re:Invent: The Artist and the Architect

Even during the holiday season, the cloud space remains very active. Just after Thanksgiving, there was re:Invent, Amazon Web Services’ first global customer and partner event in Las Vegas, and the CloudBeat 2012 conference in Silicon Valley.

At re:Invent, I learned that cloud application architects are like artists, painting a new world with a palette of colors and nice techniques for building awesome applications. So I guess you could say that we are not industrializing IT, we are going to transform it in a more artful way! This is really inspiring and refreshing!

Van Gogh picture

With this promise of great value in becoming an “application artist,” many people will no doubt open the paint tube because it is quite easy… but they often forget to close the lid. I was astonished to hear a story from a CEO at a promising metering startup, who told us at CloudBeat about a customer who – before using his company’s accounting system – were surprised when they received a bill of more than $300 000 for one month usage of AWS services!

This reminds me the wonderful book, “Cloudonomics” of my friend Joe Weiman. Ultimately Cloudonomics is just very logical and mechanical. For example, Amazon has a business model based on volumes that enables them to decrease the computing price exponentially. The more customers Amazon has and the more they consume, the lower the prices will go. However, users must be careful because while launching a server in public Cloud can be very inexpensive, launching dozens of them and forgetting to stop them can be very costly.

There are two important consequences of Cloudonomics of which we must be aware:

1. All prices are not equal in the public cloud. Specifically, bandwidth costs can be very high, especially if you pump lot of data OUT of your Cloud infrastructure. One example of this would be delivering video to your customers! In this scenario, telcos and ISPs are charging the cloud providers for transporting data across the Internet to the end user. However, cloud providers are not charging you when you push data INTO their cloud as a means to attract you to their service offering. Instead, they charge you when you go out, to balance their bill with the telco.

2. With volume and economy of scale comes an increase in the failure rate. This is normal. Amazon states this very clearly and they do not ensure quality as others do. The failure rate is a result of the law of probabilities, and the sheer numbers themselves.

As an application artist, you have to adjust to these limitations, and follow the good advice given by cloud adopters and DevOps professionalstest, test, test! You should continuously test your infrastructure to ensure you will not be “victim of you own success.” You should try new colors, new techniques and retest your applications before delivering them to millions of customers!

I am going to develop this point in my next post.

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Posted by Pascale Vicat-Blanc on December 18, 2012