Sunday, April 12, 2009

Windows Azure and Cloud Computing Posts for 4/6/2009+

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

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

  Update 4/10 to 4/12/2009: Rob Bagby starts an Azure shopping cart, Pat Helland’s new cloud presentation, other additions
• Update 4/8 and 4/9/2009: Big news from Google for GAE, other additions
§ indicates item repeated from Windows Azure and Cloud Computing Posts for 3/30/2009+

Azure Blob, Table and Queue Services

I asked Will Azure Attempt to Store Multiple Tables with the Same PartitionKey Value on the Same Node? in the Windows Azure forum on Easter Sunday afternoon. Specificially, I asked:

My question is will Azure attempt to store all entities with the same PartitionKey value in multiple tables on the same node?

Microsoft’s Brad Calder replied about 4-1/2 hours later with a detailed answer about controlling locality, which I recommend to anyone wondering about similar topics. The answer, by the way, was no. The entities must have the same PartitionKey and be in the same table to be localized on a single node.

Werner VogelsGood Advice on Keeping Your Database Simple and Fast post of 3/25/2009 posits:

The AWS services Amazon S3 and Amazon SimpleDB were designed to handle the dominant storage usage patterns within Amazon and they greatly reduced our need to rely on relational storage for scaling our systems. But it is almost never the case that a single storage technique is used in applications and services that need to operate at enterprise scale. For example it is a common pattern that objects stored in S3 using a primary key, have a collection of secondary keys (e.g. metadata) stored in SimpleDB. SimpleDB provides very fast indexing for querying of the metadata that will return primary keys of objects located in S3.

Azure and SimpleDB tables are quite similar and Azure Blob Services resemble S3. Amazon recently upgraded Simple Queue Services (SQS) to match Azure Queue Services features.

Erik Carlin, Rackspace Cloud’s Chief Architect explains Cloud Servers and EC2: Why Persistence Matters in this 4/7/2009 post. Erik contrasts ephemeral (volatile) EC2 instance memory with (non-volatile) Elastic Block Store (EBS) and S3 memory. The analogy also applies to ephemeral Azure instances and memory and non-volatile Azure Data Services: tables, blobs, and queues.

Rob Bagby presents Screencast Published - Understanding The Azure Table Storage API, a 00:26:14 Channel9 screencast to accompany his earlier Azure Table Storage, the REST and ADO.NET Data Services Story post of 4/3/2009:

In this screencast, I illustrate consuming Azure Table Storage from a variety of means.  I show you the easy way, using the StorageClient sample application along with the ADO.NET Data Services Client Libraries, as well as making calls directly to the REST API using Fiddler as the client.

Said Syed’s Future of Block Storage in the Cloud post of 4/7/2009 asks “Are Storage Clouds or Compute Cloud for everyone?” Said’s answer:

Probably not. For transactional type databases or I/O, cloud is a very bad idea. For those who want to run 7/24/265 operations, it could actually be more expensive to run the operation on the cloud but that is relative as some offer as low as 10 cents per hour (or was it a month???) for compute with a nice size disk drive (not cloud storage mind you). Again, still not high performance, high capacity, high I/O capable, especially over the cloud (S3 that is).

SQL Data Services (SDS)

The SQL Server Team announced SQL Server 2008 Enterprise Edition Receives Common Criteria Certification on 4/10/2009. SDS v2 will be based on SQL Server 2008 EE, so I wonder if the the certification will apply to SDS. (I’ve asked.)

Emil Sayegh’s Today from Mosso: Red Hat Enterprise Available on Cloud Servers and MS SQL 2008 on Cloud Sites post of 4/7/2009 announces that SQL Server 2008 is now available on Rackspace Cloud Sites (but not Cloud Servers). Emil claims the benefits are:

• Lower storage costs through SQL Server 2008’s data compression features
• Increased security and data protection features through encryption
• Improved scalability and performance through resource governing

Emil promises:

Following closely behind are APIs from Cloud Servers. Watch for several partners who will soon actively support The Rackspace Cloud including Aptana, Encoding, rPath, RightScale, SOASTA, and Sonian. RightScale announced it again yesterday at Cloud Computing Expo.

