Sunday, June 28, 2009

Windows Azure and Cloud Computing Posts for 6/22/2009+

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

••• Updates 6/27 – 6/28/2009: OGDI expansion, other additions and corrections
Updates 6/25 – 6/26/2009: Microsoft presentations streamed at GigaOm’s Structure 09 (Cloud Computing Events), Mary Jo Foley’s “All About Azure” audio archive (Cloud Computing Events), Velocity 09 videos, Structure 09 summaries and additions 
• Updates 6/23 – 6/24/2009: Additions, typos

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

To use these links, click the post title to display the single article you want to navigate.

Azure Blob, Table and Queue Services

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Arnon Rotem-Gal-Oz expands on his CRUD is bad for REST thesis in this 6/24/2009 post to Dr. Dobbs CodeTalk. In brief, Arnon’s position is:

[T]he main reason CRUD is wrong for REST is an architectural one. One of the base characteristics(*) of REST is using hypermedia to externalize the statemachine of the protocol (a.k.a. HATEOS– Hypertext as the engine of state). The URI to URI transition is what makes the protocol tick (the transaction implementation by Alexandros  discussed in the previous post shows a good example of following this principle). …

Maarten Balliauw recommends storing MVC views in Azure blobs in his A view from the cloud (or: locate your ASP.NET MVC views on Windows Azure Blob Storage) post of 6/8/2009 (missed at the time.)

Hosting and deploying ASP.NET MVC applications on Windows Azure works like a charm. However, if you have been reading my blog for a while, you might have seen that I don’t like the fact that my ASP.NET MVC views are stored in the deployed package as well… Why? If I want to change some text or I made a typo, I would have to re-deploy my entire application for this. Takes a while, application is down during deployment, … And all of that for a typo…

Luckily, Windows Azure also provides blob storage, on which you can host any blob of data (or any file, if you don’t like saying “blob”). These blobs can easily be managed with a tool like Azure Blob Storage Explorer. Now let’s see if we can abuse blob storage for storing the views of an ASP.NET MVC web application, making it easier to modify the text and stuff. We’ll do this by creating a new VirtualPathProvider.

Note that this approach can also be used to create a CMS based on ASP.NET MVC and Windows Azure.

Bruno Terkaly continues his series on Azure tables with these three posts of 6/21 – 6/22/2009:

Bruno is a Microsoft Developer Evangelist.

SQL Data Services (SDS)

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No significant new articles as of 6/23/2009 10:30 AM PDT

.NET Services: Access Control, Service Bus and Workflow

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Brent Stineman’s .NET Services – Introduction to the Service Bus post of 6/26/2009 begins:

Darned if this post hasn’t been rough to write. I don’t know if its my continued lack of caffeine (quit it about 10 days ago now), or the constant interruptions. At least the interruptions have been meaningful. But after 2 days of off and on again effort, this post is finally done.

As some of you reading this may already been aware, I’ve spent much of my spare time the last several weeks diving into Microsoft’s .NET Services. I’m finally ready to start sharing what I’ve learned in what I hope is a much more easily digestible format. Nothing against all the official documents and videos that are out there. They’re all excellent information. The problem is that there’s simply too much of it. :)

Brent’s summary of the three major .NET Services includes Workflow, the demise of which in Azure v1 I reported on earlier. Workflow won’t return to .NET Services until after .NET 4.0 RTMs.

Vittorio Bertocci promotes a video from his Putting authentication in its place: claim-based identity, services and Geneva TechDays session in his [VIDEO] Putting authentication in its place: claim-based identity, services and Geneva post of 6/25/2009. Here’s the blurb:

The code that takes care of authentication is traditionally one of the nastiest spot of every distributed application. The current situation derives from multiple causes, from tightly coupling with specific technologies to trusting non-experts to write security code. Microsoft has been among the thought leaders who proposed a strategic solution to the problem, the Identity MetaSystem and its claim based identities, achieving vast consensus across the industry. Come to this session to learn how you can finally put that vision in practice thanks to the new 'Geneva' products line.

TechDays was held in Antwerp a few months ago.

Dan Guberman describes Improved support for X.509 credential in Information Cards in this 6/23/2009 post to the CardSpaceBlog.

The Beta 2 version of “Geneva” has many features that improve the deployment of Geneva platform for our enterprise customers, like the Group Policy-driven provisioning of Information Cards  or the administrative policy of card usage that we talked about in our previous blog posts.

Another such feature is the enhanced support for X.509 certificate credentials in Information Cards.

Using Information Cards backed by an X509 certificate provides the added benefit of increased security, and with “Geneva” Server Beta 2 it becomes very easy to provision such a card. Pretty much all that you need to do is to check the “Certificate” checkbox in the Information Card Properties dialog in Geneva Server (right-click on Information Card tab in the navigation pane, and select Properties from the context menu).

However, there’s still no update to this caveat in Vittorio Bertocci’s Claims and Cloud: Pardon our Dust post of 4/1/2009:

[F]or a variety of reasons, an application that takes advantage of the Geneva Framework will not work “as is” when hosted in Windows Azure, including Microsoft products that were written to use the Geneva Framework. You may have heard that the new full trust settings we announced for Windows Azure at MIX would make the above scenario work, however that’s not the case: there is more than full trust for enabling the complete range of possibilities offered by claims based access.

My question about Geneva Beta 2 in a comment to this post remains unanswered.

