Saturday, January 17, 2009

Azure and Cloud Computing Posts for 1/12/2009+

Windows Azure, Azure Storage Services, SQL Data Services and related cloud computing topics now appear in this weekly series.

Update 1/17/2009 12:00 PM PST
• Update 1/15/2009 2:00 PM PST

Note: This post is updated daily or more frequently, depending on the availability of new articles.

Azure Blob, Table and Queue Services

•• Jim Nakashima provides a more detailed description than Gus for Debugging Silverlight in a Web Role on the Development Fabric in this 1/16/2009 fully illustrated post.

•• Gus Perez explains how to enable Silverlight debugging with the January 2009 CTP of the Windows Azure SDK and Tools for VS 2008 in his Silverlight Debugging in Windows Azure Web Roles post of 1/16/2009. Silverlight debugging isn’t turned on by default, so here’s how to do it in Gus’s words:

  1. In the Solution Explorer, right-click the Web role project node that has the Silverlight code.
  2. Click on "Properties."
  3. Click on the "Web" tab.
  4. Towards the bottom, you'll find a "Debuggers" section (you may have to scroll down).
  5. Click on the "Silverlight" checkbox.

The Windows Azure team’s Updated SDK and Tools for Visual Studio Available Now post of 1/14/2009 announces a refresh to the Windows Azure SDK and Windows Azure tools for Visual Studio.

  1. Download Windows Azure SDK January 2009 CTP (v. of 1/14/2009)
  2. Download Windows Azure Tools for Visual Studio 2008 January 2009 CTP (v. 1.0 of 1/14/2009)

According to the Azure team’s post, the new CTP offers:

    • Improved integration with Visual Studio
    • Performance improvements with execution and debugging scenarios
    • Improvements to Storage Client and ASP.Net provider samples
    • Added support to debug Silverlight in a web role
    • Bug and performance fixes based on customer feedback

Windows 7 Update 1/16/2009: David Lemphers reports in his Windows Azure SDK on Windows 7 Beta! post of 1/16/2009 that this SDK is incompatible with the current Windows 7 beta and there is no workaround available. The lack of incompatibility with the Azure Tools for VS 2008 is of little consequence if you can’t run the local Developer Fabric.

Read more about the CTP in my January 2009 Update to Windows Azure SDK and Visual Studio Tools CTPs Available for Download post and Jim Nakashima’s January 2009 CTP of the Windows Azure Tools and SDK released post of 1/15/2009.

SQL Data Services (SDS)

Dare Obasanjo’s Building Scalable Databases: Pros and Cons of Various Database Sharding Schemes post of 1/16/2009 describes how scaling out by partitioning tables often is a better approach than scaling up by increasing the relational database management system’s (RDBS’s) computing power and input/output efficiency. SDS manages sharding with Kind field and Azure Table Services uses Partition Key values. All entities (rows) having the same Type or Partition Key value are stored in the same RDBMS or Windows Azure instance.

•• Mike Amundsen comes up with a use for SDS’s new non-traditional JOIN feature in his SDS JOINS: i got one that works! post of 1/15/2009. Mike notes that:

[T]he SDS JOIN does not support projection (basically the ability to select fields for display from either table/collection in the JOIN). [I]nstead, you simply indicate which collection you wish SDS servers to return.

Azure Table Services doesn’t support claim to support JOINs, but you can return a collection that corresponds to the many side of a one:many or many:one association with the same WHERE clause restriction used by the JOIN’s ON clause constraint.

Mike’s example consists of three collections (tables): messages, words and indexes; indexes is a list of unique words in all messages. He “wanted to be able to use any member of the index collection to find all the messages that contained the word in the selected index entity.” And found a JOIN would do it.

