Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Windows Azure and Cloud Computing Posts for 1/5/2011+

A compendium of Windows Azure, Windows Azure Platform Appliance, SQL Azure Database, AppFabric and other cloud-computing articles.

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

To use the above links, first click the post’s title to display the single article you want to navigate.

Cloud Computing with the Windows Azure Platform published 9/21/2009. Order today from Amazon or Barnes & Noble (in stock.)

Read the detailed TOC here (PDF) and download the sample code here.

Discuss the book on its WROX P2P Forum.

See a short-form TOC, get links to live Azure sample projects, and read a detailed TOC of electronic-only chapters 12 and 13 here.

Wrox’s Web site manager posted on 9/29/2009 a lengthy excerpt from Chapter 4, “Scaling Azure Table and Blob Storage” here.

You can now freely download by FTP and save the following two online-only PDF chapters of Cloud Computing with the Windows Azure Platform, which have been updated for SQL Azure’s January 4, 2010 commercial release:

  • Chapter 12: “Managing SQL Azure Accounts and Databases”
  • Chapter 13: “Exploiting SQL Azure Database's Relational Features”

HTTP downloads of the two chapters are available for download at no charge from the book's Code Download page.

Tip: If you encounter articles from MSDN or TechNet blogs that are missing screen shots or other images, click the empty frame to generate an HTTP 404 (Not Found) error, and then click the back button to load the image.

Azure Blob, Drive, Table and Queue Services

imageNo significant articles today.

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SQL Azure Database and Reporting

imageNo significant articles today.

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MarketPlace DataMarket and OData

Justin Lee explained CRUD operations on Microsoft SharePoint 2010 oData Lists with cURL on 1/5/2011:

imageI’ll get straight to the point. cURL is a command line tool for transferring data with URL syntax, supporting HTTP, HTTPS, etc. oData is a Web protocol for querying and updating data built on top of upon Web technologies such as HTTP, Atom Publishing Protocol (AtomPub) and JSON.

Microsoft SharePoint 2010 exposes their Lists using the oData protocol which you can access from the following URL – http://<sharepoint>/_vti_bin/ListData.svc.

Here’s how you can do all 4 CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) operations on your Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Lists using cURL which you can easily translate it to JSON and JQuery once you understand what’s going on.

Setting up

Basic syntax (for our purpose):

curl -ntlm -netrc http://sharepoint/_vti_bin/[moreurl]


.netrc (mode 600)

machine sharepoint login user password pwd


In order to create an entry into the list, you have to pass in the data as shown below with the command “-d”. I’m passing in JSON in this case as set with the command “-H”, but you can pass in an XML string if you wish too. I find JSON shorter and more concise. You use the POST method request in order to create an entry or item.

curl –ntlm --netrc

-d "{ Title: 'January Team Meeting', StartTime: '2011-01-15T17:00:00', EndTime: '2011-01-15T18:00:00' }"

-H content-type:application/json

-X POST http://sharepoint/_vti_bin/ListData.svc/Calendar

Notice I did not set all the fields from the Calendar List. You do need to set all the fields that are required, but those not required and not specified will be set to NULL or the default value.

You will get back a reply with the oData entry if successful.


Getting data is as simple as doing a normal GET method request from the List itself.

curl --ntlm --netrc http://sharepoint/_vti_bin/ListData.svc/Calendar

Here is a quick list of what kind of filters you can do.



Example to get budget hours for Project $4:


Example to get Projects for Clients in Chicago:
http://sharepoint/_vti_bin/ListData.svc//Projects?$filter=Client/City eq ‘Chicago’

Example to get a Project and its related Client:


Shows me parent that is associated with this XML

QueryString parameters for REST:

  • $filter
  • $expand
  • $orderby
  • $skip
  • $top
  • $metadata (will bring back all the XML metadata about the object. Think of it like WSDL for your REST call)

You can stack these parameters


There are 2 ways of updating Microsoft SharePoint 2010 oData items. Notice the URL is pointing to the specific entry, in this case the entry with id=2 in the Calendar list.

One way is to use the PUT method request which essentially replaces an entirely new version of data into that entry. This is similar to creating an entry or item – You do need to set all the fields that are required, but those not required and not specified will be set to NULL or the default value.

curl –ntlm --netrc

-d "{ Title: 'January 2011 Team Meeting', StartTime: '2011-01-15T17:00:00', EndTime: '2011-01-15T18:00:00'}"

-H content-type:application/json

-H If-Match:*

-X PUT "http://sharepoint/_vti_bin/ListData.svc/Calendar(2)"

Notice that you need to have the header “If-Match:” in order to enable the update to happen. This is to prevent concurrent updates and modifications to happen. Essentially, the right way is to read the data and get the “If-Match:” header tag which looks something like this If-Match: W/”X’000000000000D2F3′”, then put it in the header when you update. However, in this case, If-Match:* essentially ignores all concurrency problems and just tells the oData service to update.

The other way is to modify only the changes made, keeping all the other fields with data intact. You use the MERGE method request instead as seen below.

curl –ntlm --netrc

-d "{ Title: 'January 2011 Team Meeting'}"

-H content-type:application/json

-H If-Match:*

-X MERGE "http://sharepoint/_vti_bin/ListData.svc/Calendar(2)"

It will return 200 (OK), 201 (Created) or 202 (Accepted) if successful. (I can’t remember which at the moment)


Deleting is as simple as using the DELETE method request.

curl --ntlm --netrc

-X DELETE "http://sharepoint/_vti_bin/ListData.svc/Calendar(2)"

A successful delete will return a 200 (OK) status code.


So that’s how you do CRUD operations with all that low level HTTP method request. Create – POST, Read – GET, Update – PUT or MERGE, Delete – DELETE. Remember, in order to update, you need the “If-Match:” header when you send a PUT or MERGE method request else it will fail.

Tony Bailey (@tonybai2010, a.k.a. tbtechnet) claimed Mine the Data and the Data is mine in a 1/5/2011 post to TechNet’s WebTech blog:

image Windows Azure Marketplace DataMarket is a fairly simple premise.

  • Enable content providers to more easily market and sell their services and data
  • Allow data consumers to acquire simpler to use content from a single location

I pulled this from the Windows Azure Marketplace DataMarket whitepaper:

image DataMarket helps simplify all the steps associated with discovering, exploring, and acquiring information.

Content providers get:

  • Easy publication of data.
  • A scalable Microsoft cloud computing platform that handles delivery, billing, and reporting.

Developers get:

  • imageTrial subscriptions that let you investigate content and develop applications without paying data royalties.
  • Simple transaction and subscription models that support pay as you grow access to multi-million-dollar datasets.

Information workers get:

  • Simple, predictable licensing models for acquiring content.

The Code Project also just kicked off their Windows Azure Marketplace DataMarket contest.

Glad to see tbtechnet finally identified himself with a bio and photo. Tony works as a Senior Marketing Manager at Microsoft. His background includes product management for network security and network infrastructure. Bachelor and Doctorate degrees from the University of Birmingham, U.K.

Wes Yanaga recommended that you Register to Attend Web Camps in Silicon Valley or Redmond in this 1/5/2011 post to the US ISV Evangelism blog:

image If you are a US developer based in either the SF Bay Area/Silicon Valley or Seattle/Redmond don’t miss the opportunity to attend Web Camp! The agenda at Web Camp will cover the following technologies: ASP.NET MVC, jQuery, OData, Visual Studio 2010 and more. [Emphasis added.]


If you are unfamiliar with Web Camps, these events are a great opportunity to learn in classroom and hands-on-labs.  These events are staffed by subject matter experts to help answer questions. There is not cost to register, but seating is limited.

For More Information please visit Doris Chen’s Blog or register at the links below:

Guy Barrette announced on 1/5/2011 the Montreal Web Camp will be held 2/5/2011 from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM:

Microsoft Web Camps

The first Montreal Web Camp will take place on Saturday February 5th from 9AM to 4:30PM.  This event is organized by Microsoft Canada in collaboration with the Montreal .NET Community.

You want to learn about MVC, OData and JQuery?  This is the right place!  It’s free and lunch is even included! [Emphasis added.]

Register here

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Windows Azure AppFabric: Access Control and Service Bus

Alik Levin reported on 1/5/2011 the availability of a Video: Windows Azure AppFabric Access Control Service (ACS) v2 Prerequisites segment:

image My colleague, Gayana, produced nice short video that outlines the prerequisites for working with Windows Azure AppFabric Access Control Service (ACS) v2.

image722322I recommend watching it in full screen: Video (~3 min): Windows Azure AppFabric ACS v2 Prerequisites

Related videos:

Slides are here.

The Claims-Based Identity blog announced Single Sign-On to Windows Azure using WIF and ADFS whitepaper now available on 1/5/2011:

image722322We have published a whitepaper on how to enable Single Sign-On to Windows Azure using WIF and ADFS.

Here is the abstract:

This paper contains step-by-step instructions for using Windows® Identity Foundation, Windows Azure, and Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) 2.0 for achieving SSO across web applications that are deployed both on premises and in the cloud. Previous knowledge of these products is not required for completing the proof of concept (POC) configuration. This document is meant to be an introductory document, and it ties together examples from each component into a single, end-to-end example.

Download it here!

The 36-page white paper of 12/16/2010 was authored by Vittorio Bertocci (as you'd expect) and David Mowers.

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Windows Azure Virtual Network, Connect, RDP and CDN


See Microsoft Events announced on 1/5/2011 that Neudesic’s David Pallman will conduct a Webinar entitled What's New from PDC - Windows Azure AppFabric and Windows Azure Connect on 1/7/2011 at 10:00 to 11:00 AM PST in the Cloud Computing Events section below.


See Mari Yi announced a Selling the Windows Azure Platform- PDC Features Partner Training Live Meeting on January 10, 11:00 am–12:00 pm EST in a 1/5/2011 post to the Canada Partner Learning Blog in the Cloud Computing Events section below.

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Live Windows Azure Apps, APIs, Tools and Test Harnesses

Bruno Terkaly offered free onsite training in his Windows Azure Hands On Labs Soon to be Released post of 1/5/2011:

Free training available from me

image Are you a potential user of the Windows Azure Platform? Well, while you were taking sleigh rides during the holidays, I was busy creating hands on labs that cover the major pillars of the Windows Azure Platform. I will post some of these over the next few weeks.

The labs cover:

Topic Details
Windows Azure Web Roles, Worker Roles, Storage (Tables, Blobs, Queues)
SQL Azure Migration, connection, utilization from Windows Phone 7 and Web applications
AppFabric Connecting computers behind firewalls, routers, NAT devices. Also, publish/subscribe scenarios. The ultimate bridging of on-premise to the cloud.

