Action.IO could be a game changer  

Every once in a while, a key piece of an engineering infrastructure hops to the cloud and gets offered “as a service” to much success. First came Amazon, then Heroku and more recently, Pusher and Parse. I believe that Action.IO could be the next in line.

Having a developer setup and manage a development environment is a great learning experience. But it doesn’t scale. Once you have a team, the time you take to setup an environment is precious time wasted. And it gets even more involved as your stack gets complicated.

Companies recognize that. Pivotal Labs spins up fresh machines with the use of Pivotal Workstation. Facebook hosts their environments on an internal cloud, as does Quora on EC2. Not everyone can devote DevOps cycles for that, which is what makes Action.IO so compelling. While you could achieve a similar effect with EC2 AMIs, maintaing a gold standard AMI for a team with a growing stack is not trivial.

Action.IO has trivialized the development environment. Think about the potential: centrally managing dev environments, spinning up custom stack in minutes, and effortlessly sandboxing your projects. All accessible via a browser or a SSH tunnel.

On a personal level, our computers and mobile devices are serving as thin clients to services like Dropbox, iCloud and Google Docs. So why not development environments? We should be able to develop from anywhere. John Gruber recently brought up a great point -

The idea that a dedicated hardware keyboard or a stylus is necessary for creation is ludicrous. I’ve seen people who type faster on an iPad than I type on a hardware keyboard. Arguing that the iPad is only for consumption today is like arguing that the Macintosh was a toy back in the ’80s.

It’s only the beginning. Action.IO will mature. As they increase their platform and package support, I can see Action.IO becoming a de facto service for startups and consultancies, in the same way Heroku has for hosting.

Catch me on Twitter over here.


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