Solving Problems On The Cloud Part 1: Netflix’s Example Of Strategic Problem Solving

Solving Problems On The Cloud Part 1: Netflix’s Example Of Strategic Problem Solving

Technical, marketing, and personnel, are all problems you may be facing in the cloud today.  To deal successfully with these issues we must avoid the common mistake of fixating on the immediate issues surrounding the problem and start taking steps to move the roadblocks out of the way. Netflix demonstrated this when they avoided a prolonged cloud outage courtesy of their friends at Amazon.

Cognitive science defines a problem as an obstacle in the present that is blocking a goal in the future. That’s a reasonable explanation but it’s not enough to solve anything. Let’s break it down a little more. A problem can also be well defined or poorly defined. The first step is to define the problem in a concrete proactive way.

Netflix had a problem. When their users want to watch a movie they don’t want to wait until Amazon fixes a cloud outage.

This issue could result in a serious loss of business. This observation is a good description of a problem but a poorly defined one. Transforming a problem description into a well-defined problem focuses our attention toward the best possible solution and keeps us off the path of murky and unclear solutions that find us staring at our screen fixating on issues we can do nothing about.

Moving Towards a Solution: Crafting a Well Defined Problem

A well-defined problem is one that leads to specific steps that can be realistically applied towards a specific end. At some point the professionals at Netflix transformed their ill-defined problem, outages upset customers who may cancel services, to a well-defined problem, how can we anticipate cloud outages so we can switch to another zone before our customer’s service in interrupted? Their answer was to develop Asgard technology that produces code that changes and manages Amazon resources better than the console provided by Amazon.

This seems simple enough but only because thinking through the problem description resulted a more concrete direction to solve what became a well-defined problem. We can imagine that in reality there were dozens of possible solutions. The Netflix team had to choose wisely lest the problem continue or even worsen. Still, this type foundational re-ordering of the problem is a solid first step toward solving any issue.

During the last week of October Asgard was put to the test as Netflix faced an outage. Within 20 minutes service was restored.  As we are put to test when it comes to problem solving skills, let’s make sure we begin with a well-defined problem before we begin processing scenarios. Next time we will discuss the Gestalt approach to restructuring a problem to add another tool to our problem solving tool mind set.

By Don Cleveland

About don

Although relatively new to technology writing Don Cleveland has been writing and working in the fields of business and psychology over the last 25 years. After earning his B.A. in psychology at the University of South Florida he has returned to finish an M.A. in counseling. His passions are shining psychology’s empirical light on the world of computing and work through research and writing.

View All Articles

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.

Who’s Ready For The Cloud, And Can Deliver!

Who’s Ready For The Cloud, And Can Deliver!

Cloud Ready In my article last month, I discussed how the managed service provider (MSP) industry has been continuously urged to embrace the cloud, but in the end, could they? I answered the questions by describing several impediments and challenges that I believe are preventing MSPs from generating significant revenue and successfully fulfilling their client’s…

5 Reasons Why The U.S. Dominates The Digital World!

5 Reasons Why The U.S. Dominates The Digital World!

U.S. Dominates The Digital World! I have spent about half my working life in the US and the other half in Europe. During this time (25 years) it has been exciting to see digital trends over the years. There has never been a doubt that the US has been a dominant power in anything digital…

Personal Space And The Internet of Things (IoT)

Personal Space And The Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) There is a long time concept of the personal area network or PAN. For all intent and purposes this is the maximum distance a Bluetooth device can move away from the host and still be functional. As I read the many wonderful pieces on the explosion of IoT and wearable…

Insider Threats and Sensitive Data in the Cloud

Insider Threats and Sensitive Data in the Cloud

The Age of Sensitive Data in the Cloud A recent survey report conducted by the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) revealed that cloud security had reached a tipping point: 64.9% of respondents (which included IT security professionals from enterprises across all industries and regions) believed that the cloud was as secure or more secure than their…

How To Use Big Data And Analytics To Help Consumers

How To Use Big Data And Analytics To Help Consumers

Big Data Analytics Businesses are under increasing pressure to develop data-driven solutions. The competitive advantage gained by a successful strategy can be immense. It can create new opportunities and help businesses to react to different scenarios or sudden changes in the market. But innovation and resilience are not easily achieved, and organizations always face difficult…

Dissecting Mr. Robot TV Series: Spotlight On Burning Online Privacy Risks

Dissecting Mr. Robot TV Series: Spotlight On Burning Online Privacy Risks

Mr. Robot And Burning Online Privacy Risks Despite the rapid development of web tools and computer security systems, online privacy remains a serious issue for most web users. According to some statistics provided by isaca.org, the total number of online security incidents worldwide grew to 42.8 million, leaving a great number of victims behind. As one…

Does Slack Live Up To The Hype?

Does Slack Live Up To The Hype?

Does Slack Live Up to the Hype? Slack’s the definition of a business success story. In just a couple years, it’s evolved from a gaming company’s internal communication tool to a globally used platform that was last valued at $2.8 billion. The popular collaboration tool, dubbed “social media for business,” first made an appearance on…

CloudTweaks is recognized as one of the leading influencers in cloud computing, infosec, big data and the internet of things (IoT) information. Our goal is to continue to build our growing information portal by providing the best in-depth articles, interviews, event listings, whitepapers, infographics and much more.

Sponsor