The service, built by cloud solutions brand Appirio, allows companies to outsource any form of public cloud development work — entire mobile applications, Facebook pages and technical components for enterprises — in the form of a competition. After customers post a deadline alongside technical specifications, developers in the community submit entries, which are then judged by the customer or the CloudSpokes team.
"For developers, this approach creates a market for their talents, lets them develop new skills with real world assignments and transitions their careers to the cloud while establishing street cred as skilled practitioners," Messinger says. "For companies (including Appirio), this means tapping into a developer ecosystem and paying only for the components of work that meet pre-agreed upon requirements."
The success of CloudSpokes reflects the effectiveness an entirely unique approach to app development: A gamified network of freelance contributors. Current challenges range from the bizarre — a Python-based app that can create a route guiding users to every train station on a given system within 24 hours — to the highly practical, including an app to facilitate financial aid application processes by extracting information from existing tax files.
Cost: Project rate set by client.
Chicago-based Red Foundry allows developers full control over the quality and cost of the platform, though VP of Business Development Stan Monlux has stark words for those who go the inexpensive route: "Honestly, cheap apps suck. If you want to build a cheap app on Red Foundry, you can certainly do it, but we have no interest in that market."
Instead, Red Foundry has two primary goals. One is to allow companies to shift resources from writing code to creating great design, and the other is user experience and enabling brands to make money without gamification. The company makes money by taking a share of revenue from managing a commercial element and development services.
"We have fairly unique technology that allows fully native apps to be built and customized more like a web mashup, as opposed to starting from scratch," Monlux explains. "The unique thing about this is that it allows apps (we call them Elements or Micro Apps) to live within other apps to provide highly contextual features that users want, such as booking a hotel through Expedia directly from the Fodor's travel guide app without ever having to leave it."
Through this technology, Monlux explains, app development can be completed on the end of the designers, whose capabilities will more often than not dictate the quality of the app from an aesthetic perspective. The Fusion Studio allows a drag-and-drop approach, while apps built in Xcode, Eclipse or other toolkits can achieve similar functionality through the inclusion of the Fusion SDK in a line of code.
"Speed versus native code isn't much of an issue with our platform," Monlux says. "The key to any great app is great design. Our best partners are design shops and developers with a carefully crafted vision for their UI. Red Foundry was built to support great designers, but in the end you need good UI design chops to build great looking apps."