Sujit John | Times Of India
Werner Vogels is the CTO at Amazon, which has a major R&D centre in Bangalore that works on both its online shopping platform and its pioneering cloud computing platform . On a recent visit to Bangalore, Vogels told TOI that the company had lowered its cloud computing rates 20 times since its inception, thanks to greater efficiencies and higher customer volumes . “When we switched on the light in this room today, we did not think how much it would cost. Imagine IT becoming like that. You will see so much innovation if cost is not abarrier,” said the man who is seen as one of those who helped make cloud computing a reality.
You have said cloud is beginning to enable supercomputing-like applications. Where do you see this happening?
Drug development is one area. Say you want to stop the behaviour of a cancer protein. You need a molecule to do that. But you do not know which of the 20 million molecules you have will work. With a company’s regular processors, it could take up to two months to find a potential molecule candidate. But with the cloud, you can get enough computing capacity to do it in an hour. There is such a drug development work that his happening through Schrodinger (which develops software algorithms for pharma research) and CycleComputing (which executes big data work on the cloud). The cloud can dramatically reduce drug development time, which is very important for pharma companies.
Any other applications?
There’s lots of seismographic work happening. Oceanographic institutes that study the bottom of the oceans have put sensors over all oceans. Every day, data from these sensors come into the Amazon cloud for researchers to work on them. Our cloud is used to create panoramic views of Mars from the images that the Mars Rover sends. It’s also used to deep dive into each of the pixels in the images to understand what they represent. It was this that enabled them to identify a riverbed, which gave an indication that there was water once in Mars.
You are saying these are not easy to do with traditional computing systems?
No, it’s not. Also, the cloud provides a collaborative environment , enables researchers from Nasa and many universities around the world to collaborate in real time.
Cloud is popular with startups for its cost effectiveness. Are enterprises as enthusiastic ?
Both here and in other emerging markets there’s an acceleration in the enterprise segment . It’s almost as if they’re looking to counterparts in Japan , US, EU, realizing that if Shell, the New York Times and Washington Post are all running on this platform, it’s probably okay for them to do it as well.
They are looking for ways to more than save money; they want to be able to execute quickly, develop products quickly, and they do not want to wait to make the massive capital investments necessary for that. Take Eros Now, the internet streaming company in India, it’s really interesting to see how fast they were able to develop their platform , in just a matter of months.