Should You Invest in Professional Services for Your Node-RED Development?

Professional Services for Node-RED, When and Why?

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Professional services come in many different forms. Anything from setup and configuration, flow development, to node development. In this article, we will cover a few examples of how you can leverage professional services for your Node-RED applications.

Should You Invest in Professional Services for Your Node-RED Development?

Node-RED is multifaceted, and Professional Services (PS) can apply to many use cases. We will break it down into three categories that will help identify whether PS (Professional Services) is right for you. Those categories will be setup, flow development, and node development. Each takes a different skill set and has different levels of complexity.

Before we jump into things, we need to understand the value proposition of Node-RED. Why Node-RED? Node-RED is a tool that makes Citizen Development a reality. It should be treated that way throughout the development journey regardless of Professional Services or not. Following standard procedures that minimize complexity, for example: reducing the use of function nodes when other nodes would be more ideal. Don’t overcomplicate things that don’t need to be or better said by this quote.

Easy things should be easy, and hard things should be possible. -Larry Wall

Setup

It is often recommended to use PS for the setup and installation of products, and Node-RED and FlowFuse aren't different. This becomes especially true if you desire to professionalize your Node-RED instance. The reason for this is that PS teams focus on minimizing the risk of application failure, security compromise, and data/ip loss. This is an area of PS that can easily be overlooked, mainly there aren't any negative consequences in the short term. The work these teams focus on prevents catastrophic issues in the future. With Node-RED and FlowFuse, these teams will focus on installing FlowFuse based on system requirements and prerequisites, migrating existing Node-RED instances, securing your environment, and integrating with your existing ecosystem of applications.

Flow development

Oftentimes, many think of Flow development when they think of PS for Node-RED. There will be a process flow that needs to be accomplished, but it is leveraging standard nodes built within the Node-RED platform. Occasionally, there will be a need to install a custom node from the pallet manager, but the complexities in the development are adhering to a process and or visualization. There may be complex data translation, but for the most part, access to the command line of the Node-RED instance is unnecessary. Professional services may be used in situations like this where knowledge of specific systems that Node-RED is integrating into is complex. For example, a complex backend database for specific industry-wide used applications.

Node Development

At the core of some integration projects lies a critical requirement: the need for specific integrations that align precisely with your application's demands. This is where Node-RED's open-source nature becomes its most significant asset. Node-RED allows for the development of custom nodes, catering to specialized protocols unique to your organization or to serve niche applications. Such node development isn't just another feature; it represents the foundational element of Node-RED, embodying the platform's core value proposition.

Whether addressing the need for custom integration with internal systems or expanding functionality to include less common applications, node development stands as the pivotal mechanism for enabling these capabilities. This critical development can be undertaken in-house, leveraging your team's expertise, or through PS specialized in node development.

Conflating Flow and Node Development

It is important when scoping out a project to identify all of the potential nodes needed and identify any potential missing ones. The skills for developing Nodes and Flow development, while similar, are often different skill sets. Having these identified will help prevent scope creep and setting expectations on timelines.

Conclusion

As we've explored throughout this article, Professional Services for Node-RED can significantly enhance the efficiency, security, and scalability of your automation and integration projects. From the initial setup and configuration to the intricacies of flow and node development, the expertise PS teams offer can be invaluable. The decision to engage with Professional Services should be informed by your project's specific needs, internal capabilities, and strategic priorities. Whether it's leveraging PS for the foundational setup of your Node-RED instance, outsourcing flow development to expedite project timelines, or seeking expert assistance for node development, the goal is the same: create a coding environment that is conducive to citizen development.

If you are interested in professional services or consultation, please reach out.

Written By:

OT Data & Community Strategist

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