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The Cloud is a Radical and Transformational Change

Custom Application Development

Thank you Mike Vizard for your discussion of why cloud computing will drive more custom application development.

This is the point that seems to keep getting skipped in the many theoretical considerations of whether “the cloud” is hype or revolution. People are talking a lot about data center consolidation and reduction of IT expenditures, or shifts from capital expenditures to operating expenditures, and frequently in a tone that questions whether this even represents a material improvement. But in so doing, they are missing the real value gains; the cloud is about a radical and transformational change in the quantity and quality of business automation.

The cloud isn’t just about surface concepts like “storing all your data on S3” or “spinning up servers on GoGrid”; those things are just the beginning. What it is REALLY about is what each of those things in turn will enable! By making it easy to perform routine systems tasks, an entire order of magnitude is removed from the complexity of software application development, freeing up those resources to drive automation further into an organization.

Let me give a simple example; we are a platform as a service provider, and one of our platform’s capabilities includes non-programmatic tools to build file upload and management into a custom application. We recently took a hard look at our infrastructure for managing larger files. As one can imagine, there are a lot of issues and concerns involved in allowing a heretofore-unknown user to upload files of unknown sizes at an unknown pace. In our traditional architecture, we thought through a lot of contingencies, wrote a lot of code (complex code that included interactions with the file system, memory allocations, networking components, etc.) and then we ultimately had to be prepared with people and hardware to manage whatever uncertainty ensued. To cover extreme cases, we needed legal terms that set service limitations. As if this weren’t enough, it was all compounded by the fact that any ISV can build their own business around our platform, and we were essentially building tools for them and their customers as well as our own. There has always been a lot of complexity and a lot of work.

...Until the cloud arrived that is. With only a few days of development, and thanks to tools like S3 and the pioneering work of some PHP package developers, it is now almost trivial to manage large file uploads. We now present our application builders with a simple check box that allows them to send uploaded files from a particular field directly to S3...the files don’t even touch WorkXpress servers. Cloud to the rescue! What can we do to expand our platform now that we don’t have to worry about this?

What’s more, the number of examples of this type of disruptive gain is growing as each vendor’s products continue to mature. Already, we’re seeing incredible value gains by end customers who have adopted cloud computing tools to run their business. One recent customer claimed an 80% productivity gain with payback period of less than 2 months! Although that’s an extreme example, there have been, and continue to be customers realizing disruptive gains in value due to increased software automation, and all thanks to the cloud.

So, bravo to Mr. Vizard, and I sincerely hope more attention can be focused on this in the future as more cloud computing case studies begin to emerge.

More Stories By Treff LaPlante

Treff LaPlante has been involved with technology for nearly 20 years. At WorkXpress, he passionately drives the vision of making customized enterprise software easy, fast, and affordable.

Prior to joining WorkXpress, Treff was director of operations for eBay's HomesDirect. While there, he created strategic relationships with Fortune 500 companies and national broker networks and began his foray into the development of flexible workflow software technologies. He served on the management team that sold HomesDirect to eBay.

During his time at Vivendi-Universal Interactive, Treff was director of strategy. In addition to M&A activities, Treff broadly applied quantitative management principles to sales, marketing, and product line functions. Treff served as the point person for the management team that sold Cendant Software to Vivendi-Universal. Earlier positions included product management and national sales trainer for Energy Design Systems, an engineering software company. Treff began his professional career as a metals trader for Randall Trading Corp, a commodities firm that specialized in bartering and transporting various metals and coal from the then-dissolving Soviet Union.

Treff received his MBA from Pepperdine University and a BS in chemical engineering from The Pennsylvania State University. http://www.workxpress.com

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