

Rather than building multi-tiered architecture where you are writing software that runs at each and every location, and then having to parallel that architecture up to the cloud, and on top of that having to manage it all through your high-level architecture—now you can write only one app through the cloud and it supports everything. 

It bears repeating: Without having to acquire new developer skills, you can write only one app through the cloud and it supports everything. All of your development is in one place. It’s less work, less cost, more efficient and can generate more ROI. Your time is freed up to focus on developing better data capture, easier monitoring and more robust analytics.

Take RFID and printing as examples. 

The majority of costs for on-prem RFID solutions goes to installing servers at every location. On-prem RFID requires on-prem servers per each location, even though each location may only host a few RFID readers. Developers have to code the architecture for each location. 

On the other hand, Zebra RFID using cloud-connected readers don’t need on-prem services. Cloud-connected readers connect to the cloud from the reader itself. Customers already plug it in to get power over Ethernet (sounds counter intuitive, but it works). With outbound connectivity to the internet, you’re live with cloud-based manageability of cloud-based events. 

The cost savings are significant because you don’t need servers and middleware at each location. The development is leaner because you develop one application. It’s easier and more efficient to manage. And the RFID solution delivers high-performance functionalities and greater ROI. 

The same goes for print solutions. Instead of writing applications that talk directly to the device and designing the app to manage the complexity, now you can build one application that talks to all of your printers, across all locations using cloud-based software-as-a-service, printing software for printing. From anywhere in the world to anywhere, you can execute print jobs, access printer events, and manage all the printers in your enterprise.

Fyi: Zebra customers are not being forced into the cloud

Zebra is expanding to the cloud, but Zebra’s evolution doesn’t require that developers, business innovators or independent software vendors (ISVs) move to the cloud. We are expanding our APIs from hardware level to the cloud level, but Zebra hardware is not going away.

However, Zebra customers now have the option to increase the simplicity, manageability and cost-effectiveness by accessing APIs at the cloud level.

Zebra is part of the global movement from the tradition of disconnected devices at the edge, to innovating transformations that connect all devices at the edge via cloud technology. Investments into cloud services has been growing over the years, with recent jumps in spending. Gartner forecasts a 17.6% growth from 2018 to 2019 in the global spending forecast for public cloud services. Gartner also projects that through 2022 cloud services will grow at nearly three times that of overall IT services. (Gartner, February 2019.)

Connecting edge devices via Zebra cloud technology is what Savanna and Savanna Data Services represent, and what Savanna and Savanna Data Services are. And it’s is exciting for developers, BIs and ISVs because Savanna makes development leaner, faster, and more cost effective. 

Don’t miss the paradigm shift. Zebra invites your enterprise to join us in leveraging the power of cloud-based API software for your operations.

Learn from our experts at Zebra's APPFORUM. Register now for our Sydney event August 13-14 Beijing event August 20-21, 2019 and Las Vegas event Oct. 1-2, 2019. 

Stay tuned for Part 2 - Zebra’s cloud transformation is game-changing for developer

Have questions about Zebra going cloud or Savanna Data Services? Feel free to contact me at nclevenger@zebra.com.