By Todd R. Weiss
If you still think that cloud computing is an idea that can't help your business, then please pay attention.
Case in point: Facebook bought the little start-up photo-sharing app Instagram this week for $1 billion in cash and stock after Instagram created itself out of nothing using the power of the cloud and open source software, according to a story on Mashable.com.
Instagram has been a wonder since it launched its first photo-sharing app for Apple's iOS platform in October 2010. The photo-sharing app has gained millions of users and just released an Android version of the app last week, according to Mashable.
But what helped it along wasn't just good luck and being in the right place at the right time. One of the primary tools that Instagram has used is the power and scope and flexibility of the cloud to help turbocharge this tiny company into a $1 billion acquisition price tag in just a couple years.
To do that, Instagram didn't invest in infrastructure. They didn't have that kind of money. Instead, they brought together the right open source applications and paired them with the best cloud infrastructure they could afford and created an application that took off and soared into the heights of success in no time flat, according to a blog post on Wired.com.
"Instagram uses an interesting mashup of tried-and-true technologies alongside more cutting-edge tools, mixing SQL databases with NoSQL tools like Redis, and choosing to host its traditional Ubuntu servers in Amazon's cloud," the Wired post reported. "While Instagram is not an enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite, this iPhone-crazy app/service can take a licking and keep on ticking, apparently."
And a big reason for that success all the technology behind it, on the cloud and in the world of open source.
On its company blog, Instagram wrote last year about some of the tools it selected for its arsenal. The company's three main morsels of advice were succinct:
- Keep it very simple
- Don’t re-invent the wheel
- Go with proven and solid technologies when you can
"All in all it's a very impressive setup that has, thus far, helped Instagram avoid the down time that has plague many similar services hit with the same kind of exponential growth," wrote Scott Gilbertson in a post on Webmonkey.com.
Is this all adding up to you?
It sure does add up to me. Now, for sure, there's no guarantee that your success will be the same as Instagram's the moment you choose to join the cloud revolution and see how it can help your business. They had a product with wings that took off and hasn't looked back yet. You mileage may certainly vary.
But the bottom line is that without the cloud, Instagram today would still be a small start-up looking to make a name for itself as it struggled with upfront technology costs for development, production, quality assurance testing and everything in between. It surely wouldn't have been an acquisition target of Facebook because it would have never had the scale and growth it received due to the cloud.
The cloud won't solve all of the world's problems and it won't generate world peace.
But if your company evaluates where it can help you, where it can save you money, where it can grow your business and how it can inspire your company's possibilities, it can help you get to where you want to go.
If you don't do anything, that's certainly fine.
But when your competitors start to gain ground on you and become pinpoints on the horizon of success, don't say I didn't warn you.
What is it that your company wants to achieve next? Can the cloud help you reach those goals? Are you ready to start asking these questions and finding out the answers?
Instagram started with an idea, a dream and fewer than 20 people.
Does that describe your business, too?
Could the cloud help your company? Let me know if you are starting to get some crazy ideas.
Todd R. Weiss is an award-winning technology journalist and freelance writer who worked as a staff reporter for Computerworld.com from 2000 to 2008. Weiss covers enterprise IT from cloud computing to Hadoop to virtualization, enterprise applications such as ERP, CRM and BI, Linux and open source, and more. He spends his spare time working on a book about an unheralded member of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves and watching classic Humphrey Bogart movies. You can follow him on Twitter @TechManTalking. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org