In my previous blog entry, I talked about the four cornerstones I see as the future of software that will enable exciting changes in our everyday lives:

The cloud, which matches computing and data storage needs with capacity.

Device mobility which enables software access anywhere.

DevOps which is helping to bridge the gap between developing and using software.

The internet of things, which will use software to connect us with the physical world we live in.

Lately, all of these things are being discussed at seminars and conferences, as well as in architecture, design and planning sessions. Many of Coherent’s clients are leveraging cloud services and looking to use the cloud in new and interesting ways.

Value of the cloud

While “the cloud” mostly meant infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or software as a service (SaaS) in the past, now its focus is shifting towards platform as a service (PaaS). These tools and services enable the deployment and running of applications on cloud infrastructure, thus simplifying the monitoring and scaling of the resources necessary to run those applications.

And as people continue to argue about the main benefits of the cloud compared to traditional data centers, a point that seems to be repeated more and more often is that cost shouldn’t be the driving factor. Rather, the cloud provides flexibility for managing your capacity and assets. It allows users to balance long term resource planning with their ability to satisfy short-term needs.

Platform and Infrastructure as a Service

PaaS solutions strengthen cloud offerings by allowing the agility of your applications’ architecture on top of a flexible infrastructure. There are already a lot of great products in this space. AppFog, Cloud Foundry, Heroku, Engine Yard, Amazon’s Elastic Beanstalk all enable developers and infrastructure experts to work together in ensuring the infrastructure is properly provisioned and managed for an application’s optimal performance. Some of these products are provided by IaaS vendors, some completely hide the infrastructure details from customers, and still others give customers flexibility in what IaaS vendor to use and enable seamless migration if needed. But what they all have in common is taking care of the mundane details associated with proper setup and management of infrastructure for applications as they are being created and maintained.

Infrastructure providers are also working hard to handle the ever-increasing volume of applications customers are bringing to the cloud. Competition between market leaders such as Amazon, and challengers like Rackspace, Microsoft and Google, is heating up as companies use different strategies to get ahead. Amazon is moving toward PaaS from Iaas and adding more application services, as Microsoft continues to build out its infrastructure so it can offer more IaaS solutions. Meanwhile, Rackspace, HP, and operating system vendors including Canonical and Rad Hat, have formed an open source software foundation – OpenStack – to standardize and promote wider adoption.

Future of the cloud

These are exciting times as we form the foundation of the future of this technology that will someday make deploying and running applications as simple as copying a file to an external hard drive is today.