Friday, May 14, 2010

The Pizza Cloud

Friday night - it's been a long week, and time to head home. Friday nights are takeout night, so its a stop to pick up some quick 'n easy Italian cuisine on the way. Quick? Doesn't seem like it. For no apparent reason, everyone decided that Pizza would be Perfect. Phones ringing like crazy, staff on the verge of cracking. Angry customers walking out. Angrier customers cancelling orders on the phone. 2 hour delays. Not good at all.

As I stood staring into the mesmerising flames of the wood oven, I figured these guys should expand. Then again, I've never seen them this busy. They need dynamic auto-scaling. Wouldn't it be great if everything was as easy as 1, 2, IT?

Amazon launched their cloud service, about 2 or 3 years ago, being 1 of the first to offer the product. Since then, many major players have hopped on. There's a comprehensive list here.

Moving from traditional hosting services to cloud computing can be quite cost-effective for many businesses. The stream of pizza orders being cancelled was not business lost for the night. It was business lost. Bad service = non-returning customers. 1 good marketing operation might find new orders coming in, as you notice your Analytics trending upwards. It's ok - your site is running on decent HA infrastructure, with a couple of servers. Its a really big pizza oven, and you can deal with the orders. You expect it, its Friday night!

People are saying "Wow. Really valuable site. With anchovies please" - it starts to hit the viral networks. Tweeps are tweeting and its a real Buzz. "Do I have enough wood in my pizza oven" you think to yourself as CPU gets consumed by hungry database queries. The oven almost seems to be shrinking as available memory is gobbled by the overworked application servers.

Right now would be a good time to 'click, click' and bring on 40% more servers. It's really that easy. AWS Management console. Launch new instances. 4 more servers online. 10 more servers online. 20 more servers online. Bring it on. It's not only the physical resources that add value. The providers are offering a great portfolio of products, such as monitoring services (CloudWatch), Auto Scaling that automatically grows infrastructure as load increases and shrinks it as it becomes unnecessary, and a multitude of web appliances built by specialists that you can launch. As an example, we have recently started investigating aiCache  as a scalable frontend SSL offloader. They have AMI's available to launch at your disposal and have put together a good solution -

We recently had a successful launch at Finovate in San Francisco, and fearing the TSPOP (Too Small Pizza Oven Problem), we decided to migrate our infrastructure to AWS.  Scale-up. Scale-down. No problem.
Read more about the launch at

*Finally* - the pizza's are ready. They are hot but it took way too long. Next time I'll rather order from