In the latest of our series of podcasts with developer evangelists from leading vendors I spoke with Darren Smith from Salesforce.com. In these podcasts we look at 3 trends that each vendor is seeing within the developer community. In his roles as Director of platform sales engineering Darren regularly interacts with developers around the Salesforce platform. Most commonly known for Force.com the Salesforce platform has recently been expanded with many new APIs and tighter integration with the popular Platform as a Service Heroku (acquired by Salesforce in 2010). Darren chose the topic of Cloud Platform Development and his trends reflect the growing relevance of cloud to many areas of software development. You can listen to our podcast where Darren and I discuss the following three trends.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
For many cloud purists PaaS is the cloud. Building to PaaS provides the full benefits of a multi-tenanted, elastic environment and will offer far greater application uptime reliability. This is compared to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) which has become the more popular option. This is understandable because IaaS makes moving existing, legacy applications into the cloud much easier. PaaS requires that an application is designed and built to the specifics of the PaaS provider. Darren outlines 3 areas in which he sees PaaS providing benefits: small Line of Business applications; opening up legacy systems; and for rapid Greenfield development. Core to all of them is that PaaS offers a way for developers to very quickly deliver innovative solutions to the business or the market. The need for innovation and agility within ever decreasing timescales is increasing. PaaS offers developers a solution but at the same time both they, and other roles within the ecosystem such as architects, need to be educated not just about the benefits or PaaS but how to design and develop PaaS applications.
The number one IT topic of today is mobile and is posing numerous challenges for many organisations. Mobile development is no longer just about customer facing apps but increasingly apps for employees and business partners. Mobile apps are quickly becoming far more sophisticated and complex to develop. They now require access to a variety of legacy systems and complex workflows. Darren is seeing how developers are struggling with these issues. One aspect discussed is the apps themselves and how to deliver workflows and data to the business. Salesforce’s traditional software is largely about workflows and data and as an organisation they have had to deal with these challenges through the new Salesforce1 app. The second aspect is creating backends for apps and how exposing data through APIs is critical. Cloud is often forming part of the solution, either as a complete backend solution or acting as a bridge between legacy systems and mobile apps.
We are now starting to look beyond mobile at the broader ecosystem of devices, often referred to as the Internet of Things. Most commonly discussed are wearables, especially health and fitness devices, and connected cars. However going forward connected devices will encompass a far larger group. Many of these will be more mundane objects such as the home thermostat, recently made famous by Nest. A developing consensus is that to leverage the new world of connected devices developers will want to be able to re-use skills learned from mobile development. For this reason many emerging IoT devices are using technologies such as RESTful web services. Traditionally many of these devices would fall into the embedded systems space which is a specialised and small area of development. To truly create IoT a far broader community of software developers will need to be engaged and be able to work with these devices. The cloud is being viewed as a bridge between the device and the software applications that will interact with it.
I’d like to thank Darren for taking time to discuss these interesting trends with us. Please listen to the full podcast to hear more.