Does it Make Sense for Enterprise IT to Serve Their IDE Needs from SaaS in the Cloud?

On February 28, 2014, the CloudShare Community Blog published Chris Riley’s interview with Ken Walker of IBM®. The topic of the discussion was the recent increase in enterprise business interest in serving their needs for Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) from the cloud, and the rationale behind it.

Walker voiced his opinion on the rationale as follows: “The capabilities of SaaS and PaaS platforms and the power of the underlying JavaScript runtimes in every browser are at the tipping point where there’s no point in Developers maintaining private tool chains on their own machines.” (quoted from a February 28, 2014 interview of Ken Walker of IBM by Chris Riley of Cloudshare. A link to the full interview is published above).

Add to Walker’s opinion a recent substantial change in direction for the Microsoft® development model for its Office products, and enterprise business will likely find a lot of reasons to seriously consider cloud SaaS offers, as they grapple with just how best to provision IDEs for organization-specific requirements for custom software.

If these same enterprise IT organizations have already decided to reduce their expense for new desktop software by implementing Desktop as a Service solutions like VMware’s “Desktops in the Cloud” notion, then developers may find lots of reasons to abandon desktop computers with lots of RAM, very fast solid state drives, and numerous Virtual Machines (VMs) for thin clients persistently connected to the Cloud IDEs Walker and Riley discuss in their interview.

Anyone with an interest in following this trend will want to closely review sales reports from leading, publicly traded PC OEMs. Any substantial drop in high end PCs may indicate increased use of Cloud IDEs by enterprise-class businesses.

Just a note on the changes Microsoft introduced with its new 2013 development model: the development emphasis for the Office 2013 components, including SharePoint on premises and in the cloud via Office 365, is squarely on JavaScript (and the Open Source jQuery project) and HTML. I think this change is, potentially, very good news for business customers looking to bolster server defenses against online security threats.

In theory, when processes are written for browsers, the need for trusted solutions dependent on server cycles diminishes. Of course, every custom trusted solution brings its own security risks, which can then become threats to the server, itself.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved


CloudShare’s Development and Testing Offer Meets the Requirements of Modern Software Prototyping Best Practices

Many enterprise IT organizations, and their peers in the public and not-for-profit sectors have embraced software prototyping. A review of the components of an industry-standard software prototyping procedure can provide decision-makers with the qualifiers they need to choose the right solution for their specific needs. A handy guide, in PowerPoint form, can be found in a presentation by Vishnu Chaitanya reddy Nara, Software Prototyping, which is published by Louisiana Tech University.

CloudShare’s Development and Testing offer meets, or exceeds the basic requirements of an industry standard software prototyping process, as it is described in Vishnu Chaitanya reddy Nara’s presentation.

The presentation summarizes three different approaches to software prototyping:

  1. Throw Away Prototyping
  2. Evolutionary Prototyping
  3. and Operational Prototyping

Vishnu Chaitanya reddy Nara writes about “Throw Away Prototyping”: “Throw away prototyping is one type of approach where an initial prototype is built mainly focusing on the poorly understood requirements” (quoted from a PowerPoint Slide Deck published on the web site of Louisiana Tech University. A download link for the slide deck has been provided in the paragraph above). Early stage Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) are prime candidates for “Throw Away Prototyping”. Their “ready, fire, aim” approach to software product development must be built with as close to a self destruct mechanism for concepts as possible.

Certainly there is no better method of rapidly assembling development tools, operating systems environments, and hardware infrastructure, than to make use of virtual computing resources for this purpose. CloudShare has the features required to make this type of prototyping not only possible, but profitable, when the annual cost of $2400.00 for a TeamLabs subscription (permits 3+ users to access a virtual development environment) is compared to the cost of acquiring disposable hardware, and software for a similar effort, albeit one handled on premises .

The foundation plank of a successful “Evolutionary Prototyping” method, the second of three noted above in our bullet list, Vishnu Chaitanya reddy Nara writes, is a set of ” . . . well understood requirements.” (ibid). If we look at this approach, from the perspective, once again, of an early stage ISV, we see a need for “Evolutionary Prototyping” once our “ready, fire, aim” method has revealed a bonafide product development opportunity for an enterprise computing market.