.NET Services: Access Control, Service Bus and Workflow

Bruno Tekaly starts a series about .NET Services with his Azure - Microsoft .NET Services- Step 01 - The Service Bus - Blog Post about Setup post of 4/10/2009. Bruno says:

This blog post is all about getting ready to learn about .NET Services, and the Service Bus specifically. This blog is based on the Azure Services Toolit and adds additional background information.

Bruno’s a Microsoft developer-evangelist.

Clemens Vasters’ .NET Services March 2009 CTP - Service Bus Routers and Queues - Part 5: The Queue API for the rest of us and .NET Services March 2009 CTP - Service Bus Routers and Queues - Part 4: The REST Queue Protocol in Code Snippets posts of 4/6/2009 adds two new chapters to his .NET Service bus saga.

§ Clemens Vasters continues on his .NET Service Bus roll with his .NET Services March 2009 CTP: Host a Public Website At The Kitchen Table or from a Coffee Shop! No Kidding post of 4/5/2009:

Using the application/service built from the sample linked at the top of this post you can host a publicly discoverable and accessible website or Web service from your Windows notebook or desktop machine from within most network environments without having to open up a port on the firewall, mapping a port on your NAT, or using some type of dynamic DNS service to make the site discoverable. All those essential connectivity features are provided by the .NET Service Bus and with the help of the included sample code. [Emphasis Clemens’.]

Live Windows Azure Apps, Tools and Test Harnesses

•• Gaurav Mantri announces Cerebrata Software’s Cloud Storage Studio for Azure Storage - A browser based client for Azure Storage in this thread added to the Windows Azure forum on 4/9/2009.

•• Rob Bagby starts “building an Azure shopping cart application from the ground up” with his lengthy and fully illustrated Azure Application Part 1: Setup and running “Hello World” post of 4/9/2009. His Screencast Published - Building an Azure App Part I: Setup and Hello World post of 4/10/2009 complements the earlier step-by-step tutorial.

If you new to Azure, this is the place to start.

•• The Azure Team published the following WCF Azure Samples to the MSDN Code Gallery on 3/13/2009:

    1. Service using BasicHttpBinding and .Net client
    2. Service using binary HTTP binding and Silverlight client
    3. Service using WebHttpBinding binding and ASP.NET AJAX client
    4. Service using binary HTTP binding with transport security and message credentials and Silverlight client
    5. Chat service which can push data to Silverlight clients
    6. Service using the AtomPub protocol and a .Net client

and subsequently uploaded live demos of some of the samples to

My Uploading Entities for Storage in Azure Tables of 4/9/2009 describes a Windows client test harness for uploading entities from Northwind Orders and Order Details tables, describes the HTTP POST and DELETE request and response messages, and provides some basic timing information on these operations. Additional information on the status of cross-table transactions for Azure tables is included.

Ryan Dunn announces availability of the latest Azure Training Kit and Tools Update in his 4/9/2009 post. The kit includes:

    • 11 hands-on labs - including new hands-on labs for PHP and Native Code on Windows Azure.
    • 18 demo scripts - These demo scripts are designed to provide detailed walkthroughs of key features so that someone can easily give a demo of a service
    • 9 presentations - the presentations used for our 3 day training workshops including speaker notes.

and can be downloaded from here. According to Ryan:

The Azure Services Management Tools include an MMC SnapIn and Windows PowerShell cmdlets that enable a user to configure and manage several Azure Services including .NET Access Control Services, and the .NET Workflow Service. These tools can be helpful when developing and testing applications that use Azure Services. For instance, using these tools you can view and change .NET Access Control Rules, and deploy and view workflows.

You can download the latest management tools from

Mike Ormond’s Windows Azure – A Couple of Learnings of 4/9/2009 describes problems running Azure’s Development Environment on Windows 7. 

§ My Azure Table Test Harness with HTTPS, Encryption, and Membership Services for Authentication/Authorization post of 4/6/2009 shows you how to test drive my live AzureTableTestHarnessSSL.sln project that takes advantage of ASP.NET Membership Services samples from the Windows Azure SDK March 2009 CTP.

§ Clemens Vasters continues on his .NET Service Bus roll with the .NET Services March 2009 CTP: Host a Public Website At The Kitchen Table or from a Coffee Shop! No Kidding post of 4/5/2009 (repeated from the “.NET Services: Access Control, Service Bus and Workflow” section. 