Little ‘r’ me if you are interested in free training

imageI will not charge a fee for hands-on, all day training. I show up at your company and we code all day. I bring the labs, some free test accounts and a lot of passion to get you up and running up in the cloud in the shortest possible amount of time.

Contact me at

Sounds like a bargain to me. I wonder how many other Microsoft cloud evangelists are offering free onsite training.

Avkash Chauhan explained Handling problem: Diagnostics Monitor is not sending diagnostics logs to Azure Storage after upgrading Windows Azure SDK from 1.2 to 1.3 in this 1/4/2011 post:

image When you upgrade your service from Windows Azure SDK 1.2 to Windows Azure SDK 1.3 it is possible that your application running in Windows Azure, stop sending diagnostics logs. We have seen a few cases where such problem occurred. Not everyone have encountered the problem however if you encounter this problem you need to collect the logs related with MonAgentHost entries in it. You potentially could see something as below:

[Diagnostics]: Checking for configuration updates 11/30/2010 02:19:09 AM.
[MonAgentHost] Error: MA EVENT: 2010-11-30T07:21:35.149Z
[MonAgentHost] Error: 2
[MonAgentHost] Error: 4492
[MonAgentHost] Error: 8984
[MonAgentHost] Error: NetTransport
[MonAgentHost] Error: 0
[MonAgentHost] Error: x:\rd\rd_fun_stable\services\monitoring\shared\nettransport\src\netutils.cpp
[MonAgentHost] Error: OpenHttpSession
[MonAgentHost] Error: 686
[MonAgentHost] Error: 0
[MonAgentHost] Error: 57
[MonAgentHost] Error: The parameter is incorrect.
[MonAgentHost] Error: WinHttpOpen: Failed to open manually set proxy <null>; 87
[MonAgentHost] Error: MA EVENT: 2010-11-30T07:21:35.249Z
[MonAgentHost] Error: 2
[MonAgentHost] Error: 4492
[MonAgentHost] Error: 8984
[MonAgentHost] Error: NetTransport
[MonAgentHost] Error: 0
[MonAgentHost] Error: x:\rd\rd_fun_stable\services\monitoring\shared\nettransport\src\netutils.cpp
[MonAgentHost] Error: OpenHttpSession
[MonAgentHost] Error: 686
[MonAgentHost] Error: 0
[MonAgentHost] Error: 57
[MonAgentHost] Error: The parameter is incorrect.
[MonAgentHost] Error: WinHttpOpen: Failed to open manually set proxy <null>; 87
[Diagnostics]: Checking for configuration updates 11/30/2010 02:20:11 AM.

The above errors will be logged by DiagnosticsAgent.exe (MonAgentHost.exe in Windows Azure 1.2)  every time when the Diagnostic Monitor is trying to transfer the logs to the Table Storage. So the problem is actually occurred when the log are supposed to transfer from the diagnostics monitor tool depend on your *. ScheduledTransferPeriod() function.

To solve this problem you will not to disable to <sites> </sites> section in the ServiceDefinition.csdef as highlighted below:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<ServiceDefinition name="Your_Service_Name" xmlns="">
  <WebRole name="MyWebRole" enableNativeCodeExecution="true">
      <Site name="Web">
          <Binding name="Endpoint1" endpointName="Endpoint1" />
      <InputEndpoint name="Endpoint1" protocol="http" port="80" />
      <Import moduleName="Diagnostics" />

You must know that when you comment/remove the above <sites> </sites> section from the service definition (csdef) you are running your application in HWC (Hostable Web Core) means within WaWebHost.exe process instead of full IIS role w3wp.exe. Having <sites> </sites> section in service definition (csdef) allow you to run your application in full Web Role.

It is also suggested that commenting <sites> </sites> section in service definition (csdef) means your application is running in legacy (Windows Azure SDK 1.2) based Web Role.

Dom Green (@domgreen) updated details about MCS, Windows Azure & Transport for London on 1/4/2010:

imageMicrosoft Consulting Services in the UK have been working together with Transport for London (TfL) to move the train prediction web services from on premise into the Windows Azure Platform.

image I have been working on this project for the past month to help design and implement the solution in the cloud and has proved a very challenging yet fun project. We have been able to allow the TfL APIs to scale out from their original web service that was released earlier in the year, to deal with the large volumes of traffic that the service attracts.

image With moving the TfL API to Windows Azure we have been able to build a system that can handle in excess of 7 million requests per day and scale up during peak periods where customers have a heightened interest in the transport network, such as during the current snowy season.

You can see more about the TfL service and how you could use the real-time tube data within your applications visit the TfL developer page here.

You can also view press coverage of the launch at the following sites:


TfL’s live Tube information returns, empowers developers


They’re baaack: the live map of London Underground tube trains returns

Transport for London has yoked its API to Windows Azure systems that will be able to deal with millions of calls per day as it offers new data services


Transport for London routes real-time data to developers via Microsoft Azure


London Tries Microsoft Azure for Hosting Data Feeds

London’s agency for public transportation is using Microsoft Azure to disseminate data feeds for third party applications

Alex Handy asserted The future of dynamic languages is less than crystal clear in a 1/5/2011 post to SDTimes on the Web:

Lessons learned from the technology hype cycle dictate that dynamic languages should be in the trough of disillusionment by now. For the past three years, businesses have awakened to PHP, Python and Ruby as viable tools on the Web and in the server, and after extensive growth for all manner of non-Java, non-C languages, many businesses are now taking stock to see if all those promises have been fulfilled.

Mike Gualtieri, principal analyst at Forrester, said that those promises have not been fulfilled. He said he used to receive numerous phone calls asking about PHP, Python and Ruby from enterprises evaluating the technology. But he said that this year those questions have been replaced by new ones about mobile development and JavaScript.

“I think it's been proven to be false that you can build applications quicker with Ruby on Rails," he said. "The typical Ruby demo was, 'Look, I can put my data in and it creates the forms and the database for me, and I can update it and it changes that.' The problem is it's like the 1980s all over again. It breaks down when you start trying to do a real application."

Tom Mornini, CTO of Engine Yard, isn't so sure that this is the case, however. He admits that enterprises are not replacing core Java applications with Ruby versions, but he also said that Ruby on Rails remains a popular and compelling enterprise choice for smaller Web applications, like marketing sites and social engagement applications.

“Gartner says [Ruby] is being used considerably, but not for core competency applications," said Mornini. "We're starting to get uptake in training from large enterprises. The No. 1 thing our customers ask us about is, 'Do you know any Ruby developers?' The demand is off the charts. They're commanding very high rates of pay. Engine Yard is growing at multi-digit percentages a month. Java collapsing probably isn't hurting either,” he said, referring to the current kerfuffle within the JCP.

Mornini said Ruby on Rails is important for software development as a whole, and added that this is why it remains an appealing platform. “David Heinemeier Hansson's [the creator of Rails] philosophy of convention over configuration and simplification for Rails are going to pay back for generations,” he said.

Three pages. Read more; Page 2, Next Page

This article might explain why Microsoft deemphasized support for IronPython and IronRuby in 2010 (see Open source Ruby, Python hit rocky ground at Microsoft of 8/9/2010.)

David Linthicum advised “Take these steps to enhance your cloud experience -- thus, making yourself more valuable and your business work better” in a deck for his How to enhance your career with cloud computing in a 1/5/2011 post to InfoWorld’s Cloud Computing blog:

image Many practitioners in IT are ill-prepared for the continued emergence of cloud computing. Although this ignorance was almost cute in 2010, it will be career-limiting this year.

At its core, cloud computing, despite being hyped to death in 2010, has been largely misunderstood in terms of it true value to the enterprise and how IT needs to approach it. This needs to change. I have a few suggestions on how you can use cloud computing to enhance your career.

image First, focus on education. I'm talking about cloud basics, such as the difference between infrastructure, software, and platform services, as well as when and where to use each. Much of the tech coverage has been a mile wide and an inch deep on the cloud basics. However, there are many good books on cloud computing, including mine, that have much more substance and practical advice. Also, make sure you check out InfoWorld's Cloud Computing Deep Dive, which has an excerpt of my book. While educating yourself is obvious advice, it's the single element that causes confusion around cloud adoption.

Next, create a cloud computing strategy. Creating a cloud computing strategy not only makes you look up to date and proactive, it also enhances the fundamentals around your IT planning. How? By marrying the use of the cloud with all aspects of IT resources, including providing business cases, road maps, and budgets. But watch out -- these resources are political footballs in many enterprises. Make sure you use this strategizing as an opportunity to work and play well with others.

Finally, encourage experimentation. This means creating an infrastructure-as-a-service or platform-as-a-service prototype to better understand the values that cloud computing can -- and can't -- bring. Make sure you dial information from this experimentation back into your planning.

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Visual Studio LightSwitch

Robert Green posted Using Both Remote and Local Data in a LightSwitch Application to the Visual Studio LightSwitch Team blog on 1/5/2011:

image Hi. I’m Robert Green. You may remember me from such past careers as Developer Tools Product Manager/Visual Basic Program Manager at Microsoft and Sr. Consultant at MCW Technologies. After five and half years on “the other side” at MCW, I have returned to Microsoft. I am now a Technical Evangelist in the Developer Platform and Evangelism (DPE) group. I am focused on Visual Studio, including LightSwitch and the next version of Visual Studio. I am very happy to be back and very excited to be working with LightSwitch. This product is cooler and more powerful than many people realize and over the coming months, I will do my best to prove that assertion. Starting right now.

image2224222The first post in my blog (Adventures in DeveloperLand) is up now. In it I show how to build a LightSwitch application that uses both remote and local data. This will be a typical scenario. You build an application that works with existing data in a SQL Server database, and now you want to add additional data, in this case customer visits and notes. You can’t add new tables or columns to the existing database. Instead you can use local tables and accomplish the same thing.

Check it out and let me know what you think: Using Both Remote and Local Data in a LightSwitch Application [see below].

Here’s Robert’s post:

image2224222In LightSwitch, you can work with remote data and with local data. To use remote data, you can connect to a SQL Server or SQL Azure database, to a SharePoint site, and to a WCF RIA service. If you use local data, LightSwitch creates tables in a SQL Server Express database. When you deploy the application, you can choose to keep this local data in a SQL Server Express database or use SQL Server and SQL Azure.

In an application, you can use data from one or all of these data sources. I’m currently building a demo that uses local and remote data. A sales rep for a training company wants an application to manage customers and the courses they order. This data already exists in a SQL Server database. So I attached to the Courses, Customers and Orders tables in the TrainingCourses database. I then created screens to work with this data.


If you are new to LightSwitch, you can learn more about how I got to this point by checking out the How to: Connect to Data and How to: Create a New Screen help topics. You can also watch the first three videos in Beth Massi’s most excellent How Do I Video series.

