Following on from my presentation at the O365 Saturday, I wanted to clarify a little more about the SITRION product – and how it works.
MBAAS : Mobile Backbone As A Service
The key value proposition for Sitrion is the “Sitrion ONE cloud” that is used to receive/relay data from on-prem, and SaaS’es, and push notifications to mobile devices.
There is a LOT going on here, but it’s basically an Azure tenant site that does the traffic shipping – as allows you to configure the apps/cards.
Native Device App
For a user of a Sitrion app, it’s very quick to get going. Just need to download the app from the store (AppStore or Google Play), and you get the SITRION icon on your device. When you open the device, you need to login using an email address, and password. This then determines the specific apps that you have access to – based on the assigned ROLE for your user.
The native functions of the device can be used within an app – such as camera, GPS, “make a call” and so forth. All you need to do is define the business logic + user interface, for each app.
Creating “content” for Sitrion follows a nice developer story, using an IDE within Visual Studio. Instead of spending time with the iOS or Android development SDKs and/or Xamarin, the AppBuilder plug-in allows developers to define specific functionality – much like we used to do with InfoPath forms, or Nintex forms. The design of these forms follows a ‘railed’, with some basic UI components that you can drag and drop.
The good thing is that the two types of projects – CARDS and MICROAPPS – will all have a very similar User Interface, providing for consistency, regardless of the backend data.
What is a CARD ?
The simple explanation is that a CARD is a system-generated “push” notification. This can be via data updated within a SharePoint list, or a backend system listener to SQL Server, or any other trigger (we’ve even done a file-added-to-DropBox trigger). Sitrion will then send a notification to the user, and a ‘toast’+sound alert if configured. This is great for corporate communications, rather than relying on a user to respond to an email, or go read an intranet blogpost.
Cards will only ever have TWO screens – a summary, and a detail screen. This is to retain this notion of ‘small nuggets’ of information – rather than lots of information for each card.
These cards can be read-only, as a simple notification – or – can require a response as a TASK. Again, this depends on the business logic required, and can be an approval, or a check-in, or whatever !
When the action is taken, it will be send via the Sitrion cloud, and executed within the backend system – such as ‘create an item in a SharePoint list’ – or ‘approve action on a K2 task’.
When an item is added to an O365 list, it will send a notification alert. Shown below is a Summary + Detail screen
What is a MICROAPP ?
The second way to define functionality for Sitrion is via a MicroApp – this is a user initiated activity. This will be the person opening the Sitrion app, and starting an activity such as “Expense Claim”, or “Time Sheet”, or “People Search”.
The design of these MicroApps is via Visual Studio, with greater functionality, and many screens (if needed). The backend data connectors can read a list of data within SharePoint, or other data source, and users can do activities like List/Detail updates, or submit a form.
The same device functions can be used, such as camera, and GPS, etc – but the important distinction is that these are “user initiated”.
A user can choose a specific MicroApp, and then enter details, and click ‘submit’
Wiring it up
There are some good connectors for backend systems, such as SAP, SP2013, SP2010, SQL, K2 and so forth. And, some SaaS platforms like O365 and Salesforce. If needing further integrations, we’ve been using ZAPIER, which has close to 500 connectors – the sky is the limit (sorry – is that a bad “cloud” pun ??)
For any CLOUD connectors, you just need to include the login/password and a URL – such as Office 365.
For any ON-PREM connectors, you will need to install the Sitrion ONE “hub” which maintains connections to platforms such as SP2010 and SQL.
Here’s an example of the connection within a MICRO-APP, for a chosen SP site, list, and the data methods & fields.
For a ‘card’, the next configuration is to tell the actual SharePoint list (or O365) to send data, when a specific action occurs.
You just need to choose the List – and give it the “MessageType” to send. And also, need to choose “On Update”, or “On Insert”, etc.
This is the view within Office 365, you need to include some additional configuration details for your particular tenant.
Security + Authentication
This is a complex discussion, and probably something to cover in depth within further posts, but the main points are :
- Sitrion can maintain users/logins within the tenant itself (good for extranet or edge-users)
- ADFS can be used also, and is the best/easiest option for other reasons, such as internal connection to SP2013
- NO data is stored on the device itself, and is cached, and re-loaded when a user logs in.
- NO credentials are stored on the device either, for back-end or SaaS connections – Sitrion handles this within the “Hub”
- Azure Service Bus is the magic sauce to the platform, as well as HTTPS and JSON
This is a basic architecture – I’ll aim to discuss these topics in greater depth soon…
Enterprise Mobility using Sitrion ONE
As a mobile platform, Sitrion allows for greater employee engagement, and connectivity, you could even view this as a ‘mobile intranet’.
The CARD functionality provides the ability to PUSH content to users, ensuring that information is shared with employees, and users will have tasks at hand, and able to respond quickly – helping staff who are time poor – and better utilising idle time on a packed-train commute to work (for example), to perform a few productivity tasks.
The MICROAPPS allow for user initiated business processes, and will be the ‘go-to’ app for sources of information, such as knowledge base, people search, shared files, and company links.
If you would like a personalized demo, or a discussion regarding the SITRION platform for enterprise mobility, and employee engagements, please let me know…