Last week, in an internal talk series, Werner pointed to a paper titled “From push to pull: Emerging models for mobilizing resources” by Hagel and Brown.
That night, I read that paper and what an intriguing paper it was! For folks who haven’t read this paper, the fundamental crux of this paper is follows. The traditional resource model is changing from a push model (where resource needs are planned in advance and pushed to the consumers) to a pull model (where consumers are pulling resources on demand).
For instance, in the media industry, people are moving away from traditional media sources like television where content is pushed to the audience. Instead, people are happy to pick and choose what content they want to view and pull from different sources like YouTube. In the paper, authors point to other examples such as the university education model. For example, one of the most popular universities in America, University of Phoenix, is introducing a new curriculum model that allows students to decide (i.e., “pull” ) what subjects they want to study instead of traditional “push” model. This has made the university so popular that it is the largest private university in USA.
You might be wondering, why is this related to “large scale systems”? I just realized the obvious that IT industry is going through the same revolution of moving towards pull model and cloud computing is one of the key enablers for it.
In the past, the traditional model for running an IT shop is to plan ahead in terms of what is our hardware needs, software needs, make the appropriate buying and planning decisions. For instance, typically companies had to plan for their resource demands at least an year in advance and “push” the resources.
With cloud computing, IT shop have an option to “pull” resources only when they need to and not worry about an year-ahead planning cycle. Many may already know the story of NYTimes digital IT shop that pulled AWS EC2 resources to run its image conversion job (see TimesMachine). Others might not know Animoto handled its peak demands using dynamic scaling capabilities of Amazon EC2.
It is interesting how cloud computing has enabled the pull resource model in the IT world.
Anyway, if you get a chance, please read Hagel and Brown’s paper!