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Weather Channel forecasts heavier reliance on cloud computing

Weather information provider leaned heavily on Amazon during Hurricane Sandy

By , Network World
December 11, 2012 11:58 AM ET

Page 2 of 2

There are a lot of considerations to take into account when moving from the multiple data centers the company currently runs most of its programs out of. No. 1 is making sure the system works. Amazon Web Services, which is where Williams and his team have dabbled the most in using cloud resources, hasn't been immune to weather events itself. This past summer's severe storms in Northern Virginia caused a power outage that led to AWS's cloud being unavailable for some customers. TWC, naturally, needs to make sure its network is up during such times.

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That's why fault tolerant and highly available architectures are top-of-mind for Williams. He hopes to deploy Chaos Monkey, Netflix's randomly generating fault tolerant testing system, to test the cloud architecture for failures. Chaos Monkey is open source software programmed to randomly shut down parts of a system to test if the application is fault tolerant.

Another big part of having a highly available system, Williams says, is not being tied to a single vendor. The goal is to have no single point of failure, he says.

At AWS's first-ever user conference last month in Las Vegas, Williams was impressed with the breadth of services offered by Amazon, and was particularly excited about the company's announcement of Redshift, a data warehousing platform. Groups within TWC are pursuing next-generation projects across the company, with the next targeted application going to the cloud being a weather forecasting program, he says.

Which apps make it to the cloud and which don't is still to be determined. But Williams is optimistic about the possibilities. "This is a game changer to the business world and I'm thrilled that we're a part of and leader of the change," he says.

Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

Read more about cloud computing in Network World's Cloud Computing section.

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