David Kirkpatrick

February 18, 2010

One major advantage with cloud computing — experimentation

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:22 pm

This link goes an article titled, “Cloud Computing’s Three Revolutions: Part 2,” and the whole piece is worth checking out (along with the first part) if you’re interesting in cloud computing. I have some serious concerns about cloud computing, particularly with privacy and the current state of legal precedent regarding the public/private status of data in the cloud (hint: right now people computing in the cloud are “not truly acting in private space at all” per U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman.)

Those concerns aside, this point from the first link details one place where a secure, private cloud can really help push innovation by removing a traditional roadblock to IT experimentation:

Low Cost Fosters Experimentation

An aspect of cloud computing that isn’t emphasized enough in most discussions about it is the fact that it is ideally suited for application experimentation. Just as the high-cost, capital-intensive IT of the past caused investment to focus on the safest, lowest-risk applications, the low-cost, capital-lite IT of cloud computing will motivate business organizations to experiment with new business initiatives. Business initiatives that, in the past, couldn’t have gotten enough support to justify sharing precious capital to take a flyer on them, will find a far friendlier environment in cloud computing.

A good example of this is the NASDAQ Market Replay application that leverages Amazon Web Services. Trying to buy enough equipment for this application would have been prohibitive, even though the application’s value seemed intuitive. Using AWS, the application could be developed for much less, which made launching it much lower risk. New applications can be tried out at a cost of hundreds or thousands of dollars, rather than the hundreds of thousands of dollars required heretofore. If you are a line of business executive with innovative ideas, cloud computing is going to make your prospects much brighter.

In the “low cost fosters experimentation” perspective, cloud computing is much like open source. In his book Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky noted that open source’s low cost encourages experimentation and making mistakes. When the stakes are low, trials that don’t work out are much more acceptable—and increasing the numbers of trials increases the odds for success.

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