Creating Relationships Between Local and Attached Data

In addition to managing this information, I want to keep track of customer visits. I also want to keep notes on customers. If I owned the SQL Server database, I could just add a Visits table and then add a Note column to the Customers table. But I don’t own the database, so I will use local tables in my LightSwitch application. I right-click on Data Sources in the Solution Explorer and select Add Table. I then create the Visits table.



Notice that the remote data is in the TrainingCoursesData node and the local data is in the ApplicationData node.

I need a one-to-many relationship between customers and visits, so I create that.


Notice that LightSwitch adds a Customer property to my Visits table. This represents the customer. It also adds the customer id (the Customer_CustomerId property), which is the foreign key. I don’t want this to show up on screens so I uncheck Is Visible On Screen in the Properties window.


Stop for a minute and consider the complete coolness of this. I just created a cross-data source relationship. I have a one to many relationship between customers in the remote SQL Server database and visits in my local SQL Server Express database. In a future post, I will add SharePoint data to this application and have a relationship between SQL data and SharePoint data. Federating multiple data sources is a unique and compelling feature of LightSwitch.

I can now create a master-detail screen with Customers and Visits. I won’t discuss that here because Beth covered that in episode 6 of the How Do I Video series.

What I want to talk about here is adding customer notes. I want the ability to add a note for each customer. My first thought is I will just add a Note property to the Customer entity. I can add the property, but I see that it is a computed property. That’s because LightSwitch does not allow changing the schema of attached data sources.


So I’ll create a local CustomerNotes table with a Note property. I will then create a one to zero or one relationship between Customers and CustomerNotes. Every note has a customer and each customer can have a note.


LightSwitch adds the foreign key, Customer_CustomerId to CustomerNote and I uncheck Is Visible On Screen for that.

Adding Customer Notes for Both New and Existing Customers

I am using the CustomerDetail screen both for adding and editing customers. (See episode 9 of the How Do I Video series.) I want to add customer notes to the screen. When I open it in design-mode, I see that CustomerNote shows up as part of the query that populates the screen. All I have to do is drag it and drop it into the vertical stack.

It shows up as a Modal Window Picker, but I can change that to a Vertical Stack, which by default includes a TextBox for the note and a Modal Window Picker for the customer. I already know who the customer is, so I can delete the Modal Window Picker and leave the TextBox.


Now when I view a customer, there is a place to see and edit notes. So far so good!


Note: I added the Delete button myself to this screen. I will discuss that in an upcoming post.

If the customer does not have a note or if it is a new customer, the Note text box is read only because there is no record in the CustomerNotes table. I need to automatically add a new note record for any customer that doesn’t already have one.

To make that happen for new customers, I add the following code to the Customer_Created method of the Customer entity:

Me.CustomerNote = New CustomerNote()
Me.CustomerNote.Customer = Me

Me represents the customer. Since I added the relationship between customers and notes, the Customer class has a CustomerNote property, which represents the customer’s note. In this code, I set that to a new instance of the CustomerNote class. The Customer property of the CustomerNote class represents the customer to which each note belongs. I set that to Me and the new customer now has a related note.

Now when I create a new customer in the CustomerDetails screen, I can add a note at the same time. When I save the new customer, I save the note as well.


The code above runs when a new customer is created. What about existing customers? I want this code to run for existing customers, but only if they don’t currently have a note. When the screen loads, I can check if an existing customer has a note. If not, I will create one. So I add the following code in bold to the CustomerDetail_Loaded method:

Me.CustomerId.HasValue Then
  Me.Customer = Me.CustomerQuery
  If Me.Customer.CustomerNote Is Nothing Then
    Me.Customer.CustomerNote = New CustomerNote()
    Me.Customer.CustomerNote.Customer = Me.Customer
  End If
  Me.Customer = New Customer
  Me.FindControl("DeleteButton").IsVisible = False
End If

In this code, Me represents the screen. Me.CustomerId represents a screen level property. If it has a value, then this is an existing customer. If it has no value, this is a new customer. Again, see episode 9 of the How Do I Video series for the full details behind this. There is also code in there to hide the Delete button when adding a new customer.

Note that I could put the four bolded lines of code after the End If and then I wouldn’t need the code I put in the Customer_Created earlier. However, if I did that, notes would only be created for new customers if the customer were added in this screen. I want to tie creating a new note to creating a new customer at the data level, not at the UI level, so the code exists in both places.


With one new table and a little bit of code, I have essentially added a local property to a remote database table. Nice! I can work with additional data even without the ability to add it to the main database.

Of course, I do need to remember that right now, the notes data only lives on my computer. Nobody else can see the customer notes I add and I can’t see the notes others add. And my notes aren’t backed up when the SQL Server database is backed up. The same is true for visits.

I should also mention that I am seeing some odd behavior. Right after adding a customer, if I select it in the customer list, I get an object reference not set error. When I close the application and come back in, the customer and note are there. I am hoping this is related to the following comment from The Anatomy of a LightSwitch Application Series Part 2 – The Presentation Tier:

In Beta 1, the screen's Save command operations over N data sources in an arbitrary order. This is not the final design. LightSwitch does not enforce correct ordering or updates for multiple data sources, nor do we handle compensating transactions for update failures. We are leaning toward selecting a single updatable data source per screen, where all other data sources represent non-updatable reference data. You can expect to see changes after Beta 1.

Beth Massi (@bethmassi) wrote Build Business Applications Quickly with Visual Studio LightSwitch for Code Magazine’s January/February 2011 issue:

image LightSwitch is a new development tool and extensible application framework for building data-centric business applications. LightSwitch simplifies the development process because it lets you concentrate on the business logic and does a lot of the remaining work for you. With LightSwitch, an application can be designed, built, tested, and in your user’s hands quickly. LightSwitch is perfect for small business or departmental productivity applications that need to get done fast.

image2224222LightSwitch applications are based on Silverlight and a solid .NET application framework using well known patterns and best practices like n-tier application layering and MVVM as well as technologies like Entity Framework and RIA Services (Figure 1). The LightSwitch team made sure not to invent new core technologies like a new data access or UI layer; instead we created an application framework and development environment around these existing .NET technologies that a lot of developers are already building upon today.

Click for a larger version of this image.

Figure 1: LightSwitch applications are based on proven n-tier architecture patterns and .NET technologies developers are already building upon today.

image This architecture allows LightSwitch applications to be deployed as desktop applications, giving them the ability to integrate with hardware devices such as a scanner or bar code reader as well as other applications like Microsoft Word and Excel, or they can be deployed as browser-based applications when broader reach is required.

Users expect certain features like search, the ability to sort and rearrange grids, and the ability to export data. With every LightSwitch application those features are already built in. You don’t have to write any code for navigation, toolbars/ribbons, dirty checking or database concurrency handling. Common data operations such as adding, updating, deleting are also built in, as well as basic data validation logic. You can just set some validation properties or write some simple validation code based on your business rules and you’re good to go. We strived to make it so that the LightSwitch developer only writes code that only they could write; the business logic. All the plumbing is handled by the LightSwitch application framework.

Beth continues with detailed instructions for developing a LightSwitch application. A second article about deploying a LightSwitch application is premium content which requires a Code Magazine subscription.

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Windows Azure Infrastructure

David Pallman posted Taking a Fresh Look at Windows Azure on 1/4/2011:

image In this post I'll take you through an updated tour of the Windows Azure platform. It's 2011, and the Windows Azure platform is coming up on the first anniversary of its commercial release. Much has been added in the last year, especially with the end-of-year 1.3 update. This will give you a good overview of what's in the platform now. Note, a few of these services are still awaiting release. This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, The Azure Handbook.


imageThe Windows Azure area of the platform includes many core services you will use nearly every time you make use of the cloud, such as application hosting and basic storage. Currently, Windows Azure provides these services:

• Compute Service: application hosting
• Storage Service: non-database storage
• CDN Service: content delivery network
• Windows Azure Connect: virtual network
• DataMarket: marketplace for buying or selling reference data

Windows Azure Compute Service

The Compute service allows you to host your applications in a cloud data center, providing virtual machines on which to execute and a controlled, managed envi-ronment. Windows Azure Compute is different from all of the other platform services: your application doesn’t merely consume the service, it runs in the service.

The most common type of applications to host in the cloud are Internet-oriented, such as web sites and web services, but it’s possible to host other kinds of applications such as batch processes. You choose the size of virtual machine and the number of instances, which can be freely changed.

Here’s an example of how you might use the Windows Azure Compute Service. Let’s say you have a public-facing ASP.NET web site that you currently host in your enterprise’s perimeter network (DMZ). You determine that moving the application to the Windows Azure platform has some desirable benefits such as reduced cost. You update your application code to be compatible with the Windows Azure Compute Service, requiring only minor changes. You initially update and test the solution locally using the Windows Azure Simulation Environment. When you are ready for formal testing, you deploy the solution to a staging area of the Windows Azure data center nearest you. When you are satisfied the application is ready, you promote it to a production area of the data center and take it live.

Windows Azure Storage Service

The Storage service provides you with persistent non-database storage. This storage is external to your farm of VM instances (which can come and go). Data you store is safely stored with triple redundancy, and synchronization and failover are completely automatic and not visible to you.

Windows Azure Storage provides you with 3 kinds of storage: blobs, queues, and tables. Each of these has an enterprise counterpart: blobs are similar to files, queues are similar to enterprise queues, and tables are similar to database tables but lack relational database features. In each case however there are important differences to be aware of. All 3 types of storage can scale to a huge level; for example a blob can be as large as a 1 terabyte in size and a table can hold billions of records.


Blobs can be made accessible as Internet URLs which makes it possible for them to be referenced by web sites or Silverlight applications. This is useful for dynamic content such as images, video, and downloadable files. This use of blobs can be augmented with the Windows Azure CDN service for global high-performance caching based on user locale.

Here’s an example of how you might use the Windows Azure Storage service. You have a cloud-hosted web site that needs to serve up images of real estate properties. You principally keep property information in a database but put property images in Windows Azure blob storage. Your web pages reference the images from blob storage.

Windows Azure CDN Service

The Content Delivery Network (CDN) Service provides high performance distri-bution of content through a global network of edge servers and caching. The CDN currently has about 24 edge servers worldwide currently and is being regularly expanded.

A scenario for which you might consider using the CDN is a web site that serves up images, audio, or video that is accessed across a large geography. For example, a hotel chain web site could use the CDN for images and videos of its properties and amenities.
As of this writing, the CDN service currently serves up blob storage only but additional capabilities are on the way. At the PDC 2010 conference, Microsoft announced new CDN features planned for 2011 including dynamic content caching, secure SSL/TLS channels, and expansion of the edge server network. Dynamic content caching in particular is of interest because it will allow your application to create content on the fly that can be distributed through the CDN, a feature found in many other CDN services.

