11 Apr

3 Examples of How Cloud Computing Can Grow Your Business

In the relatively short amount of time since the 2008 debut of NASA’s OpenNebula, the first publicly-available infrastructure-as-a-service software package, cloud computing has rapidly redefined the way people share data, communicate and collaborate. With more than 90 percent of companies using cloud computing as part of their IT strategies, according to Virtualization Review, services-on-demand is a lasting trend.

Beyond the inherent benefit of companies no longer having to host and maintain their own Internet infrastructure, the move toward cloud computing has changed how businesses assess risk, pursue growth and industry shifts, and address redundancies in manpower and technical capabilities. In the following case studies, we will look at how cloud computing helped three companies adapt to a changing marketplace.


Example 1: Netflix

Netflix, one of the world’s largest online video platforms, shut down the last of its data centers in 2015 and is now relying solely on cloud-based systems for its customer-facing applications and back-of-house data processing. As Netflix grew, the company faced a choice: invest heavily to expand its physical data centers or allow a third-party to be responsible for its data management.

Netflix opted to let Amazon Web Services take care of its expanding needs. In a 2010 blog post, the company explained that it was time to rethink its three tier, database oriented architecture. The blog post states: “We could have chosen to build out new data centers, build our own redundancy and failover, data synchronization systems, etc. Or, we could opt to write a check to someone else to do that instead.”

With Netflix adding a record 5.59 million subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2015, the company is well-positioned to absorb the stresses this demand will put on its IT infrastructure. It also enables the company to actively seek more customers without fearing the possibility of a service failure.


Example 2: Apple

When Apple introduced the iPhone 4 in 2010, the inclusion of Siri, a natural-language virtual assistant, rocked the tech world. Now a common feature that is mimicked with Microsoft’s Cortana and Google’s Hound, this software is a revolutionary example of how cloud computing adds value to a consumer product. Relying on a number of partners, including OpenTable, CitySearch, StubHub, The New York Times, Wolfram Alpha and Yahoo, Siri can access a growing and crowdsourced knowledge base to answer questions, complete searches and perform tasks.
Siri is unique because it uses its experiences working with one customer to improve the experience of another. For example, if a customer asks a question that Siri does not inherently know the answer to but discovers the answer through performing tasks for a different customer, Siri can tap into that experience and answer the question if it is asked again. This type of adaptive learning shows the practical capabilities of artificial intelligence and the capacity of the cloud.


Example 3: Etsy

Etsy, an e-commerce marketplace for homemade and vintage goods, is a data juggernaut. With more than 54 million registered users and 19.8 million active buyers, the platform yields $1.93 billion in gross sales per annum, reports the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Etsy has come a long way from the website that was created in a Brooklyn apartment as a way to sell the founders’ photos.

As Etsy grew, it needed a way to analyze large chunks of data. Sellers and buyers demanded a way to look at selling and browsing data, and the site developers needed to know which features were drawing the most traffic and which were problematic.

To handle its data flow, Etsy contracted the cloud service provider Splunk to analyze 5GB of data per day. As Etsy continued to grow, Splunk increased this capacity, helping Etsy make sound decisions that directly influenced the company’s growth while dramatically reducing the number of in-house analysts needed.




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