#Cloud Development: An Introductory Guide
The cloud has many perks and is now the standard for organizations of all sizes, from large corporations to startups. Technological innovation, flexibility, improved deployment strategies, cost optimization, and more technological accessibility with less complexity are a few of these perks.
Considering these offerings, it should come as no surprise that demand is rising, especially since individuals and businesses are exploring ways to benefit from or get started with the cloud.
However, cloud development can seem hazy and confusing. In this post, we’ll give you a crash course in cloud development and provide guidance on getting started.
#What Is Cloud Development?
Cloud development means developing applications in the cloud using cloud computing resources. The whole process involves developing, testing, deploying, and running the application in cloud-based environments using cloud-based solutions. This process encourages and allows organizations to build unique, flexible models to meet the varying needs of various users.
Thus, the computing resources' location and any underlying components are irrelevant because they are accessible via the internet. Without the hassle of an on-premise setup, computing resources will be available on demand and through self-service. However, while the location is irrelevant, geopolitics influences your decision because a region’s service costs may be marginally higher.
#Cloud Development Terminology
There are a few terms you’ll regularly hear in this cloud space. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Often used interchangeably with computing resources, computing services refer to everything needed to perform computational work. These include but are not limited to the hardware, software, data, servers, compute cycles, storage memory, and CPU.
Cloud computing is the delivery of computing resources on demand over the internet. Thus, organizations can rent and pay for the cloud computing resources needed rather than owning and maintaining on-premises computing infrastructures. Cloud service providers provide these services.
Think of it as renting computing resources.
#Cloud Service Providers
Cloud service providers are third-party companies offering a cloud-based platform, infrastructure, or on-demand service. They’re also referred to as “cloud computing vendors.” Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud are the big three cloud service providers. Others include Alibaba Cloud, IBM Cloud, and Oracle Cloud.
Cloud-native is a cloud approach that involves designing, building, and running applications that take full advantage of the cloud computing model.
While traditional cloud development relies on cloud infrastructure for scalability, cloud-native doesn’t, but rather utilizes everything that makes the cloud flexible, scalable, and resilient.
Cloud apps are therefore supported by standardized, fully automated development and deployment environments and run more effectively. These are made possible by cloud technologies like Kubernetes, API-driven communication, containers, microservices architecture, CI/CD pipelines, and a variety of open-source projects like vcluster.
However, Loft Labs has a comprehensive multi-article series that explores cloud-native technologies and engineering practices if you’re interested in learning more about the cloud-native approach.
Cloud migration involves moving a company’s on-premises data center, applications, and IT resources to the cloud. While the process can be challenging, with solid cloud migration strategies, migrating can be straightforward, and the benefits far exceed the hassles.
#Cloud Development vs. Web Development: Two Sides of the Same Coin?
Though cloud and web development sound similar, they’re pretty different.
So, what’s the difference?
For one, cloud development depends on sharing computing resources through public infrastructure instead of locally on a server.
Also, all cloud applications are web applications, but not all web applications are cloud applications. This sentence captures the fundamental difference between web development and cloud development.
Traditionally, web development involves building applications locally before deploying them to the production environment. However, challenges such as software dependency incompatibility often arise. Cloud development, on the other hand, uses agile and DevOps methodologies instead.
This methodology strongly emphasizes collaboration and handles the entire application development and release as quickly and efficiently as possible. With this approach, developers can use cloud-based solutions to build, test, and deploy applications directly to production environments.
The cloud development approach has many advantages over the traditional approach of developing applications, such as a shorter time to market and rapid feature release.
#Benefits of Cloud Development
Cloud development was a major technological shift in practically every aspect of the development process.
Let’s take a look at a few benefits.
- Cost-saving: The cloud computing business model is similar to the pay-as-you-go or subscription model. Thus, you don’t need to make any initial capital investment in computing infrastructure or pay ongoing maintenance costs because most of your computing resources are accessed online.
- Scalability and accessibility: Without worrying about updating and implementing new IT infrastructure, your computing resources can be accessed from anywhere and changed to suit your company’s needs. Let the cloud take care of everything else while you focus on meeting your company’s goal.