Azure Infrastructure

•• Joe Weinman’s 6 Half-Truths About the Cloud of 4/11/2009 is a guest-post to the GigaOM blog. Here are Joe’s points without the detail in his post:

  1. Economies of scale are the key to cloud benefits
  2. All IT will move to the cloud
  3. Clouds generate value by replacing capital expenditures with operating expenditures
  4. Private clouds are as effective as public clouds
  5. Cloud = virtualization
  6. Clouds are greener

It’s good to see a Strategy and Business Development V-P for AT&T Business Solutions debunk some cloud myths.

•• Pat Helland calls his new Above the Clouds: a Berkeley View of Cloud Computing PowerPoint presentation “kinda’ like a book report” on the UC Berkeley RAD Labs’s Cloud Computing white paper. The 53 slides are a superb graphical rendition of the paper’s primary points from the standpoint of a champion of distributed computing who’s “been there and done that” at Tandem Computers, HaL Computers, Microsoft, and Amazon Web Services. Don’t miss it!

Dare Obasanjo discusses Todd Hoff’s Are Cloud Based Memory Architectures the Next Big Thing? post in a Some thoughts on memory based architectures (aka why memcached isn't good enough) post of 4/11/2009. Dare writes:

The LinkedIn architecture is a great example of this trend. They have servers which they call The Cloud whose job is to cache the site's entire social graph in memory and then have created multiple instances of this cached social graph. Going to disk to satisfy social graph related queries which can require touching data for hundreds to thousands of users is simply never an option. This is different from how you would traditionally treat a caching layer such as ASP.NET caching or typical usage of memcached.

I’m still waiting for the “scalable database” post, Dare.

Art Whittman’s Practical Analysis: Are We Sure This Isn't Clouded Judgment? InformationWeek article of 4/11/2009 carries this deck: “As enticing as cloud computing is, it doesn't change the rules of the game, which call for careful and thoughtful data management.” This week’s cover story is “Private Clouds.”

Dave Malcolm Surgient’s The five defining characteristics of cloud computing article of 4/9/2009 for ZD Net begins: “Interest in cloud computing is rampant across the entire IT industry and everyone has a different perspective and understanding of the technology” and continues with:

    • Characteristic 1: Dynamic computing infrastructure
    • Characteristic 2: IT service-centric approach
    • Characteristic 3: Self-service based usage model
    • Characteristic 4: Minimally or self-managed platform
    • Characteristic 5: Consumption-based billing

Surgient provides a detailed description of each characteristic. If you’re looking for a starter piece for a management or developer presentation, try this.

Eric Knoor and Galen Gruman analyze What cloud computing really means in a 4/7/2009 article for InfoWorld. The deck: “The next big trend sounds nebulous, but it's not so fuzzy when you view the value proposition from the perspective of IT professionals” and the lede:

InfoWorld talked to dozens of vendors, analysts, and IT customers to tease out the various components of cloud computing. Based on those discussions, here's a rough breakdown of what cloud computing is all about:

  1. SaaS
  2. Utility computing
  3. Web services in the cloud
  4. Platform as a service
  5. MSP (managed service providers)
  6. Service commerce platforms

• Tom Bittman, a Gartner Analyst, discusses The Spectrum of Private to Public Cloud Services in this 4/8/2009 post. Bittman writes:

Is it a private cloud service, or a public cloud service? It’s not quite so binary. I first explored this in my post Virtual Cloud Privacy is Gray a few months ago. There are two relative dimensions that determine how “private” or how “public” a cloud service really is:

Service Control/Ownership: There are two ends of a spectrum here – complete implementation ownership, and complete lack of ownership and control of implementation. But there will be many examples in between of partial control, shared ownership, etc.

Service Access: Also two ends to this spectrum – at one end, usage is extremely exclusive, while at the other end, anyone who chooses can access the service. Again, there will be many examples in between of limited access, industry-only access, controlled partner access, etc.

These two dimensions are coupled at the extremes, but there are many variations in between. Each has different security/privacy, cost, customization and elasticity attributes. …

• Microsoft UK’s Arc Magazine issues 1 and 2 provide “insight into the Microsoft 'Software + Services' strategy from an architectural perspective. The 4 issues explore the business case, the implications, why identity matters, Software + Services and the Cloud, supported by case studies,” according to this recent Architecture post.

