Application Development In The Cloud: Let’s Go Deep

 

Developers are driving cloud computing in new directions and toward deeper enterprise adoption. We see a new pragmatism in our research: Developers favoring collections of cloud-based application services rather than the comprehensive platforms labeled “PaaS.” Growing use of development services attached to SaaS offerings to speed delivery. And developers using cloud environments to respond to the opportunity of mobile apps.

We also see contradictions in our research. Why, for instance, do so many developers demand control of thread and memory management when cloud platforms can shield them from those details?

If we understand where developers are taking cloud computing, we’ll be able to plot better strategies to use cloud for the flexible and efficient application delivery business leaders expect. We talk with many hundreds of developers working in cloud computing environments every year, and so we’ve got a great view of the market. But it is time for us all to gain an even deeper understanding because things are changing.

So we’re reaching out to developers for the industry’s most comprehensive survey on cloud application development. We’ve put together a set of questions that will yield a clear picture of application development in the cloud today – the good, the bad, the ugly, the elegant. Which cloud environments developers use, and why. What kinds of applications they are delivering using cloud, and why. Which languages and application services they prefer, and why. How much code and which kinds of data they host in clouds, and why.

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Playbook: Achieve Cloud Economics For Operations And Services

Cloud computing has reached an inflection point for enterprises — a comprehensive strategy for its use is now required. Until now, most companies had adopted cloud services in an ad hoc fashion, driven mostly by business leaders and developers looking to deliver new systems of engagement they felt could not be delivered by corporate IT — or in the time frame required. These ad hoc experiences prove that cloud solutions are now ready to be strategic resources in enterprise business technology portfolios. Only CIOs can help the business strike the right balance between the agility, efficiency, security, compliance, and integration that's required for a successful cloud strategy.

This research introduces our Playbook approach to our cloud research, describing how to execute an enterprise cloud strategy from vision to planning to implementation through to ongoing optimization. It is the Executive Overview to our Playbook on achieving cloud economics, setting the context for 12 reports by Forrester analysts that address each major phase of the transformation.

Cloud computing in its various forms is helping many CIOs drive greater business responsiveness. Enough so that most enterprises have adopted cloud computing in some form — usually a collection of software-as-a-service offerings. But cloud solutions now offer cost optimization, security, and quality of service for the full range of enterprise requirements, not just tactical needs. Thus, it is time to make cloud strategic, rather than a disconnected set of initiatives. How? CIOs need a playbook to create, implement, and optimize an end-to-end cloud strategy. This cloud strategy must achieve three goals:

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Progress Software Lowers Its Sights

Clay Richardson, Mike Gilpin, and I collaborated on this blog post.

I don’t normally blog in response to news events, but I feel obligated to blog about Progress Software’s strategy shift, announced last week (April 25, 2012). The reason: Before the shift, Progress was an independent alternative to the top-tier vendors of enterprise application platforms (Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and SAP); after the shift, it is not (see the figure below). Progress will now be a much more narrowly focused, specialist vendor.

Henceforth, Progress will provide its established OpenEdge application development platform (including OpenEdge BPM and a cloud-based version), its DataDirect Connect database drivers and integration tools, and its Apama (complex event processing) and Corticon (business rules management) platforms primarily for financial trading. Progress will no longer provide the following products, seeking to either sell them to other vendors or spin them out as independent companies:

  • Savvion BPM
  • Sonic ESB
  • Actional services management
  • Artix object request broker
  • DataXtend data integration server
  • FuseSource object request broker
  • ObjectStore database
  • Orbacus object request broker
  • Orbix object request broker
  • Shadow host integration products
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Understanding Cloud's Multitenancy

Forrester’s James Staten and I collaborated on this research.

True cloud services all use some mode of multitenancy — the ability for multiple customers (tenants) to share the same applications and/or compute resources. It is through multitenant architectures that cloud services achieve high cost efficiencies and can deliver low costs. Multitenant architectures must balance these cost benefits with the need for individual tenants to secure their data and applications. Forrester finds that few application development and delivery (AD&D) pros understand how multitenant architectures balance sharing with security, and many have other concerns as well. This research clarifies the picture and guides good decisions about cloud services.

