Cloud Computing Advantages for Developers – Part 1

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.  The cloud 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.


1. Scalability:

One of the biggest benefits of the cloud 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 needs 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.

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.

  1. Pay-as-You-Go:

For most cloud resources, you are only billed for the time you use.  With features such as auto-scaling, you only get billed you 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.

  1. 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.

To be continued…

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