Many software developers are getting on board with the new idea of creating applications in the cloud that have a central point of install for all clients. This creates a new set of challenges for developers and it forces us to recognize that applications developed for the cloud are a different sort of animal. As the amount of cloud applications needed continues to grow, there are a new set of responsibilities and ideas that must be taken into account. In this article, I will address some of these new ideas and how they can impact development in this new environment.
Focus on the big idea
The big idea in cloud computing is the removal of traditional obstacles. Business owners can increase or add capacity without the added cost of infrastructure or the overhead of more employees. Programmers can write applications that are hardware and environment independent. While most of us learned to develop software while connections and infrastructure were a concern, this is no longer necessary for cloud developers. We must learn to “let go” of plumbing concerns and focus more on business logic and innovation instead of operating system and hardware problems. This allows us to do more “big picture” thinking than getting mired in details about file systems. One of the key remedies here is training. Get trained in cloud based technologies so you can be better adept at developing for cloud environment. We can help here. LearnComputer offers a variety of cloud computing training courses to get your started on your path to being a cloud developer.
Not all Clouds are equal
While many people think of the cloud being a central place, there are many different types of clouds that reside in different areas. Public clouds are available from different service providers which can vary in available features. Private clouds exist in the form of data centers and modular environments and hybrid clouds exist between the private clouds and public. Managing these connections can be complicated since you would need to monitor the service level across all areas of the cloud.
Sharing is the future
Currently, cloud hosts do not communicate with each other but the future of the cloud idea will require that they do. Businesses usually purchase multiple services from multiple vendors and each may be operating in the cloud with their own data. The ability to have different clouds by different vendors sharing data is the direction that some major competitors are moving. However, there are currently no standards and very little agreement between vendors on how this should be done or what should be shared.
State is no longer an option
Applications in the cloud no longer have a state and object re-creation is a constant process inside the application. There is no longer any concept of a local disk or registry, both of which become obsolete when we think of stateless applications. Databases are still available to hold user information but even they differ from the traditional relational database model. To allow for scaling, the idea state must go.
Security is king
Many businesses are hesitant about moving their business to the cloud for fear of security risks and exposure of data. They want to be reassured that the company hosting the cloud, as well as the applications that reside on it are bulletproof and capable of handling any problems that may arise. As a developer, it will be your responsibility to ensure this trust is not misplaced between business owners and cloud managers as well as between the business and their customers.
Get used to rapid changes in your development cycle
The biggest difference between traditional applications and cloud-based applications is that things change more rapidly. Updates and releases can be turned over to the customer at a much faster rate and developers will need to adopt a faster release schedule to accommodate this new concept of software distribution.
Get used to rapid changes in your cloud
Along with your own rapid release schedule, developers of the cloud itself and its host will often update the environment software frequently. These updates may contain features that you will want to take advantage of as a developer. You will need to keep up-to-date on what is being released and how it impacts your software. Usually there are release notes, blogs and webinars that you can use to get this information about your cloud host and their plans for your environment.
Understand your provider
Developers need to understand the provider they will be working with for their applications. Make sure you are fully aware of their licensing, platform limitations and pricing schemes. If your provider doesn’t work out, it is a good plan to have an application that is easily moved to another cloud host. The best practice for this would be to have your application written in a common language that most cloud providers can support and not use any obscure third-party plug-ins you may not be able to get elsewhere.
While cloud computing is in its early stages, it is not hard to see how it benefits business owners and developers alike and I have only scratched the surface of this emerging market. Cloud computing is capable of encompassing everything from hardware, security, software, information management, service management and many other areas. It is truly the robust environment needed for us to take software development to the next level.
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