Windows Azure Connect

Windows Azure Connect provides virtual networking capability, allowing you to link your cloud and on-premise IT assets with VPN technology. You can also join your virtual machines in the cloud to your domain, making them subject to its policies. Many scenarios that might otherwise be a poor fit for cloud computing become feasible with virtual networking.

Here’s an example of how you might use Windows Azure Connect. Suppose you have a web application that you want to host in the cloud, but the application depends on a database server you cannot move off-premise. Using Windows Azure Connect, the web site in the cloud can still access the database server on-premise, without compromising security.
This service is not yet released commercially but is available for technical preview.

Windows Azure Marketplace DataMarket

The Windows Azure Marketplace is an online marketplace where you can find (or advertise) partners, solutions, and data. In the case of data, the marketplace is also a platform service you can access called DataMarket. You can explore DataMarket interactively at

The DataMarket service allows you to subscribe to reference data. The cost of this data varies and some data is free of charge. There are open-ended subscriptions and subscriptions limited to a certain number of transactions. You can also sell your own reference data through the DataMarket service. You are in control of the data, pricing, and terms.

The data you subscribe to is accessed in a standard way using OData, a standard based on AtomPub, HTTP, and JSON. Because the data is standardized, it is easy to mash up and feed to visualization programs.
Here’s an example of how you might use the DataMarket service. Suppose you generate marketing campaign materials on a regular basis and wish to customize the content for a neighborhood’s predominant income level and language. You subscribe to demographic data from the DataMarket service that lets you retrieve this information based on postal code.


The SQL Azure area of the platform includes services for working with relational data. Currently, SQL Azure provides these services:

• SQL Azure Database: relational database
• SQL Azure Reporting: database reporting
• SQL Azure Data Sync: database synchronization
• SQL Azure OData Service: data access service

SQL Azure Database

The SQL Azure Database provides core database functionality. SQL Azure is very similar to SQL Server to work with and leverages the same skills, tools, and pro-gramming model, including SQL Server Management Studio, T-SQL, and stored procedures.

With SQL Azure, physical management is taken care of for you: you don’t have to configure and manage a cluster of database servers, and your data is protected through replicated copies.
Here’s an example of how you might use SQL Azure Database. You have a locally-hosted web site and SQL Server database and conclude it makes better sense in the cloud. You convert the web site to a Windows Azure Compute service and the database to a SQL Azure database. Now both the application and its database are in the cloud side-by-side.

SQL Azure Reporting

SQL Azure Reporting provides reporting services for SQL Azure databases in the same way that SQL Server Reporting Services does for SQL Server databases. Like SSRS, you create reports in Business Intelligence Development Studio and they can be visualized in web pages.

Here’s an example of how you might use SQL Azure Reporting. You’ve tradition-ally been using SQL Server databases and SQL Server Reporting Services but are now starting to also use SQL Azure databases in the cloud. For reporting against your SQL Azure databases, the SQL Azure Reporting service is the logical choice.
This service is not yet released commercially but is available for technical preview.

SQL Azure Data Sync Service

The SQL Azure Data Sync service synchronizes databases, bi-directionally. One use for this service is to synchronize between an on-premise SQL Server database and an in-cloud SQL Azure database. Another use is to keep multiple SQL Azure databases in sync, even if they are in different data center locations.

Here’s an example of how you might use the SQL Azure Data Sync service. You need to create a data warehouse that consolidates information that is sourced from multiple SQL Server databases belonging to multiple branch offices. You decide SQL Azure is a good neutral place to put the data warehouse. Using SQL Azure Data Sync you keep the data warehouse in sync with its source databases.
This service is not yet released commercially but is available for technical preview.

SQL Azure OData Service

The SQL Azure OData service is a data access service: it allows applications to query and update SQL Azure databases. You can use the OData service instead of developing and hosting your own web service for data access.

OData is an emerging protocol that allows both querying and updating of data over the web; it is highly interoperable because it is based on the HTTP, REST, AtomPub, and JSON standards. OData can be easily consumed by web sites, desktop applications, and mobile devices.

Here’s an example of how you might use the SQL Azure OData service. Let’s say you have data in a SQL Azure database that you wish to access from both a web site and a mobile device. You consider that you could create and host a custom web service in the cloud for data access but realize you can avoid that work by using the SQL Azure OData service instead.
This service is not yet released commercially but is available for technical preview.


The AppFabric area of the platform includes services that facilitate enterprise-grade performance caching, communication, and federated security. Currently, AppFabric provides these services:

• AppFabric Cache Service: distributed memory cache
• AppFabric Service Bus: publish-subscribe communication
• AppFabric Access Control Service: federated security

AppFabric Cache Service

The Cache service is a distributed memory cache. Using it, applications can improve performance by keeping session state or application data in memory. This service is a cloud analogue to Windows Server AppFabric Caching for the enterprise (code-named Velocity) and has the same programming model.

Here’s an example of using the AppFabric Cache service. An online store must retrieve product information as it is used by customers, but in practice some products are more popular than others. Using the Cache service to keep frequently-accessed products in memory improves performance significantly.
This service is not yet released commercially but is available for technical preview.

AppFabric Service Bus

The Service Bus uses the cloud as a relay for communication, supporting publish-subscribe conversations that can have multiple senders and receivers. Uses for the service bus range from general communication between programs to connecting up software components that normally have no way of reaching each other. The Service Bus supports traditional client-server style communication as well as multicasting.

The Service Bus is adept at traversing firewalls, NATs, and proxies which makes it particularly useful for business-to-business scenarios. All communication looks like outgoing port 80 browser traffic so IT departments don’t need to perform any special configuration such as opening up a port; it just works. The Service Bus can be secured with the AppFabric Access Control Service.

Here’s an example of how you might use the Service Bus. You and your supply chain partners want to share information about forecasted and actual production activity with each other. Using the Service Bus, each party can publish event notification messages to all of the other parties.

Access Control Service

The Access Control Service is a federated security service. It allows you to support a diverse and expanding number of identity schemes without having to implement them individually in your code. For example, your web site could allow users to sign in with their preferred Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, or Live ID identities. The ACS also supports domain security through federated identity servers such as ADFS, allowing cloud-hosted applications to authenticate enterprise users.

The ACS uses claims-based security and supports modern security protocols and artifacts such as SAML and SWT. Windows applications typically use Windows Identity Foundation to interact with the ACS. The ACS decouples your application code from the implementation of a particular identity system. Instead, your application just talks to the ACS and the ACS in turn talks to one or more identity providers. This approach allows you to change or expand identify providers without having to change your application code. You use rules to normalize the claims from different identity providers into one scheme your application expects.
Here’s an example of how you might use the ACS. Your manufacturing company has corporate clients across the country who need to interact with your online ordering, support, and repair systems—but you don’t want the burden of administering each of their employees as users. With the ACS, each client can authenticate using their preferred, existing identity scheme. One customer authenticates with their Active Directory, another uses IBM Tivoli, another uses Yahoo! identities. Claims from these identity providers are normalized into one scheme which is all your applications have to support.

As you can see, the Windows Azure platform has come a long way in a short time--and there's plenty more innovation ahead.

Tom Hollander described how to manage Windows Azure scale-out and scale-back activity in his Responding to Role Topology Changes post of 1/4/2011 to the Windows Azure blog:

imageThe Adoption Program Insights series describes experiences of Microsoft Services consultants involved in the Windows Azure Technology Adoption Program assisting customers deploy solutions on the Windows Azure Platform. This post is by Tom Hollander.

image In the past, if you had an application running in a web farm and you needed more capacity, you would have needed to buy, install and configure additional physical machines - a process which could take months and potentially cost thousands of dollars. In contrast, if you deploy your application to Windows Azure this same process involves a simple configuration change and in minutes you can have additional instances deployed, and you only pay incremental hourly charges while these instances are in use. For applications with variable or growing load, this is a tremendous advantage of the Windows Azure platform.

If your role instances have been designed to be stateless and independent, you generally won't need to write any code to handle the times when your roles are scaled up or down (known in Azure as a topology change) - Windows Azure handles the configuration of the environment and as soon as any new instances are available (or old ones removed), the load balancer is reconfigured and your application continues to run as per normal. However, in some advanced scenarios, you may need your instances to be aware of the overall context in which they are running, and they may need to perform certain tasks when the role topology changes.

This post will help you write applications that can respond to topology changes by describing how Windows Azure raises events and communicates information about the Role Environment during these changes. This guidance applies whether you're scaling your application manually through the web portal, via the Service Management API or using automatic performance-based scaling.

Role Environment Methods and Events

There are five main places where you can write code to respond to environment changes. Two of these, OnStart and OnStop, are methods on the RoleEntryPoint class which you can override in your main role class (which is called WebRole or WorkerRole by default). The other three are events on the RoleEnvironment class which you can subscribe to: Changing, Changed and Stopping.

The purpose of these methods is pretty clear from their names:

  • OnStart gets called when the instance is first started.
  • Changing gets called when something about the role environment is about to change.
  • Changed gets called when something about the role environment has just been changed.
  • Stopping gets called when the instance is about to be stopped.
  • OnStop gets called when the instance is being stopped.

In all cases, there's nothing your code can do to prevent the corresponding action from occurring, but you can respond to it in any way you wish. In the case of the Changing event, you can also choose whether the instance should be recycled to deal with the configuration change by setting e.Cancel = true.

Why aren't Changing and Changed firing in my application?

When I first started exploring this topic, I observed the following unusual behaviour in both the Windows Azure Compute Emulator (previously known as the Development Fabric[*]) and in the cloud:

  • The Changing and Changed events did not fire on any instance when I made configuration changes.
  • RoleEnvironment.CurrentRoleInstance.Role.Instances.Count always returned 1, even when there were many instances in the role.

It turns out that this is the expected behaviour when a role has in no internal endpoints defined, as documented in this MSDN article. So the solution is simply to define an internal endpoint in your ServiceDefinition.csdef file like this:

  <InternalEndpoint name="InternalEndpoint1" protocol="http" />

Which Events Fire Where and When?

Even though the names of the events seem pretty self-explanatory, the exact behaviour when scaling deployments up and down is not necessarily what you might expect. The following diagram shows which events fire in an example scenario containing a single role. 2 instances are deployed initially, the deployment is then scaled to 4 instances, then back down to 3, and finally the deployment is stopped. 

