Cloud computing for software and application developers

Whether you develop bespoke software for specific customer requirements, or deliver specialised applications for business processes or vertical markets, what are the benefits that deploying in the cloud can bring to your business (and your customers)?

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is nothing particularly new — for many software houses, online deployment of applications (or at least some element of their functionality) has become the norm. Customers benefit from being able to access their applications from remote locations, they get streaming updates to ensure they have the latest features and security patches, while the impracticalities and costs of shipping physical media and the related on-site installation (not to mention dealing with platform differences) are distant memories for most.

The advantages to both developer and customer are clear.

However, as more software and solutions are delivered online, these old challenges are replaced by new ones…

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Archive posts

Cloud Computing Perspectives 3: The End User

In the final part of our “Cloud Perspectives” series, we’ll see how cloud is rising to meet a range of challenges faced (and actually posed by) end-users, and changing the way they interact with their applications and access data.

If you missed the previous two articles in this series, you can catch up here: Cloud Perspectives No.1: The Business Owner, and No.2: The IT Department.

The Challenge for the End-User

For the people using the services that cloud delivers, it’s all about getting things done: without frustration, faster, and in the way that suits them best. The end-user wants:

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Cloud Computing Perspectives 2: The IT Department

Welcome to the next part of our “Cloud Perspectives” series. Last time, we looked at the challenges that IT poses for business owners, and how cloud computing can help to simplify and resolve them. This time, we’re getting close and personal with the people that deal directly with IT every day — the teams responsible for procuring, managing and planning IT resources.

The Challenge for the IT Department

This is an interesting (indeed, read “challenging”) time for IT teams. They’re caught in the middle in a sort of paradox: under pressure from business owners to deliver more, but to do so at a more competitive price. At the same time, they’re facing increasing demand from their users and customers, both in terms of improving the quality of service they provide, and managing an ever expanding infrastructure.

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Cloud Computing Perspectives 1: The Business Owner

Lots of the information we’ve seen about cloud computing concentrates on the technology behind it. This is great if you absolutely need an in-depth understanding of Distributed Resource Scheduling, but not so useful if you’re asking the “what’s in it for me?” question, and trying to make business decisions about your IT strategy.

Over the next few posts, we’ll take a step back from the technology and look at the bigger picture: what does cloud mean to the different people working within a business, and how does it help to address their everyday challenges? How does all of this come together to help you decide whether cloud is right for your business?

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From water wheel to… cloud?

You might well ask — just how do we get from the historic cast iron water wheel outside our leafy Cheshire HQ all the way to cloud computing?

Well, the link isn’t quite as tenuous as it first appears, because there happens to be quite a neat analogy between the way in which industry has sought to scale to meet its ambitions in the past, and the pressures that today’s businesses face in overcoming their own obstacles to growth.

The way we were…

During the 19th century with the Industrial Revolution in full swing, mills and factories propelled their activities with their own self-generated power supplies. Driven by water (see right!), steam, and eventually electricity, these on-site engines of industrial lifeblood were expensive to build and maintain, while expansion required lots of space, lots of planning, and lots of time. Power was both an enabling and limiting factor, its availability dictating the speed and volume of output, no matter the ambitions of the owners or the demands of the market.

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Cloud scenarios: and stretch! And relax…

One of the big advantages of cloud computing is the flexibility that it brings to IT. Many of you will no doubt be familiar with the conundrum of managing resource availability: make sure there’s enough in the tank to keep things going smoothly — but be mindful that you’re on a budget and can’t simply over-spec and be done with it. Ideally, demand is stable or at least predictable, which makes the job simpler.

However, not all of us are lucky enough to preside over such a harmonious utopia, leading us into the territory of the “calculated risk” which isn’t always the ideal situation.

Download: Cloud scenarios - real world examples of how cloud can help your business

Resources on demand…

It’s the ability to scale up resources quickly that is capturing the attention of embattled IT managers who are looking to make their lives just a little easier.

Whereas in the past, reacting to a requirement could take weeks (ordering, building, delivery, installation, integration, testing), deploying in the cloud means that resources can be scaled up (more or less) at the touch of a button.

Whether this takes place as part of a well planned process or in reaction to an unexpected event, the on-demand “vending machine” of cloud gives organisations the ability to accommodate dynamic, or changeable demand in an efficient and timely way.

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