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6th Aug 2012
PHP and Cloud Computing

The term ‘Cloud Computing’ has created a lot of buzz in the technology world. While many cloud hosting service providers have emerged in the market, some tech geeks have already moved their applications from a desktop platform to the cloud. Many PHP developers have shown their concern in cloud computing, as it simplifies the web development process. However, much has not yet clear what cloud computing is all about.

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is a virtual private server (Cloud), which allows us to access shared resources or information, that are stored in your computer and devices, upon request. Meaning you can develop an application by using multiple online devices instead of relying upon local desktop or web server only. In recent times, several big projects were developed using cloud computing including the SETI project on celestial life, which brings the technology into the limelight.

You can think of cloud technology as a client-server mechanism. This mechanism will launch resources from several internet-enabled devices, so it can be accessed with the less hurdles. Earlier, if you wanted to host a web application or website, you would either need to buy your shared server space or you might have got your own dedicated server. This conventional technology works well, but it boasts of some crucial disadvantages. We won’t go in-depth outlining all darker sides of this traditional approach, but there is one thing you must know that the servers in the discussion here are actually physical drive, the hard drive!

Cloud computing basically works on the same concept as followed by conventional hosting. But, here you don’t require a physical server. You have got a virtual server, which brings in plenty of benefits to all web developers as well as businesses.

Here is a list of some general benefits of cloud computing:

  • High-performance desktops aren’t needed for all users, as the main software and hardware is stored in the ‘skydrive’.
  • Computers deliver top-notch performance in a cloud computing environment, as there are no barriers in the process.
  • Reduced costs are foreseeable as you’re investing in your actual business requirement, rather than investing in IT infrastructure.
  • An efficient cloud computing platform will considerably reduce your overall cost. So, maintenance cost won’t be a pain for you.
  • Software upgrades are cheaper as most of them are available licenses
  • Unlimited data storage capacity is the biggest advantage of cloud computing
  • Rarest cases of information data loss and improved security of the data
  • Easy document collaboration is another major advantage of this technology

How Cloud Computing is beneficial for PHP developers?

If you are a PHP developer, you very know the best practices followed during PHP application development. You need to set up a local development environment using XAMPP/WAMP/MAMP, or you may buy shared or dedicated hosting facility to conduct the development process.

However easy it seems, it has its own limitations which literally screw you sometimes. If mistakenly you tried to use the traditional set-up with any other technology which isn’t in compliance with it, you are no where. Many new technologies are arriving in the market, but some PHP developers are not resorting to them simply because they’re not able to work with them easily in a practical development scenario.

Frankly speaking, you can’t spend your valuable time in recompiling PHP to integrate GD libraries or to install software such as Image Magick, Sphinx, Memcache, APC, or anything else? It isn’t a candy and thus it is seldom undertaken. Possibly, you crave to work with PHP 5.3, MySQL 6, Postgres or any other modern technology, but how can you include them in your local development set-up?

If you are a tech-savvy, you’ll configure a local VM with VMware or VirtualBox. Local VMs consume some valuable resources of your development unit and especially if you’re using an IDE, you are already facing scarcity of RAM. To avoid this, you will keep switching ON and OFF these VMs, and it’s truly a pain.

If you are working on multiple projects simultaneously, I am sure you might be running them all next to some local Apache installation in subfolders during the development. However, this isn’t going to showcase actual scenario of how things will go into production. Perhaps, you might be using SVN or Git to host these bits and pieces locally, but it isn’t a good thing at all!

All these limitations can be overcome using cloud hosting. If you want to work with PHP 5.3 or any other latest technology, you just need to create a cloud server for a specific time-frame, which can be a few days or weeks. It’s very affordable, easy to configure and most importantly there is no data obstruction in your way!

Well, the benefits of cloud hosting don’t end here. For example, if you want to check a migration of any application from one version to another, or say you want to upgrade your app and test it, you just need to capture an image of your server’s current status and then go for application upgrades, migration or anything else you want to perform, provided you already have a development set-up on a cloud. Trust me, this is much easier than dealing the same thing on a local development set-up or on a dedicated server.

You may use locally installed XAMPP, but at the same time you can also work with multiple servers in the cloud. All your development-related and other important resources will remain backed up and you’ll be having 100% control over your development setup. You can easily work on multiple PHP projects simultaneously keeping your development and testing environment separate from each other. In short, everything works perfect.

Cloud Computing – Get an edge over competitors!

Before the advent of revolutionary cloud computing technology, IT investment cost was a big challenge for small and medium scale companies. However, with the launch of cloud technology, the companies have found their way out. They can make offshore set-up for development process and access their resources from anywhere in the world. Moreover, the cost of IT infrastructure is getting more and more expensive as the day passes, which again fuels the demand of cloud computing web application development companies.

How can I get started?

If you are hosting PHP based apps on internal servers, cloud hosting can be much cheaper and efficient option for you. Or if you are planning to develop a PHP website or web application, you better hire a PHP programmer from offshore countries and save Big on your budget!


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