Show image

The cloud is just someone else's data-centre, right?

6th July 2018

Wrong! It’s so much more than that; especially when you look at it from the perspective of the person interacting with those servers, every hour of their working day.

So what is it?

Let's take an imaginary web-based application for example. This application is a front-end to a highways asset management system where anyone can report a pothole, loose curb stone, raised manhole, or anything else that's going to damage my McLaren P1 (hey, it's my dream, I can drive what I want). Users can visit your public website, upload a picture of a defect from their smartphone, select a location, add some optional text, and hit Send.

In the back-end, we will create a ticket and assign it to a highways technician to triage, as well as generate a PDF report and email it to the user who submitted the ticket, while storing all this information reliably. Additionally we want to capture all the metadata that might be saved along with that photograph, for example the date and time it was taken, and ideally the GPS location.

Great, so now we've got a product, and we've got a team of developers ready to go; let's release it. Hang on, we need to get some servers. So we have a chat with Sales to discuss licence costs, and we assume some theoretical levels for headroom, and buy enough server resource. The servers are delivered next Friday, and the following week, they've been built and we are ready for our developers to deploy the product. We then hope our estimates for demand on the application were correct - that demand doesn’t suddenly spike, or grow beyond our estimates over time – because we’d be wasting our client’s budget if we allowed excessive headroom, and causing them problems if we didn’t allow enough.

But what if there's another way? What if we just pick and choose the components of an enterprise application that we're going to need, and have it ready for the developers the same afternoon? That's where you start to see the cloud being so much more than someone else's data-centre, because you can do exactly that!

The system I describe above can be crafted so we don't see any servers at all:

  • Storage
  • Relational Database
  • Identity and Access Management
  • Message queuing
  • Code execution
  • Reporting

…all without ever logging into an actual server.

Of course, there are servers running our code somewhere, but they're none of our concern. It's not our problem when a disk fails, or when security patching breaks the operating system, when we need to replace the whole thing because it is end of life, or when we need to add a little more headroom – and these things don’t affect the availability of the system either. We end up with simple, stable, repeatable, scalable, uniform resources.

So ‘The Cloud’ lets us shift the way we think. We can provide an application that focuses on building a better, more user-centric product, with greater efficiency, delivering immense value to our clients.

Guest writer
Ricky Beaty, Lead Technical Adviser
Technology Team

Related Links

  • Share