There are several interesting things to note from this diagram:

  • 1. The Changing and Changed events only fire for the instances that aren't starting or stopping. If you're adding instances, these events don't fire on the new instances, and if you're removing instances, these events don't fire on the ones being shut down.
  • 2. In the Changing event, RoleEnvironment.CurrentRoleInstance.Role.Instances returns the original role instances, not the target role instances. There is no way of finding out the target role instances at this time.
  • 3. In the Changed event, RoleEnvironment.CurrentRoleInstance.Role.Instances returns the target role instances, not the original role instances. If you need to know about the original instances, you can save this information when the Changing event fires and access it from the Changed event (since these events are always fired in sequence).
  • 4. When instances are started, RoleEnvironment.CurrentRoleInstance.Role.Instances returns the target role instances, even if many of them are not yet started.
  • 5. When instances are stopped, RoleEnvironment.CurrentRoleInstance.Role.Instances returns the original role instances. There is no way of finding out about the target instances at this time. Also note that there's no way that any instance can determine which instances are being shut down (it won't necessarily be the instances with the highest ID number). If Stopping and OnStop get called, it's you. If Changing gets called, it's not!

The above example assumed that the Changing event was not cancelled (with e.Cancel = true, which results in the instance being restarted before the configuration changes are applied). If you do choose to do this, the events that fire are quite different - Changed does not fire at all, but Stopping, Stopped and OnStart do. The following diagram shows what happens to instance IN_0 during a scale-up operation if the Changing event is cancelled.

One final note on these events: Although I didn't show it in either diagram, if you have multiple roles in your service and make a topology change in a single role, the Changing and Changed events will fire across all roles, even those where the number of instances did not change. You can tell from the event data whether the topology change occurred for the current role or a different one using code similar to this:

private void RoleEnvironmentChanging(object sender, RoleEnvironmentChangingEventArgs e)
   var changes = from ch in e.Changes.OfType<RoleEnvironmentTopologyChange>()
                 where ch.RoleName == RoleEnvironment.CurrentRoleInstance.Role.Name
                 select ch;
   if (changes.Any())
         // Topology change occurred in the current role
         // Topology change occurred in a different role

Getting More Information

While the RoleEnvironment and the events listed above provide a lot of good information about changes to a service, there can be times when you need more information than the API provides. For example, I once worked on an Azure application where each instance needed to know which other instances had already started, and what their IP Addresses were. I chose to leverage an Azure table to record key information about the running instances. Every time an instance started or stopped, it was responsible for recording these details in the table, which could be read by all other instances. While this solution worked well, it required some careful and defensive coding to deal with cases where the table may have contained stale or incorrect data due to ungraceful shut downs. As such, you should only build solutions like this if absolutely necessary.


The ability to scale applications as needed is one of the great benefits of Windows Azure and the Fabric Controller is able to provide detailed information about the current status of, and changes to, the role environment through RoleEntryPoint methods and RoleEnvironment events. For most applications you won't need to put in any fancy code to handle scaling operations but if you're dealing with more complex applications, we hope this information will help you understand how topology changes can be handled effectively by your applications.

* Note: In case you missed this momentous event, Windows Azure’s Development Fabric morphed to Windows Azure Compute Emulator in November 2010. See MSDN’s Overview of the Windows Azure Compute Emulator updated 11/22/2010. Google Blog Search for the last month returned 48 hits on “Development Fabric” Azure, while “Compute Emulator” Azure returned only 10. Despite the new names (“Compute Emulator” and “Storage Emulator”) being used by the Windows Azure SDK v1.3 tools, the new moniker hasn’t gained much traction with blog writers. (If Bing has a similar Blog Search feature, I haven’t been able to find it.)

The site reprinted on 1/5/2011 James Urquhart’s The top 12 gifts of cloud from 2010 article of 12/20/2010 for C|Net News’ The Wisdom of Clouds blog (missed when published):

What a year 2010 has been for cloud computing.

image We've seen an amazing year of innovation, disruption, and adoption--one I personally think will go down in history as one of the most significant years in computing history. Without a doubt, a significant new tool has been added to the IT toolbox, and its one that will eventually replace most of the tools we know today.

image Don't agree with me? Well, with the help of my generous Twitter community--and in the spirit of the season here in the US--I've assembled 12 innovations and announcements from 2010 that had big impact on the IT market. Take a look at these with an open mind and ponder just how much cloud computing changed the landscape through the course of the year:

1. The growth of cloud and cloud capacity
The number of cloud computing data centers skyrocketed in 2010, with massive investment by both existing and new cloud providers creating a huge burst in available cloud capacity. You might have noticed new services from Verizon, IBM, Terremark, and others. Tom Lounibos, CEO of "test in the cloud" success story SOASTA, notes that the number of data centers offered by Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM alone grew from four to 10, with that number slated to grow to more than 20 in the coming year.

2. The acceptance of the cloud model
A number of studies showed a dramatic switch in the acceptance of the cloud model by enterprise IT between 2009 and 2010. Two that I often quote are one by the Yankee Group that noted that 60 percent of "IT influencers" now consider cloud computing services an enabler, versus 40 percent who considered it "immature"--a complete reversal from 2009. The second, published by Savvis, claimed that 70 percent of IT influencers were using or planning to use cloud services within two years. Since then, most studies show cloud computing becoming an increasingly high priority for CIOs everywhere.

3. Private cloud a truce
Heated debates between representatives of public cloud computing companies and more traditional IT computing vendors raged over the summer of 2010, with the former arguing that there is no such thing as a "private cloud," and the latter arguing that there definitely is, and it should be an option in every IT arsenal. The argument died down, however, when both sides realized nobody was listening, and various elements of the IT community were pursuing one or the other--or both--options whether or not it was "right."

4. APIs in--and out--of focus
As we started 2010, there were something like 18 APIs being proposed to define cloud operations interfaces. As the year wore on, it appeared that the AWS EC2 and S3 APIs were the de facto standards for compute and storage, respectively. However, VMware's vCloud, Red Hat's Delta Cloud, and Rackspace's Cloud Servers and Cloud Files APIs each still have legitimate chances to survive in the wild, as it were, and without Amazon's express support for implementations of their APIs by others, standardization around their offerings remains a risk.

5. Cloud legal issues come to the forefront
Toward the end of the year, Amazon's decision to unilaterally shut down WikiLeaks' presence on their site demonstrated one of the true risks of the public cloud today: if a customer builds their business on a public cloud environment, and the provider terminates that relationship without warning or recourse (with or without cause), what are those customer's rights? The scenario was repeated in a different form with the shutdown of low-cost content-distribution provider SimpleCDN by a reseller of a third-party hosting environment. The issue here isn't whether the terminated party was doing right or wrong but what rights the law establishes for all parties in a public cloud operations scenario.

6. Cloud economics defined
Two seminal works of cloud economic analysis had significant impact on our understanding of the forces behind cloud computing adoption. Joe Weinman's "Mathematical Proof of the Inevitability of Cloud Computing," published in November 2009, treated us to a carefully thought out "proof" of why pay-per-use pricing will eventually capture such a large chunk of our application workloads. James Hamilton's "Cloud Computing Economies of Scale" analyzes of the economics of the data center, and why a large scale provider with a wide customer base has tremendous advantages over a smaller provider with a smaller customer base.

7. The rise of DevOps
Those of us studying cloud computing for some time have noted that cloud computing models are both the result of and driver for changes in the way we design, deploy, and operate applications in a virtualized model. We've seen a shift away from server-centric models to application-centric alternatives, and a rapid change from manual processes to automated operations. This, in turn, has driven several software methods that combine development and operations planning and execution. The result is automation packaged *with* the application at deployment time, rather than developed after-the-fact in a reactive fashion.

8. Open source both challenged and engaged
At the beginning of the year, open-source developers were watching developments in the cloud computing space with a wary eye and rightfully so. For infrastructure projects (one of the most successful classes of open-source software), the model threatens to change the community nature of open source. However, the year also showed us that open source plays a critical role in both cloud provider infrastructure and the software systems we build and run in the cloud. All in all, OSS seems to have found peace with the cloud, though much has yet to be worked out.

9. Introducing OpenStack
One of the great success stories in open source for the cloud this year was that of the partnership between cloud provider Rackspace and NASA, producing the popular OpenStack project for compute and storage services. Drawing more than 300 attendees to its last design summit, OpenStack is quickly attracting individual developers, cloud start-ups, and established IT companies to its contributor list. While the long-standing poster child of open-source cloud infrastructure, Eucalyptus, seemed threatened initially, I think there is some truth to the argument that Eucalyptus is tuned for the enterprise, while OpenStack is being built more with public cloud providers in mind.

10. Amazon Web Services marches on
Amazon Web Services continues to push an entirely new model for IT service creation, delivery, and operation. Key examples of what Amazon Web Services has introduced this year include: an Asia-Pacific data center; free tiers for SQS, EC2, S3 and others; cluster compute instances (for high-performance computing); and the recently announced VMDK import feature. Not to mention the continuous stream of improvements to existing features, and additional support for well-known application environments.

11. Platform as a Service steps up its game
VMware announced its Cloud Application Platform. introduced and its acquisition of Ruby platform Heroku. Google saw demand for developers with App Engine experience skyrocket. Platform as a Service is here, folks, and while understanding and adoption of these services by enterprise IT still lags that of the Web 2.0 community, these services are a natural evolutionary step for software development in the cloud.

12. Traditional IT vendors take their best shots
2010 saw IBM introduce new services for development and testing, genome research and . HP entered the cloud services game with its CloudStart offering. Oracle jumped into the "complete stack" game with Exalogic (despite Ellison's derision of cloud in 2009). My employer, Cisco Systems, announced a cloud infrastructure service stack for service providers and enterprises. Even Dell acquired technologies in an attempt to expand its cloud marketshare. Of course, none of these offerings pushed the boundaries for cloud consumers, but for those building cloud infrastructures, there are now many options to choose from--including options that don't directly involve any of these vendors.

Of course, these are just a few of the highlights from cloud's 2010. Not mentioned here were the plethora of start-ups in the space, covering everything from application management to cloud infrastructure to data management to...well, you get the idea. What does 2011 hold for cloud? I don't know, but I would hazard a guess that it will be at least as interesting as cloud's historic 2010.

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Windows Azure Platform Appliance (WAPA), Hyper-V and Private Clouds

Robert Duffner posted a Thought Leaders in the Cloud: Talking with Barton George, Cloud Computing Evangelist at Dell inteview on 1/5/2011:

Barton George (pictured at right) joined Dell in 2009 as the company's cloud computing evangelist. He acts as Dell's ambassador to the cloud computing community and works with analysts and the press. He is responsible for messaging as well as blogging and tweeting on cloud topics. Prior to joining Dell, Barton spent 13 years at Sun Microsystems in a variety of roles that ranged from manufacturing to product and corporate marketing. He spent his last three years with Sun as an open source evangelist, blogger, and driver of Sun's GNU/Linux strategy and relationships.

