Here is a popular joke about the increasing popularity of cloud computing technologies in recent times.
Today, cloud computing has become so popular that almost every IT resource is being moved to the cloud and delivered over the Internet via a pay-per-use model.
However, cloud computing is not a silver bullet. You can’t just click a button to make everything cloud-enabled.
To fully leverage the cloud revolution, it is important to identify your cloud computing needs and design the right cloud strategy. Choosing the right cloud computing provider is the key here.
Here are the top 10 questions to ask your cloud computing provider before hiring one.
1) Services Portfolio
Before moving to the cloud, organizations should identify their cloud computing needs and document the requirements. Once you have this document ready, the first and foremost question to ask your cloud provider is about their portfolio offerings. What are the cloud services they offer? If they don’t offer the services required by your company, there is no point in further negotiations with the company. You can delete it and move with other companies in the list.
2) Subscription Models
Another important question to ask your cloud service provider is about how they charge for the services offered and how flexible is their payment structure. The cheapest services should not be the first choice. While the price is an important factor, align it with the services to make a decision. While most cloud services are normally offered via a pay-per-use model, the charges differ based on the instances, servers, users, groups, regions etc. In addition, check out the payment period – monthly, quarterly, annually etc.
3) Cloud Security
One of the main barriers to cloud adoption for many organizations is data security. As such, check out the security policies and cyber security measures implemented by the company. Multi-factor authenticating (MFA) is not an option anymore. So, check out if they offer a multi-factor authentication system? In addition, intrusion detection, data encryption, incident prevention mechanism, firewalls and visibility into network security are some of the key requirements to consider.
4) Data Storage Location
The location of the datacenter can affect the performance and reliability of your applications. Choosing a datacenter closer to your business operations will give you an added advantage. As such, ask the cloud provider about where they store your data and what security policies they have in place.
Does it have a fall-back center to handle natural and accidental disasters? Another reason to know the datacenter location is that companies are required to comply with data regulations of their regions. So, it is important to know the data storage location for audit and compliance purposes too.
5) Service-Level Agreements (SLAs)
Before subscribing to a cloud service provider, it is important to define your expectations related to their services. So, check out how they measure the services and how they compensate for service outages. Going through their SLA agreement will help you in this regard.
6) Flexibility in Services
One of the biggest advantages of cloud solutions is the flexibility it offers in adding or terminating services on-demand. So, check out with the provider if you can instantly add or modify services on the go and how easy it is to make changes to your services. For instance, short-term projects require short-term resources on-demand. It will help your team to experiment with new ideas. In addition, check out if you can scale up and scale out resources without downtimes. If an autoscaling feature is available, that would be great.
7) Customer Support 24/7
Regardless of how good a cloud company is, there will be times you might experience a service outage or other technical issues. In such instances, you need a support system that can instantly resolve your issue. So, check out with the cloud provider if they offer customer support that is available 24/7/365 as you need the support service on holidays and weekends as well. In addition, find out the available support options such as phone support, chatbot service, email etc.
8) The History of Downtimes
While no cloud company can guarantee 100% uptime, the best cloud provider should be able to quickly resolve technical issues and minimize downtimes. So, check out the downtime history of the company and what steps they have taken to get things back on track. You can also check out these details on their website and review sites to assess the availability of their services. You don’t want to join hands with a company that has frequent outages.
9) Data Control
While using a cloud service, the cloud provider takes care of the infrastructure while you focus on your business operations. However, it is important to know how the data is handled and what type of control you have over the data. Would you be able to retrieve all your data without the assistance of the provider in case you want to change the provider or terminate the services? In addition, it is important to know how long they will store the data after the service agreement comes to an end. What type of data formats are available is another aspect to check out.
10) Does the company make timely backups?
Data backup and recovery is key to safeguarding your business information. So, check out if the company performs timely backups so that you can restore a recent backup when the data is lost or erased. In addition, check out their disaster recovery plan. Do you have recovery measures in place to instantly recover data or prevent a disaster to happen? A cloud computing company without a DR plan cannot be trusted.
The cloud market is flooded with multiple cloud service providers. So, it is important to eliminate companies that are inefficient, incompatible and unreliable. In addition to asking the above questions, you need to check out the reputation of the company, their references, feedback on review sites and social media platforms etc. Taking time for these tasks will save your business from incurring huge losses in the long run.
As businesses are aggressively moving workloads to cloud environments, containerization is turning out to be a necessity for every business in recent times.
