Cloud for dummies
Do you ever wonder how Netflix is able to keep a vast library of movies and television shows that it can deliver to you, on-demand?Everything is actually in the cloud. But unlike it’s weather-related counterpart, this cloud has an omnipresence that a person with an idea hanging over his head could pluck anytime, anywhere for as long as he or she has a computer.
Cloud, or cloud computing, is the storage of data via remote servers but which can easily be accessed through the internet. This is necessary because information is so huge and complex—from your preference in movies and food to tackling climate change through specialized drones and robots—that saving it on your computer is just not enough or too expensive and could potentially cause security nightmares.
According to Amazon Web Services (AWS), “cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of IT resources via the internet with pay-as-you-go pricing. Instead of buying, owning and maintaining physical data centers and servers, you can access technology services such as computing power storage and databases on an as-needed basis from a cloud provider (such as AWS).”
But how does it work? Firms like AWS have infrastructure in different parts of the world—think supercomputers—offering unlimited capacity for companies in need of a tech evolution. (Trivia: According to itworld.com, the “cloud” reference actually came from conceptual diagrams that telco engineers used to simplify the connection between networks and customers. The network was represented, of course, by a fluffy cumulus cloud.)
Why is this kind of cloud relevant? For some, cloud computing is the most innovative development that could usher in industrial revolution 4.0.
“You could deploy technology services in a matter of minutes … from idea to implementation. This gives you the freedom to experiment and test new ideas to differentiate customer experiences and transform your business, such as adding machine learning and artificial intelligence to your applications in order to personalize experiences for your customers and improve their engagement,” AWS added.
Netflix, which started as a company that allowed customers to rent DVDs online, began its ascent to the cloud in 2008 when it “experienced a major database corruption and for three days could not ship DVDs to our members.” Today, it has become an all-around entertainment platform that relies on the preferences fed by its millions of customers from more than 190 countries.
Is cloud just that—storage for vast troves of data? According to Ashish Sukhadeve of analyticsinsight.net, “as the cloud business is as yet encountering solid development, the market is yet to completely mature … The two most driven issues that ruled the cloud scene over this [past] year were cloud security and customization of the offered cloud solutions.”
AWS, for one, was birthed out of the need of Jeff Bezos’ Amazon.com to untangle its delivery and scale problems. Amazon, which began as an online bookstore, needed to change its internal systems to support its future requirements.
In eight short years, AWS has become a multibillion business that now provides different applications to customers including artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, etc.
Its rock star status was visible during the AWS re:Invent Conference in Las Vegas back in December, a comic con-like gathering attended by 65,000 tech experts, geeks, analysts, enthusiasts and journalists waiting to discover what else is there they can grab from the cloud.
This mega-event is usually where AWS chief executive Andy Jassy reveals new cloud applications and tech trends. In the ninth iteration of re:Invent last year, Jassy bet big on machine learning and artificial intelligence, introducing among others “Amazon Kendra,” a search engine on drugs that can easily parse documents and provide context from the accessed information, thus giving more precise answers.
For Robert Reyes, a Philippine-based tech speaker at Mozilla, a key takeaway during the event was the AWS Wavelength.
According to AWS, Wavelength “enables developers to build applications that deliver single-digit millisecond latencies to mobile devices and users by deploying AWS compute and storage at the edge of the 5G network.” In short, it supports the goal of 5G proponents to cut the lag time when data traverses a network, say from a cell tower to a phone.
“AWS Wavelength will be a gamechanger especially when most countries embrace 5G technology. Imagine having a service that provides developers the ability to build applications that serve end-users with single-digit millisecond latencies over the 5G network. It will truly define information at the speed of thought,” Reyes said.
He said another takeaway was the AWS Outpost, or simply the configurable racks of hardware that can be set up inside company premises. Think of the cloud in a box—and found in an office’s server room.
“For me, AWS Outposts will make old school business owners be fully convinced in moving their businesses to the cloud. These are the skeptics who are not firm believers of having their servers outside their company’s premises,” Reyes said.
But despite the skeptics, AWS has more fluffing to do.
Can the Philippines keep up? For Reyes, it’s a yes. “Talent-wise, the Philippines is ready. Technology and infrastructure-wise, we are getting there.” INQ