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Appian World 2013 Business Track -- The Case for the Cloud

Alena Davis, Appian
May 1, 2013

Amazon Web Services and Appian have had a long partnership over the years. Amazon uses Appian BPM in the cloud to automate a number of mission-critical financial processes including payroll, payment, and accounting, while Appian hosts the majority of our cloud customers on the Amazon EC2 infrastructure. To round out the Appian World business track, Tim Bixler, Federal Manager of Solutions Architecture at Amazon Web Services, outlined the business and IT value of cloud computing.

What is Amazon Web Services? AWS offers Deployment & Administration, Application Services, Networking, and AWS Global Infrastructure. At the core is the compute, storage and data services that are the heart of their offering. They then surround these offerings with a range of supporting components like management tools, networking services and application augmentation services. All this is hosted within AWS's global data center footprint that allows you to consume services without having to build out facilities or equipment.

There are 9 AWS regions, including GovCloud US, and 39 AWS edge regions. The customer decides where applications and data reside.

Bixler offered a perspective on scaling in the cloud. In 2003, was a $5+ Billion technology-powered retail business. When AWS measured the capacity growth rate of their current environments, they found that they add enough server capacity to power all of the 2003-era Amazon business, EVERY DAY. In the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Gartner named AWS a leader -- way past the competition.

The Cloud is 4X More Reliable & 1/4 the Cost of On-Premises Infrastructure

Amazon sponsored a study by IDC where they interviewed a group of their customers to get a sense of the results they get from using AWS. The results were quite favorable, with the aggregate numbers showing significant cost savings, combined with better results in terms of reduced downtime. Bixler said that AWS was proud to show that they don't sacrifice quality to reduce costs.

The Cloud is Built to Government/Enterprise Security Requirements

Bixler acknowledged that security in the cloud is always a major concern. However, he stated that AWS's biggest and most conservative customers have found that they're able to meet their security requirements. In fact, when big firms submit stringent security requirements to AWS, they build them into the platform so all their customers benefit from them. In many cases, this results in a better security profile than what each individual firm could accomplish on their own.

There's a shared responsibility to accomplish security and compliance objectives in AWS cloud. There are some elements that AWS takes responsibility for (facilities, physical security, storage infrastructure, etc), and others that the customer must address (network config, operating systems, account management, etc). The outcome of the collaborative approach is positive results seen by customers around the world.

How Government and Enterprises Use AWS

Enterprises use AWS in three main ways:

    • To augment on-premise IT with cloud capabilities like disaster recovery or flexible test and development

    • To migrate existing workloads from their own data center into the cloud

    • To build entirely new apps, sites, services, and even whole new lines of business

Bixler provided some real-world examples of major projects in the cloud. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory used AWS to stream the images and video associated with the Mars Curiosity landing. Cloud enabled the JPL to provision capacity rapidly and leverage the AWS to deliver experiences of Mars to the public.

Another example is the 1000 Genomes Project, which is the world's largest human genetic dataset. The data is over 250 terabytes! Because scientists had to download this from the NIH, the expense and cost of failure was very high. Now, the dataset is publicly available on AWS, which democratizes the research. Analytics are done on AWS next to the dataset, which increases collaboration with multiple institutions.

Benefits of Cloud

    • Pay For Infrastructure as You Need it, Not Up Front. With AWS you pay for what you need, when you need it.

    • Lower Total Cost of IT. AWS's combination of high volume and low margins allows them to pass significant savings along to their customers.

    • You Don't Need to Guess Capacity. Cloud gives you the ability to scale up to meet the needs of spiky workloads, and then give that capacity back.

    • Increase Innovation: Experiment Fast with Low Cost and Low Risk. Cloud enables firms to launch a speculative project quickly and cheaply.

    • Get Rid of Undifferentiated Heavy Lifting. Racking and stacking gear in a data center takes time, money, and is a distraction. Let AWS handle it.

    • Go Global in Minutes. Because AWS has facilities around the world, they can offer you global reach at a moment's notice.

Private Cloud vs. Public Cloud

Bixler said that the big benefits of cloud aren't possible with a private cloud model. Because you have to buy the equipment up front, from high margin vendors and run it in a data center that you rent or own, the cost and operational benefits are negated.

According to Forrester research, a large majority of survey respondents that say they have a private cloud aren't doing many of the things that define having a cloud. Self service, automation, visibility to resource consumption and chargeback are largely missing from most environments that are called private cloud.

AWS's Ecosystem Allows You to use your Existing Management Tools (such as Appian BPM!)

Bixler said that with AWS, you can use existing management frameworks to manage resources consistently and move workloads between your data center and the AWS cloud as needed. Plus, Appian allows you to move your BPM seamlessly between on-premise and cloud deployment. Learn more about Cloud BPM!

Alena Callaghan

Web Marketing Manager

Alena Callaghan