Nolan M. Goldberg’s and Sharada Devarasetty’s The Cloud: Tomorrow’s EDD Challenge post of 4/9/2009 discuss the legal aspects of electronic data discovery (EDD) and electronically stored information (ESI) in the cloud. (Goldberg is a senior associate in the patent group of New York-based Proskauer Rose LLP and a member of the Litigation Department's e-Discovery Task Force. Devarasetty is an associate in the firm’s patent group.)

• James Hamilton follows up on his posts from the recent Google DataCenter Efficient Summit with Data Center Efficiency Summit Videos Posted of 4/9/2009:

• Kevin Jackson analyzes the Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium (NCOIC)’s Cloud Computing Working Group and its focus on establishing a roadmap for providing value to the industry in his NCOIC and Cloud Computing: An Update post of 4/8/2009.

James Urquhart asks The new cloud infrastructure: Do you care? on 4/8/2009 but then says “At the very least, the future of hardware ought to touch the inner geek in all of us” and talks about Cisco’s Unified Computing Systems, Rackable Systems’ CloudRack C2, and Google servers’ self-contained backup battery.

Mark Wilson attended the inaugural meeting of UK Azure User Group at Microsoft’s London offices, which included a presentation from Microsoft’s James Conard about what Windows Azure really is. Mark’s So, what exactly is Windows Azure? post of 4/7/2009 is a detailed summary of Conard’s introductory session.

Colin McNamara’s Cisco’s Cloud Computing Offering post of 4/7/2009 concludes:

Cisco has to go to market with a Cloud offering to maintain long term viability as a company. When they do they will have the benefit of lower cost of building and operating the grids that their cloud offering will run on. They will be able to leverage millions of Cisco network devices in their current install base as well as provide application centric security integrated with these same devices. And most importantly they will be able to use the lessons learned from running WebEx to ensure flawless delivery of an upcoming cloud computing offering.

James Hamilton suggests using ambient air for datacenter cooling in his 32C (90F) in the Data Center post of 4/7/2009. James concludes:

I recently came across a wonderful study done by the Intel IT department (thanks to Data Center Knowledge): reducing data center cost with an Air Economizer.

In this study Don Atwood and John Miner of Intel IT take the a datacenter module and divide it up into two rooms of 8 racks each. One room is run as a control with re-circulated air the their standard temperatures. The other room is run on pure outside air with the temperature allowed to range between 65F and 90F. If the outside temp falls below 65, server heat is re-circulated to maintain 65F. If over 90F, then the air conditioning system is used to reduced to 90F. The servers ran silicone design simulations at an average utilization rate of 90% for 10 months.

I’m still not sure what’s a “silicone [sic?] design simulation.”

Robert L. Miller’s SaaS integration: Tricky, but manageable ComputerWorld article includes three interesting integration-related sidebars:

    • Tips for successful integration projects
    • Three ways integrations can get tangled up
    • Whose Burden?
    • Who's in Charge?

Miller concludes:

About 80% of integrations use basic technologies such as file transfers, and projects with SaaS applications tend to roll out faster than the 12-to-18-month window that's typical for traditional on-premises applications, says Annrai O'Toole, vice president of integration at Workday Inc., a provider of hosted applications in Pleasanton, Calif. Nonetheless, a typical integration project involving Workday systems, including the migration and cleaning of data, specification of business processes, and systems configuration, still takes around 70 days.

Thanks to David Linthicum for the heads-up on this article.

Tom Lounibos decrees Delivering Reliable Web Services Requires Web Scale Testing in this 4/7/2009 post. Of course, that statement isn’t surprising when you consider that Tom is President and CEO of SOASTA, which is the publisher of CloudTest.

Sam Ruby’s Open Cloud Principles post of 4/6/2009 analyzes Sam Johnston’s Open Cloud Principles (OCP) and the associated Open Cloud Initiative (OCI):

It is getting to be a crowded place in the clouds, what with the Open Cloud Manifesto, the Cloud Bill of Rights, and the Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum.  I’m sure I’ve missed countless others.

I like the OCP’s focus on open APIs, open formats, and open data.  Speaking as an open source person, I think the bullet on Open Source (optional) should simply be dropped.  Always bet on protocols and formats, as long as the focus is on ensuring that the the entire stack can be swapped out or ground up rewritten as the service owner sees fit, the rest will work out.

