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The Benefits and Challenges of Producing Cloud Software

One of the reasons that PGi has been in business for over twenty years is our adaptability. We pioneer technological innovation and bring those technologies to bear to provide industry-leading collaboration solutions to our customers all over the globe.

Today, PGi has shifted its collaboration infrastructure into the cloud, providing GlobalMeet®, iMeet® and GlobalMeet Audio through web-based cloud software applications. Developing applications for the cloud presents CTOs and product teams with a new and unique set of benefits and challenges to address to ensure their applications meet the demands of this new software paradigm.

Scalability and Bursting

When applications lived on traditional hardware, scalability was a simple matter of buying a bigger server. You typically knew your workloads ahead of time; things were predictable. In the world of cloud applications, things are unpredictable. Users and devices are so connected and your applications so instantaneously accessible in the cloud that load spikes can happen at any time. When designing a cloud application, it’s vital that your development teams are aware of how to handle unpredictable and drastically shifting workloads.

Thankfully, the virtual nature of the cloud allows you to scale quickly, by simply increasing the number of virtual machines hosting your application. And most cloud providers deliver a means of “bursting” additional capacity, automatically adjusting your capacity to handle workload spikes. It’s important to work closely with your vendor to determine exactly how they handle scalability and whether it’s appropriate for your application.

Changing User Expectations

In past eras of software development, users were patient because they had to be. New iterations of applications were slow to produce and distribute, and so users were waiting months or years for new features and designs.

In the cloud, interface changes, usability improvements and bug fixes can happen almost instantaneously with little to no service disruption.  While this is certainly a boon for developers and app providers, it has also drastically changed user perception and demands. In addition, the increasing popularity of social media and self-service customer support sites mean that customers expect their voices to be heard and their demands to be addressed quickly. If you’re unable to address product issues in weeks (or even days!) as opposed to the lengthier turnaround times of the past, you may find yourself losing users to another cloud competitor.

Redundancy and Resilience

Providing redundant infrastructure and resilient applications is essential in today’s ever-connected world. As I mentioned before, users and devices are constantly connecting to cloud applications, and those users expect those services to work when they need them.

Resilience and redundancy used to reside in the hardware layer. For example, in old-school audio networks, if a bridge failed, it required a physical cable swap to repair the network. However, as PGi has innovated and improved our infrastructure and brought more of our audio capabilities to VoIP bridges and into the cloud, resilience is now built into the software. If a virtual machine fails, the audio traffic can be automatically rerouted to another bridge to avoid service disruption.

These are just a few examples of how dramatically the shift to the cloud has transformed software development. What challenges and benefits are you seeing in your organization?

For more insights on technology and the changing nature of business, download PGi’s free eBook “The Future of Business Collaboration” today.

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