Live Windows Azure Apps, Tools and Test Harnesses

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••• Microsoft’s Open Government Data Initiative (OGDI) site has expanded with more Azure-hosted Washington, D.C data sets on the Data Page, and details on the OGDI API on the Developers page. According to the Home page:

The Open Government Data Initiative (OGDI) is an initiative led by Microsoft Public Sector Developer Evangelism team. OGDI uses the Azure Services Platform to make it easier to publish and use a wide variety of public data from government agencies. OGDI is also a free, open source ‘starter kit’ (coming soon) with code that can be used to publish data on the Internet in a Web-friendly format with easy-to-use, open API's. OGDI-based web API’s can be accessed from a variety of client technologies such as Silverlight, Flash, JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby, mapping web sites, etc.

Ben Riga finishes his five-part series about combining the Microsoft Web Platform with Dynamics CRM to quickly build and deploy self-service solutions hosted on Windows Azure with his Dynamics Duo: Silverlight and Jazz Hands post of 6/18/2009. Following are links to the entire saga:

  1. Dynamics Duo Rides Again
  2. Dynamics Duo: Everybody needs an Identity
  3. Dynamics Duo: Wide World Importers Code
  4. Dynamics Duo: Composition with Third-Party Web Services
  5. Dynamics Duo: Silverlight and Jazz Hands

Keith posted Web-based mapping tool gets government data via API from OGDI: to the Microsoft Public Sector Developer and Platform Evangelism Team Blog on 6/25/2009:

Microsoft partner IDV Solutions has created a terrific mapping overlay tool that can get map data from any KML source.

Since OGDI natively emits KML, its a great demonstration of web standards enabling open government data.  They’ve included DC data from OGDI, and some national data (parks, earthquakes), but you can easily add any KML data set just by entering a URL.

Go to to see it in action!

Mary Jo Foley reports on 6/24/2009 Five reasons why Microsoft's Hohm is more than just another Web 2.0 service. Following are the first two (and Azure-related) reasons from Troy Balterberry, Microsoft’s Hohm product manager:

1. Hohm is a hosted serice running on Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform. There are relatively few Microsoft services that already are running fully on top of Azure. HealthVault is one; Live Mesh is another. The calculations upon which the Hohm service is built are “really complicated,” Balterberry said, and require historical modeling. By running on Azure, Hohm can be scaled up or down, depending on demand, to use lots of compute cycles during peak demand.

2. Speaking of HealthVault, Hohm was patterned after it and uses the same security and privacy mechanisms that Microsoft’s health-information service uses. While energy consumption data doesn’t seem as in need of guarding that patient health data is, energy usage and pricing are information that is sensitive and to which access needs to be controlled, said Balterberry.

Here’s the full Microsoft Hohm Helps Consumers Save Money and Energy press release.

C. G. Lynch asks How Far Will Microsoft Go with Cloud? in this feature-length article of 6/23/2009 for InfoWorld:

… To date, the majority of Microsoft's software has come paired with servers and hardware that IT departments run and manage in-house. Now, with online services, Microsoft can manage the software in its own data centers while employees at customer companies around the world access applications through a web browser.

According to Microsoft executives, companies can realize huge cost savings by not hiring staff to manage Exchange servers or reallocate current IT staff to other areas-a refrain software as a service (SaaS) vendors have been pushing for years now.

"IT is dominated by the people cost," says Bob Muglia, president of the Microsoft Server & Tools division. "It's the single largest expense in IT. By leveraging the scale online services can deliver, you can leverage costs and be leaner." …

Ingersoll Rand was running the e-mail system in-house. It had also developed many custom apps on the Lotus Domino server, but the cost was taking its toll, Kalka says. After looking at the on-premise, traditional version of Exchange, Kalka says "the numbers didn't look much better."

Then Microsoft approached him about online version of Exchange. Kalka saw the cheap per user price. Coupled with the fact he didn't need to manage hardware, he decided to sign up.

"That big e-mail cost went away," he says. "We had e-mail servers all around the world. 95 percent are shut down or re-allocated for something else." …

Lynch goes on to describe SharePoint in the cloud as a “Trickier Decision” and notes that “Microsoft will roll out a fully online version of Office later this year or early next, but it remains unclear how robust the offering will be in comparison to the installed version.”

David Pallman’s "Joint Venture": New Azure Multi-Business Enterprise Application (MEBA) post of 6/21/2009 describes his:

[L]atest Silverlight-Azure reference application which is called Joint Venture. Joint Venture provides a workspace for cross-business project teams. That is, teams made up of people from more than one business who are working on some kind of business collaboration. This is an example of a Multi-Enterprise Business Application (MEBA), an app used by multiple businesses who have a relationship with each other. The cloud is an ideal place for business collaboration, providing a neutral location that can be easily and universally accessed.

David requests your Azure Developer Contest vote in his Vote for Me! post of the same date.

Azure Infrastructure

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••• Chris Hoff (a.k.a. @Beaker) concludes in his Cloud Maturity: Just Like the iPhone, There’s An App For That… post of 6/27/2009:

The thing I love about my iPhone is that it’s not a piece of technology I think about but rather, it’s the way interact with it to get what I want done.  It has its quirks, but it works…for millions of people.

The point here is that Cloud is very much like the iPhone.  As Sir James (Urquhart) says “Cloud isn’t a technology, it’s an operational model.”  Just like the iPhone.

Cloud is still relatively immature and it doesn’t have all the things I want or need yet (and probably never will) but it will get to the point where its maturity and the inclusion of capabilities (such as better security, interoperability, more openness, etc.) will smooth its adoption even further and I won’t feel like we’re settling anymore…until the next version shows up on shelves.

But don’t worry, there’s an app for that.

