Introducing DRG: Making Developers’ Lives Easier

You’ve presumably heard about this “cloud” thing, as it is single-handedly changing the IT game in many ways.  What is so great about the cloud, anyway?  One of the biggest reasons I like the cloud is it’s giving start-ups and smaller IT shops the chance to compete with some of the big boys.  The cloud, for all intents and purposes, is cheaper than traditional hardware, it takes much less time to stand up and it allows you to start working faster.

Cloud computing also providers the answer to one of the biggest pain points I hear from developers: They never have enough physical resources and are constantly shuffling workloads around workloads in an effort to get systems upon which they can test their code.

What I want to talk about today, however, is developers’ expectations for the cloud and what we at Rackspace are doing to meet and exceed those expectations.  If you had the choice to build a house using a couple of trees and an axe, or using an advanced set of tools with detailed instructions on building a sturdy house, which would you pick? I believe most of you would choose the latter.  The same applies for building cloud applications.  Sure, you could write an application from scratch, but you would probably be in the minority.  On the flip side, you could write an application using language bindings and code snippets, and employ the use of some reference architectures if they fit.  Chances are you will deploy an application quite a bit faster using the tools already there for you.

Rackspace has some cloud customers today that have written amazing applications and they are truly taking advantage of the cloud in many ways.  What is even more impressive is they have gone about this relatively alone. This has led to a number of internal conversations around a simple statement, “What do we need to do to make developers’ lives easier?”  Legacy applications cannot simply be picked up and dropped into the cloud; there are infrastructure changes, API considerations and general application definitions that have to be reviewed before making a jump into the cloud. Cloud applications also do not just happen, developers have a new set of ‘rules’ that they must know and take into consideration to make the best choices for writing an optimally performing application.

Enter the Rackspace Developer Relations Group (DRG), a new team being staffed as this is written.  What is the DRG going to do to make developers’ lives easier?  In the largest sense, the DRG’s role is to “remove every barrier to the adoption of the OpenStack/Rackspace API by cloud-targeting developers.”  In addition, the DRG will:

• Lower developers’ barriers to entry
• Help developers succeed
• Increase developers’ ROI

You may be thinking, “This sounds good, but how do we expect to accomplish this?” This process starts off with a pretty high-level plan, but it looks something like this:

• Produce basic developer enablement resources
     • Publish an official developer page on Rackspace website
     • Provide sample code (full apps and snippets)
     • Write language bindings in several languages
• Help external tools exploit RAX APIs
• Participate in developer-centric events
     • What better way to hear what we are doing well, and what we are doing poorly

This is just a small sampling of what the DRG plans to accomplish in 2012.

With the explosive growth of cloud, and that growth showing no signs of slowing down, we are making it our mission to ensure developers have access to the resources to join the frenzy and make their mark on the business world!

Wayne Walls was a Cloud Architect at Rackspace, where he evangelized global cloud strategy. A tenured technology leader, Wayne has engineered complex technical solutions, delivered IT transformation plans, and implemented multiple training initiatives around cloud computing. Co-maintainer of the Rackspace Developer blog, Wayne helped developers, engineers, and executives understand cloud technologies and how to turn that knowledge into tangible returns. He holds a B.S. of Information Systems and a B.A. of Economics from the University of Oklahoma. Follow him on Twitter at @waynewalls.


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