Eclipse Scout: Open source framework offers enterprise cloud support

Three Eclipse Scout experts offer advice to business application developers, providing strategies and practices for making the leap to cloud services.

Eclipse Scout will be offering cloud support in its next release, a major step for the open source framework. Designed for building and deploying multi-tier business applications, the framework will be able to run and scale applications on several Platform as a Service clouds. According to Eclipse Scout's project lead, Matthias Zimmerman, this capability was added because customers have shown increasing interest in cloud support. "[The cloud] is something that is really strongly coming now, and it will not go away."

laptops and cloud computing

At EclipseCon 2014, a session called Scout in the Cloud will bring some clarity to this development. The speakers will be Judith Gull, Eclipse Scout software developer, and Thomas Schweigler, a student working on Eclipse Scout as part of his master's thesis. Gull's hope for the session is that people will leave with a better understanding of Scout's new cloud capability. "It is easy to build and deploy a Scout application to the cloud and dynamically scale it in the cloud. That was not possible before."

Zimmerman, Gull and Schweigler all offer advice for business application developers, providing strategies and best practices for making the leap to Platform as a Service (PaaS) and other cloud services. They also make predictions for the future of the cloud and, by extension, business app development.

Business apps in the cloud

Schweigler advises developers to be flexible in the way they architect their business application. "Try not to rely on vendor-specific implementations or vendor-specific features of any kind." According to Schweigler, tying an application to a single vendor is short-sighted. "Always keep an eye on what happens in the market so that, in two years, you don't end up completely depending on a specific cloud provider."

Try not to rely on vendor-specific implementations

Thomas Schweigler, Eclipse Scout, Masters student

Zimmerman added that one of Scout's greatest strengths is its agnosticism. It is not tied to any specific technology and therefore facilitates an application's long-term maintainability. He went on to say that enterprises should target employees who are able to work with Java and Eclipse, two fundamentals in Scout technology. According to Schweigler, open source frameworks such as Scout make it easy for applications to jump from cloud to cloud or even jump out of the cloud to the developer's own cluster, a flexibility that will serve them in the long term.

Business applications have different priorities from consumer applications. Zimmerman explained that enterprise apps don't have to be flashy. They do have to be highly usable and cost-effective. "In-house development must maintain, over the long term, a reasonable perspective of not becoming too legacy or too costly." The emphasis must be put on survivability, flexibility and maintainability -- all attributes of an enterprise app that serves a company long-term and has less chance of becoming dead weight.

Looking to the future

Gull said that she'd noticed a general trend toward PaaS cloud providers, and predicted the trend would continue in that direction. "This is really less work than what was done previously when the development team had to set up the whole thing," she said, adding that many people who have used Scout did it for the platform.

"I think the focus is going to move towards technology stacks based on open standards and open source," Zimmerman said. This possible outcome would require more and more flexibility on the backend side. According to Zimmerman, the best way to avoid vendor lock-in is to rely on standards, rather than products. "The next best thing is that you start to rely on open source frameworks that have been proven stable and ready."

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