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Cloud-based Application Development for Enterprises

While some IT experts underestimate the potential of cloud app market, 34% of U.S. enterprises are expected to partially adopt cloud technology by 2017. Yet, the difference between cloud and traditional development remains vague. Do you need cloud-based software? What benefits for small and medium-size companies, as well as corporations, does it offer? What are the pros and cons of cloud computing? Read on to find out!

The concept of cloud development

The IT term “cloud” refers to remote data storage, access and management services. Instead of running local servers, IT companies rely on Internet computing and utilize third-party platforms to maintain their software and database. Cloud technology is multi-tenant by nature. Customers are allowed to change business rules or user interface, but cannot interfere with the coding process.

There are three types of cloud solutions for businesses:

  • SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). Business owners subscribe to an application hosted by a service provider and access the program online. SaaS technologies are widely implemented in HR, trade, transportation and other domains. Among the best-known examples of SaaS solutions one should name Salesforce, QuickBooks and Basecamp;
  • PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service). Virtual platforms offer multiple ready-to-use tools for software development. The world’s leading PaaS providers are ThinkGrid, CloudFoundry and Heroku (to name a few). PaaS platforms support Java, Pithon, Ruby and other programming languages for custom application development;
  • IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service). In this case the components of a virtualized environment (such as software, hardware and server) are hosted and managed by an experienced third-party provider like Windows Azure, Amazon AWS or Google Compute Engine.

Cloud Based App Development for Businesses infographic

The advantages of cloud technology

According to the ServerSide, by 2018 there won’t be any reasons to use traditional desktop environments in app development – at least, for small and medium-size businesses. And here’s why:

  • The advantages of “do-more-with-less” principle. Businesses that turn to cloud-based solutions reduce application development time by at least 11.6%. It’s also a perfect opportunity to cut the ownership and maintenance expenses by 46% and more;
  • Accessibility. As long as there is a stable Internet connection, cloud applications can be easily managed from any device and location;
  • Scalability. Vendors provide numerous “packages” of software development and management tools. In order to choose the right billing plan and app functions, an entrepreneur has to define his current goals and requirements. There’s also an option to expand/scale down the functionality of the program at any given moment (pay-as-you-go model);
  • Improved data security. Once you store data in the cloud, the service provider is totally responsible for its protection and recovery. It certainly eliminates the risks of human errors, although cloud technology opponents (aka traditional developers) urge users to keep sensitive information on-site;
  • Vast opportunities for cooperation. Providing tools for in-cloud communication, virtual platforms allow programmers and designers to work on a product simultaneously;
  • Automatic software updates. Software maintenance is carried out solely by service providers;
  • Energy efficiency. Cloud offers new approaches towards greener application development. As long as small and medium-size companies employ virtual platforms for data storage and management, the average energy consumption will be reduced by 87%.

Originally cloud computing was meant to give small businesses a competitive advantage over large enterprises. However, the launch of Adobe Creative Cloud and Microsoft Office 365 proves that IT corporations are no longer reluctant to use virtual platforms. What are their goals?

  • Better environment. Google, for example, utilizes cloud services to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions;
  • Opportunities for outsourcing and open communication. As long as your employees have access to the Internet, it doesn’t matter where they are;
  • Costs optimization. The use of cloud-based solutions allows corporations to reduce the number of servers and energy-consuming equipment.

Let us enumerate the industries that will certainly draw advantages from following the cloud trend (although workflow enhancement solutions are beneficial for any entrepreneur):

  • Hotel business. Expedia, Hotels.com and other prosperous companies successfully employ cloud solutions for document management and price testing;
  • Real Estate. Estate agents no longer need backup drivers. You can either store data on Dropbox or develop a customized cloud database for your agency;
  • Education. The growing popularity of personal organizers (TeacherKit), distant education management systems (like Moodle) and classroom customization tools (Edmodo) proves that cloud-based applications are still among 2015-development trends;
  • Retail. CRM solutions provide constant access to customer information and improve your sales’ department performance;
  • Healthcare. Again, it’s the SaaS technologies that medical institutions can benefit from. Electronic healthcare records, x-ray images and research data can be stored in one place, available to all registered physicians;
  • Finance. Although only 7% of American financial companies utilize cloud technologies, virtual platforms offer numerous advantages for the industry, including remote data management, expense reduction (no need for hardware), strong security and options for outsourcing.

Things you need to know before you address a cloud developer

  • If you already have an application and consider moving it into cloud, extra tests are required to optimize the app’s lifecycle and decrease its costs;
  • Cloud platforms with enhanced data security options aren’t suitable for high-end applications;
  • Quite a number of vendors still shy away from cloud technology – for the lack of documentation and fear of a totally new domain;
  • The majority of cloud servers are located in different regions, and it might be difficult to coincide their work (which, in its turn, will have a negative impact on the app’s performance);
  • Servers can impose additional user restrictions;
  • Customers do not normally have access to the cloud integration platform. If your company uses several applications, their integration can be a major challenge;
  • The ever-changing concept of cloud computing doesn’t always suit the needs of small businesses. Providers tend to regularly enable their platform with new options and functions, and small companies find it hard to adopt all the changes straight away.

Nearly half of American marketing departments will host their database, email and business apps on a cloud platform. Despite considerable data security and development issues, the future of cloud apps is quite certain: they offer competitive advantages and increase work efficiency, and that’s what any business is about.

We don’t peddle trends. We streamline business.