It's different, developing to the cloud

Platform-as-a-service dramatically it changes the development process. But don't take it from me - Microsoft's cloud platform Windows Azure was itself developed in the cloud, and its developers learnt a lot of new tricks.

One of the hidden secrets of platform-as-a-service is how dramatically it changes the development process. Instead of expending energies on building and managing infrastructure, developers can concentrate on the end result, and they can get there a lot faster because of the collaboration and resource sharing the cloud platform allows. This was one of the big takeaways from some research I did recently for Appirio (disclosure: for a fee) that resulted in a white paper and webinar.

Amitabh Srivastava, Microsoft corporate VP, Windows Azure
But don't take it from me. Amitabh Srivastava (pictured), corporate VP of Windows Azure, Microsoft's cloud platform, says the same about developing on the cloud. "It was a mental switch — it's a very different mindset," he told me in a recent phone interview. Formerly codenamed 'Red Dog', the Windows Azure cloud platform was developed on the Azure cloud — what you might call eating your own 'Red Dog' food — and Srivastava told me that not having to worry about infrastructure is one of the key benefits of using the cloud.

"IT at the moment spends all its time managing the machines," he said. "In Windows Azure, we manage the service, not the machine. That's how you drive the total cost of ownership down. That's how you address the expense."

Srivastava was talking after we'd finished recording a podcast interview for my new blog on The Connected Web, published at eBizQ. The podcast is in two parts: the first covers Azure's origins and enterprise focus, while the second looks at the Azure roadmap and what developers can do with it today. During the interview he mentioned the team doing its development on the cloud platform.

The other benefit of cloud development that he singled out was the way that having a shared platform simplifies the workflow around collaboration. "Collaboration becomes easy," he said, because developers can bring up an instance at any time and share what they've been working on. "You have this infinite pool of stages available to you."


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