Cloud Computing: Scalability

In the latest post in our series examining cloud computing, we identified the factors that might motivate a company founder to use cloud computing. Let’s take a closer look at one of those motivations – scalability.

Our original quick look at scalability focused on the ways that cloud computing helps startups manage shifting computing requirements by providing greater flexibility in the computing services they purchase. A cloud-based IT infrastructure is more versatile – notably in terms of scalability – than is local, intranet-based infrastructure.

To understand how scalability can provide value to a company, we can look to a notable experience of The New York Times – far from a startup company – as described in Derek Gottfrid’s Self-service, Prorated Super Computing Fun! In 2007, The New York Times converted its entire archive of articles from 1851–1922 from a series of pictures of the articles to Adobe’s Portable Document Format (“PDF”).

The process involved loading four terabytes of data onto Amazon’s cloud computing infrastructure, running a process that converted the files and created another 1.5 terabytes of data, and transferring all of that information back into The New York Times’ data repository. Using the Amazon EC2 cloud, The New York Times was able to purchase temporary access to the processing power and storage necessary to complete this project and then release it at the end of the project with no further payment obligation.

The New York Times is no startup, but its experience with its file conversion and cloud storage is a good example of one of the ways that even very large enterprises can benefit from cloud computing. The advantages of cloud computing are not without legal and business risks, however, and we’ll be talking about those in our upcoming posts, describing the challenges that startups frequently encounter as they work to adopt cloud computing solutions.

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