Software Development in the Cloud and Overcoming its Security Obstacles

The cloud is not a new concept; in fact, it is older than most developers. It is the recent combination of high-speed computer processing, improved Internet accessibility, advances in cyber security, and cost-effective storage options that has made this idea popular across the IT industry.

Without getting into too much detail, the cloud simply refers to the substitution of desktop computers for powerful off-site servers, which can be accessed anywhere, anytime.

There are numerous benefits that come with developing software in the cloud. The flexibility and elasticity of cloud computing gives developers a wealth of tools that saves time, money, reduces frustration, and increases team productivity.

Benefits of Cloud Development

In the cloud, developers have no specific infrastructure to adhere to. There is no need to install or set up certain applications, no ports to configure, and absolutely nothing to procure. A team doesn’t need to waste time with setting up a server or worry about running out of storage.

In the cloud, a developer can simply forget about all of the activities that are outside of the development cycle, and completely focus on his or her job. Gone are the days of painful updates, manual backups, hardware upgrades, and the other hassles that come with on-site solutions.

Virtually Unlimited Servers for Agile Development

Agile development teams are normally limited to a single physical server per project, which is used for staging and production needs. However, with cloud-computing groups have access to as many servers as they need. They don’t have to depend on physical servers to continue their work.

Increased Creativity and Innovation

The cloud allows developing groups to spawn as many instances as they need, which allows them to be more innovative with their work. For example, if a specific feature looks promising, a team can easily spawn a new instance and test it out without waiting for next builds or future releases. This makes builds faster and less conflicting, and it encourages more creativity.

Continuous Integration and Delivery

Cloud instances can significantly improve integration and product delivery. Automated tests and builds take a lot of time. Development teams need to fix errors for failed tests—but they need to do it in a systematic and repetitive order that is not always efficient.

With the large number of virtual machines available in the cloud, developers can greatly reduce the time of continuous integration and delivery.

Code Branching and Merging

In a perfect world, agile development breaks down stories into uniform sizes and slates them for builds. However, in real life, groups often come across features that take longer to complete than a specific build allows time for. In turn, new releases need to be enhanced while code redesigning is going on. This involves juggling different versions of the development cycle and builds at the same time. With cloud computing, a group can avoid the extra costs associated with renting additional servers for these situations. In short, it removes the enslavement of physical servers.

Security Obstacles

Security and privacy issues are usually listed as some of the major disadvantages of cloud computing. However, improvements in technology are making that a thing of the past. Microsoft Corp. released research showing that small and midsize businesses are actually gaining significant IT security when they adopt the cloud.

The study revealed that 35% of the US companies surveyed had experienced higher levels of security since moving to the cloud. Additionally, 32% reported that they spend less time worrying about the threats of security breaches, and have reduced their IT budgets.

With that in mind, here are some extra precautions for ensuring security in the cloud.

Keep track of Users

It is important for organizations to keep track of privileged users such as data administrators that have access to valuable data. These employees should receive proper training on securely handling this information as well as stronger access controls.

Limit Access

The cloud allows an organization to change the levels of access depending on an array of different variables. For example, a developer working on-site can have access to all of the project information, but when they are away they can be restricted to limited access. This will reduce the risk of valuable information leaking out.

Use Extra Protection on Valuable Data

Cloud options don’t run short on encryption and extra protection options. These are available, and are a good idea to use on databases containing sensitive information.

Use intelligent network protection

Networks in the cloud need to be protected. There are devices that have the ability to provide administrators with control and reports that display which users are accessing what contents and apps.