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Platform as a Service (PaaS) vs. Managed Virtualization

I’ve been reading a few discussions on how to more effectively manage development of a Flex project. And the reason many are looking for a solution has nothing to do with Flex, per say, but has more to do with the complexity of our development environments.

The hidden reason is cost. Cost for setting up each developer environment. Cost of licenses.

The bigger reason is, or should be, security.

Enter Platform as a Service (PaaS) to the conversation.

Although the idea of using the cloud for development is good in theory, it can be cost prohibitive. Here is why:

• The cost of using the cloud. In reality, you’ll end up spending around $1k per computing instance per year. i.e. per developer

• You still have to license any development tools for each developer seat. Check your EULA, they typically address ways of circumventing license requirements via virtualization.

You do get the benefit of quickly setting up an environment for a team. But lets face it, the only real benefit is the level of security in that your code base is never on someone’s laptop. Don’t get me wrong… this is a really big benefit!

From my research, I would recommend VMware ACE instead of PaaS. VMware ACE allows you to provision standardized client PC environments inside secure, centrally managed virtual machines called ACEs. Each ACE contains a complete client PC—including the operating system and all applications. Administrators use the dynamic policy configuration capabilities in ACE to lock down endpoints with device and network access control, there by protecting confidential company data and ensuring compliance with IT polices. You will get security through a managed virtual machine and the ability to quickly deploy a “ready to go” environment for your developers.
No, its not cheap. But it is way less expensive than the cloud with the equal benefits.

I know this because I’m looking into these tools in order to manage our training facility where we teach ColdFusion, Flex and LiveCycle.