Here, at Cloud Ave, we have been emphasizing about how Cloud Computing levels the playing field for people across all sizes of businesses, across countries and in places where computing was an unknown term till recently. In my early days at Cloud Ave, I also wrote a two part series highlighting how Cloud Computing can impact the developing countries. Now, we are seeing real world examples of how Cloud Computing is having impact in unexpected places like Ethiopia.
Couple of days back, Seattle Times carried a story about how teachers in Ethiopia are tapping into Microsoft Azure Cloud to plan and download curriculum, keep track of academic records and securely transfer the student data to make it available throughout the education system.
A person from a Boston based company that is helping in the development and deployment of this project and another from Microsoft points out to two of the biggest advantages of using Cloud Computing in the project. The first one is the tremendous cost savings in the Cloud that turns out to be a boon for countries whose economy is shattered by civil wars.
FullArmor’s Kim estimates building a network for thousands of teacherswould have cost hundreds of dollars per teacher, compared with a fewdollars per month via the cloud.
The second advantage is the faster time to market. In projects like these, time is a crucial factor and the Cloud beats everything else by a wide margin on this front.
A data center — the central element of cloudcomputing — would have taken months to build and required downtime toexpand as each new batch of teachers joined the network.
By building in the Microsoft cloud, using data centers around theworld that the company runs, Kim said FullArmor, working with partnerSQLSoft, launched the project in weeks and can scale quickly from apilot to tens of thousands of laptops by the end of the year.
“It extends reach of technology into the community that can takehuge benefit from these services and yet may have not had access to itin the short term because of infrastructure requirements,” said DougHauger, general manager of Windows Azure at Microsoft.
The feeling is pretty well summed up by this quote by the GM of Azure.
What’s happening in Ethiopia captures the possibilities of the cloud,he said — “the agility, decreasing time to market, keeping it out ofyour own data center and allowing you to reach a broad audienceregardless of where they are in the world.”
This is the point we, the cloud evangelists, take pains to highlight in our posts and discussions. Whether it is an enterprise in USA trying to take a product fast into the market (pharma companies comes to my mind while talking about the need for speed) or a small business wanting to scale to cope with the sudden demand for their product/service or a non profit trying to change the lives of people in war torn parts of Africa, Cloud Computing can make a huge difference. It is time for everyone to understand the value created by this paradigm shift in computing and adapt it in their workflow.
PS: Yesterday, I wrote a rhetorical post about how SaaS is not communism hell bent upon killing the software industry. The above example shows how a technology can help the market forces play a role in improving the society without any need for government intervention. I am putting forward this point to highlight the fact that Cloud Computing can help our society in ways we cannot imagine and let us be smart and take advantage of this shift.