Tips for Building and Deploying Cloud-based Apps

The cloud and cloud-based solutions are here to stay. Recent IDC research shows that worldwide revenue from public IT cloud services exceeded $16 billion in 2009 and is forecasted to reach $55.5 billion in 2014. Clearly, the pace of growth is quite staggering.

Companies of every size and stripe are leveraging the cloud to outsource noncore competencies, improve efficiencies, cut costs and drive productivity. Central to every company’s cloud strategy is determining how best to build and deploy cloud-based applications.

Here are a few best practices to help you make the process of building and deploying applications as straightforward as possible.

1. Design your applications for performance and scalability.
Building cloud-based applications is vastly different from building on-premise ones, so you need to design your applications to maximize their ability to benefit from the cloud’s elastic computing nature. The most obvious way to do this is to create stateless apps because they scale better.

Many thought leaders believe that the stateless model facilitates much greater scalability than conventional computing and combines effectively with virtualization to achieve optimum data-center utilization.

2. Build upon existing assets.                                 
For companies seeking to maximize the value and efficiency of their cloud applications, the best approach is to build upon existing assets rather than start from scratch. Existing assets offer various benefits: First, they can be shared and reused, often more quickly and smoothly than new ones. Second, IT users have some degree of comfort using them. And the bottom-line justification: They are probably paid for.

An existing asset, such as a mobile sales app, can be repurposed and tweaked to create a new cloud-based app in a foreign language for a field sales force.

Software as a Service (SaaS) applications are a good choice for such sharing and reuse as they enable business users to collaborate, create and share assets quickly and easily.

3. Determine the right amount of isolation and sharing of assets.
The flip side of sharing is isolation. Some assets need to be shared by all users, while others need to be restricted to certain users due to their confidential or sensitive nature. At the same time, it is desirable to create multi-tenancy collaborations so that users in different groups of your company can develop and share information and assets that will enhance the productivity of all tenants.

4. Don’t ignore taxonomy and governance procedures for your assets.
Categorizing and defining your assets is vital — especially if you work in an enterprise or even global company with hundreds or thousands of assets in different countries and dozens of languages. Besides including the most obvious assets — such as applications, operating systems and network platforms — you should add such intellectual assets as designs, implementation documents and even marketing information.

To make your life as easy as possible, consider detailing attributes for your assets so you can search for them effortlessly. For example, label your assets by vertical markets (such as finance and manufacturing) and level of adoption (such as mature, advanced and beginner).

You might also want to specify roles for people handling those assets. Think: creators, managers, users and those who can modify and share assets with others.

5. Allay your security worries before committing to a vendor.
Putting your data and apps in the cloud is fraught with security risks. Top-of-mind concerns for most companies are: data integrity, data location, data recovery, regulatory compliance, and privacy. The overarching concern is “Will my data be safe?” Before committing to a cloud vendor, consider getting a neutral third-party to do a thorough security assessment of the vendor. Companies should also conduct their own high-level audits of a vendor’s security and ask the vendor for proof of its security claims.

by Herman Mehling