Scott Watermasysk will present the “Developing Applications Using Microsoft SQL Data Services” session at the NYC edition of the MSDN DevCon, which will focus on leveraging data services both remotely and with SDS:

In the near future, applications will be developed using a combination of custom application code and online building block services, including data-centric services. In this session we discuss advancements in the Microsoft development platform and online service interfaces to enable seamless interaction with data services both on-premises (e.g., ADO.NET Data Services Framework over on-premises SQL Server) and in the cloud (e.g., SQL Server Data Services). Learn how you can leverage existing know-how related to LINQ (Language Integrated Query), data access APIs, data-binding, and more when building applications using online data.

According to Scott’s MSDN DevCon – NYC post of 1/14/2009, the session will be held at 2:00 to 3:15 PM on 1/20/2009 at:

Marriott Marquis New York
1535 Broadway (Times Square)
New York, NY 10036
(212) 398-1900

and you can register here for $99. Other Azure-related sessions earlier in the day include “A Lap Around Windows Azure and the Azure Services Platform”, “Developing and Deploying Your First Azure Service” and “A Lap Around the Live Framework and Mesh Services.”

.NET Services: Access Control, Service Bus and Workflow

Aaron Skonnard’s Microsoft .NET Services Whitepapers by Pluralsight post of 1/16/2009 describes a series of whitepapers that Keith Brown, Matt Milner, and he recently wrote for Microsoft about their new .NET Services offering, which is part of the Azure Services Platform. The series consists of the following four whitepapers:

  • An Introduction to Microsoft .NET Services for Developers (Aaron Skonnard)
    This overview paper introduces Microsoft® .NET Services, each of its building block services, and how they fit together.
  • A Developer’s Guide to the Microsoft® .NET Access Control Service (Keith Brown)
    This whitepaper shows developers how to use a claims-based identity model and the Microsoft® .NET Access Control Service to implement single sign-on, federated identity, and role based access control in Web applications and services.
  • A Developer’s Guide to the Microsoft® .NET Service Bus (Aaron Skonnard)
    This whitepaper shows developers how to use the .NET Service Bus to provide a secure, standards-based messaging fabric to connect applications across the Internet.
  • A Developer’s Guide to the Microsoft® .NET Workflow Service (Matt Milner)
    This whitepaper provides details about the Microsoft® .NET Workflow Service and what developers need to know to begin building workflows for the cloud. It not only explains the current tools and capabilities but also outlines the vision for future releases.

According to Aaron, “You can download the entire set of whitepapers here. And they currently have some easier links on the .NET Services Dev Center.”

Quest Software’s The Experts Conference for Directory & Identity, to be held in Las Vegas from 3/22 to 3/25/2009, will have several sessions devoted to federated identity with Active Directory in cloud computing. Here are a few highlights:

Live Windows Azure Apps, Tools and Test Harnesses

• Sergei Meleshchuk has fixed his Azure Storage Simple Viewer so it installs and runs under 32-bit Vista:

Rick Strahl explains Monitoring HTTP Output with Fiddler in .NET HTTP Clients and WCF Proxies as well as with Fiddler alternative Charles in this 1/14/2009 post. You can use Fiddler2 to monitor traffic between an Azure Data Services client running in the local Development Fabric and Azure Table, Blob and/or Queue Services running on Staging or Production instances in the cloud. Rick says:

For plain Web development most of the time I actually use FireBug inside of FireFox, but when more detailed HTTP wire debugging is required I quickly revert to Fiddler, because it tends to provide more information and options on dealing with request data. But even more importantly, FireBug – cool and useful as it is as the Swiss Army knife for Web development debugging - is limited to life inside of FireFox, so it does nada when you need to look at content outside of the browser such as when a .NET application fires HTTP requests against a server.

David Pallman’s Azure Cloud Computing User Group - New Web Site post of 1/13/2009 announces that the master Azure user group has moved to (hosted by Ning). There were 11 members when I joined on 1/13/2008 at 11:00 AM. 