John Brodkin’s Survey casts doubt on cloud adoption article for NetworkWorld of 6/26/2009 summarizes Laura DiDio’s recent cloud-computing survey for ITIC:

New survey results cast doubt on whether cloud computing adoption will ramp up in the next 12 months, with only 15% of corporate customers having adopted or considering adopting cloud technology over the next year.

A survey of 300 corporations worldwide found that 38% are undecided or unsure about whether they will adopt cloud services, and another 47% said they are not considering implementing cloud in the next year. Security is the biggest roadblock.

“An overwhelming 85% majority of corporate customers will not implement a private or public cloud computing infrastructure in 2009 because of fears that cloud providers may not be able to adequately secure sensitive corporate data,” writes Information Technology Intelligence Corp. principal analyst Laura DiDio in a new report.

Laura’s survey conflicts directly with Harris Interactive’s Microsoft-sponsored analysis reported by Julie Bort (see below.)

Stephen Lawson reports in his Cloud is Internet's next generation, HP executive says post of 6/25/2009 that Cloud-Services “CTO Russ Daniels says the cloud makes the Internet more than an infrastructure for automating business processes or letting people view information.”

The International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) blog’s High Performance Cloud Computing Still an Oxymoron post of 6/25/2009 observes:

There was general agreement [at ISC ‘09 in Hamburg, Germany] on the benefits of cloud computing: elastic capacity, pay-per-use model, platform abstraction, economies of scale, and built-in fault tolerance. Unfortunately -- and maybe significantly -- there didn't seem to be much consensus about whether the clouds would usurp traditional HPC infrastructure as the platform of choice.

C. Burns and B. Guptill’s MIT Cloud Computing Forums: Executives Don’t Know What They Don’t Know research report of 6/24/2009 (site registration required) begins:

CIOs and similar high-ranking user executives see promise in Cloud Computing and, for the most part, believe that they understand what it is, and how to benefit from it. But insights from a recent four-day series of events with CIOs around the US indicate that, in reality, there are multiple definitions of Cloud Computing - and relatively few executives can see the scope of its effects.

From June 11 through June 18, Saugatuck Research VP Charlie Burns took part in four expert panel and networking reception events examining the realities of Cloud Computing, and their effects on user business and IT strategy, planning and management.

And continues with an analyzes of “[d]iscussions during the events and private conversations with session attendees.”

Lori MacVittie suggests Five questions you need to ask about load balancing and the cloud on 6/25/2009 and starts with:

Horizontal scaling of applications is a fairly well understood process that involves (old skool) server virtualization of the network kind: making many servers (instances) look like one to the outside world. When you start adding instances to increase capacity for your application, load balancing necessarily gets involved as it’s the way in which horizontal scalability is implemented today. …

Joe McKendrick reports in his Survey: Wall Street looks to cloud technology for its next bailout post of 6/25/2009:

A new survey released by IBM and Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) finds that IT budgets are tight on Wall Street, but things are loosening up, and there’s going to be plenty of demand for new technology initiatives in the near future as firms on the Street look to “transformational” solutions to help better manage risk.

The survey of more than 350 Wall Street IT professionals found a “significant” increase in interest in new technologies and computing models, in particular cloud computing, as firms seek to overcome budgetary restrictions and skills shortages. Almost half of the respondents now see cloud computing as a disruptive force. …

Gartner’s Lydia Leong asks on 6/26/2009 Does Procurement know what you care about? when sourcing cloud computing services:

Increasingly, … procurement is self-educating via the Internet. I’ve been seeing this a bit in relationship to the cloud (although there, the big waves are being made by business leadership, especially the CEO and CFO, reading about cloud in the press and online, more so than Purchasing), and a whole lot in the CDN market, where things like Dan Rayburn’s blog posts on CDN pricing provide some open guidance on market pricing. Bereft of context, and armed with just enough knowledge to be dangerous, purchasing folks looking across a market for the cheapest place to source something, can arrive at incorrect conclusions about what IT is really trying to source, and misjudge how much negotiating leverage they’ll really have with a vendor.

Derrick Harris analyzes cloud-based infrastructure in these recent weekly posts to the GigaOm PRO Beta network:

Derrick is the Infrastructure Curator for the GigaOM Network.

Toby Wolpe’s Gartner rejigs cloud definitions article of 6/24/2009 for ZDNet UK and Chris Talbot’s Gartner identifies ideal attributes of cloud computing post of 6/25/2009 for eChannelLine cover Darryl Plummer’s revamped definition of cloud computing. According to Chris, the five “ideal attributes” are, in brief:

  1. Service-based
  2. Scalable and elastic
  3. Shared
  4. Metered by use
  5. Uses Internet technology

Chris provides more details of the five points, while Toby delivers more background.

Daryl Plummer is a managing vice president and chief Gartner fellow.

Mary Jo Foley’s “All about Azure” Webcast of 6/24/2009 and slides should be are available for download here, but the link doesn’t work. Will update if and when ZDNet fixes it. See the Cloud Computing Events section for more details.

• Julie Bort reports on 6/24/2009 that Many companies say they will adopt cloud computing within two years based on a “Microsoft-sponsored [Harris Interactive] study on IT spending [which] shows green is out, efficiency is in and security is still painful.”

One-third of 1,200 organizations (33%) plan to convert their application environments away from a traditional, client-server model to one based on virtualization and cloud computing over the next two years, according to a study commissioned by Microsoft and released today. The study sought to broadly determine global IT spending priorities.

