SC Spheres

Cloud Computing

Step 2

Amazon launched its cloud computing proposition, Amazon Web Services, in 2006 and has grown this into the largest public cloud computing offering. Cloud computing services offer companies access to large data centres over the internet that they share with other users. This enables companies to get their software applications up and running faster with no up-front costs, and with none of the hassles of managing their own hardware. Economies-of-scale has driven down the costs of cloud computing services and this has meant that the market is dominated by the large cloud providers such as Amazon.

Cloud providers typically charge for their services on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ model whereby a monthly fee is set depending on the extent of the services required. The computer-sharing technology allows the providers to offer very low monthly fees for companies only requiring a modest level of computing power and storage. These services can be ratcheted up as the company’s requirements increase, and down again should customer growth not materialise, for example.

The SC Spheres platform was launched in 2018 with its first customer going live in March of that year, and this grew to 19 customers by year end. A cloud provider called Linode has been used to host the platform, and it is interesting to see how the monthly cloud services have increased to meet the demand of the growth in customers on SC Spheres:

Customers Cloud storage Cloud memory Cloud cost
January 2018 None 25GB 1GB $5 pm
April 2018 4 50GB 2GB $10 pm
June 2018 8 80GB 4GB $20 pm
August 2018 15 160GB 8GB $40 pm
November 2018 19 320GB 16GB $80 pm

Linode offers a choice of eight physical locations for your virtual server spread across the globe. The SC Spheres server with Linode is located in the United Kingdom (London) where the latency with South Africa is lowest. Latency in this context is the amount of time it takes for a packet of data to get from the server in London to the user’s browser in South Africa. Having the server located outside of South Africa has the added benefit of not being impacted by the recent load shedding by Eskom!

The main technology that enabled the computer-sharing underlying cloud services is ‘virtualization’ that separates a physical computing device into multiple ‘virtual’ devices. With operating-system-level virtualization, also called containerization, a platform such as SC Spheres can farm out the workload to multiple containers depending on the availability of capacity. This makes more efficient use of the available cloud capacity and ensures that the platform can manage spikes in activity if, for example, many users access the platform at the same time.

Containerization started gaining prominence in 2014 with the introduction of Docker. Docker is a computer program that was developed primarily for Linux that is the compatible with the open source operating system Ubuntu used to run the SC Spheres platform.

The cloud is certainly the way to go for both start-ups and established businesses. “Is my data safe” is, however, the important question that must be answered before fully embracing the cloud.

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