Our definition: Multitenancy defines IT architectures that let multiple customers (tenants) share the same applications and/or compute resources with security, reliability, and consistent performance.

Our research yielded three major findings about multitenant architectures. These are:

  1. Multitenant architectures must strike a balance between sharing and security. To deliver cost savings and scalability, a multitenant architecture must be able to manage dynamic resource consumption by its tenants without violating their security. These two goals ultimately conflict with one another, since shared resources and individual security rarely go hand in hand.
  2. Two common multitenant architecture models have arisen. Dedicated resource models stake boundaries within shared infrastructure, defining the resources a tenant can access, allowing for tangible and secure walls but lower flexibility. Metadata map models chart protected pathways to shared resources, allowing for increased flexibility, but they ultimately may feel less secure.
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Decide Now: Is SharePoint In The Cloud For You?

Rob Koplowitz and I collaborated on this research.

The days of Microsoft SharePoint being only a locally installed software product are over. Microsoft's commitment to SharePoint in the cloud is evident in its massive data-center investments, its costly retrofitting of the code base to support multitenancy and access via subscription, and its emphasis on "cloud" in sales and marketing efforts. SharePoint Online's potential value is intriguing: lower costs, faster implementations, automatic upgrades, and more. The reality: Office 365/SharePoint Online are still only release two, and Microsoft usually needs three releases to get a product right. The questions you face: Will SharePoint in the cloud work for your organization? Is your organization ready to capture the benefits now? Should you wait for the proverbial release three of this Microsoft product — or should you engage now? This research answers these questions using the experiences of early SharePoint Online adopters and analysis of Microsoft's product capabilities today.

In Forrester's experience, most application development and delivery (AD&D) professionals do not fully understand either the significance or impact of SharePoint's shift into the cloud. How could they? Most have no experience with either of Microsoft's SharePoint-in-the-cloud offerings — Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) or its successor, the SharePoint Online component of the Office 365 suite. Those who do have experience with SharePoint in the cloud can help the rest of us begin to plan for the shift ahead — and according to them, we'll need very thorough plans to succeed.

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Embracing The Open Web: The Technologies You Need To Know

The open Web is a culture, a community — and a set of preferred technologies for Internet applications. While HTML5 is the best known of these technologies, the open Web also includes JavaScript (client and server), CSS3, Representational State Transfer (REST) application programming interfaces (APIs), and mobile frameworks such as jQuery Mobile. Together, these technologies comprise a new application platform for the Internet that will gradually replace today’s web platforms (HTML4, Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, Simple Object Access Protocol [SOAP] web services, Java EE, and .NET) for most applications. Forrester recently published research outlining the open Web platform’s key components, their readiness, and how the platform is evolving.

Open Web developers tend to use a variation of the façade pattern for their applications but refine the pattern to focus on standard web formats and protocols and services delivered via the Web — so we refer to it as the open Web façade. Developers draw on three bodies of de jure and de facto standards to implement the open Web façade pattern:

  1. Client standards. Application clients based on a body of emerging standards collectively labeled HTML5.
  2. Service plane standards. A service plane that exposes interfaces using the REST pattern and resource-oriented architecture principles. These services are often called RESTful web services.
  3. Virtual infrastructure standards. A highly virtualized server tier (often a public cloud service) that is easy to deploy initial solutions to but that is also able to scale up or down on demand to meet surges in capacity.
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Here Comes The Open Web – Embrace It

The Web is moving on to a new era of openness, mobility, and digital business. The open Web is a platform built on HTTP (the fundamental web protocol), a new generation of HTML, dynamic languages, and wide use of Internet services for everything from video encoding to social graphs to order management and payments. The open Web made its debut in consumer applications; for enterprises, it will power a new generation of customer engagement applications. The open Web will be particularly important to app Internet systems that bridge mobile devices, cloud services, and enterprise applications and data. Forrester recently published a report that will equip application development and delivery leaders with an understanding of the open Web and its potential value.

We define the open Web as: a culture and community emphasizing openness, transparency, and freedom of developer choice as well as an application platform based on HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript clients, HTTP/representational state transfer (REST), and cloud services. The open Web includes the app Internet as one potential design pattern.

