Cloud computing likened to early coding era

Tuesday 4 December 2012

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The chief executive officer of the top video streaming service in the whole of the United States, Netflix, says that the state of cloud computing at the current time is similar to that of the time before compilers were able to remove some of the heavy burden away from coding.

Reed Hastings says that his company began its move to the cloud servers hosted by Amazon three years ago, back in late 2009, and says that now Amazon Web Services provide around 95% of his firm’s storage and computation needs.  “We’ve got some remaining low value systems that we haven’t yet converted but we hope by the end of next year to be the largest business in the world that’s 100 percent on AWS outside Amazon retail,” he notes.

Hastings claims that Netflix was very much ahead of its time when it first began its move to the cloud, but points out that they had very little choice in the matter given the fact that they were experiencing such an extraordinary level of growth.  He said that streaming in 2008 “was about a million hours a month and now it’s about a billion hours a month.”

“So we’ve had this thousand fold ramp up in computational resources necessary over just four years… and so we had to take some risks.”  Hastings goes on to say that attempting to do that sort of build up of one’s own data centres was always going to be a challenge but that it ultimately worked out wonderfully well for the company, with both the cost curve – with the dropping of prices by AWS as more and more customers began to make the move to the cloud – and the agility of cloud computing both working in their favour.

That being said, Hastings has also admitted that cloud computing as a whole is still very much in its infancy, noting that however fantastic AWS might be, the fact remains that they are still in the very primitive, first assembly type of phase when it comes to cloud computing.  He notes that he feels that in many ways it is similar to before the arrival of the compiler in terms of coding and that over the course of the next five to ten years cloud computing will advance and ultimately become both easier and ultimately even better.

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