I hear people say it all the time: "You can get just about anything from Amazon." They're not kidding! The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has begun shifting its data processing to the cloud and they're doing so by using Amazon's web services.
It's going to be a long process, but the first of the data handled by NOAA was shifted to the cloud in March. First up was the data that comes from the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS). This group of satellites collects data over land, in the atmosphere and from our oceans. The data is an important tool in creating accurate forecasts, especially in severe weather situations.
Why is the JPSS data move to the cloud such a big deal? For one, it's part of modernizing NOAA and all its umbrella offices. The days of storing and processing data in large server rooms will soon be gone.
The benefits are pretty great. The move to the cloud saves space and energy! Previously, the ground systems to store and process this data took 53 racks in their Maryland location. Each rack, by the way, is 20 feet wide. The move to the cloud allows them to remove 19 of these racks. The removal of these racks also means a huge decrease in energy consumption.
I'm a meteorologist and not a cloud-based data processing expert, but here's my explanation of how the process works. Before cloud-based data processing, a system of antennas on the ground at the Maryland facilities captured the data from the JPSS. It was then processed by the racks mentioned above. Now, that data is collected and processed by the Amazon Web Services GovCloud. It's that simple–well, sort of! But we'll leave it there for now.
The Amazon web service known as GovCloud was chosen because it meets NOAA's security requirements. This type of cloud service is set aside from government agencies at various levels. At the time the project was annouced, this was really the only option. Since then, other vendors have started to offer similar technology and security.