Alin Irimie’s Weekly Cloud Application: Wikipedia Explorer post of 1/12/2009 describes Dot Net Solutions’ new version of its Wikipedia Explorer, which is built on top of Windows Azure. The project, which was built in partnership with Microsoft’s Developer and Platform Evangelism team, runs on a snapshot of Wikipedia’s entire English database that took 50 Azure server instances “a little over four days” to reformat from wikicode to XAML. [Copied from Azure and Cloud Computing Posts for 1/5/2009+.]

David Pallman’s Azure Storage Explorer of 1/9/2009 is a three-pane Windows form for inspecting blobs,tables and queues in a specified Azure storage account. David updated his Explorer on 1/12/2009:

Azure Storage Explorer has been updated. Binaries and source code to "preview version 0.2" have been posted on CodePlex. This update adds some polish, has cleaned-up source code, and allows items in cloud storage to be deleted.

Click here to give the Windows Azure Blob Test Harness Project a test drive.

OakLeaf’s Azure Storage Services - StorageClient Library: Table Storage API Class Reference post of 1/7/2009 includes class diagrams for TableStorage, TableStorageDataServiceContext, TableStorageDataQuery and other .NET types with which developers must conversant to take full advantage of Azure Table and Blob Storage services.

The post has bee updated to include diagrams similar to class diagrams for the Details of TableStorage, TableStorage.DataServiceContext and TableStorage.DataServiceQuery classes from the System.Data.Services.Client namespace. Data for members of these classes was extracted with .NET Reflector.

OakLeaf’s Azure Storage Services - StorageClient Library: Blob Storage API Class Reference and Azure Storage Services - StorageClient Library: REST Blob Storage API Class Reference of 1/6/2009 provide class diagrams for the two primary components of the StorageClient library for processing blobs.

[Copied from Azure and Cloud Computing Posts for 1/5/2009+.]

Azure Services Framework and Infrastructure

James Urquhart’s Workload mobility and the next Internet upgrade post of 1/16/2009 discusses the issue of Internet bandwidth requirement for moving compute workloads between Platform as a Service (PaaS) instances hosted on the internet.

James points to Doug Gourlay’s recent What Is NOT Networking for the Cloud post to the Cisco blog that notes:

[T]here will be a heck of a lot of data moving between servers, between data centers, and with cloud computing from enterprises to service providers.

Doug’s A look ahead: Some technology developments to expect in 2009 CTOvision post of 1/1/2009 expects large-scale migration to cloud computing by federal agencies.

•• Krishnan Subramanian begins a new Cloud Advantage series on Cloud Avenue with Cloud Advantage Series: Speed of Deployment of 1/16/2009. Krishnan argues:

One of the advantages I put forward in support of the On-Demand cloud based infrastructure is the speed with which one can deploy new computing resources. In the traditional On-Premise world, the whole process from the planning stage to the actual deployment will take anything from few weeks to few months depending on the need.

and cites InformationWeek’s Eli Lilly On What's Next In Cloud Computing Webcast (from the “Other Cloud Computing Platforms and Services” section) as an example of a large-scale on-demand deployment by a large pharmaceuticals company.

David Linthicum’s Defining the Cloud Computing Framework post of 1/15/2009 for the Cloud Computing Journal begins:

As cloud computing emerges there is a lot of discussion about how to define cloud computing as a computing model. Maturity models have been published and debated, and providers clearly have a model for their own products.

In attempting to define this better to my clients, I came up with a "stack" of sorts, which I think makes logical sense, considering each component of cloud computing and how they interact. While clearly this could be much more complex, I don't think it needs to be. In essence, this is a model as to how one defines and refines the concept of cloud computing

and then lists 10 Whatever-as-a-Service items as major categories of cloud computing.

Aaron Skonnard is interviewed by developer evangelists Lynn Langit and Lindsay Rutter for his geekSpeak recording - Cloud Services 101 with Aaron Skonnard podcast of 1/7/2009. According to Channel9’s description:

In this geekSpeak, Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Aaron Skonnard explains what Microsoft is doing with cloud computing and how you can start taking advantage of "the cloud" in your applications.