Sam (Ruby) then goes on to analyze the “concept of Interoperability” and finds it “significantly in need of expansion.”

I agree.

Mark Everett Hall posits Windows Azure: Microsoft Banks on Programmer Loyalty in this 4/7/2009 article for PC World magazine. Mark writes:

Still in beta, Azure features both proprietary tools that Windows developers will recognize and standard technologies that could appeal to programmers outside of Microsoft's orbit. Whether that strategy will work remains to be seen, since Microsoft trails,, Google and others in entering the cloud, which Merrill-Lynch & Co. has estimated will be a $95 billion market by 2011.

Javier Soltero discusses the developer’s role in his The Cloud Dilemma for Developers post of 2/3/2009:

Developers like the cloud since it lets them bypass operations (i.e., the control agents) and serve their environment needs quickly. In the cloud, developers can build an application and launch it themselves, on their own, without waiting for hardware to be purchased, racked & stacked.  Without waiting for hardware or virtualization capacity planning, electricity consumption plans, cooling or green discussions to finish. If you’re a developer, the cloud offers speed! The cloud is way cool. You’re the man. But developers too often forget to ask themselves what happens afterwards?  Who will make sure the app is always available?  Apps in the cloud will still have performance issues and will still break.

Javier continues with a discussion of two dilemmas for cloud-computing developers.

§ Bernard Golden’s Power: One Cloud Cost Advantage That May Be Irresistible article of 4/6/2009 for CIO’s Virtualization and Cloud Observer blog analyzes Microsoft’s The Cost of a Cloud: Research Problems in Data Center Networks whitepaper and Steve Denegri’s Cloud Computing Dominance Through Renewable Energy paper:

From [Denegri’s] research, he concludes that Microsoft obtains a 22% discount on its property taxes (this is based on a discount extended to companies that make very large real property investments). With regard to power, Microsoft obtains a 45% discount, based on using enough electricity to fall into a "Super Large Power" user category. This advantage may be enhanced in the future, Denegri states, because of potential taxes to be applied to carbon-based power. Microsoft may be able to strike an arrangement to have its data center powered by clean energy sources (e.g., wind or solar), thereby avoiding these additional taxes.

§ Microsoft attempts to explain its ubiquitous Software as a Services strategy with an inspirational[?] intro video, a Ray Ozzie introduction, and pages for potential Xbox, Azure, Windows Live and Mobile, and Office Online services. (This site might have been around for a while; I just found it.)

§ Mary Jo Foley reports Microsoft links HealthVault service with Amalga software on 4/6/2009:

HealthVault is Microsoft’s consumer-focused health-records-management Software+Service platform, which the company unveiled officially in 2007. (The service component of HealthVault is one of a handful of Microsoft services that already is hosted on top of Azure.) Amalga UIS, (one of the products formerly under the Azyxxi brand), is one of the main elements of Microsoft’s enterprise health-information-system platform. [Emphasis and links added.]

§ Dimitry Sotknikov’s Can cloud make you MORE compliant? post of 4/6/2009 reviews a report by Scott Crawford from Enterprise Management Associates - “The Security Paradox of Cloud: Five Questions for Cloud Providers” and adds his comments on the paper.

§ David Pallman begins a new Azure series with Grid Computing on the Azure Cloud Computing Platform, Part 1 of 4/5/2009:

In this series of articles we're going to look at grid computing using the Azure cloud computing platform. In Part 1, we'll look at this from a design pattern and benefits perspective.

Cloud Computing Events

Guy Bunker will present The Darker Sides Of Cloud Computing: Security and Availability at the upcoming Cloud Computing Expo Europe ( May 18-19, 2009, in Prague, Czech Republic. Here’s the abstract:

Cloud computing offers a fantastic opportunity to businesses of all sizes. However, there are pitfalls that no-one wants to talk about. This session will talk to some of the darker sides to cloud computing - those around security and availability. Understanding where the issues lie will help service providers to create better services and enable customers to ask the right questions of their providers.

• Mike Walker’s Microsoft Architect Insight Conference 2009 post of 4/9/2009 announces that the UK’s fourth annual Microsoft Architect Insight Conference conference will be held 5/8/2009 at Microsoft London.

