In bad times such as recession, there is the inevitable fact that some people will be laid off by their employer. In these circumstances, when software developer are made redundant they usually set-up shop. The majority goes into providing software development services for small company or friends. They set-up websites to promote their services and few focuses on building their own product.
In London, services based company took a massive hit during the downturn and it is still felt now; well the UK and now in a double-dip recession. So what is my point here? It is much harder to sell services and even harder to export services than products. When providing services, your market has geographical constraint; just think what would take for your to sell your services to a potential client 100 miles from your local?
It used to be hard to build products in the past due to high cost of hardware; to build a java-based product you had to find a suitable host and then pay for a dedicated server or VPS. As you are already tightening your belt, it is likely that you do not want to spend £60 + VAT a month on services to host your product and all the headache of troubleshooting it in case of problem.
Enter the PaaS, Platform as a Service. For this posting I am going to look at PaaS from a Java perspective but it should be applicable to any other programming language.
The competition in the PaaS market is fierce there is no single winner yet. Amazon is the leader for IaaS but not much to be deployed on Beanstalk as yet. If you look around the market, you can see that major technology vendor are jumping on the bandwagon:
Some of those PaaS services are free such as OpenShift and CloudBees. OpenShift runs on JBossAS7 and if you are using Eclipse
for it becomes a breeze to develop and deploy, but the only downside is that it’s still in beta stage.
Utilising the current ecosystem of PaaS, you can go from:
inception (idea) -> development -> product
for almost nothing. The prototyping is now free for example you can use Heroku to build Facebook apps
making all the Facebook API directly available to your app and hosted for free (until you out grow your free account of course). I will suggest that developers familiarises themselves with Lean Startup
and Lean Software Development
If you are a developer and out-of work, you have no excuse of no building your cloud apps. Even if you do not want to start a business and you can do it as a learning practice and use that to your advantage next time you are interviewing for a new role.
With PaaS Cloud, every developer is a potential entrepreneur and the barriers to entry are almost non-existent. If you are looking for a job, it is no longer acceptable just to have some sample code on GitHub but you should also have a sample project hosted on a free cloud provider to showcase.