Private Cloud is RAD: How to Leverage Private Cloud for Rapid Application Development
Rapid Application Development (RAD) refers to a type of software development methodology that uses minimal planning in favor of rapid prototyping. One of the many challenges of RAD is the constant demand for rapid deployment of stable computing platforms for development and testing. A pronounced reliance on prototyping is characteristic of RAD methodologies. For this reason, the advanced features of private cloud computing can offer significant advantages for developers employing RAD. This article will discuss how private cloud computing can increase developer efficiency in creating rapidly deployed, stable systems that include advanced features not available in traditional dedicated systems.
In a traditional dedicated hardware model, new hardware must be provisioned whenever new prototypes are created or new projects are initiated. This can result in weeks of planning and research that put additional pressure on stretched IT project budgets and potentially threaten delivery timelines. By implementing a private cloud, computing resources are ready for deployment before projects are started. When projects are completed, the resources can be re-used quickly and easily. The advanced features of private cloud computing also can provide additional productivity gains that are well suited for RAD.
One of the core features of private cloud computing is the capacity to create stable and predictable virtual machines (VM). A RAD developer can configure a VM with all the necessary tools, applications, and OS tweaks necessary for a stable platform for development or testing. When a VM system image is created, it can be cloned many times over with the provision of many VMs, which can significantly reduce the time required to provision new systems for development or testing. Pre-built images can allow development tasks that would require weeks of labor in a traditional dedicated hardware environment to be completed much more quickly.
Stable systems with a predictable and consistent configuration are important to successful regression testing. As described above, VM system images can provide technicians with a predictable starting point for testing. Using advanced hypervisors, technicians can create snapshots of virtual machines that can be employed to simplify system testing and reduce related risks. Changes can be tested on the virtual machine, and these changes can be undone as needed by initiating a rollback. Snapshots and rollbacks enable faster regression testing and allow virtual machines to be reset to a known state with fewer steps.
An optimal environment would include the following components:
- Hypervisors - The physical servers that run the various virtual machines under hypervisor control.
- Fiber SAN Network - The Fiber Channel Storage Array Network that is the shared storage component where the virtual machine image files are stored.
- Firewall - Firewalls are an important security requirement, even in private clouds.
Using the configuration above, base VM images can be created in the hypervisors and stored on the Fiber SAN. When new projects are initiated, the base images can be quickly deployed to provide a rapid, stable environment. The productivity gains achieved by using private cloud computing can be expected to contribute to faster project startup, reduced development time, and optimized use of resources. The ultimate result is likely to be happier customers.
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