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Daniel Viveiros (Global) - The Changing View of Development in the Cloud - Moving Towards a Bright Future: Part 1

Not long ago, few IT executives knew what "the cloud" meant, and any mention of the term was met with skepticism. Yet, years later, we find ourselves in an environment where "the cloud" has moved from buzzword status to having a major impact on IT organizations. The cloud has become a very real force on the IT landscape. For software developers, it has gone from being a somewhat vague concept to a new paradigm that is quickly emerging as a standard in how we build and deploy applications.

In this two part post, I will explain what is different, what changed everyone's minds in regards to working in the cloud. Certainly the cloud offerings from Google, Amazon, Salesforce.com and Microsoft were influential. They were the first to take the "vaporware" out of the cloud and provide companies with real, tangible tools that enable them to experience its benefits firsthand. Now, rather than spending countless IT dollars to build and deploy vast infrastructures to support new web and mobile applications, companies have a cheap and easy alternative for hosting them. This has been a boon for software developers, who were previously beholden to enterprise infrastructures to get their applications up and running. In almost every way, the cloud has begun to offer the benefits promised during those moments when it was first teased, making many IT executives anxious to fully tap it's potential as a business technology investment.

But like many new and evolving technologies, challenges to cloud adoption and industry-wide use as a development platform remain. Many executives, wary of cost issues in the event of unforeseen problems, and shaken by the potential for unreliability of cloud technologies (as was recently witnessed with Amazon's outage), have been reticent to move their infrastructures to the cloud. And though cloud advocates have made enormous strides in education about cloud security, many are still unwilling to take the plunge.

The promise of the cloud is real. Despite executives' initial reluctance to adopt it, cloud computing should be looked at seriously by companies in their software development efforts. Here are a few reasons it will change the way we develop applications throughout 2011 and beyond.

Speed + Cost Savings = The IT Holy Grail

Without a doubt, the chief benefit for companies developing applications in the cloud is speed. The hosted infrastructure the cloud offers - in a cheap, "pay-as-you-go" model, no less - means a much faster setup process for the development team, to say nothing of the flexibility it offers in the development process itself. Previously, teams were required to conduct extensive preparations before initiating a development project, all of which was contingent on ensuring that the infrastructure in place was capable of supporting the applications to be developed.

The cloud eliminates many of the infrastructure concerns of the development team by providing a hosted model, offering as much storage, computational power and services as are necessary to build and deploy the application while streamlining the setup phase and overall development process. This provides a significant cost benefit as well, as IT managers are freed from the need to invest significant resources in additional servers or other costly infrastructure before even considering the application in question. It's all there in the cloud, it's cheap, and it's ready as soon as the development team needs it.

So, instead of focusing on setup and infrastructure, development teams and IT managers can focus their resources on the application itself, and aligning it with the business needs of the organization. With cloud development, teams can focus on delivering nothing but value to the business through their development efforts, a key tenet of Lean application development and one that can position the IT organization as a valuable contributor to the business.

In the second part of this post, I'll discuss how cloud users can clear reliability and security hurdles and look to the future of cloud use in application development.

September 15th: Moving Towards a Bright Future: Part 2

By Daniel Viveiros, Technology Manager, Ci&T

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