Looking at the evolution of the cloud
We've all heard about the cloud: whether it be the platforms companies are creating to support cloud applications, cloud applications themselves, or the infrastructure behind it all, the cloud has increasingly become more and more important to IT efforts worldwide. Mobile applications are some of the most pervasive adopters of cloud technologies, and as the enterprise moves to embrace mobile and expose services and capabilities via those mobile applications, the cloud becomes even more important as we move forward into a new generation of applications.
What's missing from the cloud today?
But although vast improvements and increased capabilities have been added to the cloud, the very fact that mobile development has accelerated is bringing about new and old challenges for the developer, the line-of-business manager responsibile for delivering services to customers, and even the customers themselves. While some of these challenges are some we've seen before, never before has there been such a demand to create solutions, and to create solutions now. Some of those challenges that we've been seeing, include:
- Time pressures/Time-to-market. Developers are, increasingly, seeing additional pressure to rapidly develop and deploy applications; LOBs need solutions that they can deploy quickly to meeting dynamic market needs
- Flexible capacity. LOBs need solutions that can scale to meet needs--developers need the same as well as flexibility in pricing (pay-as-you-go models).
- Enhanced technical resources. Developers need to be able to access services and data without needing to create code to glue everything together, LOBs have a business need to be able to easily and quickly be able to add new data sources or integrate in with back-end systems.
Big Data + Cloud Platform + Services
All of which is good, but how do you go about addressing time pressures, increasing flexibility in the form of capacity and data pipes, and provide technical resources including access to a variety of services so that developers can easily and quickly compose composite applications which provide the additional capabilities that line-of-business leaders require? To understand that, you have to understand the drivers: mobile applications are more and more frequently leveraging big data to provide enhanced features for end users. Whether that services is rendered in the form of crowd-sourced navigation enhanced with commercial business information (restaurants, gas stations, hotels, etc.), tied with user history and preferences, as well as recommendations from friends, family, and even strangers, market based pricing based on real-time demand as well as weather forecasts, all combined with predictive analytics to optimize efficiencies, mobile applications, in essence are becoming increasingly sophisticated, relying on numerous data services, ranging from raw data pipes, to analytics, authentication, and even payment systems...all integrated into a cohesive whole that's hidden from the end user. From the consumer perspective, "it just works".
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Peeking through the clouds and over the horizon.
While current technologies allow for applications to be cobbled together to allow for these capabilities. But, increasingly, the need is to be able to put together these applications in a much tighter time frame...instead of months and years, think minutes and hours. Instead of custom code for every application, think creating applications from discrete components (authentication, payment systems, data feed services, etc.).
From a business perspective, the drivers are mobile, social & big data analytics. But it's not just that. There's also a demand for creating continuous busines value, making that a metric revolving around a build, measure, learn, iterate process. By building code (and services) will enable a kind of ROI transparency with regards to the applications and the services, themselves. This in turn, leads to an API economy--providing the foundational services by which developers can create their composite apps, and implicitly includes third party applications within the entire framework. From all of this arises the next generation cloud platform--a system in which dynamic service compositon not only is inherent in the system, but is actually a core component which enables the platform and the API economy. This, in turn, simplifies the entire model--and creates what we have just recently launched: IBM Bluemix.
Want to learn more about IBM Bluemix? Take a look at our Bluemix page.
Getting involved, getting started
What we're learning--and what our clients are telling us--is that a new wave of cloud computing is starting to crest...a wave in which the economics of cloud computing shifts from a value focus on the platform, to a value focus on the actual cloud application. In essence, the framework, the services, and the enablement technologies all function to allow smaller teams to create more dynamic, rapidy deployed, and accelerated incremental improvements, while leveraging a combination of fabric-based and external services, all loosely coupled--but with the necessary components to easily tie these disparate systems together.
Today, jStart is collaborating with the business and educational communities to explore how this new cloud approach can meet business needs, be implemented most effectively, and enable our clients to do more that they've been able to do before, faster, and with lowered costs. Sounds interesting? You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the IBM Bluemix site.
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