5 Tips when Evaluating Real-Time Messaging

Push Technology - May 18, 2016

Not all real-time messaging solutions on the market are the same. But with new event-driven or chatty apps for mobile and IoT, real-time messaging is becoming an important tool to ensure front and back-end systems can talk.

Many of today’s mobile applications are static representations of data, refreshing displayed information only when a user explicitly asks for an update. But interactive applications are infinitely more engaging, updating in real-time as new data becomes available.

For many app developers, the time and resources to create their own solutions around this is just not as commercially viable as looking for outside help. Here we detail five tips when evaluating a real-time messaging solution.

  1. Is the messaging solution efficient?

Messaging solutions can be high performance – yet at the same time inefficient – meaning you pay for data that you don’t need to send. And that cost of moving data can add up. Look for a real-time messaging solution that is intelligent. For a given data object, you want the solution to limit the amount of data needed on the wire – by providing clients only the differences between old and new data, rather than the entire payload. You’ll benefit from better performance and reduced bandwidth consumption by up to 90% by sending only deltas.

2. Does the solution offer publish/subscribe messaging?

A request-response integration model is great for its intended purpose of delivering “point-in-time”, or relatively static data on request, whether that’s a user using a browser to view a news article or an app on a smartphone requesting an authentication token from a web service. Where the request-response model falls short is supporting event-driven apps i.e. being able to push out information between browsers or applications without having to wait for a request. Look for a publish/subscribe messaging solution that delivers a simple, effective integration model that works well for cloud, mobile and IoT apps. It will allow producers and consumers of data total independence.

3. Does the solution use the best transport protocol for the job?

There are a number of transport protocols that can be used to deliver your data. WebSockets is the most effective of these transports. It uses a single TCP connection to provide bi-directional communication of efficient binary data. However, sometimes the WebSocket protocol isn’t available, for example it can be blocked by a firewall or load balancer, or disallowed by the network provider.

Look for a solution whose JavaScript clients use WebSockets to establish communication with the server, but when WebSocket connection aren’t available, can fall back (“cascade”) to long-polling techniques over HTTP.

4. Does the real-time messaging solution offer bi-direction communication?

Interactive applications demand bi-directional communication for a truly collaborative experience across multiple users. But some real-time messaging solutions only support server-sent data. Find a solution that delivers bi-directional communication. With it, you’ll be able to support real-time engagement with the user, and enable collaborative applications.

5. Is the solution network-aware?

When working on a mobile device, we are all familiar with different network capabilities. As a mobile user moves, their device can often step between these technologies decreasing and increasing the data rates; steps between 4G, 3G, Edge and GPRS are common. If the network connections fail, bandwidth is limited, or the client is simply slow, messages can back up on the queue. Your real-time message solution should conflate the queue to remove messages that are stale or no longer relevant, or combine multiple related messages into a single consolidated message.

If you are evaluating real-time messaging solutions, have a look at Diffusion Cloud, the only enterprise-proven, real-time messaging service delivered via the cloud available at IBM Bluemix or Diffusion 5.7 is available now by download.

The Diffusion® Intelligent Event-Data Platform makes it easy to consume, enrich and deliver event-data in real-time across all network conditions. Push Technology pioneered and is the sole provider of real-time delta data streaming™ technology that powers mission-critical business applications worldwide. Leading brands use Push Technology to bring innovative products to market faster by reducing the software development efforts using the low-code features. The Diffusion® Intelligent Event-Data Platform is available on-premise, in-the-cloud, or in a hybrid configuration. Learn how Push Technology can reduce infrastructure costs, and increase speed, efficiency, and reliability, of your web, mobile, and IoT application.

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