• Reuven Cohen announces CloudCamp Austin, April 25th at Austin City Limits, 2504 Whitis Ave., Austin, TX 78705 in this 4/9/2009 post. The tentative schedule is Saturday, April 25th (10am - 4pm) to be followed by a Happy Hour at Little Woodrows.

SYS-CON Announces Government IT Conference & Expo, which is being held October 5-6, 2009 in Washington, DC, in this 4/9/2009 post. According to SYS-CON:

Cloud Computing will be one of the main tracks. According to the Washington Post this week, the U.S. Census Bureau is using Salesforce's cloud to manage the activities of about 100,000 partner organizations across the country. And the Defense Department's technology arm has already set up a cloud to let the military rent storage space or use remote software programs. Companies like online application provider NetSuite have shifted their focus to federal sales, on the basis that what works for Enterprise IT can also work for Government.

David Pallman’s Upcoming Orange County Azure User Group April Meeting: "What's New in Azure" post of 4/8/2009 announces that the next meeting of the Orange Couny Azure User Group is Thursday, April 23rd at QuickStart Intelligence.

The Economist memorializes the Open Cloud Manifesto in its Clash of the clouds article of 4/2/2009:

Deck: A familiar-sounding industry spat breaks out over standards.

Just as predictably, the leaders in cloud computing are absent from the list of supporters: Amazon, an online retailer that has successfully branched out into computing services; Google, which is not only a huge cloud unto itself but has built a cloud-computing platform for use by others;, the biggest provider of software-as-a-service; and Microsoft. Indeed, it was an executive at the world’s biggest software firm, Steven Martin, who first leaked the manifesto, complaining that it had been drawn up in secret. “It appears to us that one company, or just a few companies, would prefer to control the evolution of cloud computing,” he wrote in a blog.

This insignificant “apple pie and motherhood” manifesto provided grist for more that its share of blog mills and even makes The Economist and Financial Times. Seems to me to indicate slow news days.

Other Cloud Computing Platforms and Services

•• Bill McNee’s Saugatuck Trip Report: On the Road in Early 2009 (PDF, requires site registration) reports “What’s Happening”:

Three key recurring themes were evident during the past two months as Saugatuck took to the road at a number of customer and industry events in the US and Western Europe. First and foremost is that interest in On Demand services remains strong despite the tough economic climate that we are in. Second, industry messaging around Cloud Computing is clearly taking center stage over SaaS, which is a good thing in Saugatuck’s opinion. Third, SaaS and Cloud providers are clearly battening down the hatches and slowing key investments that will result in slightly lower growth than they would have otherwise achieved. [Emphasis added.]

•• Jorge Escobar starts the process of Building A Social Application on the Cloud on 4/10/2009 with a description of his objectives and a roadmap to the five steps in his project:

This post will be divided in five parts. As I complete them, they will be hyperlinked below:

  1. Why build it on the cloud?
  2. Amazon EC2
  3. Amazon SimpleDB
  4. Facebook Connect
  5. Next steps

•• William Vambenepe debunks Dave Worthington’s Cloud providers vow interoperability SDTimes article (below) in his Reality check on Cloud portability post of 4/10/2009. Bill begins his post with:

SD Times recently published an interesting article about “cloud interoperability”. It has some well-informed opinions. But, like all Cloud-related discussions, it also suffers from mixing a bunch of things. The word “interoperability” is alternatively applied to the Cloud infrastructure services (in which case this “interoperability” is a way to provide application “portability”) and to the Cloud-hosted applications themselves.

Application-level interoperability (”look, my GAE-hosted app successfully sent an HTTP request to an Azure-hosted app, open the champagne”) is not very new or exciting anymore and is often used as an interoperability smokescreen (hello Many of these interop concerns are long solved and the others (like authentication and data migration) need to be solved in ways that don’t care whether the application is hosted in your Silicon Valley garage or near the Columbia river.

•• David Worthington analyzes the outcome of the Open Cloud Manifesto flap in his Cloud providers vow interoperability article of 4/10/2009 for SDTimes. If you missed the blow-by-blow action during the Cloud Computing Expo, you might find this article to be a useful summary:

In a series of interviews, Amazon, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft and detailed how developers can integrate their services, while acknowledging the challenges posed by constructing composite cloud applications.

