This post is in response to a discussion I had with some folk over the festive period. We were talking about using cloud for preforming computation normally carried out on the desktop. I will share it:
The cloud isn’t just for “big data” problems (it certainly is great for solving such problems). But you shouldn’t think the cloud isn’t for you because you have an average data problem. The cloud also isn’t just for huge scale; it is just as good if you have a smaller scale requirement. It is really interesting to talk about how your solution can scale to thousands cores and process terabytes of data with a map reduce query. It gets a lot of press. However, we need to be mindful that there are smaller use cases that benefit just as well from the flexibility of cloud computing.
My experience for the past few years has been building a grid compute platform in Windows Azure. The most important thing I’ve learned about the value of cloud computing is flexibility! The flexibility in having the choice to use 100 cores or 10,000 cores is in the end users hands. Hardware is being unlocked from the dungeon of cooperate IT departments and it is liberating. But there are other side affects it had on our development team. We had no physical servers whatsoever. We used Azure for build, development and test environments. We used cloud services for email (Office 365), file sharing (Dropbox), source control (GitHub), password management (LastPass), Kanban board (Trello) and much more.
I think that if a business makes a small step into the cloud they will end up leaping in with both feet very quickly there after. We did, we set out to build a cloud compute platform and ended up living in the cloud from then on. Now I’ve moved back to a non-cloud environment I am stuck in the office, using VPN’s, file shares and it taking days rather than minutes for any change to happen. Instead of flexibility I have constraint – and that’s not what 2014 is about.
So instead of asking yourself if you have a big data problem, ask yourself how much more agile would your organization be if you used the cloud. In fact, it’s 2014 – don’t ask yourself, just do it (you may not even need to ask IT)!