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When to Use Cloud? Example Use Cases

In my last post, I discussed when not to use cloud services. Basically you should avoid the cloud for your organization’s core competency IT systems.  Remember, cloud computing is not a silver bullet for everything.

Today I want to share the stories from the other side: when you should use cloud services. As a rule of thumb, you use cloud services for your non-core competency IT systems. But, what are the typical non-core competency systems?

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There could be many cases in which you can use cloud services. Let me go through some of them by sharing customer experiences:

Outsourcing projects. If something is outsourced, most likely you don’t think it’s a core competency to your business. You can then leverage the full benefit that public cloud services bring to you. You can easily have workspace that is accessible by both your employees and contractors, and it’s more secure than opening up your own infrastructure to your contractors.

Pilot projects. You want to try something new and don’t want to be limited by capital budget not available for infrastructure experiments. From the moment you start a pilot project, you don’t know whether it will work or not. So it’s natural to “rent” the required infrastructures from service providers. This is especially true for pilot projects that require buying lots of machines that you can’t repurpose if the pilot project falls through.

Temporary projects. These are the projects that run for a short period of time, and it doesn’t make sense to buy the infrastructure. It’s like renting furniture instead of buying them for staging your house when you want to sell it. When your house is sold, you can ask the staging company to remove the furniture. You pay based on the furniture and the total time of renting, exactly the same idea as cloud services.

Demo and training scenarios. You may have a pre-sales event in which you want a full demo for a week. Ditto for a training class. These are perfect use cases for leveraging cloud computing.

Extension for dramatic workloads. Notice that I said dramatic, not dynamic workloads. Not every application has a steady workload pattern over time. Some applications could experience 100 times more workloads during peak time than otherwise. For example, a website which may need 1,000 servers for uploading photos during the weekend of the Super Bowls might only require a handful the rest of the time. Would you invest in buying 1,000 servers that are used one weekends in a year? I doubt it. That is a perfect use case for cloud services.

You may have other scenarios that are candidates for best use cloud services. Please feel free to share them in your comments below.

  1. JA
    July 9th, 2010 at 02:04 | #1

    I still think public cloud is the next evolutionary step to traditional hosting meaning it will largely replace managed hosting, dedicated hosting, and co-lo.

    Many people use these services for large high profile production systems. For example I believe Twitter uses a managed hosting solutions.

    Therefore although the above is all very valid there is more to it than that. Apart from outsourced projects all your other examples make it sound like cloud is for none critical side projects. Also you have limited Cloud Computing to IaaS and possibly PaaS, what about SaaS. For example CRM and Email are 2 areas that are not a core competency of many businesses out there yet traditional we invest lots of money in running these critical systems. If any of the current providers are good enough and meets ones criteria is another matter but again some of the biggest companies on the planet are using Salesforce and Google Apps!


  2. July 9th, 2010 at 03:43 | #2

    I am glad you mentioned the dramatic workloads. I presented alongside the CTO for News Limited who extensively use Akami and AWS for scaling out news content for their major brand newspapers. It was very interesting hearing about the massive demands they have when there is major news events and multiple at the same time. They have developed a very good model to support their core business which is delivering content to Internet eyeballs to generate advertising revenue. But I can’t use this use case against you.

    I still find the “avoid for anything core”, especially at the IaaS level. Customers already outsource elements of their IT systems such as carriage, network management, security. With virtual workloads moving to commodity level, the plumbing, many organisations are going to want to control their applications but maybe not the infrastructure that sits underneath it.

    Do you think there is any difference here between public cloud and virtual private clouds? Or is that just semantics.

    Always interesting to read your thoughts. Keep the posts coming!


  3. July 9th, 2010 at 10:01 | #3

    Hi Rodos,

    Thanks for your great comment! I agree with you on that “many organizations are going to want to control their applications but maybe not the infrastructure that sits underneath it.” In my opinion, infrastructure is a mean and the application is the end. Customers can go with whatever infrastructure works the best. They should worry about it when the infrastructure cannot meet the requirement of applications, for example, insufficient IO capacity.

    I think virtual private cloud is a form of public cloud which is used in a more secure way than others. It can be thought as an extension of your private cloud, depending your security requirements. It costs more and may slow down a bit because of VPN connection and stronger isolation.


  4. July 9th, 2010 at 10:21 | #4

    Hi JA,

    Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts on the SaaS which involves much less effort on development and operation from customer side. I know some biggest companies are using SaaS in one way or the other. I also know cases in which companies insource SaaS when they get bigger and want more features that cannot be provided by SaaS vendors. Also, non core competency systems could be critical for operation like email as you mentioned.


  5. November 14th, 2014 at 14:06 | #5

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  1. July 26th, 2010 at 08:26 | #1