anthony galvin

Head in the cloud

This post originally appeared on the Altogether Digital blog.

Last year at the <HEAD> conference I was fortunate enough to catch Simon Wardley’s excellent presentation on open source and ‘cloud computing’. It was interesting and engaging, but didn’t really seem to be something that the technical team at Altogether could really utilise - the projects we were working on didn’t appear to need ‘the cloud’.

A few months later, and although the sun is shining on Great Portland Street we are happily working ‘under a cloud’.The concept of cloud computing has been around for a while and there’s plenty of definitions and not a little controversy about whether some of the larger cloud players are really providing a silver lining. I don’t think the team here at Altogether is that hung up on a formal definition of ‘the cloud’, we just like effective solutions that work for our clients. However,  as a broad definition: Cloud computing is a way of virtualising data in order to provide a specific performance benefit. The performance benefit may be the ability to provide a rapidly scalable hosting environment or fast access to rich content using edge served data.

Earlier this month Ciaran blogged about how Altogether were working with Kleenex to produce a Twitter based hayfever map of the UK. What he didn’t mention was that as the campaign progressed it was picked up by the press and traffic to the site started to increase pretty rapidly. In order to keep up with the demand for the service we simply moved some of the data storage out into the cloud, in this case Amazon’s S3 service. In Amazon’s words S3 provides “a simple web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web”. Or in our words, the site stays up and performs well.

Whilst the hayfever sufferers have been keeping a sore eye on Twitter, we’ve also been working with Vertu on their new global website. The site has lots of content including rich video and some hefty photography, all delivered in 7 languages. There’s a lot of data flying around. To improve the performance of the site we’ve been working with Akamai who provide ‘edge serving’ technology, which is basically a way of putting the content nearer to the customer - in Akamai’s case on 48,000 servers in 70 countries.

In both cases there’s some pretty geeky stuff happening, which to some people is pretty exciting in itself, but what’s more important is that we have another tool in our digital armoury that ensures the solutions we deliver for clients stay online and perform well, whatever the weather.

#work #tech #code

2009-06-18 15:25:00 GMT permalink