Software Development in the Cloud: Changing Opinions and a Bright Future Ahead

By Daniel Viveiros, Technology Manager, Ci&T

September 13, 2011

Not long ago, few IT executives knew what “the cloud” meant, and any mention of the term was met with skepticism. Yet, years later, we find ourselves in an environment where “the cloud” has moved from buzzword status to having a major impact on IT organizations. The cloud has become a very real force on the IT landscape. For software developers, it has gone from being a somewhat vague concept to a new paradigm that is quickly emerging as a standard in how we build and deploy applications.

So what is different? What changed everyone’s minds? Certainly the cloud offerings from Google, Amazon, and Microsoft were influential. They were the first to take the “vaporware” out of the cloud and provide companies with real, tangible tools that enable them to experience its benefits firsthand. Now, rather than spending countless IT dollars to build and deploy vast infrastructures to support new Web and mobile applications, companies have a cheap and easy alternative for hosting them.

All of this has been a boon for software developers, who were previously beholden to enterprise infrastructures to get their applications up and running. In almost every way, the cloud has begun to offer the benefits promised during those moments when it was first teased, making many IT executives anxious to fully tap its potential as a business technology investment.

But like many new and evolving technologies, challenges to cloud adoption and industry-wide use as a development platform remain. Many executives, wary of cost issues in the event of unforeseen problems, and shaken by the potential for unreliability of cloud technologies (as was recently witnessed with Amazon’s outage), have been reticent to move their infrastructures to the cloud. And though cloud advocates have made enormous strides in education about cloud security, many are still unwilling to take the plunge.

The promise of the cloud is real. Despite executives’ initial reluctance to adopt it, cloud computing should be looked at seriously by companies in their software development efforts. Here are a few reasons it will change the way we develop applications throughout 2011 and beyond.

Speed + Cost Savings = The IT Holy Grail

Without a doubt, the chief benefit for companies developing applications in the cloud is speed. The hosted infrastructure the cloud offers — in a cheap, “pay-as-you-go” model, no less — means a much faster setup process for the development team, to say nothing of the flexibility it offers in the development process itself. Previously, teams were required to conduct extensive preparations before initiating a development project, all of which was contingent on ensuring that the infrastructure in place was capable of supporting the applications to be developed.

The cloud eliminates many of the infrastructure concerns of the development team by providing a hosted model, offering as much storage, computational power and services as are necessary to build and deploy the application while streamlining the setup phase and overall development process. This provides a significant cost benefit as well, as IT managers are freed from the need to invest significant resources in additional servers or other costly infrastructure before even considering the application in question. It’s all there in the cloud, it’s cheap, and it’s ready as soon as the development team needs it.

So, instead of focusing on setup and infrastructure, development teams and IT managers can focus their resources on the application itself, and aligning it with the business needs of the organization. With cloud development, teams can focus on delivering nothing but value to the business through their development efforts, a key tenet of Lean application development and one that can position the IT organization as a valuable contributor to the business.

Reliability and Security Hurdles Will be Cleared

Despite the benefits of cloud development in the speed and cost savings it can offer to the business, many companies still view it as too unstable and unreliable to be trusted to host their infrastructures. Though their concerns are somewhat warranted, i.e., the aforementioned Amazon outage, I believe that with the right considerations and planning, companies can clear this mental hurdle and start leveraging the cloud for their own businesses.

The key to developing applications in the cloud is to be smart about how you approach it. It’s not something you can just dive into, and it should be approached in the same way as any other considerable IT investments should — with a backup plan in place.

Companies need to prepare their architectures for cloud development in such a way that allows for the application to run regardless of any outage that may occur. This includes building out comprehensive disaster recovery plans that will ensure development can continue in the event that resources do become unavailable at any given time in the process. As most companies already have such plans in place for their current, on-premise systems, it’s simply a matter of applying these same disaster recovery planning processes to their investments in the cloud.

The other chief mental roadblock is security — many organizations just aren’t comfortable with shifting all of their corporate data to a public cloud, and instead opt to design private ones. What these companies fail to realize, however, is that private clouds are in many ways less secure than public ones.

Private clouds rely on the security infrastructure of the company that houses them, while the public cloud is designed with security as a chief consideration. Moreover, private clouds are often less reliable. So while it’s understandable that companies should be wary of investing in the public cloud and are right to worry about their corporate data, many of these fears are in many ways unfounded. Forward-thinking executives have already realized this, and once the holdouts see how successful cloud development has proven for these organizations, the walls to widespread cloud adoption will come crumbling down.

Looking to the Future

The most important thing to remember about the cloud is not to expect perfection right off the bat. Because it isn’t perfect. Nothing is.

What it is, however, is the most promising new advancement in software development to come along in years. In five years, the question of whether to leverage the cloud in application development projects won’t be a question at all. And in ten years, cloud offerings from the major players will dominate development, while current standard platforms like Java and .Net will be pushed to the background.

