You simply can’t ignore an article that kicks off like this: “When NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars at the end of its 563 million kilometre journey, it was a triumph for engineering. And it was also a triumph for IT.”
The story of how cloud played a role in this monumental NASA achievement is told in this great Computer World article through the eyes of Khawaja Shams, who was responsible for making sure all the data collected on Mars made it back safely for review by NASA scientists. No pressure, right? As part of that task, Shams oversaw the deployment of the cloud infrastructure that would house this historic data while also enabling scientists and the public to watch real-time streaming of information and images from the Curiosity.
The article, which I’ll warn you is long but worth every minute of reading, covers how it was that NASA chose to leverage cloud, how it used cloud to help build and keep the public’s interest, and how cloud empowered the flexibility that NASA needed to handle more data than it ever imagined it would get from space. Shams shares all the hiccups and hurdles along the way in the article, including the eight months it took for the initial cloud contract to be settled with Amazon Web Services, the security needed, and one key lesson he learned along the way. This one will hit home for most of you: To have a successful cloud deployment, you are going to need to sit all the stakeholders down at one time and in place. That means your cloud specialist, your security guy, and your service desk manager with their CEO, CFO, CIO – you get the picture. Otherwise, advised Sham, it is a completely inefficient process with too many starts, stops, and sideways moves.
His overall advice on cloud: Be open with the vendor about what you’re trying to build and what’s missing in their services so you can stay on the same page.