We’re experiencing a rare confluence of events, and the cloud, or more accurately, the clouds, are changing everything. This post explains cloud computing and shares why everything from backing up mission-critical data to the Lego-like blocks we code will transform your website, online marketing, your company’s digital-first future, and customer expectations.
Servers from data centers around the world running software and managing databases accessed via the Internet make up “the cloud”. Cloud computing means users and companies don’t manage physical servers or run software applications on their machines. WTE partners with and uses “clouds” from Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.
The cloud creates access freedom because it moves software, applications, and databases from physical to “virtual” machines so people can access files, applications, and data from almost any Internet enabled device. Computing and storage happen on cloud servers in a data center instead of on your computer.
Virtualization, cloud computing’s key concept, creates virtual computers that behave like physical computers, but these virtual machines only exist in digital form. The best cloud vendors know how to sandbox one virtual machine from another, so they don’t interact much the way my physical laptop doesn’t interact with yours unless we cable them together. Today, we are likely to share files by using applications such as Microsoft 365, Google Drive, or Dropbox, so no cables needed.
Virtualization is a more efficient use of hosting hardware. One physical server becomes many servers thanks to virtualization as a single data center becomes many data centers. WTE’s cloud partners have more customers using their servers simultaneously thanks to virtualization, so efficiency increases as IT costs diminish.
Lowering IT costs and eliminating server maintenance as cloud vendors take over the processes and costs of managing physical machines is good news for startups and small to medium-sized businesses. Eliminating the need to depreciate hardware helps SMBs and startups spend money in more productive ways. International operations are also easier thanks to virtualization because employees and customers have access to the same files and applications from any location.
Cloud-enabled freedom and cost reductions take a handful of paths, and yes, there are acronyms and abbreviations for each because Information Technology has a unique language.
WTE’s AgileSite and AgileSite Lite business website technologies and our PointShop Enterprise ecommerce solution are actually combinations of Software-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service. Through our partnership with Umbraco Cloud, for instance, we use Umbraco’s software and development tools to control codebases and direct access to databases to build websites that can do more.
SaaS applications are hosted on cloud servers and accessed via the Internet instead of people installing software on their computers. Adobe cloud, Slack, and Microsoft 365 are examples of popular SaaS applications.
The development tools, database infrastructure, and operating systems customers rent from PaaS providers help companies build their applications. Azure and Force.com application tools are common, and technologies we ourselves use.
To build applications and custom software, WTE rents servers and databases from several cloud providers, including Google Compute Engine and OpenStack. IaaS is leasing land where you can build whatever you want, but you must provide your own building equipment and materials. We use these as tools to create custom solutions for clients.
Faas, sometimes called serverless computing, breaks cloud applications into small components that only run or incur costs when needed or used. For example, the pay-as-you-use model used by AWS Lamda, Google Cloud Functions, and Microsoft Asure Functions is similar to only paying rent for your kitchen, bathroom, or living room when you are cooking, showering, or watching TV.
The speed, scope, and breadth of cloud-enabled technology change may not be apparent to the non-IT people reading this post. And describing the rate and furry of the rare confluence of events I opened discussing isn’t easy. However, what used to take our team days now may only require minutes; time spent managing hardware is reallocated to writing code or helping customers, and our development infrastructure costs are significantly less.
These physical cloud benefits pale in comparison to employee and customer advantages. Our cloud development infrastructure means our developers can be anywhere. That same cloud infrastructure allows us to create, monitor, and maintain websites for customers from Alaska to Florida. The impact, power, and benefits of our ability to be anywhere doing anything can’t be fully understood, calculated, or defined, but our partner VMware made a good start.
Every organization is now defined by the digital services it delivers. From engaging customers (and employees) with new experiences to building new revenue opportunities and driving digital-first touchpoints that protect and enable customers and communities, these services have never been more essential.
From Driving Digital Business with App and Cloud Transformation
(See our VMware whitepaper linked in Resources for more)
Several years ago, our team noticed that Change was accelerating. We needed a new process before the cloud-enabled technology storm blew us into the ocean, so we created a three-legged approach to innovation:
We code in blocks with hooks to facilitate connection to other blocks or Applications Program Interfaces (APIs).
Extreme Programming (XP)
Kent Beck's pragmatic programming approach outlined in his book Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change is a big influence. XP emphasizes business results and a get-something-started NOW approach while committing to continual testing and revisions to speed up the development of new products, applications, and solutions.
Agile Software Developmentuse personas and other tools to develop new products in partnership with customers and end-users, using self-organizing cross-functional teams.
We create websites, applications, and software and use our excellent cloud development tools in the service of customers, employees, and people. Since creating applications takes less time, we've learned to reallocate development time into helping customers know what digital experiences can cut through today's noise and clutter to win customer hearts and minds. The list of things we can do is infinite, while the concise list of things we should do requires analysis, creativity, and imagination.
We use the cloud in most of our custom software, website development, content management, marketing, and IT services. When a distributed network of healthcare providers wanted to offer services online, we used the cloud. When a group of math geniuses wanted to set up distributed stock trading training, we used the cloud. When creating our Community in a Box beta Rideology.io, we used the cloud.
Every couple of minutes our customers’ data is backed up to multiple clouds as we shared in Cloud-to-Cloud Backup because while one cloud may go down two clouds going down simultaneously is too Mad Max to contemplate. If you’d like to discuss how cloud computing will or should change everything email me and we’ll set up a time Eric (at) WTE.net (use the Eric email that goes to Spence).