The benefits of the cloud are clear and real. The advantages it offers in terms of speed and cost-savings will eventually change the minds of reluctant IT executives worried about security and reliability issues. And make no mistake: it’s the future of Web and mobile development. If you’ve been considering harnessing the power of the cloud for your own application development efforts, there’s no time like the present.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Geospatial Data Research Leverages GPUs

August 17, 2017

MapD Technologies, the GPU-accelerated database specialist, said it is working with university researchers on leveraging graphics processors to advance geospatial analytics. The San Francisco-based company is collabor Read more…

By George Leopold

Intel, NERSC and University Partners Launch New Big Data Center

August 17, 2017

A collaboration between the Department of Energy’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), Intel and five Intel Parallel Computing Centers (IPCCs) has resulted in a new Big Data Center (BDC) that Read more…

By Linda Barney

Google Releases Deeplearn.js to Further Democratize Machine Learning

August 17, 2017

Spreading the use of machine learning tools is one of the goals of Google’s PAIR (People + AI Research) initiative, which was introduced in early July. Last week the cloud giant released deeplearn.js as part of that in Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Leveraging Deep Learning for Fraud Detection

Advancements in computing technologies and the expanding use of e-commerce platforms have dramatically increased the risk of fraud for financial services companies and their customers. Read more…

Spoiler Alert: Glimpse Next Week’s Solar Eclipse Via Simulation from TACC, SDSC, and NASA

August 17, 2017

Can’t wait to see next week’s solar eclipse? You can at least catch glimpses of what scientists expect it will look like. A team from Predictive Science Inc. (PSI), based in San Diego, working with Stampede2 at the Read more…

By John Russell

Microsoft Bolsters Azure With Cloud HPC Deal

August 15, 2017

Microsoft has acquired cloud computing software vendor Cycle Computing in a move designed to bring orchestration tools along with high-end computing access capabilities to the cloud. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Read more…

By George Leopold

HPE Ships Supercomputer to Space Station, Final Destination Mars

August 14, 2017

With a manned mission to Mars on the horizon, the demand for space-based supercomputing is at hand. Today HPE and NASA sent the first off-the-shelf HPC system i Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD EPYC Video Takes Aim at Intel’s Broadwell

August 14, 2017

Let the benchmarking begin. Last week, AMD posted a YouTube video in which one of its EPYC-based systems outperformed a ‘comparable’ Intel Broadwell-based s Read more…

By John Russell

Deep Learning Thrives in Cancer Moonshot

August 8, 2017

The U.S. War on Cancer, certainly a worthy cause, is a collection of programs stretching back more than 40 years and abiding under many banners. The latest is t Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Raises the Bar for Distributed Deep Learning

August 8, 2017

IBM is announcing today an enhancement to its PowerAI software platform aimed at facilitating the practical scaling of AI models on today’s fastest GPUs. Scal Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Storage Breakthrough Paves Way for 330TB Tape Cartridges

August 3, 2017

IBM announced yesterday a new record for magnetic tape storage that it says will keep tape storage density on a Moore's law-like path far into the next decade. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Stuffs a Petaflops of Machine Intelligence into 20-Node Rack

August 1, 2017

With its Radeon “Vega” Instinct datacenter GPUs and EPYC “Naples” server chips entering the market this summer, AMD has positioned itself for a two-head Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cray Moves to Acquire the Seagate ClusterStor Line

July 28, 2017

This week Cray announced that it is picking up Seagate's ClusterStor HPC storage array business for an undisclosed sum. "In short we're effectively transitioning the bulk of the ClusterStor product line to Cray," said CEO Peter Ungaro. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How ‘Knights Mill’ Gets Its Deep Learning Flops

June 22, 2017

Intel, the subject of much speculation regarding the delayed, rewritten or potentially canceled “Aurora” contract (the Argonne Lab part of the CORAL “ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Reinders: “AVX-512 May Be a Hidden Gem” in Intel Xeon Scalable Processors

June 29, 2017

Imagine if we could use vector processing on something other than just floating point problems.  Today, GPUs and CPUs work tirelessly to accelerate algorithms Read more…

By James Reinders

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Just how close real-wo Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Russian Researchers Claim First Quantum-Safe Blockchain

May 25, 2017

The Russian Quantum Center today announced it has overcome the threat of quantum cryptography by creating the first quantum-safe blockchain, securing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, along with classified government communications and other sensitive digital transfers. Read more…

By Doug Black

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the cam Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

Groq This: New AI Chips to Give GPUs a Run for Deep Learning Money

April 24, 2017

CPUs and GPUs, move over. Thanks to recent revelations surrounding Google’s new Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), the computing world appears to be on the cusp of Read more…

By Alex Woodie

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

In this contributed perspective piece, Intel’s Jim Jeffers makes the case that CPU-based visualization is now widely adopted and as such is no longer a contrarian view, but is rather an exascale requirement. Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

Google Debuts TPU v2 and will Add to Google Cloud

May 25, 2017

Not long after stirring attention in the deep learning/AI community by revealing the details of its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), Google last week announced the Read more…

By John Russell

MIT Mathematician Spins Up 220,000-Core Google Compute Cluster

April 21, 2017

On Thursday, Google announced that MIT math professor and computational number theorist Andrew V. Sutherland had set a record for the largest Google Compute Engine (GCE) job. Sutherland ran the massive mathematics workload on 220,000 GCE cores using preemptible virtual machine instances. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Six Exascale PathForward Vendors Selected; DoE Providing $258M

June 15, 2017

The much-anticipated PathForward awards for hardware R&D in support of the Exascale Computing Project were announced today with six vendors selected – AMD Read more…

By John Russell

Top500 Results: Latest List Trends and What’s in Store

June 19, 2017

Greetings from Frankfurt and the 2017 International Supercomputing Conference where the latest Top500 list has just been revealed. Although there were no major Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Clears Path to 5nm with Silicon Nanosheets

June 5, 2017

Two years since announcing the industry’s first 7nm node test chip, IBM and its research alliance partners GlobalFoundries and Samsung have developed a proces Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Messina Update: The US Path to Exascale in 16 Slides

April 26, 2017

Paul Messina, director of the U.S. Exascale Computing Project, provided a wide-ranging review of ECP’s evolving plans last week at the HPC User Forum. Read more…

By John Russell

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This