Infinite Computing, Infinite Potential

As humans we are doubly lucky, of course: We enjoy not only the privilege of existence but also the singular ability to appreciate it and even, in a multitude of ways, to make it better. It is a talent we have only barely begun to grasp.”
Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything

Microsoft Teams in the Cloud

It’s Bill’s bit about making it better that I relate to. The benefits of technology and its impact on our lives is legendary, but to illustrate I’d like to focus on the untold story behind the success of services like Netflix, ZOOM, and Microsoft Teams: Cloud computing made it all possible. The cloud has fundamentally changed the way we use computers by…

1) Eliminating the need to size one’s computing resources according to the intended processing load. We used to estimate the computing power required for each application, install the machine and hope we had calculated correctly. Now we simply place an order with Azure, AWS or Google Cloud and they provide an infinitely expandable machine!

2) Providing access to one’s “machine” from anywhere in the world and, especially, from the powerful computer in your pocket!

3) Giving even the smallest cloud user a reliable and secure platform which handles backups, provides system fail safes, and which exercises constant vigilance for spam and malicious attacks.

4) Eliminating the purchase price for the platform; no upfront expense to depreciate from the moment you switch it on. Think of the accounting implications and the reduction in time to reach profitability.

5) Infinite expansion (or contraction in times of reduced demand), simply by placing a request to adjust the power available and which goes into effect immediately.

This is how ZOOM added millions of users in a few weeks; ditto for Microsoft Teams, and ditto for a little company like Klippas (we hope!). But that’s just it — we don’t have to pray that we’ll be able to expand our service when clients start buying it. We’ll just ask the friendly folks at Azure to do that for us and they will with a smile. And a palm out to be crossed with silver of course, but a small number of coins compared to buying, installing and running it all ourselves.

Think of the increase in Internet bandwidth needed to support all the video being streamed for entertainment and work that was suddenly demanded in early March. All accommodated by what is essentially an infinitely expandable Internet bandwidth. Here’s what the UK broadband providers experienced over the 3 months after the virus hit at the end of January:

Microsoft Teams and its impact on bandwidth
Microsoft Teams and its impact on bandwidth

Imagine if the world had been hit by this virus when we still used the computer which sat in front of us and had no access to the cloud’s infinite expansion capabilities? ZOOM, Netflix and Microsoft Teams would have ground to a halt with the first group of a few hundred users, let alone millions.

For something so intangible, the concept of cloud computing has had a major impact on our world. Thank you Amazon for launching it in July 2012!

Bit-by-Bit #181