Why I Am Thankful for Cloud Computing
In one of five Thanksgiving-based articles, a Zone Leader provides aspects of cloud computing for which he is thankful to utilize on a daily basis.
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In the United States, the end of the month of November is when time is taken to perform a retrospective-like event called Thanksgiving. What started out as a dedication to give thanks for the blessing of harvest and the preceding year has transformed into a time to simply be thankful for one's blessings.
Since Thanksgiving is recognized on the fourth Thursday in the month of November, I thought I would introduce a five-part technical twist with the following Thanksgiving-focused articles:
Thankful for cloud computing (this article)
I hope you find time to check out the other articles, as well!
One of the items I am most thankful for with respect to cloud computing has to be scalability. The last three major projects I have been deeply involved with chose cloud computing for the ease in providing scalability. The ability to scale up (and back down) to match demand is a feature that rivals most legacy data centers.
In all the years I supported applications before the idea of cloud computing was an option, I feel like we were "rolling the dice" and hoping that our sizing and estimates matched reality. In those cases where we were wrong, the amount of time required to increase scalability left a mark against our group's reputation with the customer. Of course, the cost to the bottom line was never expected or forgotten either.
With cloud computing, scaling up is the benefit of the underlying design. In fact, on one project, we leveraged the Netflix OSS solution for our API services in order to spin up and down additional services when needed.
The concept of functional programming has witnessed a boost in adoption because of cloud computing services by Amazon and Microsoft. Often tied into a "serverless" definition, functional programming can focus on handling a given aspect to completion. As a result, when a request is made, the work becomes a function to be handled programmatically.
Putting things like application state, database connectivity and input/output streams aside, functional programming performs the necessary computations...or does the work within its realm of responsibility. Because of this design, the functional program can sit in a non-running state and spring to action on demand, then shut back down.
Since functional programs have a laser-focused boundary, without the need to connect to a database or maintain state, it is far easier to ask hundreds, if not thousands, of instances to perform the necessary work, then shut back down when finished.
When our team has found use cases that fit well into a serverless or functional model, we have seen a great deal of success on the project. For that, I am quite thankful!
In fact, in the coming months, I plan to consider using Amazon Lambda services for a series I will be writing for DZone in 2020.
From an outsider looking in, the topic of data security may not be top-of-mind as a benefit to cloud computing. After all, one might believe that the data security for a cloud provider is less superior than a data center existing within some entities corporate headquarters. This could not be further from the truth.
In order to secure Fortune 1000 corporations (as an example), cloud providers must meet all of the financial, security, and audit guidelines before they are be able to attract the key business they wish to host. As a result, authentication, access control, and encryption require top-notch implementations, with all staff trained and certified to work within these shared environments.
By comparison, the ask for a corporation's own data center to meet the same level of data security is often more than what yearly budgets can cover. As a result, corporations not willing to spend all the necessary funds must make sacrifices, unless they opt to consider a cloud-based alternative.
The great thing about this situation is that non-Fortune 1000 corporations are able to receive this same Fort Knox-like security, which would be impossible to justify within their own data center. For this, I am quite thankful!
Finally, leveraging cloud options can yield significant cost savings — regardless of the size of the application. In fact, I completed a series on DZone.com one year ago where I replaced an application for my mother-in-law. I opted to utilize services by Amazon to host all aspects of the application and cannot imagine how I could find a non-cloud option which is cheaper or easier to maintain.
In all of the months the application has been in production for my mother-in-law's business, there has not been a total charge from Amazon for over $25. Even if I were to use existing hardware, I cannot find an option that cheap to cover all the other aspects included with Amazon's services that we are using.
While I am somewhat cautious about the subscription cost levels for some popular SaaS and PaaS options, I am very thankful for provides like Amazon...and my mother-in-law's business is even more thankful.
With this article and the other articles listed in the introduction, I was inspired by realizing just how fortunate I am to be employed in an industry that has so many wonderful facets that can be employed on a daily basis. Since Information Technology is an industry of constant change, I fully believe I could revisit this topic on a yearly basis and provide another series of articles for which I am thankful.
As a kid growing up in the United States, there were two Thanksgiving television specials that I looked forward to watching each year: A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and the Brady Brunch Thanksgiving episode (The Un-Underground Movie, season two, episode four). While most have likely seen A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, I thought I would include a link to Greg Brady's school project, "Our Pilgrim Fathers," from that episode:
My hope is that you can take time this month to reflect on the things by which you are thankful. While I am blessed to work in such an amazing field, I am truly blessed that each of you have taken time to read my article.
Have a really great (holi)day!
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.