Don't Discard Test-driven Development in the Cloud?

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By Arin [email protected]

Writing software for the cloud can be very different than writing software that runs on a single server. It can make test-driven development (TDD) more complicated, but it is still well worth doing. For the purposes of this article, I'll consider two types of software development in the cloud: cloud hosting and distributed computing. 

In cloud hosting, you are still writing the same type of software that you have always written. A simple example is a website developed in PHP, Java, Ruby on Rails, or .NET. You are not developing anything out of the ordinary, and the only impact cloud computing makes on your architecture is that it is easier for you to scale the web UI of your system as traffic grows.

For cloud-hosting scenarios, nothing has changed with regards to TDD. The typical xUnit frameworks will provide all that you need to write solid software using good XP practices.

Distributed computing is different. For the purposes of this article, I will define it as software that is designed to scale horizontally across many servers in order to improve some combination of reliability or speed or simply to spread the computational requirements of complex algorithms across many servers.

The use of clouds for distributed computing is more complicated and less common than the more straightforward cloud hosting scenario. However, more teams are being called on to develop these types of applications, and there are many open source projects that are making it easier to tap into the more advanced powers of cloud computing. 

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