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What development skills are needed for working on cloud apps?

Are there new skills developers need to work with cloud applications that on-premises applications didn't require? Read this expert answer to find out what development skills are new.

Development skills have certainly changed with the introduction of cloud applications. The biggest thing developers have a hard time with in cloud-based applications is "failure as a feature," which means failure will occur when you have a cloud-based application but it will not bring all functionality to a halt. The idea that you have one server, and it is your pet, and when it gets sick you fix it, is obsolete in the cloud world. In the cloud, servers are cattle, and when one gets sick, you put it down.

On-premises developers also have challenges with firewalls and Internet-connected servers. Latency across the Internet is always higher than across LANs, and certain things that may be very fast when you're accessing locally may be slow in the cloud. This is due to network requests. Additionally, traditional on-premises applications often rely on firewalls to restrict access. Although you can restrict access in the cloud, it's often less desirable because people assume that if their application is "in the cloud" they can access it from anywhere. The typical office is not where all business happens anymore. With cloud computing, you'll want to secure your applications through means other than firewalls; for example, through such things as federated logins and Secure Sockets Layer connections.

This does, however, make you a larger target for attackers. Instead of worrying just about Sam down the hall typing in something you didn't expect that crashes the system, you'll have to worry about attackers from all over the world trying to gain access to your system. It's never a bad idea to explicitly block IP address ranges if you're experiencing a high volume of attacks, but you'll also have to be ready to fend off any new invaders as they pop up. Be sure your system is secure, and test it regularly.

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Developers, have you found you need skills to work with cloud applications that on-premises applications didn't require?
Much like any other new system or piece of equipment, there's a learning curve involved with the addition of a cloud based application. The biggest thing our team had to learn with the cloud system was the way we could share, organize, and access data and files. It's much easier to share information but it took a little bit of time before we were comfortable with that freedom and that level of access and control.
The bigger challenge has been the unpredictability of process times and latency of requests. We've had to adjust the expectation and the way we program to handle performance. Call and responses that would have been acceptable in local networks or on single machines responds differently in the cloud. Neither good nor bad, just different.
I think that security is the single most important thing developers have to worry about for cloud apps. As such, they must acquire security expertise.