Cloud computing has become so flexible and simple, that even my dad now understands it!
It’s no secret – I get very excited talking about cloud computing. Not just about our own application itself, but about the flexibility, versatility and scalability (as well as many other ‘ility’s) of hosting on the Microsoft Azure cloud network.
When I was a teenager, I used to build computers for my friends. Picking compatible components from the latest Misco catalogue depending on their budget and performance requirements, I’d piece together desktop PCs, install operating systems and configure the machines to play games on (what else!) For my dad’s thriving consultancy business I effectively became the in-house IT department at about age 14, upgrading servers and – quite commonly – fixing problems I had previously created by installing the latest edition of Quake without permission…
Back in those days, applications were all installed locally – on the client computers themselves or on a server gathering dust in a broom cupboard somewhere in the depths of a building. But of course, as years passed, those computers and servers became out-dated, required new components or replacing altogether. Adding more processing power or capacity was a risky job, often resulting in hours (or days) of downtime – alongside rising stress levels as the computer refused to boot back up or in some cases as strange burning smells started venting from the motherboard!
20 years later and I’m still building computers…sort of. But instead of getting out the screwdriver kit and taking on the responsibility for the installation and upkeep of hardware, I’m building computers with the touch of a button – hundreds or thousands of miles away from that musty old server room.
Yesterday, sitting in a waiting room with my dad – now retired and much happier not to be dealing with computers on a regular basis – I logged on to the UtilityClick management portal to check in on the day’s system performance. In one place, we can monitor the status of every cloud resource we have in action – memory usage, CPU throughput, storage capacities – you name it. Sensing my father’s growing interest in the array of line charts on my phone screen; I thought I’d try explaining how cloud computing worked for us.
“This chart shows us the load on our web servers and databases in real time.”
I see, that’s interesting. It would be great if you could monitor how many users are on the system.
“Actually you can dad – here you go!”
Oh that’s good. What does that do?
“Click this button, and we can immediately add a new fully-configured web server to increase the power we have on tap”.
Oh right – that’s good.
“Press this, and we’ve instantly doubled the available database throughput of the system.”
Yep – makes sense.
Suitably impressed and happy he was now a cloud computing expert, he went back to reading his magazine. I sat there a little bemused – reflecting on how simple cloud computing really can be if set up correctly – and how things have changed since I started getting into IT all those years ago. I haven’t crawled around on my hands and knees in basement server rooms looking for that elusive screw for many years – and I certainly don’t plan to start again any time soon!