A Different Perspective On The Cloud

Posted on by Larry

[This article was first published in the July, 2011, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe.]


Recently, I’ve been blogging about the Cloud — well, blogging, that is, until FCP X was released.

Jack Rickard sent me a very thoughtful analysis of why he is a fan of the Cloud that I want to share with you.

I read with interest your somewhat overwrought concerns about The Cloud. This is perhaps good information for some of your less technical viewers. But I found it strangely missing a couple of key points.

We distribute our videos via Amazon’s Cloudnet service. We experienced NO outages during their little problem. It was almost entirely limited to EC2 applications, which we don’t use at all. We don’t do any computing on the cloud, we use storage and the Cloud distribution network.

It would never occur to me to store important work files on the AWS service. I have plenty of computers and plenty of space here at home to develop our videos, which are often 2 hours in length at 1280×720 – often three to four gigabytes in size.

Nor would it occur to me to locate company private information on such a cloud. But we absolutely love it for what we DO use it for. And despite your alarming provisos, we’ve lost much more data internally due to hardware failures than I can ever imagine losing on Amazon.

There are two primary advantages I think your viewers should be aware of. Those developing videos for others may not care, but we see a future of video publishing VERY different from what’s out there now. Let’s look at a couple of things.


Andy Warhol may have been right. But building a web site for your 15 minutes of fame is technically impossible. I had the FIRST web site in the world by a print magazine (BOARDWATCH.COM) in 1994 and have been covering this area ever since. The dynamic range of what can happen to a web site visitor wise pretty much precludes your ability to design it.

IF you put up a server farm and OC-45, you will have spent a lot of money on a web site, with no visitors. And no guarantee that there will be any. If you run one on your last generation PC in the bedroom, that’s ok, until you actually GET some visitors at which point it is automatically the wrong size computer and absolutely the wrong bandwidth. And there is no “good point” in between.

You distribute videos and your web site works very well. Let’s say you are successful, obviously you are to some degree. But let’s say the story of the day becomes the revolution in video, triggered by Final Cut Pro X, and ABC, CBS, CNN, and MSNBC all interview YOU on what is going on here with all these video people? Suddenly, 10 million people want to get on your site and find out. Unfortunately, you will be the one finding out – how all the promises of GoDaddy are for naught. It craters big time and by the time you rebuild it, your fifteen minutes of fame is over.

A large cloud server like Amazon specifically, but potentially Google for example, is they have to operate a huge IT infrastructure anyway. If you are on it, you are of course prone to the same outages, but the scaleability is to large degree no longer your problem. By distributing my 100 videos of 2 to 4 GB each on Amazon, if I have a few visitors each day, it all works. If a million show up, it will most likely work just as well (although I’ll receive a big bill).

So the number ONE advantage of Cloud computing is web site scalability. Serve a video. Serve 20 million videos. You are not in the bandwidth and computer hardware game anymore. And I can assure you, Amazon has the best network out there and the best services available. It is AWE inspiring.


We are actually entering an exciting period where we will see in just a couple of years the total collapse of broadcast and cable television networks and a morph of the web into largely a video service with text around the edges. The good news is that there will be millions of jobs for video guys. The bad news is they will all pay $8 per hour.

Meanwhile, we are distributing and monetizing our weekly video show globally. We do videos about electric car conversions. But the $8 gasoline is in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, etc. Over 45% of our viewers are outside of the U.S and Canada. And this fantastic new video network isn’t quite here yet. Players are in flux, bandwidth for many is not there yet, and so the whole thing is a little hurty jerky at the moment. Any edge is good. And that brings us to edge servers. Amazone has 18 spaced around the globe. I can put up my videos, and my viewers download them from a server based on THEIR location, not mine. If you are in France, it is an Amazon server in Paris. This eliminates a LOT of international IP bottlenecks that are deadly to video transmission.

So the cloud truly IS global. I can upload one video, and have it essentially replicated on 18 servers around the world within seconds. Anyone clicking the link on my page, is actually connected to the nearest server for the video itself. Very cool.

Viewing the cloud as data backup misses the point. I guess backup IS a good point, but not important to me. It is SCALABILITY and GLOBAL REACH that I am concerned with. And by far the most important of those is SCALABILITY. I cannot tell you HOW MANY web sites just crash horribly to the ground under the weight of SUCCESS brought on by cross media mention. By the time they sort through the debris and see what they really need to build to handle such traffic, the traffic is gone – with no one converted to a regular visitor because they could not SCALE to the event. That’s where the cloud shines. And Amazon appears to be the best of the bunch.

In your much mentioned outage of AWS, we didn’t experience any. I mean we didn’t experience ANY. We don’t have an EC2 component. We just use S3 Simple Storage Service and Cloudnet, which replicates the storage on the cloud servers. NO impact. That doesn’t mean there never will be any. It means its not my problem to fix if there is.

And anything I really need myself or any company private information isn’t on it anyway.

See what you think of our videos.


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