Iron Mountain Digital’s and Iron Mountain Digital Roll Out New Cloud Backup Service post of 1/15/2009 on the Software as a Service Directory announced:

Microsoft and Iron Mountain Digital rolled out a new cloud backup service today for customers of Microsoft's Data Protection Manager (DPM) Service Pack 1 (SP 1), released last month with new features including granular backups for Hyper-V.

Cloud Recovery for Data Protection Manager is sold by Iron Mountain, and is accessed through DPM's GUI as a checkbox for a user to select when choosing an offsite backup method (DPM also backs up to disk and tape.) Iron Mountain will then collect, encrypt and transport data according to a user-selected schedule from DPM. The service is priced by capacity and retention period for the amount of storage used.

Dion Hinchcliffe includes cloud computing in two of his 8 Predictions for Enterprise Web 2.0 in 2009 of his 1/13/2009 ZDNet Enterprise Web 2.0 post.

David Pallman will present four SoCal Code Camp – Fullerton sessions on on 1/24/2009  about Widows Azure:

  1. Sat 11:15 AM: Azure Cloud Application Mode
  2. Sat 1:15 PM: Azure Cloud Storage
  3. Sat 2:30 PM: Azure Cloud Security
  4. Sat 3:45 PM: Azure Cloud App Demo: Social Networking Web Site

Kathleen Richards and Ed Scanlon expanded on an earlier interview with Bob Muglia in their Hey You, Get onto My Cloud cover story for the 1/15/2009 issue of Redmond Developer News.

My “Retire Your Datacenter” article about the Azure Services Platform’s Table Storage Services will be the cover story for Visual Studio Magazine’s February 2009 issue.

Justin Etheredge’s Windows Azure - Breaking It Down post of 1/14/2009 is a whimsical analysis of Windows Azure’s four primary components:

  1. Hosted Services (ASP.NET [Web] Roles and and Windows Service [Worker] Roles) that execute .NET code and Storage Services [Tables, Blobs and Queues] to persist Hosted Services’ state while maintaining scalability.
  2. Live Services (Live Operating Environment)
  3. .NET Services (Access Control, Service Bus, and Workflow)
  4. SQL Services (only SQL Data Services at present)

Geva Perry provides a brief cloud-computing lexicon in his The Vocabulary of Cloud Computing post of 1/13/2009 to Cloud Computing Journal. Geva defines terms such as cloudburst[ing], cloudstorming, vertical cloud, private cloud, internal cloud, hybrid cloud, et al. In most cases, he cites the initial user of the term as the authority for the definition.

Scott Watermasysk’s Two Tips On Preparing For The Cloud post of 1/12/2009 suggests that architects and developers contemplating use of cloud computing:

  1. Assume they (the cloud providers) are right.
  2. Decouple your current applications as much as possible.

Scott offered these tips to attendees of his first talk on cloud computing at the NYC Code Camp. [Copied from Azure and Cloud Computing Posts for 1/5/2009+.]

Other Cloud Computing Platforms and Services

Sam Charrington at Appistry posted a Top Appistry Blog Posts of 2008 which includes links to and brief descriptions of their top ten cloud posts of 2008 based on readership:

  1. The Blind Men and the Cloud
  2. Amazon S3 Still Limping & the Limits of Clouds
  3. Is Your Code Cloud-Ready and Multi-Core Friendly? (Part 1): Introduction
  4. Is Your Code Cloud-Ready and Multi-Core Friendly? (Part  4): Idempotence
  5. Parallelism : Is Your Code Cloud-Ready and Multi-Core Friendly? (Part 5)
  6. Is Your Code Cloud-Ready and Multi-Core Friendly? (Part 3): Statelessness
  7. Is Your Code Cloud-Ready and Multi-Core Friendly? (Part  2): Atomicity
  8. Cloud Taxonomy: Applications, Platform, Infrastructure
  9. Meltdown 2008, Part 1 - How I Learned to Love Chaos
  10. You Can’t Draw a Box Around a Cloud

Surprisingly, all are worth reading.

