Strategy: Development Labs in the Cloud

Mar 30, 2012


The Cloud Development Lab

Software development and testing were among the early uses of cloud computing, and development remains one of the first and main functions that companies move to the cloud. But that doesn't mean setting up a development lab in the cloud--public or private--is easy. Cloud labs come with an array of challenges and difficult questions.

Both public and private cloud labs deliver software into production faster and shift lab costs from capital to operational expenses. By putting your lab in the cloud, you give your developers a self-service portal where they can create, replicate, change and delete entire software development projects and test stacks on demand.

The public cloud is the fastest and easiest way to get started with a cloud lab. It lets developers rapidly scale lab infrastructure and speed the deployment of the tools they need without up-front capital investment. But, as with any functions that deal with sensitive, business-critical data and applications, security is an issue in a public cloud lab. In ­addition, if not carefully managed, public cloud lab costs can escalate, ratcheting up the total cost of ownership. Portability is also a huge concern. Some public cloud vendors charge for data going in and out of the cloud environment; those costs can quickly escalate if you're running a data-intensive lab. App portability can become an issue if you ever decide to switch providers.

Private clouds have their own advantages and limitations. Cost control is easier to manage, and you have direct control of your data and applications. Security is better, and because of that it's more feasible to replicate your production environment in a private cloud if that's necessary for your development work. But private clouds require a significant up-front investment of capital and time. Initial setup work is complex, requiring extensive decisions about the technology and applications needed. To be cost effective, a private cloud also requires large-scale adoption.

This report examines these and other issues, including integration, standardization, the role of back-end processes and governance. These areas all need to be assessed when making a decision to move a development lab to the cloud and ­determining whether it will be a public or private cloud lab. (S4660312)

Research Report