Containerization enables organizations to virtualize the operating system and deploy applications in isolated spaces called containers packed with all libraries, dependencies, configuration files etc.
The container market is rapidly evolving. According to MarketsandMarkets, the global application containerization market earned a revenue of $1.2 billion in 2018 and is expected to touch $4.98 billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 32.9% during 2018 and 2023.
The Dominance of Docker
The containerization market is dominated by Docker. In fact, it was Docker that made the containerization concept popular. According to Docker, the company hosts 7 million+ applications with 13 billion+ monthly image downloads and 11 million+ developers involved in the process. Adobe, Netflix, PayPal, Splunk, Verizon are some of the enterprises that use Docker.
Virtual Machine Vs Docker
Docker Engine layer
Unused memory can be reallocated to other containers
As virtual machines increase, the performance decreases
As Docker uses a single engine, the performance is high, regardless of the increase in containers
Virtual machines depend on the Host OS, libraries and dependencies. So, portability is a challenge
Docker is highly portable
VMs take time to boot
Docker containers take milliseconds to boot on.
Here are the top 5 benefits of using Docker:
1) Consistent Environment
Consistency is a key benefit of Docker wherein developers run an application in a consistent environment right from design and development to production and maintenance. As such, the application behaves the same way in different environments, eliminating production issues. With predictable environments in place, your developers spend more time on introducing quality features to the application instead of debugging errors and resolving configuration/compatibility issues.
2) Speed and Agility
Speed and agility is another key benefit of Docker. It allows you to instantly create containers for every process and deploy them in seconds. As you don’t have to boot the OS, the process is done lightning fast. Moreover, you can instantly create, destroy, stop or start a container with ease. By simply creating a configuration file using YAML, you can automate deployment and scale the infrastructure at ease.
Docker increases the speed and efficiency of your CI/CD pipeline as you can create a container image and use it across the pipeline while running non-dependant tasks in parallel. It brings faster time to market and increases productivity as well. The ability to commit changes and version-control Docker images enable you to instantly roll back to an earlier version in case a new change breaks the environment.
3) Efficiently Management of Multi-Cloud Environments
Multi-cloud environments are gaining popularity in recent times. In a multi-cloud environment, each cloud comes with different configurations, policies and processes and are managed using different infrastructure management tools. However, Docker containers can be moved across any environment. For instance, you can run a container in an AWS EC2 instance and then seamlessly move it to a Google Cloud Platform environment with ease. However, keep in mind that data inside the container is permanently destroyed once the container is destroyed. So, ensure that you back up the required data.
Docker environments are highly secure. Applications that are running in Docker containers are isolated from each other wherein one container cannot check the processes running in another container. Similarly, each container possesses its own resources and doesn’t interact with the resources of other containers. They use the resources allocated to them. As such, you gain more control over the traffic flow. When the application reaches its end of life, you can simply delete its container, making a clean app removal.
5) Optimized Costs
While features and performance are key considerations of any IT product, Return on Investment (ROI) cannot be ignored. The good thing with Docker is that it enables you to significantly reduce infrastructure costs. Right from employee strength to server costs, Docker enables you to run applications at minimal costs when compared with VMs and other technologies. With smaller engineering teams and reduced infrastructure costs, you can significantly save on operational costs and increase your ROI.
When DevOps arrived onto the technology platform, industry experts opined that it is going to revolutionize the IT world. However, businesses were slow to embrace this methodology. The reason was that many businesses could not understand what DevOps is actually about. As it is not a tool or a technology, people derive their own definitions, processes and methods. DevOps is a methodology that integrates Development and Operations teams to work as a single entity right through the product lifecycle to deliver quality software faster. According to Research Dive, the global DevOps market was valued at $4.46 billion in 2020. This value is expected to reach $23.36 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 22.9% during 2020-2027.
Here is how DevOps helps your company to grow:
Redefining Organizational Culture
While DevOps started off as a combination of development and operations teams, it has now evolved to include everyone involved in the product lifecycle. DevOps brings cross-functional teams into the picture comprising people from design, development, QA, operations, security etc. It facilitates seamless collaboration and trust between teams, breaking silos. With rightly aligned priorities and shared goals, every member of the team gains clear visibility into the progress of the project, resulting in a quality product delivered in time. It gives you better control over tools, processes and projects.
Redefining Technical Processes
Faster time to market is a key requirement to stay in the competition in today’s fast-paced world. However, speed shouldn’t kill the quality. DevOps allows you to deliver faster while not compromising on quality. Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) is a notable feature of DevOps.