- Technological democratization: Everyone can use computing resources that would have been too expensive to have on-premises or that they probably couldn’t afford. The technology is also user-friendly and intuitive.
- Improved backup and disaster recovery: Backups are easily accessible and quickly available because everything is in the cloud.
#Uses of Cloud Development
Various companies use cloud development, and you probably use this technology daily without even realizing it.
So, what can you do with the cloud?
- create cloud-native applications using cloud technologies
- store data in a cost-efficient way (The advantage is that it’s accessible from anywhere.)
- utilize cloud services like artificial intelligence, deep learning, and machine learning for big data analysis
- use cloud technologies for audio and video streaming (Companies like Spotify and Netflix use it to reach a global audience.)
- deliver software and updates on demand to customers
The application of cloud development is genuinely limitless.
#Types of Cloud Development Services
Cloud providers deliver computing resources in four different ways.
#1. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
This model is pretty popular among the general public. Software-as-a-service provides end users an application as a service via the internet. The cloud service provider manages the setup and maintenance of the underlying computing services. However, consumers need to buy a subscription plan to use the service. Think of Netflix, Salesforce, Slack, Power BI, and Microsoft 365.
#2. Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)
Unlike SaaS, platform-as-a-service (PaaS) delivers an on-demand application development, testing, and deployment environment for developers without complexity. However, the cloud provider manages and configures every computing resource the environment (platform) needs. Heroku, SAP Cloud, Docker, Google App Engine, and Azure SQL Database provide these services.
#3. Serverless Computing
Serverless computing, like PaaS, lets developers focus on application development without managing the underlying environment. However, the most significant differences are in the architecture, tooling, scalability, and pricing.
Serverless computing providers, for instance, often own their infrastructure. However, PaaS vendors could use IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) from another vendor or their own infrastructure. Organizations like AWS Lambda Service, Cloudflare, Google Cloud Functions, Oracle Functions, and Azure Functions offer these.
#4. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)
Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) rents out the building blocks—servers, storage, networks, and operating systems (OS)—of the cloud IT infrastructure. The cloud provider provides organizations with a digital model of an on-premise setup. Thus, organizations can scale up and down depending on business demand without physically building or buying the infrastructure. A few examples are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure.
#Types of Cloud Computing Models
Anyone using the service can access the computing resource via the internet. A vital feature of this cloud model is the multi-tenant environment. In this context, a tenant is a single-user account. So, users log in to their accounts to access the service. Gmail and Netflix are two great examples.
The organization or client uses the cloud computing resources only on-premises or through an IaaS-based model. It follows a single-tenant architecture and is essential for companies with strict regulations.
Here, the organization receives a blend of both models. This model offers greater flexibility and infrastructure optimization.
#Getting Started with Cloud Development
Earlier, we mentioned that cloud development still appears confusing to many people. Hence, we’re offering some learning guidance.
Start with our multi-article cloud series before taking a cloud computing course like Educative Cloud Computing 101 or Cloud Guru. It would set the foundation. You can also check out Udemy or Coursera.
After that, we recommend looking at the DevOps roadmap. It’s a knowledge repository for cloud development. However, you must be strategic since you cannot learn everything. Here’s a quick reference list:
- Choose a cloud provider, become knowledgeable about their services, and get certified. It might be Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure learning path, or Google Cloud.
- Learn about CI/CD tools, GitHub actions, OS concepts, and agile development methodologies.
Get hands-on and experiment while you’re doing this. You’d feel much more confident. Lastly, join communities like the Cloud Resume Challenge and 100 Days of Cloud. These communities are great places to learn and get support from people of various skill levels who are on the same path as you.
With this post and these resources, you should understand the cloud better and get a head start on your journey. Also, don’t forget to check out Loft’s multi-article series and build projects.
This post was written by Ifeanyi Benedict Iheagwara. Ifeanyi is a data analyst and Power Platform developer who is passionate about technical writing, contributing to open source organizations, and building communities. Ifeanyi writes about machine learning, data science, and DevOps, and enjoys contributing to open-source projects and the global ecosystem in any capacity.