Clouds for Clunkers?

Its been several months since I did a more editorial styled update, so when this popped into my head this morning (its only 6am my time as I write this) I had to share it. I also plan to use it in my Windows Azure presentation this evening.

One of the key things you hear being asked about cloud computing is “what is the value”. Well recently the governments “Cash for Clunkers” program highlighted a real world problem that could be addressed by could computing. This short term program had a website where dealers could go and submit their sales for reimbursement. Unfortunately, as the deadline for the program approached, traffic on the site overwhelmed and eventually crashed it.

This is an ideal example for how cloud computing could have helped prevent this issue. The program was a short term program, so it wouldn’t have made sense to acquire new hardware simply to host this site. By using a cloud hosting provider, the program could have quickly gotten resources in place to host the website. No significant up-front costs from purchasing hardware or putting it in place. Just swipe a credit card and start hosting.

Then there’s the big issue of capacity planning. Anyone that’s ever dealt with a potentially high demand, time-bound program such as this would have easily predicted that the spike in traffic could (and probably would) happen towards the programs end. But since its a short-term program, imagine the costs associated with purchasing and setting up all the resources necessary to handle the estimated peak load. A load that would only last several days. Instead, by hosting it in the cloud, you can scale up your resources during peak utilization and then just as quickly scale them back down when the spike is over. Little fuss and almost no muss. And definitely much less expensive.

To the cloud computing pundits, this example is definitely a no-brainer. But for those still curious or cautious about the benefits of cloud computing, here is a highly visible example of where cloud computing could have helped prevent a high profile failure and also helped an organization realize a substantial cost savings.


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