The following is a guest post by Reese Jones.
The Cloud is an incredible step forward in data management and the age-old routine of backing up and syncing your files with your colleagues. Being able to commit code to a centralised place or uploading a new set of GUI elements, knowing that in minutes they'll sit on your programmer's computer ready to be implemented makes for a far more slick development process. But if you're a development team who hasn't yet dipped into the potential of cloud computing, then you're missing out.
A good case study to start with is a development team working on a renowned indie game by the name of Project Zomboid. In October 2011, the office of the development team was broken into, and their laptops were stolen - laptops containing a considerable amount of progress on said videogame. That progress was then lost, as they had never backed up their work, and even had they backed it up on physical drives, those would have been taken too.
However, cloud hosting any new commits or any progress would have meant that their only obstacle to continuing development on the game would have been the procurement of new laptops. This is a vital part of insuring that nothing will cost you your progress - knowing that every time you hit save your cloud server is soaking up the changes you've made affords a development team an incredible amount of peace of mind whether they're building a sprawling game world for a console release or a quick-and-easy iPhone project. That's not to say you shouldn't back up your work locally as well, but at least if your local physical storage devices are stolen, all you lost was hardware.
For larger teams, there are many more factors to consider. This case study of an Enterprise IT system shows that while there are advantages to cloud-hosting their IT system, when you're a big company that needs access to hardware for any reason, things then become very difficult as everything is off-site, and potentially out of the country.
However, it also meant significantly lower costs, the ability to easily scale the cloud service to whatever was required, and removed their requirement to maintain the hardware, as that is part of the paid-for service. Cloud computing offers a lot of cost-cutting and time-efficiency advantages for the discerning business owner, in addition to the traditional security of data backup, although sole reliance on a single cloud-hosted file provides the same weakness as any other "one copy" approach.
However, cloud-hosting also means that while the companies who offer these services will see their employee numbers grow dramatically, other companies will begin to shrink their IT departments as a result of not requiring as many specialists on staff due to the off-site nature of the cloud. This has obvious advantages and disadvantages, but it will mean that those who would rather work as part of a larger company whole may need to retrain or diversify should they not wish to find themselves nosing around Dropbox or Amazon EC2 for jobs.
Development teams have a lot to take into account when moving things onto the cloud, but the reality is that it's the most convenient and reliable way of storing and syncing files we've ever had access to. To ignore it is to limit yourself, and finding the ideal balance between local and remote hardware for use with your team, or your company, will be the making of you in 2013.
About the Author
Reese Jones is a tech and gadget lover, a die-hard fan of iOS and console games. She started her writing venture recently and writes about everything from quick tech tips, to mobile-specific news, to tech-related DIY.