One area where cloud computing has a great deal of potential is application development, especially with the number of Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings that now exist. While there are certainly a few risks and challenges to developing a cloud-based app, it also offers impressive features and flexibility that non cloud based apps do not. Let’s take a look at a few of the advantages and disadvantages app developers should keep in mind before making a foray into the cloud.
More Efficient Development - When a company launches an app through its own internal server, there are hurdles that need to be cleared. As this David Chappell whitepaper notes, “In some organizations, servers and other IT resources can’t be requested until a new or upgraded application is ready to run.” By lessening the need to focus on infrastructure, companies can reallocate time and resources to business development and the app itself. Not only will the app itself be better as a result, time from development to release can be greatly reduced.
Financial Flexibility/ Scalability - With a cloud-based application, companies can easily scale their storage needs up or down depending on the current usage. Opting to “go cloud” saves money by eliminating flat-rate expenses such as in-house servers purchased for the application. In addition, like with the development stage, employees can focus more on “big picture” issues without having to devote as much time and budget to server maintenance.
Beware Becoming a Prisoner of the Platform- As we’ve seen, hosting your cloud-based app on an external platform can have several benefits. However, your applications should be developed with flexible platform compatibility in mind. Salesforce VP Adam Gross attests to this point, stating that companies “should develop their applications in such a way that they could be moved off that platform.” If you are going to engineer your application to be platform-exclusive, make sure the provider is someone you are confident will serve your needs well into the future, not just upon the app’s release. You do not want to have to start from the ground up if your provider suddenly jacks up prices, begins experiencing frequent downtime, or has a security breach.
These are just a few of the key points businesses should examine while contemplating a transition to cloud-based apps. What do you think? Do the benefits of cloud-based apps outweigh the associated risks? Has your company already experimented with them? Sound off in the comments!
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