•• Amazon Web Services introduced the Amazon Elastic WebReduce beta in early April. Amazon’s Hadoop implementation promises:

Using Amazon Elastic MapReduce, you can instantly provision as much or as little capacity as you like to perform data-intensive tasks for applications such as web indexing, data mining, log file analysis, machine learning, financial analysis, scientific simulation, and bioinformatics research. Amazon Elastic MapReduce lets you focus on crunching or analyzing your data without having to worry about time-consuming set-up, management or tuning of Hadoop clusters or the compute capacity upon which they sit.

•• David Dewitt’s MapReduce: A major step backwards post of 1/17/2009 to The Database Column argues that MapReduce is:

  1. A giant step backward in the programming paradigm for large-scale data intensive applications
  2. A sub-optimal implementation, in that it uses brute force instead of indexing
  3. Not novel at all -- it represents a specific implementation of well known techniques developed nearly 25 years ago
  4. Missing most of the features that are routinely included in current DBMS
  5. Incompatible with all of the tools DBMS users have come to depend on

and then goes on to describe MapReduce, as well as to add detail to the preceding arguments.

•• Craig Balding’s enStratus: Confidence in the Cloud (Plus: $100 off Under The Radar VIP Tickets) post of 4/10/2009 is a:

[S]ummary of a very interesting call I had with George Reese, CTO of enStratus and author of the forthcoming “Cloud Application Architectures” book.  Please note: this isn’t a comprehensive review of the full [enStratus] service, rather it reflects the pieces that we delved into based on some of the common concerns we have around Cloud Security (to give you some idea, we spoke for over 90 minutes…).

Filesystem encryption for Amazon Web Services Elastic Block Store (EBS) service is the most interesting aspect of Craig’s summary (at least to me.)

•• J. Nicholas Hoover reports that GE Puts 'Private' Cloud Computing To The Test on 4/11/2009 for Information Week. The deck reads: “It's starting a three-year effort aimed at better efficiency and flexibility.” Hoover writes:

GE is in the early stages of a three-year project to implement technologies that give it the flexibility, automation, and manageability [GE CTO] Simpson seeks. It's evaluating whether to have one expansive internal cloud or multiple discrete clouds dedicated to, say, Web serving or financial systems. Simpson's leaning toward the latter scenario, but either way, he wants to offer IT resources on demand and to charge business units for what they consume.

•• Kevin Jackson’s Cisco's Cloud Computing Strategy post of 4/10/2009 reviews Krishna Sankar’s A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Inter-Cloud presentation which lists the following as Cisco’s cloud computing strategy:

    • Build Right Products (Unified Fabric, Unified Compute, Virtualization Aware)
    • Technology (Enhanced IP core with tight coupling to software)
    • Multiphased (Standalone Clouds to Enterprise-Class to Inter-Cloud)
    • Open Standards (Accelerate Cloud deployment and federation through Cloud standards)
    • Services/References SW (Services-led Cloud blueprints with reference software stacks)

Jackson concludes:

The presentation also describes and end goal as a time "when enterprise applications can seamlessly move between their internal and external clouds leveraging the elasticity and multi-tenancy that a cloud infrastructure offers". An "Inter-cloud" standards and protocol roadmap is also offered.

Craig Balding analyzes Amazon’s new Access Control Policy for Simple Queue Services (SQS) in his Amazon AWS Introduces New Access Policy Language (SQS Today…) post of 4/9/2009.

Ben Kepes takes HP to task for equating the Application Service Provider (ASP) model with SaaS in his SaaS ≠ ASP2.0. A Treatise on FUD post of 4/9/2009.

• Jeff Barr’s Powerful New Amazon SQS Features post of 4/9/2009 discusses SQS’s new features:

  • New AddPermission and RemovePermission functions
  • At the lower level you can use the new Access Policy Language.
  • The new ChangeMessageVisibility function gives you the power to change the read timeout for an individual SQS message.

Craig Balding warns Missile, Chemical and Biological Weapons Developers: Google App Engine Is Not For You in this 4/8/2009 post. Craig writes:

Clause 2.2 just had some text added to [GAE’s] terms of service:

“You agree not to use the Service in the design, development, production, or use of missiles or the design, development, production, stockpiling, or use of chemical or biological weapons.”

I’m glad they cleared that up - now all the bad guys know to use Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure.

However, there’s no restriction against it’s use for nuclear weapons.

