Later this week, I will be giving a speech on leveraging “The Cloud” to achieve business objectives.
The main thrust of my speech will be that The Cloud is a natural extension of what we already know about human society.
Seen from a sufficient remove, human society exists because of specialization. Some people were great at blacksmithing, others at growing food, still others at entertaining people, and so on.
If you draw an analogy between human society and computer networks - and the analogy is not as far fetched as you would imagine since, like societies, computer networks are the product of human thought - it makes sense that certain networks would be great at showing you a listing of what your friends have been up to in the last few days (Instagram) while others will be good at selling you compute power a la AWS.
“Compute power” as a term is simultaneously expansive enough and understandable enough for most laypeople to get the gist of what The Cloud can do for us but since you are on this blog, clearly you would like a peek behind the curtain.
The Cloud: Bovine Rhapsody
Let me draw on one more real world example to explain the idea of compute power.
I subscribe to a service called Supr Daily. Every morning, before 7:30 AM, two packets of yogurt and two packets of cow milk appear on my doorstep. I don’t know where the milk comes from. I don’t know where the curd comes from. All I know is that they show up and in return I give Supr Daily some money.
If I am expecting guests or if I am likely to crave sweets the next day, I order more milk. Or if my wife feels particularly South Indian on any given night, she will ask me to order extra yogurt for the next day.
If we are running a budget surplus in milk, we can reduce or cancel the next morning’s milk supply, no questions asked.
And the funny thing is that THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS THE NEXT MORNING.
Like magic, more milk shows up if I want it to. Less or no milk arrives on days I don’t want it to.
If we had had to maintain our own cows, we would have (a) been swimming in cow manure and (b) had to milk our cows regardless of whether we wanted to or not.
The Cloud is exactly like this but for everything computing related like storing files, doing calculations, manipulating data, retrieving information from other systems, and more.
Just like I decided not keep cows just to get a steady supply of milk and curd, you wouldn’t want to buy dozens of computers and hire software engineers to build you a way to run your business more efficiently.
The Cloud in Three Functions
(For the purposes of this discussion, I am going to use AWS as a stand-in for The Cloud because it is effectively the trendsetter in the business of selling compute power. What AWS does today is where the entire Cloud will be tomorrow.)
S3 - simple storage service
If you have a smartphone right now, chances are that you are suffering from some form of storage anxiety.
Either you diligently delete photos and forwards as they arrive or you have set up your device to never store anything to the device without your say so.
The Cloud can solve this exact issue for you by letting you store your data off device. In the AWS world, their storage solution is called S3 - the Simple Storage Service.
How can S3 help you?
If you have ever had to share GST invoices and expenses with your tax consultant, you have probably looked around for a simpler way to store them so that the consultant could more easily close your tax filings.
In India, AWS charges less than ₹200 per month for 100 GB of data which is about twenty thousand images. If your business generates those many images every month, the ₹200 you spend for S3 is probably a rounding error in your balance sheet.
SES - simple email service
As people grow busier and government (correctly) regulate SMS messages, email is likely to become a popular way to deliver marketing and transactional messages to customers.
The great thing about emails are that they are asynchronous. This means that you will not be interrupting your customer are they go about their day to make them respond to you. Your customer can see the email at leisure when they are more inclined to be receptive to your message.
How can SES help you?
According to Sendy, using SES is 100x cheaper than the competition. At that much of a discount, it is a no-brainer to use SES to manage your email needs.
The only issue with SES is that it is not very user friendly and we at Zeer0 are trying to make it easier to work with SES.
After moving to SES from Sendgrid, one of our clients even saw higher rates of emails hitting the recipient’s inbox rather than languishing in Spam folder hell!
Cognito - Social Sign-in and Sign-ups
Requiring a user to login to your website before exposing all its functions can lead to big dropoffs.
To ease the burden on the user who intends to sign up but is put off by the long sign up procedure, many websites and services allow users to sign up using their social accounts. Some may allow you to sign up using your Facebook account, others may allow Google, or Twitter, or even Apple iCloud.
Managing all these social sign-up and sign-in workflows can become very cumbersome especially if you want to move quickly.
AWS Cognito makes enabling an array of social sign-up/sign-in options a cinch.
How Cognito can help?
If your goal is to keep the average site visitor towards creating and later using an account with you, social sign-ups and sign-ins are a big boon.
Since Cognito centralizes management of the different social signup providers, your time to market goes down.
In addition, their pricing is very attractive for most small businesses. In India, the first fifty thousand users every month who use Cognito to access your website don’t cost you a single paisa.
One of the most underrated benefits of the The Cloud is that it enables us to get things done quickly.
Back in the 1990s, Bill Gates, then still the Chairman and CEO of Microsoft had written a booked called Business @ the Speed of Thought. While Microsoft itself was a late entrant in the Cloud space, the dream of doing business at the speed of thought, i.e., quickly implementing a business idea through technology, has become a reality thanks to the tools and technology stacks built by AWS, Google, and their peers.
Of course, there is a lot more that The Cloud can help us do but I will leave that for a later article. For now, I really hope I have been able to give you some pointers on how you can leverage The Cloud to grow your business.
Written with StackEdit.