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Implementations of Cloud Computing

Vendor Viewpoint: Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a large provider of IT infrastructure services to businesses in the form of web services, more commonly referred to as cloud computing.  AWS provides their reliable, scalable, and low cost infrastructure platform in the cloud to hundreds of thousands of businesses in 190 countries around the world.  The advantage of cloud computing that AWS uses as their competitive advantage versus traditional servers is that it can replace the up-front IT infrastructure costs (servers) with low variables costs that can be scalable to the size of the business.

Facts about AWS customers:


Just 4 percent of the customers spend more than $1 million a year on AWS, accounting for 52 percent of total spending.

Customers who spend less than $50K per year make up the largest group of AWS users, yet account for only 4 percent of total spending.

AWS is able to provide lower latency and a higher throughput for its customers with their global infrastructure.  They have divided the world up into 8 regions including US East (Northern Virginia), US West (Northern California), US West (Oregon), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Ireland, Singapore, Tokyo, Sydney (Australia), and GovCloud (US Government Customers Only).  In each of the regions there are availability zones that isolate data centers from each other in order to prevent outages from spreading.

User Viewpoint: Netflix

Netflix is the world’s premier service for enjoying movies and television shows.  To remain competitive in their market, they must be the best with their content, personalization, device penetration, and customer service.  To do all of these things successfully as well as manage a data center is a daunting task.  After a database corruption in 2008 where they weren’t able to get the discs out to their DVD customers, they decided things needed to change.  They needed a fully tolerant system that would be extremely unlikely to fail.  In 2009 they began migrating their services to Amazon Web Services (AWS), and by 2010 they had migrated all of their streaming applications to the cloud.

Using AWS’s cloud services was extremely useful not only for data storage and streaming, but also for testing their system with intentional failures to make sure that they could keep their services up and running.  With their streaming service they provide, scalability is extremely important because demand can fluctuate constantly.  So if there is high demand, AWS can provide the extra space Netflix needs to service their customers.

Having data centers across the world is helpful to Netflix in multiple ways:

    Separate availability zones allows for redundant services which gives them a better reputation in having good reliability.

    The immense amount of storage provided by the cloud allows for efficiency and availability to all of their customers.

    Netflix is a global company, so the availability of their service anywhere in the world is also of huge importance to them.

Unilever is an Anglo/Dutch company with more than 400 individual brands sold in 180 countries with products covering all parts of daily life.  They also have a research and development department that has more than 6,000 specialists spread throughout the world.  This R&D department started an eScience program that is supposed to accelerate the company’s scientific progress by improved access to global information.  With the exponential growth of the biology and informatics fields, Unilever needs to maintain this program within a scalable environment that supports parallel computation and data storage demands.

To tackle this issue, Unilever decided on using Amazon Web Service.  They decided they needed to use a cloud computing platform to accomplish this because of the global aspect provided through the availability zones, great security, innovation, and the large size that lessens the chance for large technical failures.

They use large instances for processing and the large storage capacity to store the results.  The allowance for scaling is very attractive in order to keep costs down when the cloud isn’t being utilized and can scaled up to a much larger number of parallel computation nodes when demanded.  This was the biggest benefit for Unilever to switch to using the cloud because of the variability in computational power was only necessary part of the time.

User Viewpoint: Unilever

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