Cloud Computing Trendsetters

by Ray Hudaihed - Chief Technology Officer - Domina Technology Solutions on February 10, 2010 · 4 comments

Amazon and Google are a couple of cloud platform and services providers that have gained tremendous admiration and following in the software development community in the past couple of year. “Amazon Web Services” and Google “Apps” have set the expectations and introduced on a mass scale the “pay as you go” model for applications and Infrastructure services. I am not sure if anyone else could have combined the expertise, leadership and vision to make Cloud computing pervasive and affordable.

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As an SMB, let’s try to relate to Amazon Web Services (AWS) with a simple example. I downloaded NAICS (The North American Industry Classification System) codes and descriptions through the NAICS website as a spreadsheet. After signing up for AWS (http://aws.amazon.com), I uploaded the NAICS data into one of AWS database platform (called SimpleDB) and wrote a web page to query the data (http://www.dtscloud.com/Dev_searchnaics). Granted, this required some technical knowledge, but the exercise took just a bit over 2 hours, and I didn’t have to purchase web or database servers. My total charges for SimpleDB usage is calculated based Amazon pricing which is free for the amount of data I used (http://aws.amazon.com/simpledb/#pricing). The web page ran on Force.com platform courtesy of our friends at Salesforce.com (free for development and then is around $50 per user per month for more features and capabilities). There is no “bait and switch” here, if I am going to save massive amounts of data I’ll just pay for what I use (to decipher the storage lingo as Gigabyte and Terabyte http://www.whatsabyte.com/ seems to have a good analogy “1 Gigabyte could hold the contents of about 10 yards of books on a shelf. 100 Gigabytes could hold the entire library floor of academic journals.”)

You probably can think of many other databases you would like to be able to lookup in one place and integrate into your application or business process and maybe apply your own rules and reports. From history, Return ON Investment (ROI http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rate_of_return) and Total Cost Of Ownership (TCO http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_cost_of_ownership) were always a tough exercise for an SMB business owner (if they ever can spare the time or hire a consultant to conclude the numbers). Bottom-line, the most costly part of this example is simply the development time and I honestly find it hard to justify the outrageous rates offered by big IT consulting operations (around $150 to $200+ an hour).

The interesting aspect of this example is how we’re dealing with a model were an SMB can expect more from applications and not the traditional obstacles of consulting Cost, Development platform, cost of Infrastructure such as servers, and licensing of operating systems.

This brings up interesting possibilities where business and Cloud applications can take the applications middle men out of the picture and put the business folks with needs to directly working with the software developers. Amazon and Google trendsetting on such scale is pushing all of the traditional mega software and infrastructure houses such as Oracle, IBM and Microsoft and Rackspace to begin to offer the same Cloud Services at the same pricing scale. Currently you would find Software developers taking great advantages by looking at all of the applications being offered and thought of currently on Amazon (http://aws.amazon.com/solutions/case-studies/), and Google App Engine (http://appgallery.appspot.com/).

Amazon Web Services, Google Apps (http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/index.html) and “Google App Engine” offers so much more for an the Insurance P&C SMB, but I figured this will be a start.

In the next blogs we will look at more services offered by these players that can be morphed to a competitive advantage to our SMB community.

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  • I tried the NAIC lookup sample. It works! What do you mean you can't charge $200 an hour 🙂

    • Ray

      The NAIC codes is one of the few simple examples trying to get insurance folks to relate to Cloud Computing. The skeptics that take the wait and see approach will miss out on undercutting the competition with extremely low overhead on IT Infrastructure.

      Not sure if I am going to catch flack from my consulting buddies for not justifying their rates, but it's not the 90's anymore.

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