Using The Cloud For Rapid Application Development

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Application Development In The CloudAccording to a survey carried out last year, application developers are still somewhat ambivalent about whether or not they stand to benefit from cloud computing. It’s the same old song and dance we’ve heard on multiple occasions before; concerns that the cloud isn’t secure enough collide with fear of vendor lock-in, a dearth of optimized tools, and skepticism about cloud reliability.

Before we move on to talk about the advantages of cloud application development, it’s worthwhile to stop for a moment and consider the risks. Like it or not, there’s a chance that if one chooses the wrong vendor, one’s source code can be compromised – either through negligence or malice; such vendors could also derail the development process through downtime and poor performance. Similarly, failure to properly read through and understand one’s contract can lead to vendor lock-in.

The common thread here seems to be that these risks can be easily circumvented if one practices due diligence. So long as a developer carries out adequate research on potential cloud vendors, understands their contract, and forms a decent conception of cloud computing as a technology, they should have nothing to fear from the cloud.

As an application developer, to balk at the thought of cloud development because of a few unfounded, easily-addressed fears seems misguided when one takes into account the clear advantages offered by the cloud. Thanks to the inherent efficiency of cloud computing, a savvy developer has the potential to streamline the development process like never before.

The majority of this efficiency comes into play during application testing. With the right cloud platform, a developer can effortlessly provision new development and testing environments. Naturally, this saves an incredible amount of time; developers can quickly move forward on builds without having to wait for the required hardware and software to show up. Not only that, a developer working in the cloud has access to a nearly infinite number of testing and staging servers, allowing them to test multiple instances at the same time.

Another advantage of the cloud in the development process concerns application production and distribution. By implementing this powerful technology into one’s organization, one gains the ability to put their applications into production almost immediately. Once in production, these apps can be patched, scaled, and modified with unprecedented ease.

Last, but certainly not least, the freedom provided by developing on the cloud encourages a great deal more communication and experimentation. A development team can create an instance to test and code an interesting new feature, for example; cloud collaboration platforms further streamline development, allowing for quick-and-easy team management.

Although many application developers still aren’t quite sure what to make of the cloud, it should be clear from what you’ve read here that it’s a powerful weapon in any development team’s arsenal. Thanks to the flexible and agile nature of the cloud, new development and testing environments can be provisioned effortlessly, and applications can be distributed faster than ever before; the time saved by this can be used to innovate and experiment. Even though the cloud has its weaknesses, it should be very clear that, as an application developer, this is one tool you want to use.

Image: Flickr/Jeff Attaway

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