Craig Balding asks Is Amazon AWS Really HIPAA Compliant Today? and then describes these security gaps:

    • There is no customer accessible AWS API call audit log
    • There is no way to restrict the source IP address from which the sacred AWS API key can be used from
    • Each AWS account is limited to a single key - exposure results in total security failure

Hopefully we all know by now that “compliance” does not equal “security”, but HIPAA compliance not withstanding, would you really want your medical data in a Cloud without some or all of these fundamental control gaps resolved or mitigated?  I can’t find anything in this new whitepaper or the old AWS Security Whitepaper (‘Creating HIPAA-compliant Medical Data Applications with AWS’) that speaks directly to these issues. [Whitepaper link added.]

Google App Engine Team announces the Google Secure Data Connector on 4/8/2007. Features include:

  • Access your corporate data in the browser. SDC lets you access your data from within Google Gadgets, Google App Engine, and Google Spreadsheets. SDC provides an agent to connect your Google Apps domain to your behind-the-firewall data sources.
  • Control the use of your data. SDC lets you restrict which users and applications can make requests to your internal services. You can use our partners or your own internal authentication systems to validate and authorize those requests.
  • Build custom apps for your business. SDC lets you extend your enterprise systems into Google Apps. You can easily build gadgets or
    Google App Engine applications that make use of both private and public data.

and CSV bulk data import in the Uploading Data post of the same date. The Scheduled Tasks With Cron for Python post reports that GAE now supports scheduled tasks. Finally, Seriously this time, the new language on App Engine: Java™ of 4/7/2009 squelches the April 1 “announcement” of Fortran for GAE.

Reuven Cohen summarizes the new GAE features in his Google's Cloud Now Bridges To Your Data Center thread of 4/8/2009 in the Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum (CCIF) group and this later, illustrated Google's Cloud Bridges your Data Center post. The App Engine Team’s Google App Engine’s Next Iteration post of 4/8/2009 is the official summary.

Cast Iron Systems announces their support for SDC in this Google Apps charges ahead with improved data security and long-awaited Java support post of 4/8/2009.

§ Larry Dignan analyzes the ramifications of Sun following the IBM deal collapse: Customer confusion en route for ZDNet on 4/6/2009:

[A]ny customer buying from Sun will have to consider the ramifications of a purchase. For instance, if you’re about to buy Sun hardware and HP is in the running why wouldn’t you opt for the latter just to eliminate some uncertainty. After all, HP could buy Sun. What about cloud services? Will you trust your cloud to a company that has a tug-of-war underway over a buyout?

§ Miko Matsumura posits Sun IBM Collapse Heralds the Return of McNealy. Jonathan Schwartz is Toast in this 4/5/2009 post, which includes a link to Steve Gillmor’s Open Source Ponytail Video. Miko concludes:

Mark my words, Schwartz is toast, IBM deal or no deal. If the IBM deal fails completely (most likely outcome), look for Scott McNealy to pull a Michael Dell (or a Jerry Yang, depending on how you look at it) and to appoint himself CEO again. The board of Sun wouldn’t allow such a thing if there were even one viable suitor left. But there isn’t.

§ James Hamilton’s Data Center Efficiency Summit (Posting #4) continues his efficiency analysis series with this 4/5/2009 post. Preceding posts from Google’s Data Center Efficiency Summit are:

  1. Data Center Efficiency Summit
  2. Rough Notes: Data Center Efficiency Summit
  3. Rough Notes: Data Center Efficiency Summit (posting #3)

§ James Urquhart analyzes Internal cloud's big test: Amazon vs. Cloudera on 4/4/2009:

The announcement on Thursday of Amazon's new Hadoop-based Elastic MapReduce service, combined with the introduction of a commercial Hadoop distribution from start-up Cloudera, means that we finally have a reasonable means of watching which directions enterprise IT prefers.

§ Chris Fleck’s Amazon EC2 Reserved Pricing Changes the Equation post of 4/5/2009, subtitled “Cloud Computing Economics Part Three,” analyzes on-premise or colocation versus Amazon EC2 conventional or reserved instance pricing for five quad-core servers.


Gaurav Mantri said...

Hi Roger,

I am not sure if you have read about it or not but we have just released a beta version of a browser based tool for managing Azure storage. More information can be found here:


Gaurav Mantri
Cerebrata Software