In a traditional waterfall software development model, developers write the code first which is then sent to the testing team. If there are errors, the code is returned to developers for corrections. When the code successfully passes the test, it is sent to the staging environment and then deployed to production. To deliver an update, the product has to go through the entire process again.
With the advent of Microservices and agile methodologies, developers started developing the software as modular independent services in smaller and incremental cycles. DevOps helps businesses to manage microservices, SOA and agile environments in a better way. It integrates different disparate systems to work as a cohesive unit. It allows you to build a CI/CD pipeline and automate the entire process.
In this CI/CD pipeline, coders write the code and commit it to a version control system that acts as a central repository. When a change is detected, the CI server automatically runs the builds. Passed builds are moved to the deployment segment or the image repository. The automation deployment tool picks the artifacts from there are deploys them to production. There is a continuous monitoring tool that offers feedback from which you can gain clear insights into the performance of the product. By using value stream mapping, you can quickly identify bottlenecks and optimize every process. Response times get quicker too. With continuous integration, continuous testing, continuous deployment and continuous feedback, DevOps enables you to quickly deliver quality software.
Jenkins, Gitlab, CircleCI, TeamCity and Bamboo are some of the best CI tools that help you to automate and orchestrate the entire software development product lifecycle.
Redefining Business Processes
DevOps brings a cultural shift across the organization. Now, developers understand the challenges faced by the Ops guys and develop the code accordingly. Similarly, operations guys are aware of how the code is being developed and how it performs in production at an early stage. As each member is responsible for the overall quality of the product, every team equally cares for the efficient execution of tasks of other teams. They motivate and encourage other members wherever possible. With a cross-functional team working together, employees are cross-trained and up-skilled as well. It not only brings more value to the organization but also delivers more value to your customers.
Innovation is a key requirement to stay ahead of the competition. DevOps gives developers extra time to experiment and create new products or tweak existing products. With automated testing and automated security built into the pipeline, you don’t have to worry about breaking anything. Without disrupting the project, developers can validate the feasibility of ideas and introduce innovation into business processes. It also helps them learn customer requirements and user experiences in a better way and meet/exceed their expectations. Enhanced customer satisfaction helps you retain your customers and gain new referrals too.
The Bottom Line
DevOps benefits are equally distributed across the business, technical or cultural segments of an organization. A good DevOps strategy helps an organization sustainably grow in all aspects of the business. However, streamlining an end-to-end delivery pipeline is a challenge. Once the right DevOps strategy is designed, you can fully leverage all these benefits.
The key here is choosing the right DevOps partner!
In today’s cloud era, every IT resource is hosted in the cloud and delivered over the Internet via a pay-per-use subscription model. While the amazing benefits offered by the cloud have inspired the software industry to embrace cloud development, the recent pandemic has forced everyone to move towards the digital world. As work-from-home environments are here to stay, cloud development has now become more important than ever.
What is Cloud Development?
Cloud development is about developing software applications using computing infrastructure that is hosted in the cloud. Instead of building and managing your servers and physical hardware, you can access technology services hosted in the cloud via a pay-per-use model.
Right from servers, data storage and network resources to OS, Middleware and Run-time environment, everything can be accessed over the Internet.
In addition, you gain access to ready-made cloud solutions for monitoring, analytics etc. Amazon is a leading provider of public cloud solutions while VMware tops the private cloud services segment.
Cloud-based apps are highly scalable and flexible. They can be accessed from any device, any location using APIs. The app data is stored in the cloud and resides on the user’s device as a cache enabling the user to work offline. When the app is connected online, the cache data gets updated. Google Docs, Evernote, Canva, Dropbox are a few popular examples of cloud-based apps.
Why is Cloud Development Popular?
Cloud development offers amazing benefits to organizations. Firstly, it eliminates the need to invest heavily in on-premise infrastructure and licensing costs. With a pay-per-use model, you can only pay for the services used. It gives you access to cutting-edge technologies at cost-effective prices. Secondly, cloud development facilitates seamless collaboration between teams located in different geo-locations. Thirdly, cloud development offers high scalability, flexibility, unlimited storage, faster time to market and automatic recovery options. In addition, it automatically updates the software and performs maintenance which means you can focus on building quality software products.
Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform are the leading providers of cloud development solutions.