While the survey was far from comprehensive, it did uncover a few silver-lining facts. IT spending budgets will not be cut, with 98% saying they will generally maintain or increase their planned investment. Nearly 2/3 say the economy has created reason to invest more in one or more areas of technology. And of those, virtualization, security, systems management and cloud computing are the areas of choice. Specifically:

  • 42% plan increased investment in virtualization.
  • 36% plan increased investment in security.
  • 24% plan increased investment in systems management.
  • 16% plan increased investment in cloud computing.

• Dana Gardner chimes in on the Harris Interactive report in his Virtualization and Cloud Computing Get IT Green Light post of 6/24/2009 subtitled “Cloud and upgraded computing future brightens despite overcast economy, Microsoft-sponsored survey finds.” Gardner concludes:

The survey confirmed Microsoft’s in-house belief that IT budgets still have room for investment in infrastructure innovations, he said. The Redmond folks hope that will include convincing corporate IT departments, which pretty much skipped the Vista era, to finally move from Windows XP to Windows 7.

More survey highlights are available at the Microsoft Core Infrastructure Optimization site.

• James Hamilton describes his ISCA 2009 Keynote II: Internet-Scale Service Infrastructure Efficiency session in this 6/24/2009 post:

I presented the keynote at the International Symposium on Computer Architecture 2009 yesterday. Kathy Yelick kicked off the conference with the other keynote on Monday: How to Waste a Parallel Computer.

Thanks to ISCA Program Chair Luiz Borroso for the invitation and for organizing an amazingly successful conference. I’m just sorry I had to leave a day early to attend a customer event this morning. My slides: Internet-Scale Service Infrastructure Efficiency.

Abstract: High-scale cloud services provide economies of scale of five to ten over small-scale deployments, and are becoming a large part of both enterprise information processing and consumer services. Even very large enterprise IT deployments have quite different cost drivers and optimizations points from internet-scale services. The former are people-dominated from a cost perspective whereas internet-scale service costs are driven by server hardware and infrastructure with people costs fading into the noise at less than 10%.

In this talk we inventory where the infrastructure costs are in internet-scale services. We track power distribution from 115KV at the property line through all conversions into the data center tracking the losses to final delivery at semiconductor voltage levels. We track cooling and all the energy conversions from power dissipation through release to the environment outside of the building. Understanding where the costs and inefficiencies lie, we ll look more closely at cooling and overall mechanical system design, server hardware design, and software techniques including graceful degradation mode, power yield management, and resource consumption shaping.

• Reuven Cohen complains about fixed software licensing fees for cloud deployment in his Examining Utility Software Licensing post of 6/24/2009. Ruv writes:

Recently I read an article about a traditional enterprise grid computing company who is attempting to enter the nascent cloud computing market. Without naming names, I will say the technology is probably decent, what they seem to lack is any real insight into the cost advantages that cloud computing enables. What I'm getting at is the ability to scale your resources -- hardware and software alike as you need them only paying for what your need, when you need it. This is arguably one of the key advantages of cloud computing, be it a private or public cloud.

My biggest issue with enterprise software companies applying traditional software licensing to cloud infrastructure software is that by charging $1,000 per year / per node, you are in a sense applying a static costing model to a dynamic environment which basically negates any of the costs advantages that cloud computing brings. It's almost like they're saying this how we've always done it, so why change? To put it another way, on one hand they're saying "reinvent your datacenter" yet on the other hand they saying" we don't need to reinvent how we bill you".

Dmitry Sotnikov claims A VM running in EC2 is not SaaS in this 6/23/2009 post:

Just because you have software packaged as a virtual machine and running in Amazon EC2 does not mean you have a “cloud” offering.

As easy as it sounds in most cases when a vendor claims they have their software available as a service/cloud offering – it is just that: a virtual machine image (such as Amazon Machine Image – AMI) and maybe a hosting partner eager to host this virtual machine for you.

Dmitri then goes on to analyze Lydia Leong’s US$95 “Software on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud: How to Tell Hype From Reality Gartner report on the topic.

Reuven Cohen’s MIT Technology Review Names Key Cloud Players post of 6/23/2009 provides a brief summary and the following links to articles in the July/August issue of the MIT Technology Review:

10Gen is developing MongoDB, a database for the cloud that supports Ruby, Python, Java, C++, PHP, Perl, and server-side Javascript and has more features than key-value (Entity-Attribute-Value, EAV) databases.

Here’s the MIT Cloud Stack:

Robin Wauters reports Microsoft Poaches Former Yahoo Exec To Head Up Data Center Services in this 6/22/2009 TechCrunch post:

Acquiring Yahoo, one employee at a time: Microsoft has recruited Kevin Timmons, former lead of Yahoo’s data center team, to head up its Data Center Services organization. Timmons was once director of Operations at GeoCities and worked his way up to VP of Operations at Yahoo, where he led the build-out of the company’s data centers and infrastructure.

Robert L. Scheier’s Busting the nine myths of cloud computing post of 6/22/2009 for InfoWorld’s Cloud Computing column carries this deck:

Vendor hype and IT self-delusion can quickly lead to disappointment. If you're considering a cloud strategy, don't get fooled by these false premises.

and William Hurley asks Will lawyers ruin cloud computing?

Looming legal battles over privacy, security, regulation, and intellectual property have the potential to steal cloud computing's thunder

Brent Stineman asks is Cloud Computing [a] backlash against constraints? in this 6/22/2009 post:

[He cannot] help but ponder if one motivation for moving to the cloud was this “need” to not be limited by existing infrastructure. How many folks will look to the cloud not because of cost, or features, but simply because the near endless resources it brings mean that they are no longer bound by the constraints imposed by their existing infrastructure. They can operate outside of enterprise infrastructure governance and budgeting.

