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Should Developers Care About Cloud Computing?
An introduction to cloud computing for developers

It seems like just about every cloud computing discussion with a development audience results in the same question being asked: “Why does this matter to me?” As cloud computing first appears to be primarily an operational-centric paradigm, it is easy to understand the reason this is asked. This question can be answered in a variety of ways. Some may say that cloud computing doesn’t affect the developer in any way, while others will say developers need to totally revamp their skill set to cope with the new landscape proffered by cloud computing. The truth, as always, is somewhere in the middle.

Though the industry is still in a bit of disagreement on exactly how to define cloud computing, it doesn’t seem there is a lot of disagreement with the idea of a three-layer cloud. At the top is the Application Services layer, followed by the Platform Services layer, and then the Infrastructure Services layer. For a rough summary, the application services layer constitutes SaaS offerings, the platform services layer encompasses platforms in the cloud like the Google App Engine, Force.com, etc., and infrastructure services provide underlying compute resources like processing and networking in the cloud, think Amazon’s EC2. There are numerous posts discussing what makes up each of these three layers, so instead of turning our focus there, let’s discuss the impact to the enterprise developer in each of these three cloud layers.

On first look at the application services, or SaaS layer, we may not immediately think of developers. More often than not, CRM software, email, collaboration solutions, and other similar offerings come to mind. However, there are at least two ways in which the services in this layer impact the enterprise developer. For one, there is the possibility of more and more development tooling environments moving into the clouds. By extending development tooling in the software as a service model, these often compute intensive offerings could get their resources from a capable cloud instead of the comparably weak personal machines developers often have. In addition, as in all SaaS offerings, the provider is charged with monitoring and maintaining the software, and this means developers put more of their focus and time toward software development.

Beyond the movement of development tools toward a SaaS model, the proliferation of consumable services in the cloud has and will continue to have an impact on the way developers and architects design IT systems. Services in the cloud, both private and public varieties, become part of the overall SOA for an organization. This means considerations of securing services, mediating service requests, and otherwise governing services applies across multiple domains now. Cloud services can provide a powerful boost to the SOA capabilities of an organization, but the ramifications of extending that SOA across multiple domains and into clouds should be considered by enterprise developers and architects as early as possible.

The effects of cloud computing on developers are probably most palpable in the platform services layer. This is where we find platforms like the Google App Engine, Force.com, etc. hosted in the cloud. If an organization chooses to go the route of a cloud-hosted platform, developers need to get up to speed on the layout of that platform including the APIs offered and the application deployment and packaging strategy. Across the different platforms there will likely be support for a common set of languages like Java, PHP, Python, and more, however, there will also be services and APIs unique to each of the platforms. For instance, the Google App Engine offers the Google Accounts service to applications running on its platform. This service allows developers to authenticate a user of their application using the user's Google account credentials.  In addition, different platforms offer different connectivity and integration services. These capabilities are important when connecting applications running on the cloud-hosted platform to components running elsewhere. When leveraging platform services in the cloud, enterprise developers need to go beyond their current skill set and educate themselves in the services and APIs offered by the platform in order to utilize its full potential.

The infrastructure services layer likely impacts the enterprise developer the least. These services are typically consumed by the higher level services in order to either provide a platform or software as a service. This is not to say though that developers can be blissfully ignorant of an infrastructure cloud service being utilized within their organization. In some cases, such as the case with Amazon’s EC2, the infrastructure comes with a complimentary set of capabilities such as storage and message queuing. At the least, developers should be aware of the characteristics of the infrastructure. For instance, when developing an application it would be good for a developer to know if an infrastructure can dynamically scale based on request volume. If so, the developer is likely in the best position to convey information about the metrics used to decide when to scale the infrastructure. If the infrastructure doesn’t dynamically scale, developers and architects need to be aware of this when originally designing the system. This allows them to architect and implement solutions that mitigate this limitation.

Cloud computing is here and developers need to be ready. If you are an enterprise developer whose organization is looking to cloud computing solutions be proactive. Research the different layers of the cloud your company is interested in, understand the impacts to you and your job, and voice your opinion about the direction that should be taken. If you have any thoughts on development in the cloud, let me know below or send me a note at wscloud@us.ibm.com.

About Dustin Amrhein
Dustin Amrhein joined IBM as a member of the development team for WebSphere Application Server. While in that position, he worked on the development of Web services infrastructure and Web services programming models. In his current role, Dustin is a technical specialist for cloud, mobile, and data grid technology in IBM's WebSphere portfolio. He blogs at http://dustinamrhein.ulitzer.com. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/damrhein.

