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How an online development environment helps standardize development

The age of cloud computing offers enormous advancements that enable developers to deliver exciting and secure applications in record time. What it can't do is protect IT against the occasional project that careens wildly out of control. We've all been there. The question, of course, is: What do you do to bring that wayward app back to a manageable state?

Rich Sharples, Red Hat's senior director of product management for middleware, has seen it all before.

"In the open source world, it's typically the standard use case where you had a large development team -- maybe split over a couple of different continents, maybe a couple of different languages," he said. The problems can start six months into the project, when the development team starts to integrate different pieces of code. "That is when you realize everyone is using a different stack or they're using different versions." It's common, Sharples said.

Enter the online development environment

To help solve the problem, in June, Red Hat launched OpenShift.io, an online development environment that eliminates the need for developers to install anything on their own workstations or wait for those workstations to be provisioned.

"We can standardize on the runtimes [and] standardize on the versions," Sharples said, adding that developers no longer need to surf the dark corners of the latest framework version because the platform automatically provides a current one that is curated and vetted. "I can provision a whole development team in seconds."

The future of desktops and development

Looking into his crystal ball, Sharples believes desktop development environments are likely to disappear, especially as the online development environment gains traction.

"People realize that in a host environment you have a lot more power; you can run builds and simulations -- stuff that you can't run on a 16 GB, quad-core supercomputer," he said. Even if it's two or three years out, Sharples firmly believes that developers will need nothing more than a browser to access modern development tools, debuggers and analytics.

Delivering anything as a service has benefits.
Rich Sharples

"Delivering anything as a service has benefits," Sharples said. "You don't need to wait 15 days for your desktop to be provisioned."

How developers debug is likely to change, largely as a result of the ephemeral nature of microservices and serverless, he said. "Your debug window is pretty small, so we're going to have to rethink about what we're monitoring and diagnosing and how that feeds back into the development loop."

In the remainder of this video interview, Sharples discusses the one suggestion he would make to squeeze out that last bit of performance from a cloud or mobile application.

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