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Cloud Equalizes the Playing Field

December 7, 2012 No Comments

The cloud’s economic impact has worked its way from the expansive data centers of mega-enterprises, to the single-person startup founded in a dormroom, to the remote corners of the world that now use the cloud to expand the economic role of third-world countries in an increasingly global economy.

“Cloud computing offers worldwide access to virtually unlimited processing power, new storage capabilities and capabilities that are being used to create virtual Web platforms, where humanity today and in the future will live out large parts of their everyday lives, educating, working, shopping and talking to private networks of friends and relatives,” said Chris Uwaje, president of ISPON ( Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria ), at a recent conference on cloud computing in Africa.

According to an article on, the theme for this year’s conference, “The Cloud and the Future of Software Nigeria,” was selected with the intention to explore the dynamics and challenges of the digital cultural shift its opportunities, impact on and benefits for the collective interests of the nation.

Businesses in developing countries continue to reap the benefits of cloud computing — perhaps to better effect than domestic U.S. organizations, according to a recent article on

UCSD’s Guardian magazine reports on an often-overlooked aspect of cloud computing. According to the university’s researchers: “Developing countries are utilizing the growing adoption of ‘cloud computing’ — the use of consumer devices to access remote computer and information resources — to expand their economic role in an increasingly global economy.”

As the study shows, the cost efficiencies of cloud computing are the same in third-world countries as in the developed world, and up-and-coming nations can now leverage data, applications and infrastructure that were once cost prohibitive. In turn, this increases commerce by facilitating the countries’ entrance into the global markets, writes InformationWeek’s David Linthicum.

In terms of startups, the cloud has proven to be a vital component to success.

Cloud-computing startup Joyent has a round 200 employees and is growing revenues at 40% a quarter. Co-founder Jason Hoffman wanted to figure out why you can give the same drug to two patients, only to see one cured and the other die, according to an article on

His approach: Grab images of every tissue sample ever taken from the cancer patients, zoom in at nanoscale, and compare them.

The only problem was that it couldn’t be done with existing technology. Supercomputers were good at computation, but the problem was getting all of those big images into the computer.

“Instead of a typical supercomputer that does math really well, let’s do a supercomputer that does input/output and stores things really well,” he said. So he built a system that did that with his cofounder, David Young.

The technology costs “pennies on the dollar” compared to clouds built with competing technology from VMware, Hoffman said. It’s become popular with companies that need Google-size data centers, such as telecom companies.

Plus, Joyent does both software and hardware for a plug-and-play data center. He likens it to an Apple iPhone or “an iDatacenter, a highly integrated device.”

Dan Shipper, an ambitious college student with several startups already under his belt, has used cloud computing and his considerable talents as an entrepreneur, a programmer and a writer to build companies and software from the ground up.

Shipper chronicles his experiences in both the classroom and the workplace on his blog, which also discusses the challenges of reaching scale, dealing with customers and using cloud firepower to launch startups.

Patrick Burke

Patrick Burke is a writer and editor based in the greater New York area and occasionally blogs for Rackspace Hosting.

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