In this interview, we discuss:

  • Just do it - While some people are hung up arguing about what the cloud is, others are just using it to get stuff done
  • Evolving to the cloud - Most organizations don't have the luxury to start from scratch
  • Cloud security - People were opposed to entering their credit card in the early days of the internet, now it's common. Cloud security perceptions will follow a similar trajectory
  • Cost isn't king - For many organizations, is the "try something quickly and fail fast" agility that's drawing people to the cloud, not just cost savings
  • The datacenter ecosystem - The benefits of looking at the datacenter as a holistic system and not individual pieces

Robert Duffner: Could you take a minute to introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your experience with cloud computing?

Barton George: I joined Dell a little over a year ago as cloud evangelist, and I work with the press, analysts, and customers talking about what Dell is doing in the cloud. I also act as an ambassador for Dell to the cloud computing community. So I go out to different events, and I do a lot of blogging and tweeting.

I got involved with the cloud when I was at a small company right before Dell called Lombardi, which has since been purchased by IBM. Lombardi was a business process management company that had a cloud-based software service called Blueprint.

Before that, I was with Sun for 13 years, doing a whole range of things from operations management to hardware and software product management. Eventually, I became Sun's open source evangelist and Linux strategist.

Robert: You once observed that if you asked 10 people to define cloud, you'd get 15 answers. [laughs] How would you define it?

Barton: We talk about it as a style of computing where dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources are provided as a service. To simplify that even further, we talk about it as IT provided as a service. We define it that broadly to avoid long-winded discussions akin to how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. [laughs]

You can really spend an unlimited amount of time arguing over what the true definition of cloud is, what the actual characteristics are, and the difference between a private and a public cloud. I think you do need a certain amount of language agreement so that you can move forward, but at a certain point there are diminishing returns. You need to just move forward and start working on it, and worry less about how you're defining it.

Robert: There are a lot of granular definitions you can put into it, but I think you're right. And that's how we look at it here at Microsoft, as well. It's fundamentally about delivering IT as a service. You predict that traditional, dedicated physical servers and virtual servers will give way to private clouds. What's led you to that opinion?

Barton: I'd say that there's going to be a transition, but I wouldn't say that those old models are going to go away. We actually talk about a portfolio of compute models that will exist side by side. So you'll have traditional compute, you'll have virtualized compute, you'll have private cloud, and you'll have public cloud.

What's going to shift over time is the distribution between those four big buckets. Right now, for most large enterprises, there is a more or less equal distribution between traditional and virtualized compute models. There really isn't much private cloud right now, and there's a little bit of flirting with the public cloud. The public cloud stuff comes in the form of two main buckets: sanctioned and unsanctioned.

"Sanctioned" includes things like Salesforce, payroll, HR, and those types of applications. The "unsanctioned" bucket consists of people in the business units who have decided to go around their IT departments to get things done faster or with less red tape.

Looking ahead, you're going to have some traditional usage models for quite a while, because some of that stuff is cemented to the floor, and it just doesn't make sense to try and rewrite it or adapt it for virtualized servers or the cloud.

But what you're going to see is that a lot of these virtualized offerings are going to be evolved into the private cloud. Starting with a virtualized base, people are going to layer on capabilities such as dynamic resource allocation, metering, monitoring, and billing.

And slowly but surely, you'll see that there's an evolution from virtualization to private cloud. And it's less important to make sure you can tick off all the boxes to satisfy some definition of the private cloud than it is to make continual progress at each step along the way, in terms of greater efficiency, agility, and responsiveness to the business.

In three to five years, the majority of folks will be in the private cloud space, with still pretty healthy amounts in the public and virtualized spaces, as well.

Robert: As you know, Dell's Data Center Solutions Group provides hardware to cloud providers like Microsoft and helps organizations building their own private clouds. How do you see organizations deciding today between using an existing cloud or building their own?

Barton: Once again, there is a portfolio approach, rather than an either-or proposition. One consideration is the size of the organization. For example, it's not unusual for a startup to use entirely cloud-based services. More generally, decisions about what parts a business keeps inside are often driven by keeping sensitive data and functionality that is core to the business in the private cloud. Public cloud is more often used for things that are more public facing and less core to the business.

We believe that the IT department needs to remake itself into a service provider. And as a service provider, they're going to be looking at this portfolio of options, and they're going to be doing "make or buy" decisions. In some cases, the decision will be to make it internally, say, in the case of private cloud. Other times, it will be a buy decision, which will imply outsourcing it to the public cloud.

The other thing I'd say is that we believe there are two approaches to getting to the cloud: one is evolutionary and the other one is revolutionary. The evolutionary model is what I was just talking about, where you've made a big investment in infrastructure and enterprise apps, so it makes sense to evolve toward the private cloud.

There are also going to be people who have opportunities to start from ground zero. They are more likely to take a revolutionary approach, since they're not burdened with legacy infrastructure or software architecture. Microsoft Azure is a good example. We consider you guys a revolutionary customer, because you're starting from the ground up. You're building applications that are designed for the cloud, designed to scale right from the very beginning.

Some organizations will primarily follow one model, and some will follow the other. I would say that right now, 95% of large enterprises are taking the evolutionary approach, and only 5% are taking a revolutionary approach.

People like Microsoft Azure and Facebook that are focused on large scale-out solutions with a revolutionary approach are in a small minority. Over time, though, we're going to see more and more of the revolutionary approach, as older infrastructure is retired.

Robert: Let me switch gears here a little bit. You guys just announced the acquisition of Boomi. Is there anything you can share about that?

Barton: I don't know any more than what I've read in the press, although I do know that the Boomi acquisition is targeted to small and medium-sized businesses. We target that other 95% on the evolutionary side with what we call Virtual Integrated System. That's the idea of starting with the already existing virtualized infrastructure and building capabilities on top of it.

Robert: The White House recently rolled out Cloud Security Guidelines. At Microsoft and Dell, we've certainly spent a lot of time dealing with technology barriers. How much of the resistance has to do with regulation, policy, and just plain fear? And how much do things like cloud security guidelines and accreditation do to alleviate these types of concerns?

Barton: To address those issues, I think you have to look at specific customer segments. For example, HIPAA regulations preclude the use of public cloud in the medical field. Government also has certain rules and regulations that won't let them use public clouds for certain things. But as they put security guidelines in place, that's going to, hopefully, make it possible for the government to expand its use of public cloud.

I know that Homeland Security uses the public cloud for their public-facing things, although obviously, a lot of the top secret stuff that they're doing is not shared out on the public cloud. If you compare cloud computing to a baseball game, I think we're maybe in the bottom of the second inning. There's still quite a bit that's going to happen.

One of the key areas where we will make a lot of progress on in the next several years is with security, and I think people are going to start feeling more and more comfortable.

I liken it to when the Internet first entered broad use, and people said, "I would never put my credit card out on the Internet. Anyone could take it and start charging up a big bill." Now, the majority of us don't think twice about buying something off of the web with our credit cards, and I think we're going to see analogous change in the use of the cloud.

Robert: Regardless of whether you have a public or private cloud, what are your thoughts on infrastructure as a service and platform as a service? What do you see as key scenarios for each of those kinds of clouds?

Barton: I think infrastructure as a service is a great way to get power, particularly for certain things that you don't need all the time. For example, I was meeting with a customer just the other day. They have a web site that lets you upload a picture of your room and try all kinds of paint colors on it. The site renders it all for you.

They just need capacity for a short period of time, so it's a good example of something that's well suited to the public cloud. They use those resources briefly and then release them, so it makes excellent sense for them.

There's also a game company we've heard about that does initial testing of some of their games on Amazon. They don't know if it's going to be hit or not, but rather than using their own resources, they can test on the public cloud, and if it seems to take off, they then can pull it back in and do it on their own.

I think the same thing happens with platform as a service. Whether you have the platform internal or external, it allows developers to get access to resources and develop quickly. It allows them to use resources and then release them when they're not needed, and only pay for what they use.

Robert: In an article titled, "Cloud Computing: the Way Forward for Business?," Gartner was quoted as predicting that cloud computing will become mainstream in two to five years, due mainly to cost pressures. When organizations look pass the cost, though, what are some of the opportunities you think cloud providers should really be focusing on?

Barton: I think it's more about agility than cost, and that ability to succeed or fail quickly. To go back to that example of the game company, it gives them an inexpensive testing environment they can get up and going easily. They can test it without having to set up something in their own environment that might take a lot more time. A lot of the opportunity is about agility when companies develop and launch new business services.

The amount of time that it takes to provision an app going forward should, hopefully, decrease with the cloud, providing faster time to revenue and the ability to experiment with less of a downside.

Robert: Gartner also recently said that many companies are confused about the benefits, pitfalls, and demands of cloud computing. What are some of the biggest misconceptions that you still run into?

Barton: Gartner themselves put cloud at the very top of the hype cycle for emerging technologies last year, and then six weeks later, they turned around and named it the number one technology for 2010. There are a lot of misconceptions because people have seen the buzz and want to sprinkle the cloud pixie dust on what they offer.

This is true both for vendors, who want to rename things as cloud, and for internal IT, who when asked about cloud by their CIO, they say, "Oh, yes. We've been doing that for years."

I do think people should be wary of security, and there are examples where regulations will prohibit you from using the cloud. At the same time, you also have to look at how secure your existing environment is. You may not be starting from a perfectly secure environment, and the cloud may be more secure than what you have in your own environment.

Robert: Those are the prepared questions I have. Is there anything interesting that you'd like to add?

Barton: Cloud computing is a very exciting place to be right now, whether you're a customer, an IT organization, or a vendor. As I mentioned before, we are in the very days of this technology, and we're going to see a lot happening going forward.

In much the same way that we really focused on distinctions between Internet, intranet, and extranet in the early days of those technologies, there is perhaps an artificial level of distinction between virtualization, private cloud, and public cloud. As we move forward, these differences are going to melt away, to a large extent.

That doesn't mean that we're not going to still have private cloud or public cloud, but we will think of them as less distinct from one another. It's similar to the way that today, we keep certain things inside our firewalls on the Internet, but we don't make a huge deal of it or regard those resources inside or outside as being all that distinct from each other.

I think that in general, as the principles of cloud grab hold, the whole concept of cloud computing as a separate and distinct entity is going to go away, and it will just become computing as we know it.

I see cloud computing as giving IT a shot in the arm and allowing it to increase in a stair-step fashion, driving what IT's always been trying to drive, which is greater responsiveness to the business while at the same time driving greater efficiencies.

Robert: One big trend that we believe is going to fuel the advance of cloud computing is the innovation happening at the data center level. It's one thing to go and either build a cloud operating system or try to deploy one internally, but it's another thing to really take advantage of all the innovations that come with being able to manage the hardware, network connections, load balancers, and all the components that make up a data center. Can you comment a little bit about how you see Dell playing into this new future?

