Clouds are all the rage these days. Everyone seems to either be using them or selling them or blogging about them. I hear business people often wondering how the Cloud is different than say the Internet. Most simply stated a Cloud offering is an offering through the internet or LAN/WAN that is subscription based and scales to the users requirements on demand leveraging a subscription style license. Subscribers can subscribe to this service (e.g. hardware for expanding testing environments for three days before an incremental software release). The benefits include to buy as you go or ability for the finance
Here’s a business case for buying into a Cloud infrastructure. As a young entrepreneur I had a chronically underfunded business which didn’t have enough money to invest in a substantial testing environment around load and scalability. In order for our team to test the effects of heavy usage of our software we would have needed tens of thousands of dollars to build a LAN based / hardware driven environment. Unfortunately we just didn’t have that much money to spend on capital investments. Luckily for us, one of our larger customers provided theirs to us -free of charge- and sent back critical load and scaling data so that we could improve our products performance under heavy usage (e.g. 100 to 1,000 simultaneous users). These days, organizations are offering similar testing environments for a fee around consumption in what is now known as public cloud infrastructure. The idea of no upfront capital costs (hardware) and the ease of a service that can be turned off/on without the hassle of hardware headaches or systems administration make for a compelling value for the subscriber.
So as not to be left in the cold larger organizations are offering something similar albeit calling it something different, the term they use is “private cloud.” Private clouds are similar in concept (subscription based consume as you go infrastructures) but the services are provided from the company to the company (usually from the Operations teams to the Development teams).
Through our years of work the most mature software teams working at larger organizations will leverage a hybrid strategy. Teams will seek out the best-in-breed of both public and private and the behind the scenes infrastructure will operate seamlessly. Hybrid cloud infrastructures are infrastructure’s that utilize both private (behind the firewall) and public (beyond the firewall) clouds to do different types of software development. For example developers on a team may utilize and internal tooling infrastructure to trace community based conversations but also utilize the public cloud for elastic on demand testing from several global locations. Teams utilizing a hybrid strategy are seen as advanced because of their ability to trace these source and conversational threads through associations. The tracing will improve reuse, reporting, audit-ability, community building and feed back into an enterprise cloud development framework.