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The Impact of Cloud Computing on Developers
You are talking a lot about cloud but how will it impact me as a developer?

Cloud impact on developers
In one of our cloud presentations, we were inspired with the question, "You are talking a lot about cloud but how will it impact me as a developer?" I have managed to answer that question. But then I realized that this is a question that is on many of developers' minds.

That gave me a spark to write this article. This article will provide an overview of the impact of cloud computing on developers and it is purely from developer's standpoint.

Adoption in the upcoming cloud world is inevitable. So we need to be aware of how it will impact us and in what way we need to change ourselves to adapt to the cloud. As we already have a good basic understanding of cloud features and benefits, let us move directly into the subject.

In a bird's eye view on this subject, the immediate question that will arise is:

Are developers going to do anything new compared to their current day- to-day activities? Definitely it is a big "NO", then, are they going to do the same which they were doing? Again the answer is "NO". So what exactly is going to change from a developer's standpoint?

"Developers are going to do the same in terms of their development process/lifecycle, but at the same time they need to learn a bit about the new technology and new platform where the applications will be hosted"

By visualizing the current and cloud developer's environment; we can get a quick understanding on the actual change.

The current scenario of development environment can be depicted as below:

"Customer location" is the location of the customer to whom we will provide the development service and Support. Customer location consists of Customer's data centre and end-users. Remote location is the location of developer service or support providers. Secured-VPN and dedicated network connections are available in current scenario to establish the connection between client and remote location. The communication between customer and remote location is highly secured.

In a Cloud scenario of development work can be depicted as below:

Compared to the current scenario, the cloud scenario has one more location called "Cloud data centre" it is the location of cloud service provider. Customer's data centre is hosted in Cloud data centre and this can be utilised based on the requested and agreed services with cloud service provider. Customer can use the data centre or its services on "Pay as you go" basis, there are other types of cloud delivery model and this is a quick example. These locations are connected with secured connection and the level of security is slightly less compared to the current scenario. It's expected that cloud providers will overcome the network security related concerns, making it highly secured one.

As depicted above the major difference is where the actual application is hosted. In current scenario it will be at the customer's data centre and in cloud scenario it will be in the cloud data centre which is outside the customer location.

This scenario based explanations would give us, some fair understanding on what is the exact difference between current and cloud development environment.

In the section below, we have covered the major parameters which require more clarification from the developer's perspective to understand the impact of cloud from their standpoint. Those can be categorized into:

A. Development solution Approach and process/lifecycle

  • Development solution requires more concentration on the customers' business compared to the technical potentialities. This is one of major point in cloud development as we are showcasing that, the difference in cloud is to provide more robust and user-friendly application environment.
  • The application should be user friendly with cloud, by ensuring scalability and No hardcoding of IP address. We may not know the application server IP address in forehand and thus it should be flexible to mingle with this scenario.
  • Development solution approach will remain the same, but there is a need to consider few parameters in terms of communication route and security aspects. While developing software solution design the actual placement of server and accessing the server requires fine tuning to match with cloud, like Server Hosted in Cloud environment and it needs to be accessed through web portal.
  • Development process/lifecycle will remain the same like the current, except few cosmetic changes. E.g. SDLC model can be used with a little fine tuning to match it with cloud development

B. Development Technology

  • As you expect, every change brings certain level of alteration in technologies. But in cloud scenario there is no drastic change, but developers need to acquire additional knowledge on new technologies E.g.: open source or light weight cloud software's.
  • Industry is expecting that open source or light weight cloud software's will have a huge role in cloud environment, but at the same time Large organisations will stick to their existing technologies and it will be leveraged to use it in cloud environment
  • Few features which are mandatory to quantify the technology as cloud compatible are as follows:
    -Should be a web friendly technology
    -Able to provide the Self-provisioning or self-service Portals
    -Nimbler Development
    -Interface should be more user-friendly and attractive
    -Technology should be flexible to scale-up or scale-down

C. Development Platform and hosting environment

  • Application Platform and environment should be flexible to adopt with Application scale up or scale-down, developers need to have an eye on this aspect even though it's not in their bucket. Application development needs to consider the aspect of application flexibility for scale up and down.
  • Developing platform is cloud, so we need to consider the related parameters during development like connectivity, accessibility and security.
  • Development should be agile in the cloud scenario, as compared to the current scenario, as platform and infrastructure will be provided in minutes, so development should be more agile to campaign with the cloud environment.
  • One major goal of cloud is self-service and self-provisioning. Cloud application should be able to adapt with these aspects
  • As the applications are hosted on the cloud, one of the major ways to attract and mingle with end user is with good end-user modules of cloud application.
  • Hosting environment of the developed application is on the cloud platform and there is a need to consider the Network, accessibility and authentication
  • Cloud development platform and environment can be used on "Pay-as-you go" basis and we have different types of cloud delivery models.
  • Majority cloud providers will use the Virtualised infrastructure (though it's not mandatory for cloud), thus developers need to have an eye on this aspect in terms of virtualization compatibility.

This article has provided certain level of insight into cloud and its impact to developers, which will give them a fair idea on the latest hot topic -cloud. As known to all "changes only do not change in the world", specifically in IT arena we need to adapt with the modernised new changes. Cloud will concentrate more on the user benefits and features, Thereby we need to understand this view and provide the development approach and solution it in a more agile manner. Developers can easily adapt to this change as it's less complicated and more agile environment.

About Kumaresan Nagarethinam
Kumaresan Nagarethinam is a Senior Technology Architect with Cloud Practice of Infosys Ltd. He has 12 years of experience in the IT Infrastructure domain, both in consulting and implementation. His areas of expertise include Cloud/Virtualisation Consulting, IT Infrastructure Design and Project Management. He is specializes in VMware and cloud infrastructure design, datacenter design and implementation. He has the certifications on VCP4,VSP4,VTSP4,IBM Cloud Computing Infrastructure Architect V1,IBM Cloud-Solution Advisor-V1,ITIL and CLP.

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