The Advantage of Cloud Infrastructure: Servers are Software

  1. Traditional servers require humans and hours–if not days–to launch; Software launches automatically and on demand in seconds or minutes
  2. Traditional servers are physically limited–companies have a finite number available to them; Software, as a virtual/information resource, has no such physical limitation
  3. Traditional servers are designed to serve many functions (often because of the above-mentioned physical limitations); Software is generally designed to serve a single function
  4. Traditional servers are not designed to be discarded; Software is built around the idea that it runs ephemerally and can be terminated at any moment

Why Servers are Better as Software

Servers as software are better: cheaper, faster, more fault-tolerant, and more secure than traditional servers. Much of why servers as software are better goes to the two most commonly-named benefits of the cloud: the cloud is cheaper, and the cloud has virtually-unlimited resources (i.e., it’s easy to scale).

Taking Advantage of the Cloud Infrastructure: Database Servers

So how will the server-as-software nature of the cloud change infrastructure design? The biggest advantages should be realized in uses that write critical data (as opposed to read-only or temporary-data write uses), because those are the hardest to change and scale.

Taking Advantage of the Cloud Infrastructure: Other Servers

Although the most dramatic cloud-driven infrastructure changes may be with respect to database servers, other types of servers may also benefit from the advantages of the cloud.

Final Thoughts on Cloud Architecture

In general, architectures that take advantage of the cloud should break down work into jobs that can be run separately on servers that are designed to terminate when not needed. This architectural move from traditional servers to the cloud may be seen as roughly analogous to the move from functional programming to event-driven programming in software design: react specifically to only what is needed, and do not design around waiting or idle time.

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Founder and Chief Technology Officer @ BuildFax; Contributor to The New Stack

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Joe Emison

Joe Emison

Founder and Chief Technology Officer @ BuildFax; Contributor to The New Stack