Cloud Computing Advantages for Developers

Cloud Computing Advantages for Developers

This has never been a better time to be a developer.  Development tools and technologies continue to evolve that enable us to create better software. However, developers are under more pressure to reduce time to market, publish frequent enhancements, and decrease or eliminate bugs. Cloud computing offers many unique benefits to developers that can help.  Some of the details mentioned below are specific to the Azure cloud, but other cloud vendors have similar offerings.

Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing

1. Scalability:

One of the biggest benefits of cloud computing is the ability to scale.  In traditional server hosting, you have to determine the necessary hardware that each node of your system would run on from the web/app servers to the database servers.  For highly available applications, you need load balancing of web or app servers and database clustering that needs expensive Storage Area Network configuration.  All these need extensive planning and locks you into this general configuration for several years based on setup cost alone.

With the advancements of the cloud, you can now scale any section of an application quickly and easily. For web and application servers you can scale up by adding hardware power or scale-out by increasing more servers.  Furthermore, configuring auto-scaling will dynamically increase more servers based on different metrics (CPU, memory, etc.)

Databases can also be easily scaled by simply maximizing the power of the server.  For hosted SQL, these are measured in Database Transaction Units and represent a relative number of processing power. In this model, you can make elastic database pools, that have a fixed amount of processing power DTUs and share processing power with a(any) number of databases.  This allows each database to maximize its scale when needed within the confines of the elastic pool.

At last, with the advent of microservices and Azure Service Fabric, you can develop your application with very fine-grained services and host these in a set of fluid containers that scale automatically.

Cloud Computing

2. Cost:

A significant benefit of using the cloud is the cost savings along with the ability to start small and increase usage as required.  A few economic benefits are:

1.No Upfront Investment:

On-premise or remote data centers need a large initial upfront investment.  It also needs a lot of speculation for the current and future hardware requirements.  As the customer base and application load rises, additional changes are needed and would require new or replacement hardware.

2.Pay-as-You-Go:

For most cloud resources, you are only billed for the time you use them.  With features such as auto-scaling, you only get billed for the extra servers when they’re running and no cost when it’s scaled-down.  Also, many services are priced per transaction, so if you do not use it to a specific level, it is completely free.

3.Redundancy and Disaster Recovery:

The cloud provides increased redundancy, which can be important when doing disaster recovery.  Without the cloud, disaster recovery needs the provisioning of a separate data center requiring an additional upfront and on-going investment, and the tools to duplicate data or give backups for restoring systems.  The cloud can handle these out of the box and you are only charged for the hardware when you’re using it.  This means your disaster recovery environment can be configured and ready, and then scaled appropriately when required.

3. Quick Provisioning of Resources:

Quickly provisioning resources is an advantage that nearly all development teams can benefit from.  They often require various types of resources from development and test environments to new kinds of technology in which to experiment.  In traditional IT shops, these tasks lie with the technical services team and can take days if not weeks to be done.

By using the cloud, developers are empowered to quickly develop new environments, from websites to virtual machines to databases.  Additionally, the cloud offers an almost never-ending list of services that are constantly being expanded.  This enables development teams to stay on top of ever-changing technology.  In addition, when they are finished with any resource, they can turn it off or decommission it.

Finally, the provisioning of resources can be totally scripted and automated.  This can be used to quickly make new customer databases and servers or create and decommission testing resources.

4. Multiple Service Models and Offerings

Cloud computing does not follow a one-size-fits-all mentality. Rather, it provides you a lot of different options to set up your environment to meet your unique requirements.  Two main service models in cloud computing are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS).  Both have their merits, and you can even mix the two when required.

Cloud Service Models

5. Geographic Reach

Another advantage is the geographic reach of the cloud.  Rather than relying on a single geographic location to host your software, the cloud makes it possible to host your application in data centers scattered across the globe. With traffic management and global duplication of master data, you make sure your customers get the best possible performance regardless of where they are located.

Content delivery networks (CDNs) can also be used to maximize geographic reach even if your application is hosted in one location. A CDN is a highly-distributed set of servers that respond directly to user demands for web content. They are used to give quick access to applications, audio, video, images, and other files to accelerate content delivery and improve the user experience. Additionally, this reduces requests made directly to your application enabling it to better scale.

6. Ease of Deployments

The cloud provides some unique features to handle. With integration into your source control system, you can configure an automated version including the deployment of code, databases, automatic provisioning of servers, and automated testing of your app (DevOps and cloud).

Deployment slots also provide the potential to perform no-downtime deployments in a production environment.  A deployment slot is an entirely different web application hosted at a separate URL.  You can perform your deployment to the slot and test out everything.  When all is well, you simply switch your production and staging slot to officially go live!  One cool feature is that you can route a small percentage of production traffic to your staging slot.  This enables you to test new features in production and ensure all is well before opening the flood gates.

7. Advanced Cloud Services:

The cloud puts many advanced services in the hands of developers to quickly develop highly scalable and powerful applications.  Here is a list of a few of these services:

  1. Azure Service Fabric.
  2. Service Bus.
  3. Redis Cache.
  4. SendGrid
  5. Azure Functions.

8. Monitoring and developer operations (DevOps)

In today’s agile development world, we need to quickly deploy applications and track that everything is going well.  When we have a critical problem, we first have to be notified about the issue, need the tools to quickly identify the cause, and publish a debug as soon as possible.

Tools also offer application performance metrics, errors, logs and monitoring in a single tool.  It gives developers a unique view into all aspects of their application and allows them to be proactive in identifying issues before users report them.  Performance problems can be quickly identified down to the service request and even the SQL statement.

Conclusion

The cloud has greatly matured in the past few years and adoption rates continue to grow. A recent study found that over 50% of respondents are currently running applications in the cloud and these numbers continue to grow every year.

Cloud Maturity Adoption

If your company and development team are not already benefiting from the cloud, now is the time to make your move!

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