There's no arguing the fact that development cycles in the mobile application development world are incredibly short. So it's no surprise to discover that development teams who are intent on getting their mobile applications to market quickly are relying heavily on a variety of cloud-based technologies. Here are five of the most effective ways that mobile projects are finding success by taking advantage of the cloud:
1. Hosting services
Amazon and their Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering through their EC2 platform largely pioneered the idea of the cloud, so it should come as no surprise that many organizations are handing off the job of application hosting to their EC2 service. But of course, Amazon is only one of the many players in this growing field, and in many cases, IaaS plays like EC2 are being pushed aside in deference to various Software as a Service (SaaS) plays, where clients surrender a certain amount of control over their operating system and runtime environment for the promise of fewer configuration issues and a lower administrative overhead. It's probably the most tried-and-true way of leveraging the cloud, and as such, more and more mobile applications are taking advantage of cloud-based hosting services.
2. Payment gateways
Part of the reason that Apple and their iTunes store became so successful is the fact that their straightforward and easy-to-use payment system made it routine for the suppliers of iPhone and other iOS-based applications to become successful too. And when we talk about being successful, what we're really talking about is getting rich.
But as the mobile market has matured, many application developers have criticized Apple's financial model, with many looking toward using alternative payment mechanisms. Not surprisingly, several cloud-based providers of payment gateways have emerged, making it easy for application developers to perform financial transactions with their clients without the worry of lost sales due to reliability issues or software bugs that might arise if similar financial transaction processing systems were built in-house.
3. Web analytics
Mobile application developers have taken the idea of "know your customer" to an entirely new level. Perhaps it's the fact that mobile applications often have fewer screens and are more focused with regard to features. This highly focused nature of mobile applications allows developers to quickly turn Web analytics and the usage information they gather into product enhancements and application upgrades. In an effort to always be making their products better, more mobile applications are leaning on cloud-based services to capture, store and render information about users' interactions.
4. Application monitoring
You may be completely content with all of your internal tools, your off-the-shelf analytics engine and your in-house data center, but if everything is run in-house, how would you ever know if your system went down? When it comes to monitoring your mobile application's uptime globally, and having some type of reporting structure to conform to depending upon whether your system has been down for two seconds, two minutes or two hours, you need an external system to do it, and no one would be better to do it than a cloud provider with systems that are designed with reliability and failover in mind.
So much is said about the benefits of leveraging the cloud at runtime, but many organizations are still leery about full-scale deployment in the cloud and are instead slowly dipping their toes in the water by using the cloud for less mission-critical functions. Mobile development teams managing code and using arbitrary test data that wouldn’t cause any embarrassment if it was leaked out into the world in the event of a service provider breach are often the first in an organization to start legitimately using the cloud. Facilitating the interests of these cloud-exploring pioneers are cloud-based issue tracking systems, source code management systems, load testing tools and even full scale IDEs that take the desktop out of the equation when developers are writing code.
Mobile and cloud: A natural fit
There is something about the mobile development community that makes leveraging the cloud a natural fit. Perhaps it's the fact that the short lifecycles of mobile development projects require the ready-made services that so many cloud vendors provide. Perhaps the types of personalities that dominate the mobile development community are more adventuresome and disruptive than their enterprise development counterparts, and as a result they are more apt to try something new like a cloud-based IDE or monitoring tool. But whatever the reason, it seems that the mobile community is fully embracing the cloud, and this is making both the mobile and the cloud computing communities stronger because of it.