Roger Smith asks Will 'Cobol In The Cloud' Lead To Unplugging Your Mainframe? in this 1/16/2009 InformationWeek article about Micro Focus’s support for enterprise-grade Cobol apps running on Amazon EC2 (as well as under Windows Azure.) Smith quotes Micro Focus’s CTO Mark Haynie:

"We are 100% committed to being cloud agnostic and supporting customers who want to take advantage of Amazon EC2 to cut substantial costs in the coming year," said Mark Haynie, CTO for Application Modernization at Micro Focus. "To innovate in today's tough economic climate, enterprises must embrace flexibility and cost-effective modernization strategies. We will be alongside every customer as they navigate the cloud with tighter IT budgets and an increased focus on fast results."

Maureen O’Gara reports Google’s attempt to build a reseller channel for Google Apps in her Google Apps Resale “Easy Intro” to Cloud Computing post of 1/17/2009 to the Cloud Computing Journal. Resellers, such as Cloud Sherpa, receive a 20% discount on the $50 per year charge for premium services, which are targeted at corporate users.

To discourage free Google Apps usage by corporate accounts, O’Gara note that:

[F]rom here on out Google will limit the use of its freebie version of the software to 50 people per company. Current users, schools and non-profits will be exempt [from the limit].

John Foley’s Million-Dollar Private Clouds post of 1/16/2009 to InformationWeek’s Plug Into the Cloud Blog describes Cassatt’s Active Response software as intended to:

[O]ptimize data center resources by capturing the object code of applications, pooling servers, and distributing workloads based on IT policies. It's not the same thing as virtualization, though virtual machines are involved. [Cassatt CEO Bill] Coleman says Cassatt can help IT departments get server utilization into the 80% range, compared with 20% to 40% when just virtualization is employed.

Creating private clouds in terrestrial data centers involves multi-million dollar investments, so Foley asks “How many small and medium-sized businesses can afford to deploy private clouds (Cassatt calls them internal clouds) at those prices? Answer: none.”

Roger Smith describes how Engine Yard extended the company’s Ruby and Rails stack to run on Amazon Web Services, in addition to its own internal cloud, in his Engine Yard Switches Rails To Mainline Cloud article of 1/14/2009 for InformationWeek’s Analytics blog.

• Michael Fitzgerald’s Technology: When the Forecast Calls for Clouds article for Inc. magazine’s January 2009 issue offers two case studies for Amazon EC3:

  1. FlyMiwok, a Southern California on-demand charter flight reservation service handles large traffic surges.
  2. TC3 Health's cost containment software periodically checks millions of records for fraudulent or duplicate health insurance claims.

Fitzgerald writes:

Last fall, over the course of a few weeks, Amazon moved its Elastic Compute Cloud, or EC2, service from beta testing into full production; announced it would expand its cloud-computing platform; and Microsoft unveiled its cloud operating system, Windows Azure.

Microsoft's foray into the market is of particular note, because it's a big shift for the world's dominant traditional software company. "That Microsoft has wholeheartedly embraced the cloud is an indication that it's here," says Dave Girouard, president of Google Enterprise.

Bill Staples describes How to Run Windows [2003] & IIS [6.0] in the Cloud on Amazon EC2 (in 15 mins) in a lengthy, fully illustrated post of 1/13/2009. This is the process I went through to compare Amazon EC2 with Windows Azure for my Test Harnesses Compare Amazon EC2 with SQL Server and SimpleDB Performance post of 12/14/2008.

John Foley describes InformationWeek’s Eli Lilly On What's Next In Cloud Computing Webcast in this 1/14/2009 post:

In late 2007, [Lilly associate information consultant David Powers] said, the mindset among Eli Lilly's IT team was to take a wait-and-see approach to the emerging cloud services model. By early 2008, however, pressure was growing to reduce fixed IT costs without compromising on IT services, and cloud computing proved to be the answer.

