The cloud gets mobile apps moving

New York City uses cloud services to get apps tested and built more quickly.

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Altisource's Juneja also noted that when he's building apps on the cloud and using a cloud vendor's security and infrastructure, he's still ultimately responsible for the security of that app and all of the data being used on it.

"At the end of the day, you are responsible for that data," he said, adding that enterprises have to do a lot of homework before choosing a cloud provider. "The more you use a cloud provider's services, you still own the responsibility but you're trusting the cloud provider to be compliant."

And when it comes to picking a cloud provider, Juneja pointed out that it's important for enterprises to make sure they go with one that is flexible.

"You want a cloud provider that lets you decide what you build yourself and what building blocks you're willing to take from the provider," he explained. "If the provider says you have to use everything we provide, that's not good. It has to be pick and choose."

Juneja also warned enterprises moving their mobile work into the cloud to be careful building in the cloud if their app is going to be dependent on on-premises systems.

If a new app requires data from an old financial system that is in an on-premises facility, "then your app has to work with co-located facilities," he said. "That gets complicated and then you're better off building it in your own facility."

The road to mobile

Back in New York, getting mobile apps up and running quickly has become crucial in the time since the storm, too, to help the city's 8.5 million residents get more timely information. "Mobile is where more than half of the Internet access is from," said Schachter. "If you want to reach the public and you don't have a mobile... you're missing the opportunity to connect with the public and your customers."

That's when Schachter and his team decided to go with AWS.

At the Department of Transportation, much of what they do is on a map. AWS enables them to keep that map in the cloud and build apps to put that information in the palm of users' hands. The city's old mainframe systems simply weren't able to help build those kinds of apps.

The city uses the AWS cloud to build and run its public-facing apps, like its public transit app, which gives users real-time bus, subway and Citi Bike information.

"The public can directly access that information," said Schachter. "The code lives with Amazon and every time you load the app, you get a fresh version of the code and data. It's always up-to-date. We can deploy new code and new features on our schedule."

Shopping with the cloud

For Nordstrom, Inc., an upscale U.S.-based fashion retailer, their developers use the cloud to achieve continuous delivery.

"We're doing multiple launches a day," said Keith Homewood, infrastructure engineer with Nordstrom. Developers are "out there taking customer feedback, adapting and deploying several times a day."

Nordstrom started out using multiple cloud vendors but has winnowed it down to just AWS.

And using the cloud, according to Homewood, makes them fast on their feet when it comes to creating new apps and updating apps to help customers receive personalized shopping recommendations and other types of notifications -- or even get stylist advice.

"Our customers expect us to change constantly," he said. "We have to move at the speed of business... We couldn't do it without the cloud in that same dynamic fashion. It's like the cloud is made up of a fleet of speedboats and we're going to need it to make those quick turns."

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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