Lydia Leong recommends that cloud-compute vendors avoid Overpromising in this 6/22/2009 post:

I’ve turned one of my earlier blog entries, Smoke-and-mirrors and cloud software into a full-blown research note: “Software on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud: How to Tell Hype From Reality” (clients only). It’s a Q&A for your software vendor, if they suggest that you deploy their solution on EC2, or if you want to do so and you’re wondering what vendor support you’ll get if you do so. The information is specific to Amazon (since most client inquiries of this type involve Amazon), but somewhat applicable to other cloud compute service providers, too.

More broadly, I’ve noticed an increasing tendency on the part of cloud compute vendors to over-promise. It’s not credible, and it leaves prospective customers scratching their heads and feeling like someone has tried to pull a fast one on them. Worse still, it could leave more gullible businesses going into implementations that ultimately fail. This is exactly what drives the Trough of Disillusionment of the hype cycle and hampers productive mainstream adoption. …

Ben Kepes summarizes the first session of the Enterprise 2.0 2009 conference by Alistair Croll in his Cloud Computing – A Real World Guide post of 6/22/2009. Croll is co-author of Complete Web Monitoring and a principal analyst for Bitcurrent.

Reuven Cohen says “On second thoughts, ‘Multiverse’ does little to describe how each of those clouds interact” in his The Cloud Computing Metaverse post of 6/21/2009:

In describing my theory on the Cloud Multiverse, I may have missed the few obvious implications of using the prefix "multi" or consisting of more than one part or entity. Although the Cloud Multiverse thesis suggests there will be more then one internet based platform or cloud to choose from. It does little to describe how each of those clouds interact. For this we need another way to describe how each of these virtualized interconnected environments interact with one another.

In place of "multi" I suggest we use the prefix "Meta" (from Greek: μετά = "after", "beyond", "with", "adjacent", "self").

Michelle Munson explains Avoiding Latency in the Cloud in this 6/20/2009 post to the GigaOM blog for the Structure Conference. Michelle begins:

The cloud promises to change the way businesses, governments and consumers access, use and move data. For many organizations, a big selling point in cloud infrastructure services is migrating massive data sets to relieve internal storage requirements, leverage vast computing power, reduce or contain their data center footprint, and free up IT resources for strategic business initiatives. As we move critical and non-critical data to the cloud, reliable, secure and fast access to that information is crucial. But given bandwidth and distance constraints, how do we move and manage that data to and from the cloud, and between different cloud services, in a cost-efficient, scalable manner?

Apprenda, Inc.’s SaaSGrid PaaS offering sounds a bit like Azure:

SaaSGrid℠ is a comprehensive Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering that drastically reduces time-to-market, allows organizations to build complex and powerful SaaS applications and affords them the ability to easily manage their SaaS business. SaaSGrid focuses on reducing the barrier to entry for SaaS by smashing significant technical hurdles like multi-tenancy and by providing "out of the box" application services like monetization and billing, while supplying ongoing value with an arsenal of management tools to manage a SaaS business and associated application maintenance.

Build real enterprise SaaS applications with technologies you already know. SaaSGrid applications are written using Microsoft .NET languages and the simple yet powerful SaaSGrid API. There is no need to learn new programming languages or flashy online 'drag and drop editors' that impose artificial limitations on your business. In fact, with SaaSGrid, the web-based enterprise apps you've already built using .NET are probably closer to SaaS-enabled than you think. SaaSGrid allows you to take advantage of your existing assets and knowledge, and extend them with massive SaaS-focused value. [Emphasis Apprenda’s.]

I’d certainly like to see a point-by-point comparison with Azure WebRoles and .NET Services.

Cloud Security and Governance

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•• Aliya Sternstein’s Microsoft: Legacy systems not a barrier to [government] cloud computing article of 6/26/2009 for NextGov quotes Susie Adams, Microsoft’s chief technology officer for federal civilian agencies:

"It's an evolution of the industry." And transitioning does not require overhauling all computer programs and hardware. "The first entree from a transparency perspective is to put publicly available data into the cloud. That's the least risky," Adams said.

To ensure Microsoft remains a player in the growing cloud market, company officials are developing software that is interoperable, or able to exchange information among multiple systems and services. "It's all about choices," she said. "It's going to be a hybrid world.”

•• Greg Papadopoulos is quoted in TechPulse360’s Public Computing Clouds Could Be More Secure That Private Ones post of 6/26/2009:

“Most public clouds are run in a more secure manner than the networks enterprises maintain on their own. Not all private companies maintain the same discipline,” he said Thursday at the Structure 09 conference in San Francisco.

This is a common refrain that few CTOs, CIOs or CISOs appear to believe. Greg is CTO and Executive Vice President of Research and Development at Sun Microsystems.

Reuven Cohen’s IBM Solves Cryptographic Cloud Security post of 6/25/2009 comments on IBM’s purported discovery of “a method to fully process encrypted data without knowing its content. If true, this could greatly further data privacy and strengthen cloud computing security.” Ruv quote’s IBM’s press release:

An IBM researcher has solved a thorny mathematical problem that has confounded scientists since the invention of public-key encryption several decades ago. The breakthrough, called "privacy homomorphism," or "fully homomorphic encryption," makes possible the deep and unlimited analysis of encrypted information -- data that has been intentionally scrambled -- without sacrificing confidentiality.

And adds this caveat in an update:

According to a Forbes article, Gentry's elegant solution has a catch: It requires immense computational effort. In the case of a Google search, for instance, performing the process with encrypted keywords would multiply the necessary computing time by around 1 trillion, Gentry estimates. But now that Gentry has broken the theoretical barrier to fully homomorphic encryption, the steps to make it practical won't be far behind, predicts professor Rivest. "There's a lot of engineering work to be done," he says. "But until now we've thought this might not be possible. Now we know it is." [Emphasis added.]

