How has cloud computing impacted the developer and the development lifecycle?
By Cameron McKenzie
Has the cloud truly revolutionized how software developers do their jobs? Has cloud computing made the developer’s job any easier? Does SaaS or PaaS or IaaS really contribute to projects that deliver their milestones on time? Does the typical programmer even care whether development occurs on-premise or in the cloud? And what are the benefits of cloud computing for this particular group of stakeholders? Mark Driver, VP of Research at Gartner, answered some of these questions for us at the 2012 Gartner Application Architecture, Development & Integration Summit in Las Vegas; and you might be surprised by some of his answers.
Moving application lifecycle management tasks to the cloud
By far the easiest services in the software development lifecycle to move to the cloud are those that “live” on a server. That might mean ‘cloud-ifying’ source code management tools, a testing suite, or even something as simple as a wiki. Of course, developers couldn’t care less as to whether the hosting server is down the hall, in another city, halfway around the world, or in a completely amorphous cloud that makes pinpointing the resources exact location practically impossible. But as long as developers have access to the services they need, the location of the server has absolutely no impact on their job, and if it has no impact on their job, then they really don’t care about it. But that’s not to say that developers can’t benefit from the use of cloud based technologies. If an organization tends to have a problem with frequent server downtime on-site, moving to the cloud might actually help to make things less tense in IT. Developers wouldn’t be grinding their teeth at delays caused by outdated infrastructure or maintenance techs who aren’t lightning fast at fixing problems in-house.
Cloud based collaborative technologies for developers
Software developers are often cast as introverted individuals who shun interaction, but the vast network of in-depth knowledge compiled and freely shared in advice forums and code libraries by programmers based all over the globe tells a different story. Collaboration is one area where the cloud is light years ahead of on-premise capabilities. In fact, Gartner’s Mark Driver argues that many open source projects wouldn’t even exist without the centralized, virtual repository that is the “cloud”. Geographically dispersed teams within any organization do their best work when everyone has fast, easy, and consistent real time access to the same information. So, while developers might not care about the fact that they might be using the cloud, the technology has to get a ‘thumbs up’ for the ways it can enhance teamwork and move the ball down the field for software developers.
Money is no object…Or is it?
The programmer writing code isn’t always concerned with how much money a particular development effort is going to consume. A project budget is something that simply makes it more difficult to get the job done when it starts restricting resources. The CFO is like a nemesis in a comic book (sorry, “graphic novel”), standing in the way of progress. However, developers should care about the potential cost savings of moving their work to the cloud. IT can realize especially significant gains when it comes to elastic, pay-as-you-go test environments. When funding decision makers can “steal the milk through the fence” with consumption based billing instead of buying the cow (in this case, added infrastructure), they are more likely to green-light new projects. That doesn’t just provide more interesting stuff to work on, but it just might help to keep more programmers on the payroll.
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