Did cloud computing help Obama win the #Election2012?

A new post from Amazon Web Services’ Jeff Barr has detailed how President Barack Obama’s campaign team utilised the AWS cloud to their advantage.

“The words ‘mission critical’ definitely apply here,” wrote Barr, adding: “With the opportunity to lead the United States as the prize, the stakes were high.”

But how did cloud computing influence the outcome of the election?

The use of technology to influence the presidential campaign has been widely reported, especially in regard to analytics tools designed to alert campaign teams of how voter turnout went in various swing states.

Yet the Republicans’ Orca tool – so named because it’s the only predator of a Narwhal whale, the name of the Democrats’ system – “buckled” for 90 minutes in the final, vital moments of the campaign on Election Day as the system couldn’t cope with the amount of incoming traffic.

The Obama campaign call tool, by contrast, supported 7,000 users and made over two million calls on the last four days of the campaign.

A graph detailing the growth in call volume can be seen below:

The Obama campaign – as would any big electoral operation – needed a huge technology infrastructure, enough to power a billion-dollar organisation, only for it to be all shut down the day after the election.

And as Barr explains, the cloud was the perfect solution.

“The campaign used AWS to avoid an IT investment that would have run into the tens of millions of dollars,” wrote Barr.

And according to the blog, the Obama team made use of practically every AWS service in the book, including ES2, Route 53 and SQS among others, to integrate sophisticated data modelling, social coordination and multi-channel media management.

The Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) held the most voter file information in order to give the Obama campaign managers the best look at what was going on; this was put alongside an analytics system on EC2 Cluster Compute instances.

Barr noted that this “array of databases” helped drive a donation strategy which collected $1bn, putting it (for the time it was active) in the top 30 e-commerce sites on the planet.

So one can conclude from this that cloud computing wasn’t the determining factor in the election campaign; but the cloud – Amazon’s in particular – was the ideal platform for a here-today, gone-tomorrow IT infrastructure.

With Ovum’s cloud predictions for 2013 fresh in people’s minds, is this affirmation of their forecast that while people are starting to tire of the hype, broken down the cloud’s practical status is only going to increase?

Check out how social media influenced the 2012 election on MarketingTech here.

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