How to enable the ISV community with cloud computing

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Access to computing resources has been democratised through access to low cost cloud platforms. Network access is now high-speed, low-cost and almost ubiquitous. Together, this means that cloud provides a perfect platform for the development and scalable delivery of applications. And the ISV community has a significant opportunity to take advantage.

Delivering value for customers

The SaaS model creates new opportunities for both ISVs and their customers. Consumption-based charging models enable both low cost-of-entry and low cost-of-software, so clients can experiment with applications that optimise business processes, drive higher efficiency, productivity and growth.

Such cloud-based models allow ISVs to focus on their core goals of developing and delivering applications; and improving their customer experience. Tasks like capacity management, infrastructure budget management and platform availability can all be offloaded to a cloud partner; and importantly, the costs of such operations can be married to usage and revenue for the ISV.

Other tasks can potentially be offloaded, too – ISVs working with a Managed Service Provider can also offload tasks such as patching, replication, redundancy and security. With the right partner, an ISV can deliver agility to the DevOps cycle and then rely on the service provider to implement change control, security or compliance enhancements, business continuity and to deliver a robust availability and performance SLA for the production applications.

Enabling customisation

ISVs can take a pragmatic approach in a move to SaaS, establishing whether it’s a good fit for their client base, their financial model and their software offering. However, they might have use cases that are better suited to a partner that can deliver hybrid solutions.

Applications delivered to end-users in heavily regulated industries may not be suited to multi-tenanted platforms, but may still sit well on discrete, dedicated infrastructure with appropriate security and compliance controls. Those cloud platforms where resources are rented by the hour may not necessarily offer the best value to applications with predictable workloads; or those where the end-user signs fixed-term contracts.

The combination of opportunities presented by IaaS and SaaS models has expanded the options available to ISVs for software development and delivery; and in turn provided a greater number of options and better-value solutions for end-users.

The cloud is reducing barriers to entry for new software businesses and allowing existing ISVs to be more agile, responsive to customers and innovative. Both the customers of these solutions and the ISVs themselves stand to gain considerable benefits by taking advantage of cloud infrastructure and managed services as long as due diligence is undertaken in this transition.

Choosing a cloud provider

Developers are now leveraging Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and other cloud platforms to spin up cloud instances and to tear them down when they’re done, without any manual intervention, and all from one portal. However, there are a variety of service providers that offer an equal variety of cloud services. Software businesses need to consider their specific needs carefully when selecting a provider.

Key considerations should include:

  • Uptime commitment from the service provider, particularly how this relates to the critical needs of the relevant application
  • Whether a transparent billing mechanism is built in with the cloud offering
  • API functionality to allow your software to drive the infrastructure
  • Tools or native platform capabilities that allow rapid cloning and deployment of whole environments, enabling faster and more reliable DevOps cycles
  • Whether that partner can deliver a robust, managed service wrap that enhances the user experience and delivers security to client data

The challenges ahead

Despite the opportunities it offers, the cloud is not a panacea for ISVs and challenges still remain in the delivery of secure, reliable software solutions to end-users. However, by partnering with a Managed Service Provider that can offer agile development platforms and robust delivery services, many software developers will be able to reap the benefits of increased focus on core business areas, improved user experience and faster, more agile DevOps cycles.

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EthanStewart
9 Jun 2016, 9:05 p.m.

Nice blog Sean, cloud computing is a must, particularly for data storage. As a small business, an on-site server would be far too cost inefficient for us, never mind paying someone to service and monitor it. It's only gonna get bigger and more important.

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