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Improve cloud portability for better end user experience

In the evolving mobile and cloud markets, end users strongly impact business decision making. Learn how cloud portability impacts end user experiences.

Application portability includes portability that is cloud-service-provider-based, such as tools and contractual...

options, and also data portability coming from improvements in overall interoperability between applications, data and the cloud provider services. Producing and providing services for highly interoperable and portable application code, data and cloud services tools is key to improving an end-user experience via the application.

End user experience is any user interaction with a given application, and includes the hardware, graphics and the perceived application performance both in speed and function. Cloud portability is the ability to move an application between different cloud providers in order to mitigate the risk of down time or gain higher performance levels. Developing portable, high-performing applications where end users never see the constant, ongoing improvements being made behind the scenes is the goal. As more applications go mobile, they are expected to perform without interruption. Consumers simply won't put up with applications that are down for upgrades or other maintenance-related tasks. In this tip, we'll discuss cloud portability and its effect on improving end user experience by designing portability and failure options upfront and the growing number of open source tools being made available to provider customers.

 Designing portable applications

Application development's future involves designing applications with cloud portability in mind. Why? Because the end user experience drives business. Businesses drive cloud providers to come up with feasible, flexible options. Designing applications for cloud portability is the first step.

When designing applications for the cloud, the code must be not be written just for on-premises-type deployments. Applications need to be designed to take advantage of multiple types of cloud architectures. The algorithms used to manage CPU and data storage need to be based on working within a variety of cloud infrastructure models. The cloud requires the application be designed to consider database storage, bandwidth and auto-scaling as well. These are literally pinnacles of cloud architecture and as such, have become more critical to application design than they've been in the past. The cloud is not all about the speed of data processing, but it plays a major role in ensuring the end user experience is high-performing. However, applications must also be designed to be functionally high-performing as well.

New ways of coding and managing data transfer are ongoing and improving rapidly. One example is the use of the enterprise service bus (ESB). ESBs allow a system to control data and application interactions in a timely manner. Collecting data via a Web user interface application, or an end user using the UI of an application are both job or rider that is processed by any available CPUs. The function of an ESB in the cloud architecture is to maximize CPU use. Designing an application to maximize CPU use maximizes the application's performance for the end user as well. CPU use management positively influences end-user application performance and at the same time reduces financial cost for the business. Because most cloud providers charge by use, businesses save money by using only the CPU they need.

ESBs influence the overall interoperability of a system by handling the data, or making the data more portable. To that end, ESBs improve application portability in the cloud because they make data portable and interoperable between systems.

Designing for failure -- preventing end user interruptions

Another aspect of designing in cloud portability is also designing failover options or coding options to prevent end user interruption. End user interruption is any time that the application is not available, or not functioning. Typically, it occurs during a system upgrade, or if the system goes down either by accident or for other maintenance. In a mobile-focused world, system downtime is no longer feasible or tolerated by end users. End users expect applications to work, with the possible exception of a loss of actual electrical power -- and even then, batteries provide enough time to keep applications running on a device until power is restored. Programming for failure is essential in the cloud because the cloud provider is in control of the hardware, not the application developer. The IT group responsible for the hardware is now the cloud provider, not the local IT department. It's a significant change that the application design needs to account for.

SaaS applications using the cloud are constantly in flux. In other words, the application is designed to be available all the time, and is "always on." An advantage to coding a SaaS application based in the cloud is the ability to try something out and see how it works. Code can be changed rapidly without ever impacting the end user by taking the system down. It's simply not necessary to take the system down when applications are designed and coded for cloud use. Cloud portability adds another layer to consider, in that the application design must account for the possible necessity of changing a cloud architecture on the fly. It's a new critical component to make applications' functionality and performance improvements more greatly affect end-user experience with the hosted application. 

Open source options for service variety

A growing development in cloud architecture appears to be adjusting for or enhancing the cloud architecture by providing smoother cloud application portability. A growing trend is for cloud service providers to offer open source options that allow more flexible business agreements. Cloud providers can offer open source alternatives that allow applications to be designed in a portable fashion so, if necessary, cloud architecture can change without the application needing significant code changes.

Cloud portability appeals to the business customer for many reasons. One significant reason is the ability to quickly port an application on a different public or private cloud to improve performance or lower cost. It may also be for needs such as regulatory compliance and risk management. If one service provider is compromised by a security breach, the application can quickly port to another provider without the need to change code and re-test the application.

The advantage of offering cloud portability for the cloud service provider is the ability to gain more customers and have them purchase additional value-added services. Cloud providers may move to offer more services, such as expert consulting help for both setting up the service quickly and effectively or programming assistance; both are value-added services that may provide significant additional revenue to make offering cloud portability lucrative to providers.

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This was last published in April 2015

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