Eli Lilly uses Amazon Web Services and other cloud services to provide high-performance computing, as needed, to hundreds of its scientists. With AWS, Powers said, a new server can be up and running in three minutes (it used to take Eli Lilly seven and a half weeks to deploy a server internally) and a 64-node Linux cluster can be online in five minutes (compared with three months internally). "The deployment time is really what impressed us," Powers said. "It's just shy of instantaneous." …

To hear more about what Eli Lilly is doing with cloud computing and where it goes from here, log in to our recent Webcast, which is available for replay. In addition to Dave, I give an overview of cloud services in the Webcast, and Amazon VP Adam Selipsky describes Amazon Web Services. You can sign in here

Alin Irimie reports in his Open-Source Clouds post of 1/14/2009 that Sausalito, CA-based Joyent Inc. has announced the signing of an agreement to acquire Reasonably Smart, an open-source, auto-scaling competitor to Azure Services Platform and Google App Engine. You can read the full news release PDF here.

John Foley’s Launching InformationWeek’s Startup 50 post of 1/13/2008 for Information Week:

[I]ntroduce[s] InformationWeek's "Startup 50," a new editorial project that will culminate in our highlighting 50 technology startups a few months from now in InformationWeek magazine and on We're opening the selection process to the IT community. It will involve three steps: nominating startups, voting on those startups, and, finally, vetting them; more on that below.

Evans Data’s claim that Half of Developers to Develop SaaS Software in Next Year was reported in Cloud Computing Journal’s 1/13/2009 issue:

According to the latest Evans Data Global Development Survey, over half of all developers (51.9% averaged over all regions) expect to work on programs delivered in the SaaS model during the next 12 months. 

Adoption expectation is strongest in the Asia-Pacific region, although the number of developers currently working on SaaS implementations is highest in North America, where 30% say this is part of their current development efforts. 

In the EMEA region, fewer developers are currently developing SaaS but 53% expect to be doing so within 12 months.

Kathleen Richards offers more details of the Evans Data report in her Half of Developers Report Hosted Software Projects story of 1/11/2009 for Redmond Developer News.

Jeremy Geelan’s The Cloud Computing Ecosystem: The Top 100 Cloud Players post of 1/13/2009 to the Cloud Computing Journal is an alphabetic list of early participants in the cloud computing services and platforms markets. Most entries have brief descriptions of the organization’s offerings.

Zoli ErdosUnder the Radar: Call for Startups in Cloud Computing & Business Applications post of 1/12/2009 describes Dealmaker Media’s Under the Radar, a Silicon Valley conference series that covers business applications, social media, entertainment, and mobility with an emphasis on Web-based offerings.

James Urquhart’s Finding distinction in 'infrastructure as a service' post of 1/12/2009 discusses ‘cloud centers,’ a term coined by Randy Bias, chief technology officer of ServePath, who offer GoGrid, to describe hosting companies-turned-cloud providers. [Copied from Azure and Cloud Computing Posts for 1/5/2009+.]

Cloud Computing Journal reports Adobe Takes LiveCycle into the Cloud on 1/12/2009:

Kumar Vora, vice president and general manager for LiveCycle at Adobe today announced the availability of Adobe LiveCycle ES Developer Express software - a full version of Adobe LiveCycle ES hosted in the Amazon Web Services cloud computing environment.

“Adobe continues to push the boundaries when supporting its enterprise developer community,” said Adam Selipsky, vice president of product management and developer relations for Amazon Web Services. "We are excited to see Adobe extend to its customers the vast potential for unlocking productivity by providing access to enterprise-scale environments in the cloud by offering developer access to its comprehensive LiveCycle ES solution via Amazon Web Services," he added.

[Copied from Azure and Cloud Computing Posts for 1/5/2009+.]