Recent quarterly earnings reports from some of the leading mature ISVs (Microsoft®, Oracle®, and IBM®, to name three) have indicated strong market demand from enterprise users for Software Defined Data Centers (SDDCs). SDDC, one can argue, is a safer step along a path to reliance on cloud computing resources for the kind of large communities of computing uers typical of enterprise business, etc. Of course, the underlying assumption powering SDDC is a combination of on premise computing for data communications of company proprietary information , with cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) resources.

Once again, CloudShare’s TeamLabs offer can certainly be used in an Evolutionary Prototyping approach to an SDDC system.

Perhaps the final variant presented by Vishnu Chaitanya reddy Nara, “Operational Prototyping”, represents the most promising method of the three, at least for CloudShare’s offer. This approach requires the user to be able to implement “Throw Away Prototyping” and its “Evolutionary” sibling, as required. Certainly it will be substantially less expensive for an early stage ISV to use the TeamLabs subscription offer to deliver, over the long term, for enterprise customers in need of an “Operational Prototyping” model for further systems development than would otherwise be the case with an on premises computing approach.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved


Virtual Dev SaaS Offers Like CloudShare Help Reduce the Cost of Starting Up an ISV Business

Marc Andreessen is quoted in an article published on January 3, 2014 in the Online Wall Street Journal: “The costs of building an Internet company today are far lower than they were in the late ’90s”. One can argue the same opportunity is also available to entrepreneurs building a business as an Independent Software Vendor (ISV). Mr. Andreesen’s comments were collected by Douglas Macmillan, in an article titled Andreessen: Bubble Believers ‘Don’t Know What They’re Talking About’.

A subscription to CloudShare can deliver substantial cost savings when compared to the cost of acquiring development software to build applications on premises. A CloudShare ProPlus subscription is available for a single user at a cost of $59.00 per month. An unlimited number of users can access a comparable set of features via a CloudShare TeamLabs subscription at a monthly cost of $199.00 (annual payment required). CloudShare Subscription costs provide users with unlimited access to otherwise expensive server applications, including Exchange Server 2013 RTM, SQL Server 2012 Standard, and any one of a long list of SharePoint servers.

When Doug MacMillan asked Marc Andreessen to differentiate today’s tech startup environment from the “Bubble Years” of the late 1990s, Andreessen states: “The new startups today, they don’t buy any of that stuff [meaning the computing infrastructure components required to build an Internet solution]. They don’t buy literally anything from any of those companies. Instead, they go on Amazon Web Services and they pay by the drink and they’re paying somewhere between 100x and 1000x cheaper per unit—per unit of compute, per unit of storage, per unit of networking, per unit of software.” (quoted from an article published on January 3, 2014 in the Online Wall Street Journal, a link to which has been provided above).

With CloudShare’s ProPlus subscription, early stage ISVs can also “pay by the drink” and capture the same magnitude of savings. Even better, there are absolutely no set up, or tear down charges with the CloudShare subscription. Many “SnapShots” of well known computing environments are available for rapid implementation.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved


Use Virtual Computing Environments, Like CloudShare, to Hasten Application Development for Line of Business (LoB) Units

Satisfying the needs of Line of Business (LoB) units for otherwise non standard computing systems can be problematic for a 2013 central IT organization. IT resources are usually very limited. LoBs often request otherwise non standard systems, which may pose a security threat for on premises computing systems. Few people, if any, within an organization have the time to carefully test systems prior to implementation. But the needs of LoBs are often urgent. Resources are, therefore, required to meet these needs.

A subscription to a multi-tenant, virtual computing environment can be used to satisfy a lot of this kind of requirement. CloudShare is an example of this type of service. An important benefit of this type of subscription is the opportunity it provides to a central IT organization to approve non standard systems development for LoBs, but off site and isolated from any/all production servers, where it belongs.

LoBs often have product responsibility. For businesses marketing technology, these products may amount to the type of non standard systems we are discussing. CloudShare offers an enterprise subscription plan with a lot of features specifically designed to allow a central IT organization to migrate product demonstrations, customer demonstrations, etc, off premises without a requirement for a lot of human interaction. As long as LoBs can find the systems they require within the extensive list of pre-assembled computing components, then environments can be rapidly built without a lot of human intervention.

