This article today in New York Times online was an interesting read. Called "Data Center Overload", it gives a good overview of data centers in general and talks about cloud computing too. Besides the huge amount of space and power these things consume, the subject of latency (or the time it takes to get a packet from Point A to Point B) was also covered.
As it turns out, nowhere is latency more critical than in financial trading, where seconds can make the difference between a million dollar trade won or lost. One of the data points that intrigued me the most was this one:
Latency concerns are not limited to Wall Street; it is estimated that a 100-millisecond delay reduces Amazon’s sales by 1 percent.
One percent of total sales for 100 milliseconds?
Let that sink in for a moment.
That just boggles the mind. Do you suppose that performance testing is practiced as it should be at Amazon? I certainly hope so!
Another interesting tidbit was that Amazon Web Services now uses more bandwidth than Amazon's massive retailing operations. If that doesn't point to where the cloud is heading, I don't know what does!