Friday 21 February 2020

Why cloud computing is like air travel

Some fun observations comparing the worlds of cloud computing and air travel ...

Why cloud computing is like air travel

  • The price depends on how far in advance you commit/buy.
  • The marketing focus on the desirability of the posher seats / more powerful VMs but on the costs of the cheapest seats / VMs.
  • Just like there are three main alliances (Oneworld, Star Alliance, SkyTeam) plus various independents airlines, there are three main cloud providers (Microsoft Azure, Google, Amazon) plus various specialist cloud providers.
  • You can buy an airline ticket to almost anywhere and someone else figures out the details of providing you that flight. Likewise, you can select almost any type of hardware in the cloud and someone else has figured out the details of making that available to you.
  • The characters/culture of the various airlines and cloud providers can be quite different.
  • Changing which flight you take or which VM type you use is usually possible (may incur extra costs in both cases!).
  • Both cloud computing and air travel (global collaboration) can be very powerful in advancing science and innovation we need to address the challenges of today and tomorrow.
  • There are wildly varying ideas of what makes a “reasonable” carry-on, just like there are wildly varying ideas of what is needed for a reasonable performance in the cloud. (I’m not sure I own enough clothes to fill the size of carry-ons some people try to heave on board.)
  • You can’t make one aircraft setup perfect for all passengers (what is the obsession with shutting out the outside world with closed blinds on daytime flights???) and you can’t make one cloud architecture perfect for all potential users.
  • Seasoned flyers understand the intricacies of each airport, airline, frequent flyer program, security checkpoints, multiple connections, etc. and don’t see why occasional flyers get stressed by it all. In the same way, seasoned cloud architects don’t see why their world looks so complicated to potential new users.
  • Both cloud computing and global air travel are amazing feats of human achievement spanning vision, planning, engineering, execution, and more.

And why cloud computing is not like air travel

  • On an aircraft you are very conscious of the person in seat next to you. In the cloud, you shouldn’t be aware of another VM using the same physical node as you (the cloud providers work hard to ensure you won’t see impact of naughty behaviour by other VMs, although this isn’t foolproof).
  • The relative total cost of cloud computing vs on-premises is a complex analysis and the answer varies for each customer situation. But there are very few situations where you can deploy your own aircraft, pilot, licences, etc. more cheaply than the price of an airline ticket!

Any other similarities or differences between cloud computing and air travel that you can think of? Please share in the comments below!


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