Web Apps are not Cloud Apps
Often, cloud development is confused with web development. It is important to understand that all cloud apps are web apps but all web apps are not cloud apps. To be precise, cloud-based apps are an advanced version of web-based apps. Web-based apps depend on browsers and scalability and customization is limited. The data is stored on a single data server. You can’t work offline with web-based apps. On the other hand, cloud apps are highly scalable and customizable. The data is stored across multiple data-centers using replication techniques and you can work offline as well.
Cloud Development Challenges
While cloud development seems a great option, it comes with certain challenges. Cloud development demands seamless collaboration between different teams such as developers, designers, QA managers, data analysts, DevOps engineers etc. The project involves different cloud technologies such as AWS, Azure, GCP etc. So, people working on cloud apps should have good knowledge about various platforms and be able to integrate apps with different services using APIs.
Secondly, cloud development brings security concerns. As such, security should be implemented right into the CI/CD pipeline so that it can become a part of automation. It is recommended to separate app data from app architecture code. Thirdly, cloud development offers higher scalability. However, scalability that is not optimized will overrun your cloud budgets. As such, it is important to have clear network visibility to gain better control over cloud infrastructure.
Mobility solutions, disaster recovery, Flexibility and reduced workloads are some of the key drivers to cloud adoption. However, cloud development requires expert knowledge of cloud technologies. When rightly implemented, cloud development improves your operational efficiencies and optimizes costs while improving user experience.
The advent of cloud computing technology has disrupted the technology world. Today, it is a challenge to identify a service that is not delivered over the cloud.
While every industry benefitted from this technology trend, the software segment was one of the first industries that started leveraging this trend. The buzz around cloud-based software development is increasing year after year.
2021 is not going to be any different. Together with AI, cloud technology is helping businesses deliver quality products that are transforming the world.
Here are the top 5 benefits of cloud-based software development in 2021.
1) Operational Efficiency at its best
While enterprises have the budgets and expert staff to use a technology stack that comprises cutting-edge technologies, small and medium companies have to adjust with legacy tools. However, cloud solutions bring everyone onto the same ground. With minimal investment, you can lay hands on world-class technology solutions to increase efficiencies and be competitive.
Another significant benefit of cloud-based software development is fast and automated deployments. Developers can build continuous integration (CI) / Continuous Deployment (CD) pipelines and automate the entire process to easily build and deploy applications. Similarly, cloud-based apps can be effectively monitored. Based on predefined KPIs, you can analyze the performance of each application using cloud-based monitoring tools. The server logs help you identify issues and improve the efficiency of the product.
2) Mobility at its best
One of the biggest advantages of cloud-based software development is mobility. Regardless of your location, platform or device, cloud resources can be accessed by every authorized user 24/7. While the software team can remotely work on the product, endusers can access it from anywhere, anytime. Not only does it facilitate seamless collaboration between different teams, but it increases productivity as well. Considering the post-covid lockdown situations, mobility solutions have become a key requirement of every software development project in 2021.
3) Adaptability at its best
When it comes to cloud technology, innovation happens at a rapid pace. Today’s innovation can become tomorrow’s legacy. As such, businesses should proactively monitor technology trends and quickly incorporate necessary changes to their existing technology stack. Being future-proof is the key to sustaining your business operations. Cloud-based software development offers the flexibility to quickly realign product architecture and stay ahead of the competition.
4) Cost-optimization at its best
Cost savings is a huge benefit offered by cloud-based software development. You don’t need to invest in expensive physical hardware and licensing fee. You don’t need to worry about maintenance and updates as well. Right from provisioning the infrastructure to maintenance and security, the cloud provider handles all infrastructure-related tasks. It means you can quickly start delivering quality products. Cloud solutions are delivered via a pay-per-use subscription model. This feature enables you to dynamically scale up resources. Moreover, a lesser carbon footprint means a better world.
5) Scalability at its best
In a software development project, different teams have different resource requirements. For instance, developers require demo production environments to check the performance of a product. When you set up physical infrastructure, scaling up resources becomes expensive and time-consuming. Cloud infrastructure enables you to instantly scale up resources while only paying for the resources used. Similarly, Ops teams can ramp up production during peak hours and scale down during odd hours. The most important thing is that scaling can be automated.
However, it is important to consider that cloud-based software development is not easy compared to traditional software development. Security and privacy have to be prioritized. The lack of expert staff can be a big challenge for companies in fully leveraging this trend. When rightly done, cloud-based software development in 2021 keeps your business future-proof.
“Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future” - John F. Kennedy
The above quote is apt for this cloud computing era. Today, businesses are looking at the past and changing their current IT operations accordingly.
However, it is important to look at the future to stay in and ahead of the competition.