Government Information Security Podcasts offers the Audit, Risk Trends: Insights from David Melnick of Deloitte podcast in this 6/22/2009 post:

Audit and enterprise risk - they're inextricably linked. As cyber threats grow - from the inside and out - require organizations and their regulators to pay closer attention to technology and information security.

What are some of the key audit and risk trends to track? David Melnick of Deloitte answers that question in an interview focusing on:

  • Top challenges for financial institutions and government agencies;
  • Successful strategies being deployed to mitigate threats;
  • Trends organizations should track as they eye 2010.

Melnick is a principal in security and privacy services within the audit and enterprise risk services practice in the Los Angeles office of Deloitte and brings more than 17 years of experience designing, developing, managing and auditing large scale secure technology infrastructure. Melnick has authored several technology books and is a frequent speaker on the topics of security and electronic commerce.

Cloud Computing Events

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•• O’Reilly Media offers videos of sessions from its Velocity 09 Web Performance and Operations Conference, held 6/22 - 6/24/2009 in San Jose California. Videos with cloud topics include:

•• David Pallman will be “speaking at So Cal Code Camp this weekend in San Diego. [His] talk is on Azure Design Patterns, Saturday at 2:30:”

This session will present Design Patterns for cloud computing on the Azure platform. Azure provides oodles of functionality that range from application hosting and storage to enterprise-grade security and workflow. Design patterns help you think about these capabilities in the right way and how they can be combined into composite applications. We'll cover design patterns for hosting, data, communication, synchronization, and security as well as composite application patterns that combine them. We'll be doing hands-on code demos of a number of composite applications, including a grid computing application. Azure Design Patterns Web Site.

When: 6/27 and 6/28/2009 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM 
Where: UCSD Extension Complex, 9600 N. Torrey Pines Rd., La Jolla, CA 92037

•• Krishnan Subramanian summarizes the Structure 09 Panel - The Myth Of One Size Fits All Cloud, Structure 09 Panel - Building The Perfect Host for Web Apps and Structure 09 Panel: From Dataspaces To Databases panel discussions of 6/25/2009 from GigaOm’s Structure 09 conference.

•• Brandon Watson reports that GigaOm’s Structure 09, Putting Cloud Computing to Work, will stream on 6/25/2009 the following panels with Microsoft representatives:

  • 11:05 AM: The Myth of the One-Size-Fits-All Cloud (Yousef Khoudi)
  • 1:30 PM: Toward Cloud Computing: Private Enterprise Clouds As A First Step (Brandon Watson)
  • 3:30 PM: Spinning the Web to the Cloud (Brian Goldfarb and Steve Yi)
  • 4:00 PM: On The Shoulders of Giants (Najam Ahmad)

More details about the panels and presentations are here.

Brandon says in his What Is Cloud Computing? post of 6/25/2009 from Structure 09 that “the word ‘cloud’ is catnip for nerds.” … “Next up on the zeitgeist watch?  Attaching the word “scale” to the name of your company.”

 John Willis reports that he “will be moderating next week’s Cloud Camp in Columbus Ohio next week Tuesday 6/30/09” in his Cloud Camp Columbus and The IBM Blue Cloud post of 6/24/2009:

I will be giving two session[s] at the conference, “Introduction to Clouds” and “Clouds in the Enterprise”. In my “Clouds in the Enterprise” will cover IBM’s new “Blue Cloud/Cloudbursting” announcement. If you happen to be in the Columbus area next Tuesday you should come and learn more about Cloud Computing. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. Also, I have reserved extra tickets for Tivoli users.

When: 6/30/2009 5:00 PM to 8:30 PM 
Where: TechColumbus, 1275 Kinnear Rd, Columbus, OH 43212

Mary Jo Foley will “help sort out what Azure is (and what it isn’t) in a live Webcast on Wednesday, June 24 at 1:00 PM ET / 10:00 AM PT / 5:00 PM GMT” according to Jason Hiner. “This is a good opportunity to get up to speed on Azure before Microsoft launches it later this year.”

Jason describes the content:

ZDNet’s “All About Microsoft” blog editor Mary Jo Foley will offer an Azure primer. She’ll explain what Azure is — from the base operating system level, to the higher-level services layers, to the “user experience.” Foley will compare Azure to competing cloud platforms from Amazon, Google and other players. She will discuss how Microsoft is using and plans to use the platform itself. And Foley will differentiate between what we know about Azure from what many are anticipating from the platform.

Even if you’re dragging your heels about moving your apps and data “to the cloud,” it’s not too soon to hear more about Microsoft’s cloud plans. This Webcast will provide a high-level overview of where Microsoft has been and where it’s going in the cloud/utility computing market.

When: 6/24/2009 from 10:00 PM PDT
Where: Internet (Webcast) You should be able to download the audio archive of the All About Azure Webcast from and download slides here.

Nandita of Microsoft’s Public Sector DPE Team announces Microsoft Developer Dinner Series for Partners Presenting: Microsoft Open Government Data Initiative – Cloud Computing, REST, AJAX, CSS, oh my! - June 24, 2009 - Reston, VA. Speakers will be:

    • Marc Schweigert, Developer Evangelist 
    • James Chittenden, User Experience Evangelist
    • Vlad Vinogradsky, Architect Evangelist

To help public sector entities meet these demands, Microsoft announced the Open Government Data Initiative (OGDI) on May 7, 2009. OGDI provides an Internet-standards-based approach to house existing public government data in Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, called Windows Azure. The approach makes the data accessible in a programmatic manner that uses open, industry-standard protocols and application programming interfaces (APIs).