Barton: That's really an area where we excel, and that's actually why our Data Center Solutions Group was formed. We started four or five years ago when we noticed that some of our customers, rather than buying our PowerEdge servers, were all of a sudden looking at these second-tier, specialized players like Verari or Rackable. Those providers had popped up and identified the needs of these new hyperscale providers that were really taking the whole idea of scale-out and putting it on steroids.

Dell had focused on scale starting back in 2004, but this was at a whole other level, and it required us to rethink the way we approach the problem. We took a step back and realized that if we want to compete in this space of revolutionary cloud building, we needed to take a custom approach.


That's where we started working with people like Microsoft Azure, Facebook, and others, sitting down with customers and focusing on the applications they are trying to run and the problems they are trying to solve, rather than starting with talking about what box they need to buy. And then we work together with that customer to design a system.

We learned early on that customers saw the system as distinct from the data center environment. Their orientation was to say, "Don't worry about the data center environment. That's where we have our expertise. You just deliver great systems and the two will work together." But what we found is if you really want to gain maximum efficiencies, you need to look at the whole data center as one giant ecosystem.

For example, with one customer, we have decided to remove all the fans from the systems and the rack itself and put gigantic fans in the data center, so that the data center becomes the computer in and of itself. We have made some great strides thinking of it in that kind of a holistic way. Innovation when developing data centers is very crucial to the overall excellence in this area.

We've been working with key partners to deliver this modular data center idea to a greater number of people, so this revolutionary view of the data center can take shape more quickly. And then, because they're modular, like giant Lego blocks, you can expand these sites quickly. But once again, the whole thing has to be looked at as an ecosystem.

Robert: Thanks a lot for your time. This has been a great conversation.

Barton: Thank you.

Jon Shende offered “Some considerations when designing your (IPVE) Internal Private Virtualized Environment - ‘Private Cloud’” in an introduction to his So You Want to Build a Private Cloud? post of 1/5/2011:

image As the cacophony of cloud evangelism expands into several areas of industry, one much talked about aspect is that of the private cloud.

But what really is a private cloud, and once within an organization's security perimeter is such a system a pure cloud computing ecosystem? (Of course within the security perimeter - IT Security teams again have the advantage of control in lieu of that in a public cloud.) Bear in mind though once you start thinking of access from outside your "private cloud" the whole security dynamic will change. At this point your cloud security perimeter becomes dynamic and can be impacted by systems/issues/controls, out of your IT Security teams control and in some instances areas of expertize.

As we know some business advantages of cloud computing are its impact on Cap-Ex and OP-Ex - lowering costs and gaining a better ROI on any technology investments. From an operational standpoint such a system can increase the agility of IT functions e.g. off-loading some data centre operations.

Werner Vogels CTO stated [1]

"When people talk about private or internal clouds, they are usually very expensive fixed cost, private installation of infrastructure which lacks all the key benefits of the cloud. Companies still own all the capital expense at data centers and incur ongoing high maintenance costs."

From another view, Sanjay Mirchandani Senior VP and CIO at EMC stated [2]

"The private cloud uses highly virtualized pools of compute, storage and network capabilities to optimize IT performance and utilization while providing the business with services that improve efficiency and agility. This offers organizations a way to circumvent the increasing complexity, inflexibility and cost of IT environments to be more competitive in the market place through greater efficiency, control, choice, quality of service and, most importantly, business agility."

Where does this fit your organizational needs? For some there are a variety of reasons to have a private environment (Security, auditability etc).

In these instances (no pun intended) when considering the implementation of an Internal Private Virtualized Environment (IPVE) "private cloud" some question to consider are :

  1. Will implementing a "private cloud" lower operational costs, or will an organization still have to pay for resources?
  2. Will there be scalability that is equivalent to that of a public computing environment?
  3. Will such an infrastructure improve operational agility or be restricted by limits on resources?
  4. Will you be able to effectively monitor your server, storage and network resources and make changes to resources accordingly to avoid bottlenecks?
  5. With legacy applications will virtualization be your starting point for your "private cloud".
  6. How will you achieve federation of data and resources between data centers?

Leveraging virtualization technologies will definitely impact an organization's OPEx, and can possibly lay the groundwork to migrate into the direction of, or even leverage benefits from the public cloud computing ecosystem if that is an organizational objective as it evolves its requirements.

This of course will have metrics to meet e.g. SLA, Security mirroring (from private to public cloud), operational requirements etc. Of course IT by then should have the expertize, experience and authorization to easily manage change from an internal private environment to an external cloud computing service. (Of course by then self-service and metering should have been implemented and proven viable within the internal private system.)

Goals for any IPVE "private cloud" build can be designed from Cloud Computing definitions

  • Software as a Service (SaaS): aim to provides applications and tools that will augment business growth/change.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): aim to provide offerings that will empower business units the ability to provision infrastructure components e.g. storage, network, compute and operating systems services.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): ensure provisions for application and information frameworks over application server, web server, and database components, which can be utilized in developing solutions.

Researchers [3] at The Hochschule Furtwangen University (HFU) designed a "private cloud" with such a System in mind.

They divided this system into several layers for "extensibility and maintainability with Monitoring and Management and Security components incorporated across all layers to ensure high reliability and secured services."

They categorized the management system layers as follows:

  • User interface layer: providing various access points to users and/or administrators of the management system
  • Business layer:which aims to regulate resource supply and demand throug the use of economy and Service-Level Agreements (SLA). In addition, this layer enables users to reserve VMs in advance and manage their personal VMs
  • System layer:which is responsible for daily operation of the CMS, such as submitting jobs, managing user accounts and monitoring Quality of Service (QoS)
  • Resource interface layer: deals with the physical hardware. It provides interfaces and plugins to various virtualization, database and distributed systems as well as other technologies.
  • Monitoring and management component: This component ensures the reliability of each layer in the system and allows the system administrator to monitor and initiate activities of each layer. E.g. In case of failures, conflicts with SLA objectives or under- or over-utilized resources.
  • Security component: This ensures the privacy, recovery, integrity and security of user data and transactions are met as well as regulatory compliance and data auditing.

So where do we go from here in reality? I am certain most of you who work within the public cloud-space have dealt with the frustration of noisy neighbours (users demanding more CPU time than you), CPU instance performance issues, latency etc. Would building an IPVE "private cloud" mitigate these frustrations and ratify its cost?

That my friends will be a decision that you and your management team must fully investigate, 'cause as we know; at the end of the day an enterprise must remain profitable, while ensuring that it meets its expectations of service, quality and social requirements.

A few things you can look at as you decide on building your private system are The Cisco Unified Service Delivery solution, which combines the Cisco UCS architecture with the Cisco Nexus solutions, Application Control Engine (ACE) and Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) next-generation network.

Also take a look at EMC2 with their technical, operational and strategic (TOS) model as they build their own private cloud and their EMC IT's Journey to the Private Cloud: A Practitioner's Guide.

And finally take a look at VMware's vSphere as it relates to the Cisco Nexus series mentioned above.

In concluding I would like to state that while working on a cloud project in the small business arena which impacted my research at RHUL, we were able via server virtualization and consolidation to have 7 servers do that work that 30 servers were normally performing. The obvious wins for us was cost savings and utilization. (One thing that we had assigned an immediate future need was encryption tools with regard to levels of data classification, for data at rest and in motion.)

An example of larger venture's success - EMC [5] was able to consolidate 1250 servers into 250, improving their CPU and memory utilization rates with aims to improve storage utilization from 68% to 80% with a cloud storage based design.With a cloud based storage design they anticipate increasing storage utilization rates from 68% to 80%.

Best of Luck !


  3. Private cloud for collaboration and e-Learning services: from IaaS to SaaS: Frank Doelitzscher, Anthony Sulistio,Christoph Reich,Hendrik Kuijs,David Wolf: Computing DOI 10.1007/s00607-010-0106-z Springer-Verlag 2010
  5. EMC IT's Journey to the Private Cloud: A Practitioner's Guide.
  6. VMware vSphere

Jon R.G.C. Shende is a graduate of the University of Oxford, holds a masters certificate in Business Administration, as well as an MSc in IT Security at RHUL - with a thesis on Cloud Computing examining SSO and Federated Identity Management.

I don’t equate an “Internal Private Virtualized Environment (IPVE)” with “private cloud.” The term “cloud” implies to me that network connectivity to its resources is via the public Internet, not an internal LAN or WAN.

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Cloud Security and Governance

Leslie Guth asserted Security in Cloud Computing Not So Different from Security in Telco in a 1/4/2011 post to the HPC in the Cloud blog:

During a recent “Cloud Computing in Telecom” SCOPE workshop, presenters and attendees expressed considerable interest in cloud security. Presenter Rao Vasireddy of Alcatel-Lucent, who advocated using “secure by design” principles to secure the cloud, talked to Leslie Guth from SCOPE about his presentation. [Link added.]

LG: What specifically causes concern in cloud security for users and service providers?

RV: According to recent industry research, 72% of organizations are “extremely concerned” or “very concerned” about security in the cloud environment (2010 research firm TheInfoPro). Concerns range from phishing and data loss and recovery to regulatory compliance and everywhere in between.

LG: What are the security concerns when deploying a Telecom application in the cloud?

RV: It is often believed that security in cloud computing is completely different than security in a traditional Telco environment. But this is not necessarily true. Many security issues are the same for cloud computing as for traditional IT technologies (e.g. phishing, data loss).

LG: Could you give us a few examples of cloud computing security issues?

RV: Sure. Cloud computing security issues include shared technology vulnerabilities, data loss or leakage, malicious insiders, hijack traffic, insecure API, nefarious use of service or abuse cases and unknown risk profiles. These all pose serious threats to secure cloud computing.

LG: What security concerns are specific to the telecom environment?

RV: Security concerns in a telecom environment range from secure management, control, and user data/sessions to secure infrastructure, services, and applications. Secure IT, operations and development along with compliance and security by design are also specific to the telecom environment.

LG: You mentioned securing the cloud can be done in much the same way that traditional Telco environments are secured. Could you elaborate on this?

RV: The complex issues of security in a cloud environment need to be simplified with an objective to establish a security baseline by leveraging current practices, standards and well-known security attributes as metrics. For example, key security attributes include access control, authentication/authorization, data confidentiality, privacy, data integrity, data confidentiality and non-repudiation. These metrics can be analyzed to determine where shortcomings or security gaps exist and how countermeasures can be applied. …

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Alcatel-Lucent’s Leslie Guth is SCOPE’s Membership Officer

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Cloud Computing Events

Microsoft Events announced on 1/5/2011 that Neudesic’s David Pallman will conduct a Webinar entitled What's New from PDC - Windows Azure AppFabric and Windows Azure Connect on 1/7/2011 at 10:00 to 11:00 AM PST:

General Event Information


Featured Product/Topic: Microsoft Azure

image Recommended Audiences: IT Managers, Solution Architects, Software Developers, Developers, Architects, Information Worker

imageAt PDC 2010 Microsoft announced new capabilities for Windows Azure. In this webcast you’ll learn about new AppFabric features including the distributed cache service and the future AppFabric Composition Service. You’ll also learn about the new Windows Azure Connect virtual networking capability which allows you to link your IT assets in the cloud to your on-premise IT assets.

