I’m a big fan of the Question and Answer site Quora. The site is generally devoid of spam and the answers provided by the community are often very thoughtful. Today a question caught my interest, “What are the ideal business applications or systems fit for cloud computing?“. I answered on the site, and have repeated it below:

Ideal business applications that can benefit from being consumed via a cloud service have the following characteristics (IMHO):

1 – Applications that are shared between multiple devices.

This means the application needs to synchronise the latest data modified on one device, across all devices. Cloud computing infrastructure will perfectly support an application that has this requirement. File sharing applications, or customer relationship management are great examples.

2 – Applications that rely on using the Internet already.

Local office networks can have data througput of 1,000Mbps, while Internet connections of 10Mbps are relatively common. If you move an application to the cloud you need to be aware of the (most likely) decrease in data throughput. If your application already relied on the Internet, then you will not notice the difference. A great example here is email. If most of your email is external to your organisation, then you were traversing the Internet already. Everything else being equal, moving your email server to the could will not be impacted by any difference in local network versus Internet data throughput rates.

3 – Applications that need to scale up/ down quickly.

Any application that needs to quickly scale up, or scale down, should benefit from cloud computing. This benefit is a consequence of cloud computing applications sharing a common infrastructure platform that can be used to even out peaks, or troughs, in processing demand. Importantly, most cloud computing operators charge for what your application actually uses, rather than what it might use. This compares favourably to the alternative of applications that have dedicated computing capacity. This requires investment to meet maximum capacity requirements, even if this is rarely used. A great example that would benefit from cloud computing is a website that needs to cope with a peak in visitor traffic due to a promotion, due to malicious traffic, or just due to an increase in business!