Typically, federal, state and local government data is available via download from government Web sites, which requires citizen developers to host and maintain the data themselves. Through OGDI, Microsoft is highlighting the importance of programmatic access to government data (versus downloading the data).

Register here.

Here are the follow up links promised:

When: 6/24/2009 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM PDT 
Where: Microsoft Innovation & Technology Center, 12012 Sunset Hills Road Reston, VA 20190

Wayne Erickson will present a Webinar, Making Sense of SaaS BI: The Pros and Cons of Moving BI to the Cloud, on 6/25/2009 at 9:00 AM PDT:

Companies are adopting Software as a Service (SaaS) business intelligence (BI) solutions at a record pace as they upgrade from complex collections of spreadsheets and augment their existing BI deployments. Before your company jumps into the fray of deploying BI using the Cloud computing model, join industry expert Wayne Eckerson, Director of The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) Research, for straight talk about pitfalls to avoid and how to achieve a rapid Return on Investment (ROI).

Register here.

When: 6/25/2009 from 9:00 PM PDT 
Where: Internet (Webinar)

David Pallman announces the Next Orange County Azure User Group Meeting Thursday 6/25 on Silverlight and Azure in this 6/20/2009 post:

The Orange County Azure User Group next meets on Thursday, June 25 at 6pm. The topic for this month's meeting is Silverlight and Azure. David Pallmann and Richard Fencel will both be presenting.

In David's presentation, you'll learn how to create rich Silverlight applications that are Azure-hosted and take advantage of cloud services. We'll build an Azure-hosted Silverlight application from the ground up that utilizes web services and cloud storage.

When: 6/25/2009 from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM PDT 
Where: QuckStart Intelligence, 16815 Von Karman Avenue, Suite 100, Irvine, CA 92606

SOA World reports SOA & Cloud Computing To Intersect This Week at SOA World on 6/22 – 6/23/2009 “at The Roosevelt Hotel, the 15th International SOA World Conference & Expo.”

When: 6/22 to 6/23/2009 
Where: Roosevelt Hotel, New York

Other Cloud Computing Platforms and Services

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••• John Foley lists 10 Essentials Of IBM's Cloud Computing Strategy in this 6/26/2009 post to InformationWeek’s Cloud Cloud Computing Destination. John writes:

IBM recently made its most significant cloud computing announcement to date, which one executive compares to the launch of Big Blue's venerable System/360 mainframe 40 years ago. Following is my list of the top 10 things you need to know about IBM's emerging cloud strategy. …

•• John WillisBig 4 Little 4 - Private Clouds post of 6/25/2009 offers brief opinions about what he considers the Big 4 in private clouds:

and the Little 4:

•• Ted Leung and Ashwin Rao contributed the Explaining the Allure of Cloud Computing post of 6/25/2009 to Sun Microsystems’ SystemNews, which summarizes a presentation to JavaOne. Topics covered (briefly) are:

  • Attractions of the Cloud
  • Problems of the Cloud
  • The Current Tool Landscape
  • Sun's Cloud Tools (Kenai, Zembly, O’Malley, and Speedway)

 John Foley’s Oracle Moves A 'Little Bit' Into Cloud Computing post of 6/24/2009 to InformationWeek’s Cloud Computing segment begins:

Following his outburst against cloud computing last year, it appears that Larry Ellison has warmed up to the cloud computing model, if not the buzz phrase itself. Oracle's CEO yesterday said it's a goal to become the software industry's "number one on-demand application company."

Ellison last year lambasted cloud computing, referring to the hype around it as "idiocy," "gibberish," and "crazy." As I pointed out at the time, however, Oracle was moving into cloud computing even as its leader railed against it. During a conference call yesterday with analysts to discuss Oracle's financial results, Ellison provided evidence that Oracle is indeed making progress on this front and has ambitious goals in the software-as-a-service market.

"We think we can be the number one applications company, the number one on-premise application company, and the number one on-demand application company. That's our goal," he said. …

Throughout all of this, Ellison didn't use the term cloud computing, referring instead to on-demand software. One analyst observed, "It sounds like you're getting into cloud computing." To which Ellison, the cloud antagonist, responded: "Little bit."

 John Treadway explains the architecture of Joyent - Yes Virginia, There Is A Hybrid Cloud in this 6/24/2009 post based on John’s conversation with James Duncan and Bryan Bogensberger of Joyent at #e2conf. John concludes:

Effectively, your servers are “joined” to the cloud. This is my “marketecture” view from my conversation with James and Bryan, and what they end up releasing may look very different. But if what they say is true, they may be one of the first to have actually deployed a hybrid cloud intro production. That’s huge - like Santa Claus is Real kind of huge!

 Rich Miller reports on Yahoo’s new data center in Quincy, Wash that neighbors Microsoft’s in his oddly titled Yahoo’s Unstealths Its Data Center Efficiency post 0f 6/24/2009:

When it comes to data center efficiency, Yahoo has maintained a lower profile than rivals Google and Microsoft. But the Yahoo team is building a compelling data center story of its own, with innovations in cooling design and energy efficiency ratings approaching the best that Google has achieved.

