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Making sense of CloudLast updated at Thu Oct 21 2021Skills

Learning Goal

Understand the circumstances which force organizations to start thinking about migration their business to cloud

The Problem Statement

You are an experienced Project Manager / Solutions Architect at a renowned IT firm. You have delivered numerous IT transformation projects for some of the top clients across the world.

Congratulations on that!

Your last project was for Global Mart, one of the top retail giants in the world.

You helped them develop web applications to run their stores smoothly.

As a part of their Digitization project, your team has delivered end-to-end solution for them which included :

  • A PoS software in Java to capture and record sales transactions in stores
  • The back-end database implemented in Oracle, one of the top enterprise grade databases available in market
  • Load balanced servers implemented with standard Windows IIS servers
  • User authentication and authorization mechanism implemented using Windows Active Directory
  • Private network with firewall implementation
  • License and certification management to ensure timely renewal of software
  • Trained professionals to provide support in each of the above implemented functions

That's a lot of moving parts!

  • The total duration of the project was 3 years
  • The project had the below cost components :
    • Fixed costs :
      • Server costs (based on estimate of volume of traffic on their servers)
      • Server rooms construction, electrification etc.
      • Software purchase
    • Recurring costs :
      • Software license renewal
      • Software and Hardware upgrade
      • Support staff billing

The project was a thumping SUCCESS!

All sounded like fairy tale for the next 2-3 years!

  • Their business expanded
  • The company greatly improved their staff productivity by digitizing lots of their work from paper based to software based
  • The reduced cost with increasing revenue brought opportunities to try new products, design new programs to improve customer loyalty and improve its market share over its competitors

The early warning signs

Like all good beginnings, the business grew and brought its own set of challenges!

  • Competitors started catching up, inching closer to GlobalMart’s market dominance.
  • The management team also started complaining of below challenges :
    • The software renewal and maintenance is a perpetual headache
    • Specialized IT staff required to maintain the existing servers, apply patches to fix bugs, upgrade hardware as prescribed by vendors
    • Physical outages due to rack failure, blackouts (although rare). This was the biggest concern of the BCP (Business Continuity Planning) Team

The Chaos stage

The project never took into consideration the seasonal demand and the huge surge in sales during events like Black Fridays, Cyber Mondays etc.

This led to frequent server outages with the company’s web page going down during the crucial season. The existing servers just didn’t had the capacity to cater to this surge

The result?

  • Severe SLA breach
  • Humongous loss of revenue
  • The most serious, frustrated customers

Patching up

You did an analysis of the incoming web traffic and hence suggested them to go for increase in server capacity

Client's Objection

  • The seasonal demand only exists for a total of 4 weeks across the year
  • The server costs are exorbitantly high!
  • Purchasing high end servers just to serve for the 4 weeks and keeping them un-used for the rest 48 weeks simply doesn’t make any sense!

More problem in waiting!

  • The IT skills required to keep the servers running are niche. This led to a persistent hiring challenge in cases when key resources quit

  • The Machine Learning team at GlobalMart wanted to develop a sentiment analyzer application which could analyze the customer feedback in near real time and alert category managers about bad customer experiences

    • This needed compute heavy machines with specialized Hadoop based clusters for running large scale AI programs
    • This would just be a PoC to see its effectiveness before getting a business sign-off. Hence, business couldn’t commit for expensive machines and software right away.
    • This resulted in a highly ambitious project being put on hold due to high barrier of entry. Many such promising PoCs just couldn’t lift off!

Customer pain point(s) in short :

  • Ever climbing IT infrastructure causing increase in real-estate costs, maintenance costs etc.
  • The company maintains a maximum IT budget of 40% which suddenly seems too less
  • The same IT which gave them competitive edge now becoming a necessary burden
  • Can’t run high value added proof-of-concepts aiming to develop cutting edge solutions (again due to costly servers, databases, niche skills etc)
  • Persistent IT staffing challenges

Pause and Think!

  • While you are thinking over the solution for your client's pain points, ask yourself the following questions :
    • What if there could be a way where we could just rent machines of desired compute and storage specifications instead of buying one?
      • Once the usage is over, we could return these machines without any hassle
      • We would be charged only for the usage on a per-hour, per-machine or some basis which would make perfect business sense
    • What if there be a vendor who could take all the pains of software installations, patching, license renewals etc. on the rented out machines?
      • This would help GlobalMart focus their energies in improving their business rather than struggling with IT hassles
    • What if there be a vendor who can offer ready-to-use machines pre-installed or pre-configured with the necessary software required for high end machine learning use cases?
    • What if this vendor could take away the in-depth IT skill-sets needed to run the niche servers/software?
  • What if all the above needs could be solved in a way as easy as logging into an e-commerce portal, searching for the machines/services we need and just click and start with rentals clearly mentioned?

Dear Friend, That's Cloud computing for you!

The vendors who would save your day are none other than the giants like Amazon, Microsoft and Google offering cloud computing services as mentioned below :

Learning Resources

Here are some great starter resources to get more insights into the idea of Cloud Computing :

  • This video by Lucidcharts gives very intuitive examples from real life as analogies to understanding cloud computing

So, do you feel a notch better with the idea of Cloud Computing?

Quiz Time!

Reflect a bit on your reading and take this quiz here to validate your learning

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Created with 💙 by
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Amit Choudhary
Data Practitioner,Mentorskool
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