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The Cloud – So What, Nothing New From What I Can See
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The Cloud – so What, Nothing New From What I Can See

If I have to listen to another client or techie waffling on about “the cloud” I will scream. It would appear to be yet another idea which in theory can be very useful in certain cases but is being applied as a solution to everything.

A colleague who I have worked with for many years is “i” connected. He has the phone, the tablet the gadget for his TV and other bits of related paraphernalia which he loves. He loves his gadgets and Apple are brilliant at supplying gadgets which work and usually without and fuss or drama. For that I would like to thank them and give them a big well done. His experience of the cloud is that all his music is “in the cloud”, “his films” are in the cloud and it is fantastic, wherever he goes provided he has access to the web his collection goes with him. An all round success you would think. With regards to his entertainment needs absolutely.

Now here is the problem. A few months ago he decided to completely change the systems running in his business for a completely online solution. This solution was sold to him with one of its strengths being that it is in “the cloud”. To him the cloud is wonderful. He is like most people, not a techie why would he think any differently? I am helping him migrate from his existing solution. He has a Windows software system running on his office network with additional offices using the internet to access the network. This system is fully integrated to his website. Theoretically the new product will give some additional benefits but is the cloud such a good idea?

We need to roll the clock back to before we had Windows. Most computer users used a “dumb” screen with a keyboard. This was attached to a computer usually in the same building. Larger companies used computers called “Mainframes”. These were installed in purpose built datacenters and accessed by everyone remotely. Sometimes they would be connected together to provide more power, disk space etc. It is only fair to say that by today’s standards they were not very powerful but the architecture sounds very familiar.

Computers in a large building, with concentrated disk space and power to drive databases and applications, all accessed remotely, sounds like “the cloud” to me. Just the screens we use now have a mouse, graphics and colour and a mind of their own.

Windows arrived and changed everything. Everyone wanted to move data, applications, to their desktop. Resources could be managed locally and you could make sure that business operations continued even when some idiot in a JCB or Caterpillar dug up the cables in the street by mistake. The computing world came up with justifications why the PC was good and mainframes were bad and for the last 20 years we have all been using increasingly localised systems.

Recently whilst working on the new solution for my colleague I ran into a problem. When using the new product I ran a small database query. This is a Vacation rentals product and I wanted the rates for a three month period for a single property. “The cloud” responded within a second with the data I needed. Not bad, could be better, could be worse. I had requested three months of rates which equates to about half a dozen records in a single database table, in the world of data - nothing. I then tried again requesting an additional four months worth of data. This time the response was over 45 seconds. At first I thought there was a coding issue. After double checking I discussed this with the supplier of the product. This was the answer…

“The reason for extra load time is that the service is a cloud service so there can be additional latency when data is not warm in cache/replication dbs and needs to be retrieved from the central database. There is also additional data to be transmitted when you pull a greater range of dates (both across our private networks and across the internet to you).”

For the non-technical they are saying that because you are using “the cloud” there may be delays because of how the cloud works.

Well, “that’s ok then”! The code concerned is part of a datafeed process which currently takes 30 seconds to run from start to finish. It processes 200+ properties, and requires rate information for the next twelve months per property. So, based on the response with one property (that was only seven months) it looks like the new “cloud” based process will take three hours to complete. Let’s hope that there are no internet connection issues during those three hours!

How many new cloud users are going to regret their decision? At the moment they have the ability to increase space, power and other resources because they control their systems. Whilst “the cloud” may appear to have some financial savings it is very difficult to quantify the “value of control”.

The internet has been with us for a while and its latest “everything must change because some techie thinks so” phase is “the cloud”. Is this not just a step backwards to a time when people using systems had to put up with whatever performance was provided “from afar” and were powerless to implement improvements when they needed them.


Street Talk

I keep trying. I am doing the 30/30, hope the ideas keep coming.

Reply
  about 6 years ago

Hello Rob, This is a very good read. Thank you and keep up the great job.

Reply
  about 6 years ago
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