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This Q&A is part of a biweekly series of posts highlighting common questions encountered by technophiles and answered by users at Stack Exchange, a free, community-powered network of 80+ Q&A sites.

Alfredo O asks:

I'm in the early stages of developing an application geared toward business use, but I'm unsure whether I should develop a web-based app or a native mobile app.

Developing a separate mobile app seems to mean more maintenance—any time a change goes through online, I'll have to make sure the update carries over to the app. But I know only native apps can utilize certain features such as GPS and digital rights management, and native apps don't require an Internet connection.

Ultimately, what is the best way to go?

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I get press releases every week about some new (or old!) company and their so-called cloud solution. Some folks are clearly abusing the popularity of the “cloud” buzzword, and others are actually doing interesting things with distributed computing, infrastructure- and platform-as-a-service, orchestration, and related technologies. Amazon is the prime mover on IaaS, but OpenStack, CloudStack and Eucalyptus are all making strong plays in that space. VMware’s Cloud Foundry and Red Hat’s OpenShift are pushing open source PaaS, while services like Heroku, Engine Yard and dotCloud (among others) are pushing to be your hosted PaaS solution.

It’s not surprising that so many people are looking to differentiate their cloud solutions, and on the balance I think competition is a good thing that eventually benefits end-users. But as things stand today, it strikes me as exceedingly hard to formulate a comprehensive “cloud strategy” given the plethora of options.

If you care strongly about open source, that helps limit your options. VMware’s Cloud Foundry has been open source for quite some time, and recently celebrated its first birthday. Red Hat’s OpenShift is not yet open source, but work is underway to remedy that. Red Hat, obviously, has a long history of successfully open sourcing their work. Red Hat also recently announced that they would be a platinum member of the newly reorganized OpenStack governing board. VMware, on the other hand, is not a company with which I readily associate open source culture or success; and I don’t see a very robust ecosystem coalescing around Cloud Foundry. Hopefully that situation improves.

And there’s also Canonical, the folks behind the Ubuntu Linux distribution. Canonical has made a real effort to advocate for OpenStack, but their actual contributions to OpenStack don’t seem to tell the same story. Rather than focus on directly contributing to IaaS or PaaS offerings, Canonical is busy making helper products like Metal-as-a-Service and their newly announced “Any Web Service over Me” (with the righteous acronym AWESOME) which aims to provide an API abstraction layer to facilitate running workloads on Amazon’s cloud and on an OpenStack cloud.

The end result of all of this a lot of ambiguity for customers and companies looking to deploy cloud solutions. If you want a private cloud, it doesn’t seem to me that you can make a decision without first reaching a decision as to whether or not you will eventually need to use public cloud resources. If so, your choice of private cloud technology demonstrably hangs on the long-term viability of your intended public cloud target. If you think Amazon is where it’s at for public cloud, then it seems that Eucalyptus is what you build your private cloud on (unless you want to fiddle with even more technology and implement Canonical’s AWESOME). If you think Rackspace is where it’s at, then OpenStack is a more appealing choice for you. But what if you’re wrong about your choice of public cloud provider?

As such, I’m curious to learn what you — the reader — are currently doing. Have you made a technology decision? Did you go all in, or are you leaving room to shift to a different provider if need be? Did you go IaaS or PaaS? Are you a new company, or are you an established organization moving existing workloads to new platforms? Finally, I’m particularly interested to hear from folks in regulated industries — banking, health care, insurance, etc — where your decision as to where to run your applications may be predicated on legal issues.

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GTAC 2011: How to Hit a Moving Target in the Cloud

6th Annual Google Test Automation Conference 2011 (GTAC 2011) "Cloudy With A Chance Of Tests" Computer History Museum Mountain View, CA USA October 26-27, 2011 Presented by Vishal Chowdhary, Microsoft ABSTRACT In this session, we share our experiences for testing the Microsoft Translator (MT) service. Testing the translator service can be divided into two broad areas -- (1) Testing of the machine learning system that returns the translation answer and (2) the web service that serves translate requests running on the Microsoft cloud. The MT service offers translation in 36 different languages for users across the globe through UI and API. Testing the MT cloud service without user data would be like shooting in the dark. From a product standpoint, we need to answer questions like How do we prioritize languages for improvement? How do we divide resources in our data center for effective capacity distribution for the languages? From a test perspective we need to understand how the system is being used so that we can ensure that any new bits deployed will hold-up in production. We will discuss the following three problems: Strategy for testing the machine learning system. How do you perform load testing for the translation service running in the cloud? How can one extend the role of test by completely skipping the 'opening bugs' step? With Microsoft for the past seven years, Vishal Chowdhary is currently with the MSR - Machine Translation (MT) team where he is responsible for <b>...</b>

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