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WebRTC Summit Silicon Valley All-Star Speakers Include

MATTHIEU
Octoblu

MAHADEV
Cisco

MCCARTHY
Bsquare

FELICIANO
AMDG

PAUL
VenueNext

SMITH
Eviot

BEAMER
goTraverse

GETTENS
goTraverse

CHAMBLISS
ReadyTalk

HERBERTS
Cityzen Data

REITBAUER
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WILLIAM-
SON

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SCHMARZO
EMC

WOOD
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Electric Cloud

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GE

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Transparent
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Transparent
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Esri

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ROWE
IBM Cloud

SKILLERN
Intel

SMITH
Numerex
WebRTC Summit New York All-Star Speakers Include

CLELAND
HGST

VASILIOU
Catchpoint

WALLGREN
Electric Cloud

HINCH-
CLIFFE

7Summits

DE SOUZA
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RANDALL
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TAM-
BURINI

Autodesk

MCCARTHY
Bsquare

THURAI
SaneIoT

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Cloudian

ENDO
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Transparent

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Transparent

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testRTC

VARAN NATH
GE

COOPER
M2Mi

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STEINER-
JOVIC

AweSense

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AgilData

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Cloudata

DUFOUR
Webroot

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JONES
Deep

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NICTA

NIELSEN
Redis

PAOLAL-
ANTORIO

DataArchon

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Intelligent
Systems

THYKAT-
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Navisite

TRELOAR
Bebaio

SIVARAMA-
KRISHNAN

Red Hat
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POTTER
SafeLogic

ROBINSON
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WARUSA
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WSO2 Inc

MEINER
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CHOU
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HARRISON
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VMware

KIM
MapR

KANE
Dyn

SICULAR
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TURNER
Cloudian

KUMAR
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ADAMIAK
Liaison

KHAN
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SUSSMAN
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RMS

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CodeFutures

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Windstream

RAMA
MURTHY

Virtusa

BOSTOCK
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DE MENO
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Rancher Labs

CRISWELL
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SINGH
IBM

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CodeFutures

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HAM

SIOS

WILLIS
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Gridstore

KHABE
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NIKOLOV
GetClouder

DIETZE
Windstream

DALRY-
MPLE

EnterpriseDB

MAZZUCCO
TierPoint

RIVERA
WHOA.com

HERITAGE
Akana

SEYMOUR
6fusion

GIANNETTO
Author

CARTER
IBM

ROGERS
Virtustream
Cloud Expo Silicon Valley All-Star Speakers

TESAR
Microsoft

MICKOS
HP

BHARGAVA
Intel

RILEY
Riverbed

DEVINE
IBM

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CodeFutures

LYNN
HP

HINKLE
Citrix

KHAN
Solgenia

SINGH
Bigdata

BEACH
SendGrid

BOSTOCK
IndependenceIT

DE SOUZA
Cisco

PATTATHIL
Harbinger

O'BRIEN
Aria Systems

BONIFAZI
Solgenia

BIANCO
Solgenia

PROCTOR
NuoDB

DUGGAL
EnterpriseWeb

TEGETHOFF
Appcore

BRUNOZZI
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HICKENS
Parasoft

KLEBANOV
Cisco

PETERS
Esri

GOLDBERG
Vormetric

CUMBER-
LAND

Dimension

ROSENDAHL
Quantum

LOOMIS
Cloudant

BRUNO
StackIQ

HANNON
SoftLayer

JACKSON
SoftLayer

HOCH
Virtustream

KAPADIA
Seagate

PAQUIN
OnLive

TSAI
Innodisk

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Connected Data

SHIAH
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SEGIL
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COWIE
Dyn

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HOUSE

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Kaazing

THYKATTIL
TimeWarner

LEIDUCK
SAP

LYNN
HP

WAGSTAFF
BSQUARE

POLLACK
AOL

KAMARAJU
Vormetric

BARRY
Catbird

MENDEN-
HALL

SUPERNAP

SHAN
KEANE

PLESE
Verizon

BARNUM
Voxox

TURNER
Cloudian

CALDERON
Advanced Systems

AGARWAL
SOA Software

LEE
Quantum

OBEROI
Concurrent, Inc.

HATEM
Verizon

GALEY
Autodesk

CAUTHRON
NIMBOXX

BARSOUM
IBM

GORDON
1Plug

LEWIS
Verizon

YEO
OrionVM

NAKAGAWA
Transparent Cloud Computing

SHIBATA
Transparent Cloud Computing

NATH
GE

GOKCEN
GE

STOICA
Databricks

TANKEL
Pivotal Software


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One of the best conferences we have attended in a while. Great job, Cloud Expo team! Keep it going."

@Peak_Ten


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Digital Transformation Blogs
In addition to 22 Keynotes and General Sessions, attend all FinTechEXPO Blockchain "education sessions" plus 40 in two tracks: (1) Enterprise Cloud (2) Digital Transformation. PRICE EXPIRES AUGUST 31, 2018. Ticket prices: ($295-Aug 31) ($395-Oct 31) ($495-Nov 12) ($995-Walk-in) Does NOT include lunch.
SAP is the world leader in enterprise applications in terms of software and software-related service revenue. Based on market capitalization, we are the world's third largest independent software manufacturer. Harness the power of your data and accelerate trusted outcome-driven innovation by developing intelligent and live solutions for real-time decisions and actions on a single data copy. Support next-generation transactional and analytical processing with a broad set of advanced analytics - run securely across hybrid and multicloud environments.
As the fourth industrial revolution continues to march forward, key questions remain related to the protection of software, cloud, AI, and automation intellectual property. Recent developments in Supreme Court and lower court case law will be reviewed to explain the intricacies of what inventions are eligible for patent protection, how copyright law may be used to protect application programming interfaces (APIs), and the extent to which trademark and trade secret law may have expanded relevance to the cloud. Best practices for intellectual property protection, licensing, and other topi...