Cowen & Company’s Mid-Year 2015 IT Spending Survey published in Forbes in May 2015, reports that that 53% of enterprises plan to purchase Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) services from an IT services provider. 21% year-over-year spending growth on SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) technologies is forecast between 2014 and 2015. And most important of all 77% of participating respondents report meaningful adoption of the cloud already and believe more processes could be moved to that platform.
Building and running on-premise applications has always been a complex, expensive, and slow undertaking. Applications required hardware, an operating system, a database, middleware, Web servers, and other software. Once the stack was assembled, developers had to navigate frameworks like J2EE and .NET. A team of network, database, and system management experts was needed to keep everything up and running. Inevitably, a business requirement would require a change to the application, which would then kick off another lengthy development, test, and redeployment cycle.
Cloud computing has burst into the technology scene, removing the need for businesses to invest in expensive hardware/computing resources to accomplish their application development needs. Technology companies today offer specific software as ‘Software as a Service’ model. This allows organizations to use the well-defined functionality of those applications either in full for their business, or use them as sub-components in their cloud application development process.
Although cloud application development calls for a different set of skills, it also offers distinct advantages, including the removal of any scalability concerns. And with the continued proliferation of Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings, the idea of developing applications in the cloud has become even more interesting. So much is the traction in cloud application development that even Fortune 500 companies have invested significant resources in this direction.
How can cloud application development benefit the organization?
In a nutshell, it allows the launch new projects without having to worry about hardware configurations; and it can significantly cut application development costs.
We can enumerate several advantages of cloud application development:
Improved time to market
With cloud application development, the focus shifts towards developing application features rather than provisioning infrastructure.
The hypothetical scenario of creating a proof of concept in the morning, purchasing servers, setting them up and configuring them during lunch, and launching an application right then, all becomes a reality with cloud application development.
One of the most difficult aspects of traditional application development was the provision for the right amount of infrastructure. Organizations had to walk a very fine line between over-provisioning for application load that may never materialize, or under-provisioning and ultimately resulting in performance issues.
With cloud application development, it is possible to launch a minimal set of application instances for an anticipated load, and deploy more instances if load increases.
Lower initial cost
With no capital costs up front, cloud application development reduces the cost of getting a new project to market.
One of the key characteristics of a good business application is the design, layout, and architecture. Cloud application development components are created in some standardized form to be able to cater to clients from differing industries with varying needs. As a result, cloud application development makes it simpler to create a design and architecture that provides an efficient and reliable service, void of performance flaws, while simultaneously refusing to compromise on the user-friendliness.
Moreover, the standardization of these cloud based applications does not mean that the program cannot be customized towards each particular client. Good business applications in the cloud have the ability to integrate features from other similar applications, limit features that are redundant to a client, and most importantly, change dynamically to follow the demands of the client and the industry.
Price scheme flexibility
Another bigger benefit of cloud application development is the flexibility available in pricing schemes. There is no need to install the constituent software and therefore no need for a license fee. The application development components are widely available for all to use, and function on a pay-per-use model. Some cloud application components even work on a ‘pay-per-event’ approach, where the actual charges are based on the completion of certain transaction/event.
Ease of testing
When adopting a cloud application development approach, additional applications instances for either functional or load testing are available at the click of a button. So it becomes unnecessary to have expensive hardware available 24×7 for running tests. These hardware resources can be drawn in at the point of need, and released after the testing phase is completed.
Security is an important consideration for any cloud application development scenario, since eventually, business data is stored in a ‘cloud’ rather than in the company data centre. However, good cloud application development components are designed especially to protect a client’s data, by limiting access and providing a well-encrypted environment. Application developers are hence saved from the trouble of having to worry about security from the very outset.
The benefits of cloud application development to too prominent to ignore, and it is not a surprise that organizations are fast adopting this as an important item in their corporate strategy.