The constant change that happens in the IT landscape has accelerated with the advent of cloud computing.
As every IT product or resource is delivered over the Internet as a service, it is high time that software developers realign their software development strategies to suit the cloud landscape.
Cloud native app development is the right approach to make your businesses future-proof. The covid-19 pandemic that pushed businesses into a work-from-home environment compliments the cloud native app development.
What is Cloud Native App Development?
Cloud native app development means different things for different people. On a simpler note, it is an approach to building future-proof cloud apps that take advantage of cloud processes and platforms to deliver a consistent user experience across all devices, cloud models and environments.
Portability, high scalability and adaptability are the three key aspects that are driving cloud-native app development in IT circles in recent times. While business processes are rapidly changing, businesses are required to quickly adapt to these changes and build cloud native apps. Secondly, these apps should deliver a consistent user experience across a range of devices which means portability is the key requirement. They should be scalable enough to meet traffic spikes. Cloud native app development offers these 3 key qualities to IT processes.
Here are some key components of cloud native apps:
Microservices architecture is a type of software architecture wherein complex applications are built as small, loosely coupled, independent and autonomous services that perform a specific task and communicate with each other via APIs. It is a variant of Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) that enables developers to quickly build and deploy applications.
Microservices architecture allows businesses to quickly adapt to changing IT requirements as applications built using this architecture are flexible and easily extendable to suit different IT environments. So, you don’t have to code apps from scratch for each IT environment. You can begin small and massively scale up within a quick time. Moreover, these independent services allow you to scale specific services instead of scaling the entire app. The biggest advantage is that you can customize your technology stack based on your cloud environment without getting stuck with a standard approach.
As applications are centralized hosted and delivered over the cloud, portability becomes a key requirement. Containerization enables you to virtualize the operating system and run applications inside containers. A container is a portable computing environment comprising binaries, libraries, dependents and other configuration files required by an application. By using software containers, businesses can easily run applications on various environments such as mobile, desktop, cloud, bare metal, virtual machines etc. Software containers bring a greater level of agility, portability and reusability that are important for cloud native applications.
As cloud services are centrally hosted and accessible from any location, administrators should be able to manage the infrastructure from anywhere as well. Software-defined infrastructure virtualizes hardware infrastructure, enabling you to automatically add, delete, stop and start any network resource using software from any location. By implementing software-defined infrastructure, cloud native apps can be easily managed from any location.
Application Programming Interface (API)
Application Programming Interface (API) is an interface that facilitates communication between different applications or services. As cloud native apps are built as multiple services, they use APIs to communicate with each other as well as with other 3rd party applications. For instance, if you want to add multiple languages to your app, you can use the Google Translate API without writing the code from scratch.
As cloud native apps use the microservices architecture to build services as small and incremental blocks, continuous integration, continuous testing and continuous deployment becomes a key requirement. DevOps helps you to rapidly build and deploy quality cloud native apps.
Why Cloud Native App Development is the Future?
As businesses are aggressively embracing cloud technology, cloud native apps are turning out to be a beneficial option. Cloud native apps are faster to market and minimize risks. They can be easily deployed and managed using Docker and Kubernetes. Along with fault tolerance, they are capable of self-healing for most issues.
As these apps use a modular design, developing them is easy and cost-effective. Different teams can separately work on each service. Most importantly, when these apps are deployed, you can turn off some services that are not running. That way, you can significantly save operational cloud costs. The serverless and open-source model allows you to optimize the pay-per-use subscription model by reducing the computing time to milliseconds. You can scale up specific services too. Cloud native apps allow you to implement an auto-scale feature that automatically scales specific services without manual intervention. This is why most enterprises prefer cloud native apps. The downtime for cloud native apps is minimal as they can quickly pick up on alternation regions when a server goes down.
Challenges with Cloud Native App Development
Cloud native app development comes with certain challenges as well. The biggest challenge is the presence of hundreds of services. Developers should be careful while handling and integrating all these services. They should also keep an eye on the size of the service. It is recommended to minimize the number of services wherever possible.
Secondly, data security and storage requires careful attention. As enterprise run containers on immutable infrastructure, the entire internal data goes off when you shut down the app. So, you should make sure that the data is securely stored. In addition, when an app uses APIs of a specific cloud platform, you should be careful to manage that API while migrating to another environment. Moreover, protecting data from unauthorized access is important.
As the cloud becomes an integral part of business processes, choosing cloud native app development helps you keep your infrastructure future-proof!