A new breed of developers is propelling the open Web: young developers who grew up on the Web and develop outside the firewall — primarily producing applications aimed at consumers. Their career expectations were also born of the Web, and they expect openness of information, technology, and expertise. Open Web developers share certain motivations that have shaped the open Web trend. They:

  • Strive to create great customer experiences.
  • Craft applications that can reach customers wherever they are.
  • Leverage customers’ inherent desire to be social.
  • Deliver applications and new functionality quickly.
  • Minimize time spent on low-value tasks to focus more on creating business value.
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The New Productivity Platforms: Your Solution To The AD&D Crunch

For fast delivery of new business applications, conventional Java and .NET coding is usually no longer your best choice. Instead, a generation of new productivity platforms holds the potential to speed initial application delivery and ongoing updates. These platforms abstract away configuration chores, repetitive coding tasks, and long testing and quality assurance (QA) cycles. Some allow application development and delivery (AD&D) teams to delegate application delivery — in part or in whole — to business experts. AD&D teams under pressure to deliver more with less should evaluate these platforms. This research outlines this emerging category's benefits and risks. Full report URL: http://www.forrester.com/rb/Research/new_productivity_platforms_solution_to_ad%26d_crunch/q/id/58576/t/2. (Note: Pay wall.)

Most application development and delivery teams have simple marching orders: "Do more with less — and fast. And when you've done more with less, figure out how to do even more with still less on your next set of projects. And deliver even faster."

We've not met a single application development and delivery professional during the past two years who isn't struggling to meet this imperative. Why? Competitive markets, business models, and consumer preferences change so quickly, and keeping up requires either making changes to existing software or writing entirely new applications.

Clients react to the AD&D crunch in a variety of ways, but one of the most common responses is to search for new development processes and tools. And right now, AD&D teams will find that a bumper crop of new development-productivity tools has arrived for their consideration. We call these products the new productivity platforms and define them as:

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A SharePoint Custom-Development Strategy Is More Crucial Now Than Ever

I prepared this research with Rob Koplowitz.

The stage is set for a big upswing in custom application development on Microsoft SharePoint. First, SharePoint Server 2010 adoption is very strong, and this version of the product has the strongest features yet for custom development. Second, with application backlogs growing, many organizations will find themselves taking on SharePoint "customization" projects to meet business demands. Custom application development is the riskiest of the six SharePoint "workloads." For organizations adopting SharePoint, this situation demands a careful strategy now to avoid problems later. This post delivers our latest assessment of SharePoint adoption and discusses its implications for app delivery professionals.

Our latest survey on customer experiences with Microsoft SharePoint shows a successful product moving crisply through a major upgrade, from Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS 2007) to SharePoint Server 2010. SharePoint usage is strong in organizations of all sizes and in most industry sectors. The product's continued success has two conflicting facets for application development and delivery pros:

  • SharePoint can be a productive platform for business applications. SharePoint can help your teams deliver applications fast in three ways. First, with a little customization of the human interface, SharePoint's out-of-the-box applications can work for many situations. Second, SharePoint's basket of developer services for applications involving collaboration, social media, website creation, workflows, document management, information distribution, search, and reporting dashboards can speed completion of projects. Third, you can delegate simple sites and workflows, as well as content updating, to businesspeople.
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Leave IT Order-Taking Behind — How To Become A BT Leader

[Forrester Principal Analyst Phil Murphy and I collaborated on this research — and the consulting projects that prompted it.]

Business technology demands that application development and delivery pros help business leaders define IT capabilities to drive business strategies and either create or broker delivery of those capabilities. To respond, app development and delivery pros must adopt new delivery methods, organizational models, roles, and processes. Providing excellent IT project execution and predictable IT utilities is now table stakes. Welcome to the world of BT — where the walls between IT and the business have faded or disappeared almost entirely.

Three case studies illustrate the paths that app delivery organizations will follow as they make the transition from IT order-takers to business technology (BT) leaders. (The company names have been fictionalized.)

  • "Services Inc." struggles to keep the lights on while the business expands globally. The IT group initially thought it needed a new software development life cycle (SDLC) and stronger project management. In fact, it needs much more: a productive relationship with line-of-business leaders, an application platform flexible enough to keep up with demands, and a refocusing of its efforts on the work that would help it globalize and that would truly differentiate it from competitors.

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