Staying ahead of business IT requirements has become a lot harder in recent years as the demand for web-based services has increased. The quest for rapid delivery of new features and capabilities on a variety of devices is putting even more pressure on development and testing teams.
Making a change to an e-commerce site may sound simple enough, but consider the number and complexity of the systems behind that checkout button. Credit card processing, financial accounting, inventory management, CRM and logistics systems are typically all different and yet interdependent.
There might be numerous applications, any number of servers and a mobile application all accessing the same critical component. Modern composite applications typically rely on a complex stack of interdependent software programmes.
Changes in any of the applications that contribute to the overall offering can have unanticipated consequences.
Developers and testers need to be able to make complex software and hardware environments stand up quickly, accurately and reliably. By employing the same server automation technologies that are used for production cloud environments, developers and testers can provision their preproduction sandbox environments in a fraction of the time and with greater accuracy than possible with traditional methods.
Automated deployment and related initiatives can ease the process of making requests using a well-defined shared catalogue of application and system environments, which can be deployed automatically to adaptive infrastructures.
In the interests of resource efficiency, the entire environment can be released at the end of each testing cycle.
This cloud-in-a-box route to development and testing has benefits for the business as well as stretched IT departments. Provisioning time can be slashed from weeks to hours; fully tested apps and features can be delivered far more quickly.
Communications issues between development, testing and production can be reduced or even eliminated. Developers and testers can work together in a streamlined environment that fully supports agile methodologies without creating a testing bottleneck and affording everyone greater flexibility.
Also, using shared cloud resources for development and testing on-demand computing power can reduce waste and resource use. Virtual teams in multiple locations can work online – which means the potential to reduce travel and the ability to add skill sets when required.
The need to set up numerous sandbox environments to test any modern application is substantial. On average, each fresh install of components can take 12 man hours of system administration per server (in elapsed time), followed by six hours (of elapsed time) to configure and verify the complete environment.
Assuming 80 sandbox requests per year, with the average request requiring five servers to be built, gives an annual cost in excess of £290,000. The beauty of using the cloud means this cost can be reduced by as much as 75 per cent and – even better – it can be paid out of operational expenses.
Outages due to production defects and time spent on problem management arising from application defects can be expensive. Developers and testers are less averse to running complex test suites when provisioning is fast and easy, resulting in better test coverage.
So taking a cloud-in-a-box approach should facilitate the production of apps of high quality, with reduced severity and frequency of failures. Staying ahead of businesses' requirements will never be easy, but this gives development and testing a fighting chance of boosting benefits as well as making savings.
Scott Murphy is UK HP division leader at Avnet Technology Solutions
Businesses also admit to holding data without permission of subjects
Zedsphere says end-point security vendor's offerings will be a 'key' feature of its wider portfolio
New acquisition will bring UK cloud service provider's global headcount to over 700
Law firm claims that Oracle lied to investors over what is driving its cloud revenue growth and boosted sales through 'threats and extortive tactics'