Application development 'inside' the cloud just got real

Could the cloud computing model of service-based compute processing and data storage delivery be about to jolt at what we could call a strategic inflection point?

Are software application development tools, components, libraries and wider/higher Integrated Development Environments now moving to the point where these elements themselves are “located” in the cloud itself?

Is it the case that cloud as a delivery mechanism in and of itself now becomes “commoditised” such that we simply thing of ‘computing = cloud’ without any significant distinction?

If you look at what Microsoft is doing with Visual Studio 2013 and the .NET 4.5.1 software framework then the answer is yes.

Developers develop in the cloud

Speaking to the Computer Weekly Developer Network last week in London, Microsoft’s Azure lead and ASP.NET guru Scott Guthrie said that the “tools are up there” in the cloud and that we are now seeing the start of a time when “developers develop in the cloud” for real.

Guthrie has subsequently spoken on his own ScottGu blog to detail the kinds of automation tools that are now being rolled out to make the “cloud development environment in the cloud” all the more real…

… and developments here include the Windows Azure: new scheduler service, read-access geo-redundant storage functionality and monitoring updates too.

Can we find more evidence to substantiate the “real move to cloud development” then?

Cloud DevOps comes of age

Open hybrid cloud hosting Rackspace has just released a new managed support service for DevOps tools.

So not DevOps as such, this is Cloud DevOps

The new DevOps Automation Service is intended to help developers automate the process of deploying and scaling hybrid cloud infrastructure for “fast-growing” applications, while advancing the adoption of the DevOps methodology among software and IT teams.

This service works by allowing cloud-focused programmers and their Cloud DevOps counterparts to deploy, scale, and test new configurations in hours.

More frequent software releases should, in theory (if we believe Rackspace’s claims), help improve the quality of software deployments.

Also — the fact that we are automating processes in this way could help Cloud DevOps teams to provision servers consistently and free of mistakes typically caused by manual installation and configuration.

Cloud DevOps acceleration

“Rather than sacrificing quality or uptime because of avoidable human errors, DevOps methodology and practices of agility and automation can reduce human interaction with code and infrastructure, allowing development and other teams to focus on their primary objectives and business,” said 451 Research senior analyst Jay Lyman.

“This continuous deployment approach to infrastructure can accelerate release time and time-to-market for applications and features by reducing errors and test time and supporting DevOps processes.”

Rackspace product director Jonathan Siegel says that this DevOps Automation Service is comprised of the same tools that enabled Rackspace to launch 18 new cloud products, push code into production more than 2,500 times, and run over 15,000 automated tests last year.

“Benefits of the new DevOps Automation Service include Enhanced Infrastructure Automation to synchronise development and staging environments with production environment using configuration management tools such as Chef; collect application performance metrics (APM) to view code impact changes with application monitoring tools such as New Relic, stats, Graphite, or Cloud Monitoring,” said Rackspace, in a press statement.

We’re all singing from the same (good) hymn sheet

It appears that vendors all agreed on the benefits of cloud DevOps, we are (to some extent) hearing similar messages elsewhere…

Chris Rowett, senior director of technical sales at CA Technologies UK has said that real cloud development can happen, but with certain caveats.

“The problem is that many applications depend on infrastructure that is not possible and/or cost-effective to replicate in the cloud like a mainframe, third-party fee-based services or full databases. Without these crucial pieces of the puzzle, the development project can’t move forward. If it takes three weeks to get access to a mainframe that means it still takes three weeks to wait and provision a cloud lab. We call this the “wires hanging out” issue,” he said.

But says Rowett, service virtualisation makes cloud real for on-demand development and test environments.

He continues, “Organisations can use virtual services alongside virtual machines to capture and simulate the “wires hanging out” scenario and manage them in a complete DevTest cloud environment. Pre-production teams can now get complete labs that include stable versions of all the mainframes, data scenarios and services they need to truly realise elastic capacity.”

So we have real cloud development now burgeoning with DevOps and DevTest (and automation) being very much at the forefront of the enabling technologies.

Could 2014 be the year of real cloud developer development? We think the forecast is positive.