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Mobile development and cloud adoption: A perfect fit

By Sal Pece

TheServerSide.com

Have you ever wondered why it is that mobile developers so much more likely to embrace the cloud than their counterparts who are engaged with typical enterprise development?

The short timelines are obviously an aggravating factor. There’s an inherent expectation that mobile applications will be released quickly and updated faster and with greater frequency than their enterprise brethren. This increased pressure on the mobile development team puts a great deal of pressure on them to offload or outsource as much development load as possible, and more often than not, that means turning to a cloud based provider to help with anything and everything, be it hosting the front end or big-data management on the back end.

Short timelines and small budgets

And along with the pressure placed on mobile development teams to produce, there exists the painful paradox that many of these mobile development teams are given tight budgets within which they must work. That means the money isn’t always available for mobile teams to put together elaborate staging servers to test how their applications behave under load, or how performance degrades in conjunction with fluctuations in the network’s bandwidth and availability. So how else would a smart project manager faced with a tight budget perform all of the required due diligence with regards to an application’s integrity before the first big release, and do it all without blowing the budget? They’d look for a low cost option, which in this day and age means turning to lower cost PaaS, SaaS and IaaS offerings.

But of course, every enterprise development team is under pressure. And it seems like every IT budget has been trimmed or streamlined as organizations deal with the aftermath of this century’s first big recession. So why is it that a mobile team is so much more likely to lean on the cloud as opposed to an enterprise development team who is under just as much pressure to deliver a feature-full, web based application to their clients? A big differentiator: it’s often governance.

Organizational governance of the cloud

Mobile development is new, and quite often the team that works on delivering an organization’s first mobile application works at an arms length from the rest of the enterprise development team, almost like how the CIA’s ‘Black Ops’ department operates. As IT organizations struggle to bring down rules of governance regarding how and when the cloud can and should be used by enterprise applications, the mobile development team skirts the whole debate, figuring it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. When the mobile team secretly uses the cloud to deliver a finished product that clients like and the accounting department doesn’t hate, enterprise organizations without proper policies governing the use of the cloud inevitably find themselves on the list of companies leveraging it.

Of course, perhaps it’s not completely fair to compare the eagerness of mobile development teams to embrace the cloud with the reluctance of an enterprise development team to do the same. After all, one of the compelling reasons for mobile teams to embrace the cloud is simply the fact that the project they’re working are being started from scratch, and right from the get-go they’re given a clean slate with regards to which technologies they’re allowed to use. Contrast this against a team tasked with enhancing features on an SOA enabled enterprise applications that has been under development for the past five to ten years. It’s a lot easier to introduce a cloud-based technology when the project is new, as compared to introducing something new to an environment that has been stable and secure for a storied amount of time.

But regardless of the reason, there is no arguing the fact that mobile development and cloud-based technologies are a perfect match. Given the short timelines for mobile development teams to produce an application, mixed with the service based approach that so many cloud based vendors offer to help reduce the time and money needed to test, host and manage applications, we will continue to see mobile applications and mobile development teams relying heavily on services, infrastructures and platforms hosted in the cloud.

28 Sep 2012

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