In my prior job at IBM, I was, on more than one occasion, reminded of the pains of dealing with software development tools. It seemed to be a constant battle to keep up with licenses, install critical fixes, and update to the latest version of whatever tool I happened to be using. Since I often worked on projects across multiple machines, I had to ensure that versions of the tool on different machines were reasonably close and that any code formatting settings were consistent across the different tool instances. On top of this, the tools were sometimes so CPU intensive that multitasking on the same machine running the tool was impossible.
All of the above pains were a direct function of the tools being installed on my local machine, so you can imagine my interest in a recent announcement by IBM signaling the launch of a pilot program offering Tools as a Service. The program, initially offered to students and faculty of selected universities, delivers hosted software development tools to developers. Users of the development tools do not install, maintain, or run the products on their local machine, instead they access them through a cloud maintained by IBM. The tools can be accessed from any machine with an internet connection, and a developer's sandbox is persisted across multiple sessions. The developer simply logs in, does work, and at some point saves his/her changes and logs out. The saved changes can be accessed at some point in the future from the same machine or an entirely different one.
This is exactly what I needed! Like many developers, I wanted to focus on writing code not maintaining a suite of tools. I for one hope this eventually extends beyond a pilot program and becomes a mainstream practice. You can read more about IBM's Tools as a Service initiative here.
Dustin Amrhein[Read More]
A view from the clouds: Cloud computing for developers
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When talking of cloud computing and the value it means for an adopter, we often hear of the cost-cutting benefits. Given the current economic climate, this is a fairly convincing, and I would say accurate, pitch for the cloud. However, this is far from the only benefit of the cloud. Cloud computing solutions are poised to disrupt the current IT landscape, and in doing so, values that enable competitive advantage will be realized. Two such benefits that come to mind are increased innovation opportunity and enhanced business agility.
Far from being just another IT product, cloud computing is a concept that is rooted in shifting the burden of IT away from enterprises and into the hands of cloud providers. Companies are left to focus on using IT to enhance the business value they deliver, and correspondingly spend less time on enabling that value to be delivered. By allowing this focus on exploiting IT to enhance business value, a hotbed for innovation is established. Talented, dedicated personnel that were once at least partially, if not mostly, devoted to enabling services to be delivered to customers can now focus more of their time on enhancing those services or creating entirely new services. Cloud computing further reinforces a culture of innovation by removing a significant portion of the economic risks associated with bearing out prototypes of new ideas. By making it cheaper and quicker to obtain computing power, developers feel less pressure for every idea they have to pan out. By encouraging more ideas to be brought forth, the subset of ideas that eventually make it to market will increase. These ideas can mean new revenue streams, increased customer satisfaction, expanded market-share, and more.
The quick and dynamic delivery of computing resources is yet another benefit of cloud computing solutions. In short, IT resources are delivered both quickly and when needed. This allows companies the flexibility to quickly obtain more computing power, such as during a new service roll-out or peak demand periods, and similarly to quickly scale back computing power consumption. The dynamic provisioning capability provides a level of agility previously much harder and costlier to obtain. Gone are the days of procurement periods measured in weeks or months, and instead procurement is seen in terms of minutes or hours. This insulates enterprises against changing market conditions that may result in bursts of increased demand for their services or a shift in demand among its services. In this way, cloud computing affords enterprises the agility to meet the needs of its customers no matter when and how those needs are expressed.
Businesses that understand how to best leverage the cloud to facilitate innovation and dynamically procure computing resources will undoubtedly have a competitive advantage over those that do not quite get it. However, these are just two examples in an endless array of ways in which the cloud can enable competitive advantage. I think we are in store for some very creative uses of the cloud, and I'm interested to see how companies of all sizes harness the benefits of the cloud as a competitive advantage.
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By utilizing the cloud hosting environment for applications, enterprises can benefit in several ways. Two benefits that immediately enter the picture are a consistent and responsive application user experience, regardless of demand, and a reduction in energy wastes caused by under-utilization of resources. Yesterday, IBM and SAP showcased technology that promises to enhance the state of the art in how these two benefits are realized.
In a demonstration at CeBIT, IBM and SAP previewed a technology that ensures demand-based capability of SAP applications hosted on IBM POWER6 servers. By using the Live Partition Mobility feature of the AIX operating system on the POWER6 servers, partitions are transferred across servers, regardless of physical location, in real-time. This means SAP applications can be migrated across physical resources in real-time as demand dictates. In addition to this capability, the solution also provides the ability to power up and power down physical servers to meet demand, thus eliminating energy wastes from under-utilization. What's more is that these two features are completely autonomic! You can read more about the demonstration here.
I think this revolutionary solution gives us a look into the future of cloud computing. Solutions will continue to evolve to become more autonomic and more integrated, and you can be sure that IBM will be on the leading edge of the movement.
Dustin Amrhein[Read More]