Cross-Cloud Billing Data Pipeline; The Cloud Neutrality Debate: Navigating Fairness and Freedom in the Cloud Computing Landscape

Shankar, Ashwin, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Stafford, William, University of Virginia
Vrugtman, Rosanne, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia

Cloud computing delivers computing services—like servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence—over the internet to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale. It allows businesses to avoid upfront infrastructure costs and focus on projects that provide value to their businesses. The cloud computing market is massive, projected to reach hundreds of billions in revenue globally, reflecting its essential role in modern business operations. Additionally, the physical scale of cloud computing includes vast networks of data centers worldwide, designed to securely store enormous amounts of data and efficiently deliver services globally.
The technical portion of this paper details a project developed during my internship at Tempus Labs Inc., a mid-sized startup based in Chicago, IL. The company specializes in precision medicine and allows oncologists to request genetic testing to better understand treatment options for their patients. Tempus built the world’s most extensive clinical and molecular data library to assist in testing. Handling this much data requires extensive server-related resources. Tempus cut costs by utilizing various cloud environments instead of physical server rooms. Tempus, operating across multiple cloud environments, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Microsoft Azure, presented a unique challenge with diverse billing data schemas and formats. The existing solution consisted of a manual process undertaken by the finance and business intelligence teams to transfer the billing data into Excel sheets for weekly analysis. This method proved to be inefficient as it wasted human time and labor. In the technical portion, I detail the development and function of the Cross-Cloud Billing Data Pipeline, which serves as a solution to the problem above. The pipeline is discussed at length with emphasis on the various stages of the pipeline and the struggles encountered during its development.
In my STS research, I delved into the crucial issue of equity and neutrality within the cloud computing world, a concept known as Cloud Neutrality. This relatively new movement underscores the need for established frameworks and guidelines to ensure equitable practices among the stakeholders of cloud computing-Cloud Service Providers (CSP), customers, and government bodies. I conducted an in-depth analysis of the current state of fairness within a framework published by Interxion, an established CSP. I also compared and contrasted the Net Neutrality movement with the cloud neutrality movement, both striving to promote fairness and equity within their respective fields. However, the movements proved to be distinct in their approaches and challenges. Finally, I concluded my research with a discussion of a pertinent case: Parler and Amazon Web Services. This case study, which examined the events leading up to the storming of Capitol Hill on January 6th, 2021, highlighted the power dynamics within the cloud computing industry and the potential for unfair treatment.
Cloud computing will continue to be a significant part of modern business practices. Tempus is a prime example of a modern business heavily relying on the cloud. With its rapid growth and global reach, it will only continue to grow and become a relevant issue discussed in mainstream media. The implications and discourse regarding cloud neutrality are discussed at length in my STS Research Paper, and the technical portion of this paper details the development of the Cloud Billing Data Pipeline, which aims to reduce human workload and streamline data processing at Tempus.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Cloud Neutrality, Cloud Computing, Cloud

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
STS Advisor: William F. Stafford

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