Corporate-owned dedicated devices with touchscreens are becoming more ubiquitous than ever. They are used by enterprises to interact directly with customers and workforces. They are networked and deployed across a variety of spaces, channels, and verticals. Common examples include point-of-sale systems, restaurant ordering devices, logistics devices, information displays, self-service kiosks, and more.
These devices are typically owned and managed by the same engineering teams responsible for developing the apps the devices run. The devices are often in remote locations where app deployment, orchestration, and diagnostics are difficult. Since these are business-critical devices, outages result in either loss of revenue or negatively impacting customer experiences.
Esper Puts the Developer First
Developers need tools to launch their projects, build test labs with devices, and eventually move out to trials and then into scaled customer deployments. Continuous development and integration are just as valuable to dedicated devices as they are to web services. Even at scale, an engineering team requires the same tools that they used when building applications for a single device.
Developers also need systems that work with a singular cloud infrastructure, which helps engineering teams jump between different roles — whether in product development, operational management, or in-fleet diagnosis.
Dedicated devices are not islands. They coexist with a backend and dashboard for displaying data. Operationally, it is imperative that customers can create cohesive dashboards that not only display their business metrics but also include the application and devices that are driving that business. They need a system that provides the ability to integrate all application, device management, and monitoring into one backend and subsequently deliver it all seamlessly to the enterprise’s dashboard.
Companies are moving away from large operational and support teams to inline operations within the core engineering team using a DevOps methodology. This serves two purposes – the first of which is to provide better accountability to engineering teams by understanding operational inefficiencies and customer pains. Engineering teams will reduce the former via improved automation and the latter by fixing software.
The secondary purpose is to increase efficiency, create agility, and reduce overall operational costs. For the developer, it means being able to apply more time towards innovative apps and experiences rather than on rote device management activities better served by software.
Developing & Deploying Applications at Scale
Android provides a great application development framework environment with a rich ecosystem of available hardware. What is missing is a seamless way to deploy these applications to dedicated devices.
In today’s technology companies, developers frequently work on code that targets millions of customers while also requiring scaled deployments, while productizing multiple changes daily. Developers are able to do so under the guarantee of monitoring, metrics, and infrastructure that protects them from large scale failures. If they fail, they fail fast but diagnose and fix faster.
These same capabilities need to be available for deployment of applications to dedicated devices. Reducing the overall testing timeframe as well as the risks associated with large scale outages is critical. This also applies to deploying applications and updates to devices – companies must have a full assurance that they can build a dependable deployment pipeline.
First and foremost, this requires a system that makes application deployment to remote devices much easier. The deployment mechanism needs to provide fine-grained control on how applications are rolled out to devices, including monitoring and automatic feature rollback based on deviations in measured metrics. The system that controls the rollback has to be able to measure both system and application level metrics to take into account any instability in the overall system.
In the event of a rollback, it is vital to understand which subset of devices exhibited anomalous behavior and what specific behavior triggered the rollback. Tooling needs to provide the required and necessary technology for remote detection and analysis – whether for profiling, crash analysis, or direct debugging. These services must be secure and authenticated, allowing control over who conducts device inspections and the duration of each inspection.
Continuous Monitoring of Critical Infrastructure
Customers are using these devices in a variety of environments. The common theme we hear at Esper is that these devices are critical to the functioning of the business and that malfunctioning devices or connectivity directly affects the bottomline. Therefore, proper monitoring of both applications and the devices is critical. Actionable monitoring and diagnosis are even more important.
Passive monitoring provides superficial information but does not get at the root causes of failures such as determining why an application or device is in an unstable state. As a dedicated device fleet scales, the ability to visually review the overall state of the fleet is insufficient. Instead, customers need systems that can alert automatically to malfunctioning components whether they are software or hardware related, and furthermore take automated corrective actions.
A common issue for teams deploying devices in batches is dealing with the diversity of firmware and hardware versions supplied by the hardware vendors. Keeping an eye on system and hardware level issues at all times is critical in this space.
Turning the Complexity of App & Device Management into Code
In an API driven world, simply presenting a dashboard is not enough. Developers need and expect the ability to take control. Developers must be able to integrate device orchestration into existing application backends and dashboards — when, where, and how they see fit.
Most dedicated systems have a backend and UX to manage the business use supported by the application running on the dedicated device. For example, POS systems have backends that facilitate the management of store-specific activity and transactions occurring through the device. Logistics devices have a backend that manages fleet or warehouse activities. Integrating the device orchestration and monitoring directly into the backend will facilitate better operational efficiencies.
The development team can help support the operations and support team in a unified manner by taking advantage of systems that provide API level access to application management, device orchestration, and monitoring.
Tools that help manage the infrastructure fundamentally allow you (the developer) to focus on your business proposition.
“The application code running on the device is the primary reason why the devices exist in the first place.“
Utilizing a platform that enables developers to manage the application and device infrastructure and avoid spending precious resources reinventing the wheel allows the development teams to focus on the bottom line.
Esper is the industry’s only Android dedicated device platform for seamlessly building, deploying, and managing with robust support for diagnosing and debugging devices in the field.
Like never before, digital transformation continues to impact and change the way businesses operate today. Ubiquitous computing and “Amazon Go” style retailing is fundamentally transforming the entire customer experience and requires new innovations in how enterprises develop, manage, and deploy their devices.
This is where Esper comes in!
“We are shifting the paradigm from managing devices to managing app deployment on devices, wherein devices act as a mere container to run the applications and applying the principles of DevOps and orchestration across dedicated devices, apps, and operating systems.”
We’re passionate about changing the way enterprises build and deploy their applications. Target devices for a developer may be a restaurant kiosk, a point of sale device, or a logistics device. Whatever may be your endpoint, Esper can help turn app and device management into code with our rich set of APIs, SDKs, and tools. We provide a robust traditional management console, but more importantly, our approach enables you to extend, innovate, and integrate Esper’s functionality into your own dashboard to precisely fit your business needs.
No matter whether you’re standing up a new kiosk for your business or remapping your existing application and device deployment strategy, we’ve got you covered.
As touchscreen-based dedicated devices are increasingly applied to deliver value to people – whether customers or employees, Esper aims to become the ubiquitous platform bridging between apps and devices driven by developers and code in concert with traditional device management activities. We hope you join us on the journey by trying and using Esper for your dedicated device fleet.