How the Cloud Changes Application Development

Important nuances emerge as companies invest more time and resources in building cloud solutions

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The cloud provides companies with more flexibility in deploying and managing applications. But building cloud solutions is different than traditional development, and businesses need to take that into account as they move forward with their deployments. Here are a few best practices for cloud-based application development.

Start Simple

If your developers have limited or no experience with cloud applications, they will face a learning curve. Rather than tinker with a major enterprise application, let them begin with a small departmental solution. After the group gains expertise, they can take aim at more demanding projects.

Invest in Training

The cloud development environment contains familiar vendors as well as a few newcomers. Microsoft Azure, for example, builds on existing development tools, like Visual Studio. Programmers can download Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio, which supports both Visual Studio 2008 and Visual Studio 2010. The Azure SDK (Software Development Kit) for Java supports Create/Read/Update/Delete operations on Azure Storage, Blobs, Tables and Queues.

The Azure Toolkit for Facebook, on the other hand, may be less familiar to corporate developers. IT departments will need to work with their vendors and third parties to bring staff up to speed on these newer classes of tools.

Track Performance Beyond Your Premises

Cloud applications face unique performance challenges because of the potential for latency and constrained network pipes as information travels across multiple data centers. Applications have to be architected so sufficient Wide Area Network resources are available along each step of the journey. The Windows Azure Management API enables businesses to use programming tools to monitor and manage cloud connections.

Check for Ripple Effects

Increasingly, companies want to share data and business processes with partners and other stakeholders, but developers need to understand the ramifications of opening up their systems to third parties. Programmers must determine how these connections ripple throughout the IT architecture, with a careful eye toward vulnerabilities that could lead to data breaches or other unauthorized access.

Track Changes Closely

Agile development is often used to design cloud applications.  Here, software iterations are spun out faster than in the past. Consequently, a programming team needs to put strong change management processes and tools in place to ensure that a fix in one module does not create a flaw in another.

The cloud provides corporations with more flexibility and agility. Businesses are moving to take advantage of those benefits by developing new applications that fully leverage the cloud. Moving down this path requires a clear understanding of the nuances between traditional applications and cloud solutions, to avoid the potential pitfalls while capturing the advantages that cloud-based application development can offer.

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