Waffle House: Cloud Computing Pioneers?

For those of you not familiar with the pervasiveness of Waffle Houses in the Southern United States, you would be hard pressed not to find one just when you have a craving for a late night waffle. I probably have more knowledge of Waffle Houses than most and was recently struck by how much their business model resembles the new application architecture in cloud computing.

All Waffle Houses are nearly identical in layout and capacity; wouldn’t know if you were in Jacksonville or Atlanta from the inside of a Waffle House. They are placed with careful study based on capacity demands. You may find two at a single exit and great clusters of them where the need exists. Waffle House scales demand not by building different sized restaurants, but simply by adding another block of capacity.

We hear the term “horizontal scaling” when it comes to both the underlying cloud infrastructure and applications that run in the cloud. Application writers will scale to meet client demand via applications that can simply add another block of exact functionality instead of trying to scale internally. This is where the power of elasticity comes into play. I don’t suppose Waffle House knows how to quickly spin down a restaurant, though.

Cloud computing is the natural evolution of many technologies that have been around for years. And with Waffle House, we can see how even the non-technical world acts like a cloud.