Cloud adoption breeds developer innovation

Digital clouds against a blue background.
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Blackboard)

Enterprises in every sector are facing an innovation imperative. Skyrocketing expectations for digital services have pushed businesses to innovate at unheralded pace to fight for every competitive advantage they can find.

About the author

Kai Hilton-Jones is Vice President, Field Services, International at GitHub.

As a result, in my experience, the profile of the development process – and developers themselves – has been elevated in the boardroom. Consequently, great strides have been taken in understanding how to empower developers and how to build a developer-centric culture.

This is hardly surprising when you consider the impact of the developer experience is inextricably linked to business productivity, and therefore the speed of innovation. The question for enterprises is how to empower developers to do their best work and drive competitive advantage.

Hosting code in the cloud gives businesses an edge

As businesses adapt to equip developers with the right environment to thrive, a new frontier that directly enhances their ability to innovate at speed has emerged: hosting code in the cloud.

At a macro-level, cloud computing is nothing new. There is widespread acceptance that enterprise innovation is underpinned by cloud adoption. Virtually all organizations already use cloud technology to some degree and the conversation at enterprise level is no longer about whether to adopt it. Instead, IT decision makers are focused on choosing between the right cloud platforms - be that distributed, hybrid, multicloud or edge.

That said, the almost universal surge in cloud adoption hasn’t always translated into hosting the development process in the cloud as well. Too often companies have allowed barriers to prevent them from taking full advantage of the undoubted benefits of cloud code hosting.

Breaking through the barriers

There are, of course, reasons why some enterprises take the view that code must be kept in a local environment.

Ultimately, transitioning an existing software development process and putting it in the cloud requires careful planning. Not only does a successful transition require a deep understanding of the benefits cloud-hosted code brings to the business, it also hinges on embedding an open culture throughout the organization. Inevitably, that puts in place a further obstacle. Migrating development to the cloud is not a matter of simply buying the right tools and doing some hasty change management.

Recognizing the advantages

The reality is that the transformational impact cloud-hosting has on the development process – and ultimately the speed of innovation – is helping businesses make the move. Of the many reasons why self-hosting curtails innovation, let me focus on two major areas that speak to the developer experience at different stages:

Cloud supercharges CI/CD

The cloud is a major enabler in helping enterprises master CI/CD – the process of automating software builds, testing and deployment to ship code changes faster and more reliably. That means businesses can manage hardware and software easily, eliminate downtime, rollout automatic software updates, identify and fix vulnerabilities. Because developers don’t need to reinvent the wheel and spend unnecessary hours on low-value tasks, they can focus on what they do best: creating software and driving innovation.

Self-hosting, on the other hand, requires running all processes locally – which in turn requires multiple admins having to handle complex configurations and downtimes. Unsurprisingly, this breeds inefficiency, is a drain on resources, and slows the pace of development.

Cloud migration opens new opportunities for developers and businesses

There are obvious business benefits of hosting code in the cloud. Easily understood metrics like speed of releases, productivity and cost savings help make the business case. But what is more intangible to calculate is the impact of what businesses can gain from new development features and functions emerging, which hinge on cloud adoption.

The cloud is effectively a gateway to advances in software development. Cloud-first enterprises get to take advantage of next generation features that are rapidly becoming available to developers. For example, automated code scanning and integration, and harnessing the use of AI to help to write code faster and with less work. Not only are these latest capabilities ones that developers want to get their hands on, they also are indicative of the changing nature of development and the increasing speed with which better quality software can be created.

It might be early days, but we’re undoubtedly at a new frontier of software development. Enterprises that have refused to let legacy technology and perceptions hold them back, and have instead taken a progressive approach to cloud migration, are poised to benefit the most from a new era of software development.

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Kai Hilton-Jones

Kai Hilton-Jones is the Regional Vice President, Field Services, International at GitHub.