Yesterday I attended Microsofts Cloud Summit. I found it be a great introduction with the most benefit comming from the real word uses.
Nearly every presentor showcased one of Microsofts data centers. I believe their data center in Chicago contains 150,000 servers with only 4 onsight operator. This was explained to be one of the many reasons why hosting in this environment can be so cost effective.
One my key take aways was that it’s fantastic for business’s who suffer from seasonal load. An example was given by Janison (an e-learning provider) where they had to provide an exam for 40,000 year 8 students in NSW. All students were expected to complete the exam within a few hour window. Janison developed a solution that would run on Microsoft Azure platform within the cloud. Developing for the Azure platform required surtain guidlines to be followed and this generally allowes for the solution to be scalled considerably. For a one day period they were able to provision 150 servers from Microsoft. Apparently it took 1 hour, from the time of the request, for the servers to be provisioned. They appeared to be very happy with the capabilites of the solution but more specifically with it’s costs. Typically, they would have had to have purchased the infrastructure required to handle the load as opposed to just paying for their usuage on the day.
The other great example was from MYOB (sellers of accounting software). They are in the middle of AUD$72million project to change their business model. It is being changed to make use of cloud computing and the Microsoft Azure platform, to be realeased march/april 2011. They are expected to release a new version of their products aimed directly at business’s and at accounting practices. Currenly there is a large disconnect between the two products. Business’s typically have to save their data onto cd and the accountants then have upload/process the business’s data into the accountants MYOB product. The MYOB representive explained that the Azure platform is faciliating them to provid their products with offline/online capabilites (including syncing of data). It is allso aiding them to connect the two products so Accountants can become more proactive and less reactive with their clients, effectively becoming CFOs.