November 19, 2012
Add elections to growing list of cloud use cases. The Obama camp leveraged Amazon Web Services, including the EC2 cloud, for its successful 2012 election campaign.
"Imagine setting up the technology infrastructure needed to power a dynamic, billion-dollar organization under strict time limits using volunteer labor, with traffic peaking for just one day, and then shutting everything down shortly thereafter," writes Senior Manager of Amazon Cloud Computing Solutions Jeff Barr in a blog entry.
The implications add new meaning to phrases like "mission-critical" and "high stakes," notes Barr.
To meet the needs of the campaign, the Obama technologists built, deployed and scaled more than 200 applications on Amazon supporting millions of users. The primary voter file database ran on Amazon's Relational Database Service (RDS). The analytics system was deployed on EC2 Cluster Compute instances (cc2.8xl), while a database cluster ran Leveldb on High-Memory Quadruple Extra Large instances (m2.4xlarge). Barr puts the cost of building an equivalent system outright in the tens of millions of dollars range.
"This array of databases allowed campaign workers to target and segment prospective voters, shift marketing resources based on near real-time feedback on the effectiveness of certain ads, [and] drive a donation system that collected over one billion dollars (the 30th largest ecommerce site in the world)," writes Barr.
Nearly every AWS service was called upon for this ambitious task, including EC2, Route 53, SQS, DynamoDB, SES, RDS, VPC, EBS Provisioned IOPS, SNS, ElastiCache, Elastic Load Balancing, Auto Scaling, and CloudFront, as well as Solution Architects and AWS Premium Support.
After the election was over, the entire operation was scaled "way, way down" and backed up to S3 storage.
In contrast to Team Obama's agile IT strategy, Mitt Romney's campaign platform, codenamed Orca, was reportedly fraught with accessibility issues. The Republican candidate relied on a more traditional IT system, built by Microsoft and an unnamed consulting firm.
Obama campaign CTO Harper Reed will be part of the "Big Data and the US Presidential Campaign" panel taking place at AWS re:Invent next week in Las Vegas.
Frank Ding, engineering analysis & technical computing manager at Simpson Strong-Tie, discussed the advantages of utilizing the cloud for occasional scientific computing, identified the obstacles to doing so, and proposed workarounds to some of those obstacles.
The private industry least likely to adopt public cloud services for data storage are financial institutions. Holding the most sensitive and heavily-regulated of data types, personal financial information, banks and similar institutions are mostly moving towards private cloud services – and doing so at great cost.
In this week's hand-picked assortment, researchers explore the path to more energy-efficient cloud datacenters, investigate new frameworks and runtime environments that are compatible with Windows Azure, and design a uniﬁed programming model for diverse data-intensive cloud computing paradigms.
05/10/2013 | Cleversafe, Cray, DDN, NetApp, & Panasas | From Wall Street to Hollywood, drug discovery to homeland security, companies and organizations of all sizes and stripes are coming face to face with the challenges – and opportunities – afforded by Big Data. Before anyone can utilize these extraordinary data repositories, however, they must first harness and manage their data stores, and do so utilizing technologies that underscore affordability, security, and scalability.
04/02/2012 | AMD | Developers today are just beginning to explore the potential of heterogeneous computing, but the potential for this new paradigm is huge. This brief article reviews how the technology might impact a range of application development areas, including client experiences and cloud-based data management. As platforms like OpenCL continue to evolve, the benefits of heterogeneous computing will become even more accessible. Use this quick article to jump-start your own thinking on heterogeneous computing.