However perfectly we build the new world of cloud computing, we will never be totally up in the air (so to speak) in an on-demand only world. This is not due to any actual or inherent imperfections in the cloud computing firmament as such, it is more a case of how business realities drive technology usage at both the end user and the developer level. The reasons are straightforward.
HP has this week announced its HP Haven OnDemand big data analytics facility served up on the firm’s own Helion cloud. The analytics platform works to crunch through what HP labels as “all forms of data” — so this means:
- business data (spreadsheets and other structured definable variables)
- machine data (data from log files and perhaps also Internet of Things sensors)
- messy old unstructured human data (from emails to videos to sound files and onwards into your Angry Birds high-scores)
Developers are being encouraged to use Haven OnDemand as a web/cloud service and use it to build applications with analytics power inside them. HP itself is also working with partners to develop Haven-based applications to solve specific analytics problems in specific industries and for specific business functions.
A rationale for hybrid concoctions
So far so good then? So all software application development (especially with big data analytics functions like this) moves to the cloud in an on-demand over-the-web format does it? Well not quite. In much the same way as firms should always view a mixture of public and private cloud in a hybrid concoction as the most sensible route for data storage and application processing, the same truth comes through for programming.
“Cloud software application development will always be hybrid with some tools used online, but a proportion always held locally,” said David Chalmers, chief technologist, VP EMEA at Hewlett-Packard. “The answer to any business issue will always be found in a combination of technologies, therefore a hybrid mix of computing resources is always the most prudent approach.”
Chalmers reflects the industry consensus that suggests a firm’s “core” functions (the unique Intellectual Property that makes the business what it is) should stay in an on-premise format in a private cloud — and that generic tools used simply “in context” by any firm for the job in hand (such as email for example) get pushed to public cloud services where appropriate.
Software programming will follow this same ethos, but why?
It’s an interesting time for HP to be laying down Haven in this form. Software application developers (even those who label themselves as ‘cloud developers’) are still in somewhat of a state of flux as to where they will get their tools in the future. They know that cloud services are great for testing and the use of so-called DevOps automation services. But do developers look to the cloud for all their software application development tools, components, libraries and complete Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) already?
The answer is, somewhat, a bit, in some cases yes, but also no.
The challenge we have is that some software application development relies upon back end infrastructure that is not possible (or cost-effective) to simply replicate in the cloud. Some applications will need more terrestrial connections to a mainframe, a particular on-premise database or other third-party fee-based services.
“[This technology] is exciting in a number of ways,” says chief technology officer for big data at Hewlett-Packard Fernando Lucini. “If you think about what we’ve launched, we recognized early that our customers, our partners, and developers out there were going to consume technologies in a new way. This is something that the industry all agreed on. We were just early birds in this and we recognized that it’s all going to be about on-demand consumption, self-service, speed, elasticity, and all those nice things. So in some respects, the industry wants to consume things in this fashion. We recognize it, and then the next step for us is to think about the people and what they’re going to do with these kinds of services. We have that persona and we really wanted to make sure that that developer had all the right tools in that model on-demand, self-service.”
Although Lucini bypassed Chalmers’ important caveat, his statement shows how ‘live’ the discussion point of online programming tools is. HP Haven OnDemand will no doubt form some of the now emerging cloud developer’s toolset, but not all of it. Full on-demand cloud is never the whole answer without hybrid elements — and it never will be.