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Tribloom is an Alfresco Gold Partner and has been implementing Alfresco on AWS since 2010. 

Imagine the future… I have been imagining the not too distant future a lot recently. It all started when I attended AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas last November. Werner Vogels, Andy Jassy and Jeff Bezos painted a picture of their services: reducing costs, leading to more users, leading to economies of scale to further reducing costs. Reduced costs, to the point where you don’t think about the cost (like you don’t think about turning on a light switch), leading to massive innovation. Democratizing infrastructure, why spend time and money on things that don’t differentiate you in the marketplace?

My vision? In the future all of our computing will be done in the cloud. There will be no more desktop or laptop computers instead we will use devices like tablets and terminals (remember the days when terminals were commonplace)? A day at work for the average knowledge worker might start off by selecting one of many EC2 instances or even entire application stacks. When infrastructure is a service and can be started and stopped with an API call, an entire new paradigm opens up. You don’t have to “fix” failing servers, you can just replace them with new healthy ones. You can version your entire server stack by keeping your provisioning code in version control. You can duplicate a production stack of hundreds of servers in minutes instead of months.

The work day could involve many of these throughout the day – developing new code on the latest product, a customer demo for the latest production release and one for crunching data about customer usage, just to name a few examples. There is a corporate policy in place, automatically enforced, to shut down servers at the end of the day so any instances left running are shut down to save money. All access to the corporate AWS account is controlled by IAM roles so each individual can only access the AWS resources that are relevant to them. For example the test group only has access to the test servers.

Leaving work doesn’t mean leaving the cloud behind. At home, the kids are watching a movie on Netflix and listening to Spotify, both streamed from AWS. Dad wants to relax with the latest shooter style computer game. He goes to the AWS Marketplace, finds the game he is looking for, starts up an instance and starts playing from his tablet. He doesn’t have to buy the game, the cost is built into the usage charges for AWS. His buddy wants to join in the game so connects his tablet to Dad’s server and both play on the cloud. Mom is uploading the photos and videos that she took of the kids’ school play earlier in the day. The photos will all be available, safe and forever secure because behind the scenes they are stored in S3.

Do you think this is a distant reality?

I don’t think so. We are already seeing corporate IT fall by the wayside. Departments are asking for AWS now as a means to circumvent the slow and tedious process of asking IT for a server for their new software installation. We see this all the time with our Alfresco clients. Like AWS management says, why spend the effort on hardware and networking when it doesn’t bring you a competitive advantage? Hardware and networking are commodities.

Spend 5 minutes provisioning an AWS EC2 instance, one with Alfresco already installed on it from the AWS Marketplace perhaps, instead of 5 weeks ordering hardware and setting it up. I personally already do this for development and customer demos. This past weekend, I needed a Drupal server. Rather than installing Apache, Drupal, and PHP, I just found an AMI and started up an instance, saving me valuable time.

The fact is that almost everything described here is already possible. The only thing that needs to change for this to be a reality is how we think about and use our computing resources. I am excited for that change to occur!

I will be attending the AWS Summit today in San Francisco. Every time I attend an AWS event, my vision becomes closer to reality. AWS is increasing their product and service offerings rapidly and usually have a few new announcements at each event.

Please stop by to say hi and if you would like to learn more about AWS and Alfresco you can check out our webinar or Alfresco’s new CloudFormation template!

About the author

Michael McCarthy

Michael McCarthy

Michael McCarthy, president of Tribloom Inc., has been working with Alfresco since 2008. Michael is a Certified Alfresco Engineer and AWS Technical Professional. He supports the Alfresco community through blogging, user groups, and creating Alfresco Add+ons.

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