Here’s to a cloudy Cup day

Rodney Gedda

Rodney Gedda is the former deputy editor of CIO and former editor of Techworld.

Before you accuse me of being a spoil sport on the day of the race that stops a nation, let me elaborate on how sporting events like the Melbourne Cup can benefit from the greatest promise to come out of the IT industry – cloud computing. The main challenge with sporting events – and one known to deprive many an IT manager of sleep – is keeping the lights on during the sudden burst (often annually) of attention received during the short time of the event.

And because the event is only for a short time massive investments in infrastructure are unwarranted.

It’s not just the Melbourne Cup, you name the sport. Tennis, football, car racing and others all have their moment in the Sun when millions of eyeballs turn their attention (and wallets!) to major events causing a massive increase in information processing requirements.

I recall attending the Australian Open a few years ago as a guest of IBM.

During a tour of the administrative areas inside Rod Laver arena we came across a few technical staff who looked as though they had been brought over from the US – along with a portable rack of servers and storage equipment. So much for networked computer grids.

This was before the whole cloud hype hit the mainstream, but the concept was still the same – enterprises needing extra capacity for short periods can “tap into” a grid of networked computers to meet processing and storage requirements.

If you can see through the noise, this is essentially one of the great promises of cloud computing.

Back to Australia’s favourite race and how far we have come down the cloud path.

The enterprises used to the demands of the Melbourne Cup – mainly the state betting agencies, but increasingly third-parties like Betfair – are also used to working with third parties for temporary infrastructure.

The advent of cloud computing throws open a lot more options. Applications can be tested and deployed on public infrastructure without the need for expensive outsourcing contracts.

Many applications may not lend themselves to deployments on public clouds, but modern Web apps are prime candidates. Things like scores and results, live video and marketing campaigns can be hosted on public clouds or procured as SaaS.

That said, a few years ago I wrote about an IP telephony project at ACTTAB.

The new system provides automatic call distribution technology enabling ACTTAB to balance call loads in busy periods like early November. In 2005 its call volume peaked at 3111 on Melbourne Cup day.

Putting IP telephony in the cloud to deal with high call volumes is certainly another form of “cloud computing”.

Once the game is over the transaction processing and storage load can be moved back in-house if the service is still required.

Cloud has changed the computing economics of the “big day” forever.

Good luck at 3pm!

Rodney Gedda is Editor of TechWorld Australia. Follow Rodney on Twitter at @rodneygedda. Rodney's e-mail address is Follow TechWorld Australia on Twitter at @Techworld_AU.

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