Yahoo’s Adam Bechtel began telling the story yesterday at the O’Reilly Velocity 2009 conference in San Jose, Calif. Bechtel, the chief architect of Yahoo’s data center operations, shared details of a patented cold-aisle containment system that integrates an overhead cooling module, building the air conditioning units into the top of a “podule” of cabinets packed with servers. …

Yeshim Dentz’s HP Introduces Cloud Consulting Services post of 6/23/2009 announces “[t]he new offerings, including the HP Cloud Discovery Workshop and HP Cloud Roadmap Service.”

Shannon Williams posted Top 7 Requirements from Infrastructure Cloud Providers to the VMOps blog on 6/24/2009:

Right now, a huge number of service providers are making plans to launch computing clouds, and I thought it would be interesting to outline some of the requirements I often hear from prospective cloud providers here. …

  1. Our clouds need to run on inexpensive storage.
  2. We want to build on an Open-Source Hypervisor.
  3. We need a  way to integrate with our Billing & Provisioning apps.
  4. We need to support both Windows and Linux VMs, and that means image based pricing.
  5. We want an API, but also a UI that makes admin simple for end-users.
  6. Cloud images need to be more reliable than dedicated servers.
  7. We want a turn-key solution, not something we have to maintain.

The post includes details of the seven “requirements.” (Apparently, the original post was named “7 Challenges for the Would-Be Cloud Architect)

Rich Miller reports on 6/23/2009 that Amazon Adds Cloud Data Center in Virginia:

As Amazon’s cloud continues to grow, the company is investing in real-world brick-and-mortar data centers to provide additional capacity. The retail/infrastructure company recently leased a 110,000 square foot property in northern Virginia to expand its data center footprint.

The additional space will help accommodate dramatic growth for Amazon Web Services, the suite of services that allow companies to run their applications on Amazon’s infrastructure and pay based on usage. More than 500,000 developers are now using AWS, and Amazon’s S3 storage now houses more than 50 billion objects.

Jay Fry restarts the Cassatt Data Center Blog for CA with his A front row seat for the private cloud evolution: our top content post of 6/22/2009 which offers highlights of the blog’s past six months.

David Linthicum claims IBM 'Clouds' Look Like Conventional IT in this 6/22/2009 post to Intelligent Enterprise:

According to this e-Week report, and this report in the New York Times, IBM continues to form its cloud computing strategy, including the definition of some key products. …

The issue here is that cloud computing is really about, well, cloud computing. Existing hardware and software vendors, including Microsoft, Cisco, HP, etc., and of course IBM, seem to find that thought a bit scary and continue to toss traditional hardware and software at the problem. …

I don’t believe Microsoft is throwing the same hardware into its data center as Cisco, HP and IBM want to sell to private cloud wannabees.

Following is IBM’s #CloudComputing Strategy Map #e2conf:

IBM Smart Business Framework

According to John Treadway, who posted the above slide on 6/22/2009:

The diagram above below gives a bit of insight into where IBM is today and where they are heading. I posted this last week, but removed the diagram at IBM’s Request. Now I’m reposting it after seeing Sean Poulay from IBM presented the chart at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston.

Glenn Brunette describes Sun’s Immutable Service Containers (ISC) in his Project Kenai (Beta) post of 6/22/2009:

Immutable Service Containers (ISC) are an architectural deployment pattern used to describe a foundation for highly secure service delivery. ISCs are essentially a container into which a service or set of services is configured and deployed. First and foremost, ISCs are not based upon any one product or technology. In fact, an actual instantiation of an ISC can and often will differ based upon customer and application requirements. That said, each ISC embodies at its core the key principles inherent in the Sun Systemic Security framework including: self-preservation, defense in depth, least privilege, compartmentalization and proportionality.

Ruven Cohen delivers his 2 cents worth about Sun’s ISC in his Autonomic Cloud Security post of 6/22/2009.

Joe McKendrick asks on 6/22/2009 are Vendors being pushed into cloud, kicking and screaming?

Lately, if you have listened to the pronouncements of vendors large and small, they all are enthusiastically embracing cloud computing as the next wave of software and service delivery.

However, the Wall Street Journal’s Ben Worthen and Justin Scheck have a different take on all this happy cloud talk. The way they see it, the recent economic slump and tighter IT budgets have pushed many vendors into the cloud world, kicking and screaming.  Oracle, HP, IBM, Microsoft, and SAP all run the risk of seeing business move into a lower-margin space, with a longer timeframe to see revenues, they write.

HP Software Chief Tom Hogan even offers an eye-opening comment, admitting to WSJ that the move from traditional to cloud software is “highly disruptive,” and that “shareholders don’t like it, and it’s a real conflict between business strategy and fiduciary duty.” …

Ben Kepes summarizes in this 6/22/2009 post a recent panel discussion about Selecting Cloud Providers. Speakers were:

  • Tony Lucas, CEO, XCalibre
  • Simon West, Chief Marketing Officer, Terremark
  • Alex Barnett, Group Manager, Intuit Partner Platform and IDN, Intuit
  • Jason Hoffman, Founder and CTO, Joyent

James Urquhart’s The new generation of cloud-development platforms post of 6/22/2009 begins:

Software development "in the cloud" has been one of the really interesting developments to come out of the cloud computing market so far. While many early players, such as Zimky and Coghead died on the vine, there is a pretty robust Platform as a Service (or "PaaS") market out there today, with Google App Engine taking the most visible lead, and a pretty solid stable of Ruby on Rails-based hosting providers telling a compelling story of their own.

Such success is driving some new players to seek the spotlight, however. I wanted to highlight two that I found most interesting. They are very different from one another, but those differences highlight the breadth of opportunity that remains in the PaaS market.

And goes on to describe AppScale, AppEngine, and TIBCO Silver, but not Azure as PaaS players.

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