5 Best Practices for Test and Development Projects in the Cloud

Application test and development projects are a natural starting place for companies moving to use cloud computing services. Forrester Research's James Staten discusses how to tell if your project is a good match for the cloud.

The hype around cloud computing is undeniable—especially regarding how it can save the enterprise money. But unfortunately, the hype paints a very generic picture of cost savings that doesn't resemble the truth. After countless client inquiries, it's become clear to Forrester that positive ROI from cloud computing can't be achieved as a blanket business case because the benefits of cloud computing vary based on the application and use case. Ultimately, this means the testing and development of new applications in the cloud becomes an ideal way to provide a business justification and to ensure the right fit between the applications, the IaaS solutions, and the right IT ops protections and processes.

A core fundamental of IaaS cloud computing is that these platforms offer a virtual environment that is standardized and automated to be easily consumed by multiple constituents with less intervention by IT professionals. Public (and increasingly, private) cloud platforms meter resource consumption, which drives a different consumption behavior—one in which cost savings can be achieved through proactive efforts to reduce or minimize consumption. That key concept is crucial to understanding the business case for cloud computing.

For example, ask a test lab manager about the challenges they face, and they're likely to complain about how demanding developers can be and how much time is "wasted" in setting up and tearing down test environments for them. But then look for developers who are viewed as the most productive and innovative on a team and ask how they manage to be so capable among so many complaints. If they'll tell you (and often they won't) they might just confess that they're productive because they don't use the lab resources provided by IT ops and instead go directly to platform-as-a-service (PaaS) or IaaS cloud where they can get resources within minutes and only pay for those resources when they need them.

Of course, when developers turn to the cloud to get their job done, IT ops may be concerned they're putting the organization at risk. Instead of discouraging testing and development in the cloud, consider endorsing its usage, but with guidance. For example, create a work-in-progress cloud use policy, or consider funneling developer use of the cloud through a central resource request tool.

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