TechEd 2014: Architects should think like economists to take advantage of the Cloud

Chris Auld, CTO of Intergen, spoke about how architects should keep an eye on prices and costs while building apps in and for the cloud.

Architects should think like economists when creating apps, and let economic principles guide them in building and using elements in the Cloud.

"You have to get the externalities right. You want it to work like a credit card does – intuitive, easy to understand and applicable in lots of places. You have to get the incidences right. That means you need to get it right for the people who will be using it. If it is the CIO, it has to work right for him and his needs. If it is someone else, then it has to be fashioned to work right for them,” said Chris Auld, CTO at Intergen.

Addressing a session at Microsoft’s TechEd 2014, Auld encouraged IT architects to work on normalising costs between private and public Cloud.

“Consider the cost of raw materials. Don’t let it be the case where the cost of things going in is more than the cost of the thing that is coming out of it. There are various ways to measure things these days and you should consider the input cost of the apps that you build, and understand what is cheaper where. And everything comes into the picture here – people, power all of those elements.

“Always watch out for mispricing when using Cloud services as well. Take advantage of them. There are inefficiencies in the pricing system because even with competition this is not a perfect market and often you can take advantage of them. You might get years of cost advantage with mispricing, and you can architect apps with those cost models. Don’t worry – you will get time to pull out if things change,” Auld said.

He encouraged architects to work on apps that are modelled around the philosophies of call centres.

“There are peaks and troughs related to calls that come into a centre and how they are dealt with. Build buffer around your apps to deal with those and to take the edge off the peaks and troughs. Protect your more expensive assets. When you get through to a call centre you don’t speak to a tier three engineer first thing, do you? That’s because they are more expensive, and what they bring to the business is more valuable. The first tier call centre folk protect the more expensive engineers. Same principles should apply in the app. And certainly don’t waste precious resources,” Auld said.

He also stated what Steven Martin, GM of Cloud and enterprise at Microsoft had told Computerworld NZ earlier, “Commoditised Cloud services are on a downward march to the bottom. High level and differentiated services, which can add more value, will have different pricing schemes. But it is very hard to find the right price that works well in the full continuum scale from small businesses to large businesses. Cloud providers are still working on the mechanisms to establish those prices.”

Auld’s presentation was constantly interspersed with questions on Azure services and pricing, and how prices have changed on various services since their launch. Individuals giving the right answers in the audience were rewarded with chocolate bars.

The third day of Microsoft’s TechEd 2014, taking place in Auckland, had a mix of presentations that included everything from deep technical dives to career advice sessions that provided guidance on how IT personnel could deal with situations where the cloud replaces their job. The four-day event brings together around 2000 IT developers, tinkerers, vendors and partners to discuss the latest developments in Microsoft and its technologies.

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