Most companies, aiming for lower IT capital expenditure and faster service delivery, have already made a partial migration to the cloud. Cloud solutions can also serve many other purposes, including more efficient digitalization of the enterprise or faster delivery of new products to market. It could even be said that rapid product development and cloud-based solutions have always been intertwined. Do you know when and how to use cloud services and how they can help your business?
Rapid product development and cloud-based solutions – what they have in common?
The basic premise of rapid product development is the use of innovative processes based on short and repeatable development cycles, which provide the opportunity to achieve high-quality, cost-effective products and thus meet today’s intense competitive pressures. Perhaps no other technology has so significantly influenced the way developers work as the cloud. By realizing several product variants through prototyping and frequent iterations, an optimal solution can be found. However, to guarantee the continuity of the entire product development process, the organizational structure and the individual resources must be entirely interconnected. By exploiting the potential of cloud solutions, these assumptions become realistic to implement.
Pros and cons of using cloud solutions in rapid product development
Today, the market success of new products is often determined by innovation, and user satisfaction. When analyzing cloud technologies’ choice for rapid product development, it is worth considering all the pros and cons. Among them, the following should be mentioned:
Scalability – cloud-based solutions give developers almost instant access to the tools they need here and now. There is no problem with obtaining additional features at the time of increased demand for computing resources or data centers.
Timeliness – using tools available in the cloud ensures continuity of work. The entire team involved in producing a new product or application has access to the necessary tools and key data to create subsequent iterations of the product regardless of time and place of work. Therefore, work can be performed without any downtime, even in implementing a project for customers from another time zone.
Competitiveness – cloud technologies from market-leading vendors such as Microsoft, Amazon, or Google provide the ability to create reliable and secure application environments that meet users’ real needs, rather than focusing work on repetitive tasks thanks to best-in-class development tools and an integrated DevOps methodology. Using cloud technologies, developers can focus even more intensely on the business problems, and user needs critical to the entire project’s success. In this way, competitive products with a high rate of profitability are brought to market.
Risk management – by choosing cloud-based solutions for rapid product development, key risk factors can be focused on early in the project and gradually minimised based on empirical evidence gathered early in the process. The risks associated with system failures that would result in work interruptions are also significantly reduced.
Budget optimisation – rapid product development using cloud technologies also significantly reduces the cost of the entire project. It is not necessary to purchase and maintain hardware to start work. Cloud services are available virtually off-the-shelf, provide flexibility, which means that you can gradually increase their scope even during the project. Thus, there is no need to invest financial resources in unfavorable tools, software or licenses.
Faster verification of the project’s market potential – in a traditional product development strategy, can take months before a working product hits the market. This limits the ability to test and refine the concept. Cloud-based rapid prototyping provides time to adjust and improve the design. It is important to remember that microservices architecture works very well in the cloud. It allows the product to be divided into small independent elements, implementing separate business logic. Thanks to this, it is possible to scale individual components of the system independently, without paying for other features, or to implement the functionality of some services/business logic using dedicated cloud services.
Innovation – cloud technologies are developing at a breakneck pace, with new updates to existing services and completely new services being created all the time. This results in many possibilities to solve a given business problem and better rapid product development.
Approach to innovation – people are virtually always reluctant to change, and any project undertaken using new tools or methods will be more likely to fail due to the need for the team to learn. So you should always realistically assess the competence of the team before selecting new technologies and solutions.
System limitations – before choosing a specific cloud service, one should thoroughly familiarize oneself with general regulations, methods of billing individual components and data transfer. You cannot allow for a situation in which the created product architecture concept will not be optimally adapted to data storage, or will not ensure adequate communication between services.
Data security – Gartner forecasts that by 2022, at least 95% of all security problems with cloud systems will be the consequence of user errors related to the configuration or management of cloud services. However, it is essential to remember that while Microsoft, Amazon and Google must, of course, guarantee the security of their physical IaaS infrastructure in data centers, the hardware on which virtual machines run and keep an eye on software updates, it is the responsibility of product developers to ensure the security of their virtual machines and the applications running on them.
What are the benefits and challenges for product and application developers who use cloud solutions?
The development of cloud services is currently one of the key trends in the technology industry and new digital products. According to Gartner, the global public cloud services market’s value will reach $362.2 billion by 2022. According to SysGroup research, the critical factor that encourages developers to use cloud-based solutions is the ability to provide access to data from anywhere and on any device. There are also additional benefits for those companies that prefer home office mode. Working with cloud technologies makes these companies perceived as more innovative and attractive as workplaces. It also provides the opportunity to work with clients from all over the world.
The challenge when using cloud technologies in rapid product development is, in turn, interoperability and portability. The ability to run individual product components developed for one cloud environment in another is crucial, and this factor should always be taken into account. It is important to remember that the more accessible the data, the more interoperable the software and platforms, and the more standardized the operational protocols, the easier it will be to use and the cheaper it will be to implement, operate and maintain. It is also a challenge to correctly identify which features can be safely moved to the cloud and monitor them regularly to ensure optimal productivity. Providing end-to-end performance testing is critical at every stage of rapid product development.
Modern cloud technologies are widely recognized as the next-generation IT architecture and a useful tool for rapid product development. Both large and small companies are using based to simplify their IT infrastructure, reduce operational costs, increase competitiveness, and at the same time, bring innovative products to market that deliver company-wide profitability.