You are probably familiar with the movie renting and now movie streaming site Netflix. If you are a subscriber, you might have noticed that Netflix is transitioning to a movie streaming site and is probably the leader in that space. However, with the move in this business direction also came massive technical challenges for Netflix.
Their existing data centers were simply not sufficient to meet the spikes in growing demand, storage and computing requirements. Netflix published a very informative paper illustrating their problems and how they are addressing the needs by leveraging the cloud (especially Amazon AWS).
The paper talks about two very interesting aspects:
1. How they are using the cloud as a infrastructure (Amazon EC2) and a platform (Amazon Simple DB).
2. How they manage to sync the data between on premise and on the cloud storage.
At large companies like SAP there are similar challenges to address where the customers have large amounts of data and want to migrate gradually to the cloud. Netflix achieved this with their in house bi directional data replication system called IR (Item replication). Data replicators like the one from Sybase are a good fit for such a use case.
The data would have to be modeled to sit as key value instead of highly normalized RDBMS data sets.
Netflix paper also covers some fundamentals which are important for any cloud architect. Specially the application of the CAP theorem.
So if you are thinking about how to leverage the cloud for the next generation architecture, this paper is a good starting point with enough technical architecture pointers as well as a great use case.