Of course there is an equally attractive cost benefit implicit to using this type of subscription to handle non standard systems requirements. Any/all hardware infrastructure, operating systems, etc., are provided via the subscription, and not through local procurement. This last feature will be important for Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) testing applications across a variety of operating systems environments. It makes more sense to test compatibility in a temporary environment, like the subscription we’ve discussed in this post.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved


CloudShare May Offer A Better Environment for Data Security Threat Simulation

As data communications takes on an ever increasing set of mission critical roles for businesses of all types, and sizes, access to a method of simulating data communications problems, of all types (regardless of whether they arise from accidents, or from malicious activity) must be provided to any/all stakeholders within an organization as a cornerstone of operational risk management.

CloudShare is an example of the type of highly flexible, off premises, cloud computing solution capable of providing businesses with a “sanitary” method of simulating data communications disruptions. Any suitable venue for this type of testing must offer users

  • a method of precisely simulating “real world” office computing environments, including hardware, operating systems, and applications
  • support for team collaboration on projects
  • and rapid set up and tear down for targeted environments

CloudShare’s TeamLabs subscription offer meets, or exceeds each of the above criteria.

Stakeholders in this effort must include not only IT staff, but also key personnel from Line of Business (LoB) units. Online commerce activities, social media efforts, mobile messaging, are usually owned and operated by LoBs (with the blessing and support of IT). Regardless of the look and feel of any of these electronic activities, at the network layer each of them relies on healthy data communications. So the effort to safeguard data communications is a critical management activity for everyone with an interest in the success of these features of the business.

In August of this year, Gunter Ollmann authored an article, “The Increasing Failure of Malware Sandboxing, which was published on the Dark Reading website. Mr. Ollmann points out some limitations in the usefulness of “dynamic sandboxing” techniques, which have grown in popularity as data communications has become monolithic with Ethernet at the network layer and Hypertext Markup Language (and its siblings) at the presentation layer.

From an operational risk management perspective, “dynamic sandboxing” amounts to scenario testing. The points Mr. Ollmann makes illustrate the limitations of the usefulness of the scenarios depicted via this method. The rapid expansion of the Internet, together with the dramatic expansion of online data communications to include what I refer to as small, smart, mobile devices, have both pushed “dynamic sandboxing” rather far along a path to obsolesence.

Mr. Aviv Raff, in an article published on November 4, 2013, titled Cloud-Based Sandboxing: An Elevated Approach to Network Security makes a case for cloud-based sandboxing as a superior method of building truly useful scenarios for risk management. I concur with Mr. Raff’s point. To reiterate, an enterprise account at CloudShare can certainly be configured to provide a business with an opportunity to test various data communications problem scenarios safely, off premises, where they ultimately belong.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved


Businesses Looking to Improve DevOps Teamwork Should Implement Elastic Resources Like CloudShare

One unfortunate result of the shift in business computing from PCs to small, smart, mobile devices (SSMDs) is an unproductive relationship between computing operations (the IT department) and Line of Business (LoB) units. Usually it’s the LoBs who develop a burning need for new applications for SSMDs. Operations rarely has the time to satisfy these needs. Even worse, the IT department may have serious concerns about the security of these applications. Limited on premises computing infrastructure, or at least a policy calling for reduction in this hardware, also constrains LoBs, who may have perfectly legitimate reasons for their urgency.

If you can relate with the business computing scenario I’ve just sketched, you should consider a service like CloudShare. A service like CloudShare presents three powerful features businesses needing to make greater use of SSMDs, and the new applications required to communicate with them, require to restore a lot of lost productivity:

  1. Development environments can be rapidly built, and as rapidly torn down, once application development has been successfully completed, with no need whatsoever to add internal infrastructure
  2. Development can be handled off of the internal network, thereby insulating on premises computing systems from potentially risky application development for SSMDs
  3. IT organizations aren’t burdened with systems administration requirements when the systems needed are running in the cloud with CloudShare

It certainly makes a lot of business sense for organizations to empower LoBs to develop their own applications. The effectiveness of these applications is a critical factor impacting on return on investment (ROI). LoBs have a much clearer understanding of what applications need to deliver, so they are best positioned to deliver truly effective applications for their own needs. If policy permits these groups to secure the competencies they require for these applications through a temporary services operation, then the best computing environment for these consulting resources is a service like CloudShare.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved