In a blog post earlier today, James Urquhart reviews the dramatic growth in use of Infrastructure as a Service — but concludes by asking a question that deserves to be asked wherever people are writing code, or paying others do so.
"One has to wonder," he wrote, how much longer cloud-based applications "are going to be tightly coupled to data center architectures." He continues,
At what point will it no longer be advantageous for application owners to define infrastructure in terms of servers, storage, and security devices?
That's an excellent question, and ought to be very much on the mind of anyone who's thinking about the choice of a cloud application platform.
In fact, there's already evidence that fewer people than ever are thinking in terms of servers. Worldwide server sales fell 30% in the second quarter, marking four consecutive quarters of decline — to the lowest level ever recorded by IDC since it started keeping records in 1996.
Yes, there's a benefit of experience in developing applications with a familiar mental model in mind. How much is it really worth, though, to avoid the short-term effort of learning (for example) the Force.com API and object environment, when
- the mid-term payoff of learning Force.com development is far shorter time to market
- the long-term payoff is far more rapid, continuing improvement in application richness and appeal, as platform upgrades are transparently inherited by custom applications that live at the metadata layer
Force.com infrastructure is not a faithful replication of hardware infrastructure, middleware layers, brittle stacks of trust mechanisms and the like. Force.com infrastructure is:
- Redundant, globally dispersed data centers with
- 99.9+ % availability, consistently enabling
- Better than 300 millisecond transaction completion times, protected by
- ISO 27001 plus other key security certifications, facilitating
- Trustworthy, click-to-connect application integration with partners and customers
So, James is absolutely right: why would anyone want to think in terms of servers, when application owners on Force.com can already think at a higher level?