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Orca vs Narwhal. Obama campaign did disaster planning

Narwhal, the computer infrastructure essential to the Obama campaign, was tested, re-tested, and subject to disaster scenarios. It performed perfectly. Contrast this to the bumbling Romney campaign that attempted a lightweight platform called Orca that they didn’t even test and which failed miserably, and you see the differences between the campaigns.

In fact, the day after the October 21 game day, Amazon services — on which the whole campaign’s tech presence was built — went down. “We didn’t have any downtime because we had done that scenario already,” Reed said. Hurricane Sandy hit on another game day, October 29, threatening the campaign’s whole East Coast infrastructure. “We created a hot backup of all our applications to US-west in preparation for US-east to go down hard,” Reed said.

This is a perfect example of the power of cloud computing. Amazon web services charges by usage and scales instantly to meet demand. This is ideal for campaign software which will have tremendous usage on Election Day. The campaign doesn’t have to buy and maintain hundreds of servers. Instead, they in effect rent them from Amazon (or Rackspace or Azure) on an as needed basis then shut it down when they’re done. This means they can focus completely on the software they are creating (which clearly is something the Romney campaign in their arrogant cluelessness, didn’t do, focus on building a robust platform.)

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