In Summary
  • Your web-based email, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube, Uber, and other online media content sit on the cloud.
  • Moving the results from ‘ground servers’ to the ‘cloud’ servers enables KNEC to elastically scale up computing capacity to meet the demand – in real time.
  • IEBC, as the client to the cloud provider, has 24 hour, seven day access to their data just as you and I have similar access to our Twitter or Facebook accounts.

The recent presidential petition brought technology right to the centre of the average Kenyan’s life.

Whereas, previously, we covered the technical jargon that was floated during the petition, we left out one important term that remains relevant beyond petitions and elections – cloud computing.

Some of the IEBC election data was ‘in the cloud’ and so we were told access to it was a bit complicated due to the technical teams being asleep.

A few weeks later, we were told that the results transmitted from the polling station got ‘stuck’ in the cloud and never reached Bomas of Kenya.

Both statements betray a lack of understanding of what exactly cloud-based services are, their benefits, opportunities and risks.

I shall try to break it down for you so that by the next presidential petition, you are better informed to flag out the myths and realities around cloud computing.

'ALWAYS ON'

First and foremost, many people do not know that they are already using cloud-services.

Your web-based email, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube, Uber, and other online media content sit on the cloud.

When you want to access them, you do so instantly through the Internet without worrying about downtime or non-availability arising from the ‘server’ being down.

This is one benefit of cloud services.  They are by design, ‘always on’ and overcome capacity issues found in traditional ICT services. 

Think about the annual ritual of announcing the standard eight examination results which used to sit on one server at the headquarters of the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC).

This server would be instantly overwhelmed by millions of requests from parents querying for results. Unable to cope, it would collapse within minutes and become unavailable.

Moving the results from ‘ground servers’ to the ‘cloud’ servers enables KNEC to elastically scale up computing capacity to meet the demand – in real time.

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