Click here to register.

Mari Yi announced a Selling the Windows Azure Platform- PDC Features Partner Training Live Meeting on January 10, 11:00 am–12:00 pm EST in a 1/5/2011 post to the Canada Partner Learning Blog:


In this talk, we will cover how VM Role and Windows Azure Connect enables more enterprise customers to take advantage of Windows Azure Platform. Learn how to Windows Azure connect enables enterprises to keep their data safe, while extending their applications to the cloud. See how Virtual Machine Role provides a way to simplify migration to the cloud.

Click here to register for this session

For additional partner training resources click here

Rob Gillen announced on 1/4/2011 that he’s Speaking at the CodeMash Precompiler in Sandusky, Ohio on 1/12/2011:

image I’m thrilled to be speaking at the CodeMash Precompiler next week. I’m going to be joined by Mike Wood and helped by Brian Prince and Michael Collier. Together, we’ll have nearly 8 hours of instruction and hands on labs covering both the Amazon and Microsoft cloud computing platforms.

Below I’ve listed the abstracts for each of the sessions as well as the prerequisites for those planning on joining us. If you are going to be in Sandusky next Wednesday, be sure to drop by. [Precompiler link added.]

An Introduction to Amazon Web Services (half-day, afternoon)

image AWS has been in the cloud computing space longer than most anyone, and they are the de facto standard when it comes to Infrastructure as a Service. While most developers are comfortable with the notion of virtual machines, reviewing the AWS offering can sometimes look like alphabet soup (EC2, S3, SNS, SDB, SQS). Join us to learn the power behind these acronyms and the tools that they can provide your next project. We’ll discuss the major components, some of the trade-offs between different implementation choices (i.e. boot from S3/boot from EBS, etc.) and provide you with the opportunity to work through some labs, deploy some code, and begin to experience the Amazon cloud for yourself.

Examples are in .NET, but fundamental concepts apply to all platforms.

An Introduction to Windows Azure (half-day, morning)


Steve Ballmer has made it very clear that Microsoft is "all in" when it comes to the cloud and by now most have heard about Microsoft’s Windows Azure platform… but what does that mean for you? Whether you are an experienced .NET developer who is wondering what all this cloud stuff means for how you write code, or maybe you are a traditional *nix developer looking to understand how to integrate your existing code with the Microsoft version of the cloud, join us for an in-depth discussion on what Platform as a Service is, how Microsoft has implemented it, what scenarios it best addresses, and a collection of hands-on-labs to get you started.
Examples are in .NET, but fundamental concepts apply to all platforms.


The sessions will be part presentation, part hands on labs.  While you aren’t required to bring a laptop, you’ll get much more out of the sessions if you have one available to work through the labs with (but, there might be some people willing to pair as well!).  Please make sure to bring your power cord! 

Here are the prerequisites to have loaded:

An Introduction to Windows Azure

An Introduction to Amazon Web Services

You might be thinking, "Hey, What a second!  This is CodeMash, you just listed all Microsoft tools there!".  Just like CodeMash, both Windows Azure and Amazon AWS are happy to mix in multiple development stacks.  Our labs and demos will be shown using Visual Studio, but don’t let that stop you from following along or trying out the cloud platforms from your Mac, or using Java, PHP and Ruby on Windows.  Below are links to other SDKs for each cloud platform.  Please, feel free to explore your options and load these SDKs or libraries up if you prefer them.

For Windows Azure

For Amazon AWS

Rob neglected to provide details about the CodeMash 2011 conference, which sold out in 2010. Here are brief details:

What Is CodeMash?

imageCodeMash is a unique event that will educate developers on current practices, methodologies and technology trends in variety of platforms and development languages such as Java, .NET, Ruby and PHP. Held January 12-14, 2011, at the lush Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio, attendees will be able to attend a world-class technical conference amid Ohio's largest indoor waterpark. Nobody will frown if you show up in shorts, sandals, and your loudest t-shirt. You might even win a prize for doing so.

What Will Be Presented?

Attendees will be treated to an impressive set of keynote addresses from industry luminaries. CodeMash 2010 had keynotes from Mary Poppendeick, Andy Hunt, and Hank Janssen. Rest assured, CodeMash v. will have the same, or better, level of content!

More than 45 sessions will be held, spread across the following tracks:

  • Architecture: SOA, W3C Standards, WS* Implementations, Interoperability and all things 30,000 foot or higher.
  • Desktop Development: Standalone Applications, Fat/Smart Client, Client/Server and all things running local on Windows, Mac or your favorite Linux distribution.
  • Web Development: Web services, Ajax, frameworks, and all things related to the browser.
  • Methodologies: Anything pertinent to how modern development methodologies help build software faster, cheaper, and with less grief.
  • Mobility: All things mobile: platforms, devices, content distribution, social networking, community building, and anything else used in conjunction with those devices which have little screens.
  • Languages: What's new and cool in languages such as C#, Java, PHP, Python, PHP, Ruby? Of course there are other languages which we've omitted from this list for reasons of space but don't mean to offend their feelings.
How Much Does CodeMash Cost?

Registration prices are shown on the Registration page.

Where is CodeMash?

CodeMash is held at the wonderful Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio. Yes, Sandusky. Ohio. In the middle of winter. The Kalahari has the Midwest's biggest indoor water park and a world-class conference venue.

And more details on CodeMash Precompiler:

The PreCompiler is an OPTIONAL day of workshops held on Wednesday, 12 January, 2011. The PreCompiler is open only to attendees of the regular conference. The PreCompiler costs $80 and includes breakfast and lunch. No dinner is included in the cost.

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Other Cloud Computing Platforms and Services

Adron Hall (@adronbh) continued his new series with Cloud Throw Down: Part 2 – Deployments and Instance Options in a 1/5/2011 post to the CloudAve blog:

Amazon Web Services
Amazon Web Services

Windows Azure
Windows Azure

Previous Throw Down…

imageOk, in this edition the fight gets graphic!  Let’s jump right into the bout.  (I’ve also been thinking about adding Rackspace or another cloud provider in the future.)

Deploying .NET Web Application Code into AWS and Windows Azure is done in some distinctly different ways.  There are two ways to look at this measurement;

  1. One is with a configured Web Role or VM Role in Windows Azure and already configured EC2 Instance for AWS or…
  2. A Web Role or VM Role as is and an EC2 Instance as is.

The first scenario one can deploy .NET code directly to the Web Role by simply building the code, directly from Visual Studio and just clicking on publish.  For simple web applications and even some complex ones, this is all that is required to get the app into the cloud and running.  This takes about 1-5 minutes depending on your build time and bandwidth.  I’ll measure this first method of deployment with the web role already started, so it is only the deployment being measured.  For AWS I’m making the assumption that you’ve already got an EC2 instance running with either Linux + Mono or Windows with IIS Configured and ready.  I’ll call it the…

Deploying .NET Web Applications into Ready Environments

With Windows Azure the deployment takes about 1-5 minutes from Visual Studio 2010.  With AWS EC2 using the FTP deployment it takes about 1-5 minutes.  In this particular situation, both cloud services are equal for deployment time and steps to deploy.

Rating & Winner: Deploying .NET Web Applications into Ready Environments is a tie.

…the second situation though is where things get tricky and Windows Azure has some startling advantages.  I’ll call this deployment…

Deploying a .NET Web Application into Environments As-is

This is a trickier situation.  Setup and then deployment.  For a Web Role the setup is done almost entirely in the actual .NET Web Application Project.  So it is done if the project builds and runs locally.  Nothing available is as fast as a deployment from Visual Studio 2010 straight to a Web Role.  Of course the application has to be built with this specific scenario in mind.  Total deployment time for this is 1-5 minutes.

The AWS EC2 instance you have to configure the operating system and IIS.  Installation of this and setup for the FTP server, etc, often takes several minutes.  So the first time deployment onto an EC2 instance will take a good 5-15 minutes and often requires, as any deployment to a web server does, a few minutes just to make sure all the settings are right and setup just the way you want them.  Overall, this method is not as clean as the Windows Azure Web Role deployment method.

Windows Azure however has a VM Role, similar in many ways to an AWS EC2 instance, and it has the same issues and concerns as deploying to an AWS EC2 instance for the first time.  It requires manual intervention to setup, configure, and assure that all things are in order for the specific application.

Combining these facts for deploying a .NET web application as-is leaves a few odd points.  The VM Role and AWS EC2 instance is definitely more time consuming and prone to human error for deployment because of the additional control one can have.  However the Web Role limits the ability to control many variables of the serving of content from the Web Role, it absolutely is the fastest and cleanest way to deploy a .NET Web Application.

Rating & Winner:  Deploying a .NET Web Application into Environments As-is goes to Windows Azure.

Virtual Instance Options

The next measurement is a simple one, virtual instance options.  Windows Azure has the following options available for virtual instances.



That gives us 5 different compute instance sizes to choose from.  Amazon Web Services provides the following compute instance sizes.


Which provides us a diversified range of 9 different instance types.

Rating & Winner:  Virtual Instance Options goes to AWS.

Today’s Winners is…  Windows Azure and AWS in a tie.  The rest of my throw down series will be coming over the next week and few days.  If you have any ideas or things I should compare the two services on.

To check out more about either cloud service navigate over to:

Disclosure:  I didn’t mention it in either of the previous throw down segments about any disclosure I need to make.  I’m a .NET programmer, love and hate Microsoft at the same time, but have no real honest preference toward either cloud service.  I’m just interested in and always learning more about each technology.  Using either service when their respective capabilities meet the price, feature, or other combination that I can use.  I also do not work directly for Microsoft or Amazon.  Again, thanks for reading.  :)

Jeff Barr (@jeffbarr) announced the new AWS Policy Generator on 1/5/2011:

image The new AWS Policy Generator simplifies the process of creating policy documents for the Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS), Amazon S3, the Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS), and AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM).

You begin by selecting the type of policy that you'd like to create. I'll create an IAM policy for this post. This policy will allow access to just three of the Route 53 functions: CreateHostedZone, GetHostedZone, and DeleteHostedZone.

Then you select a service and fill in the details. I chose to create an IAM policy to regulate access to Route 53.

The AWS Policy Generator also allows me to enter include the name of an AWS resource in the policy:

I can also choose to include conditions within my policy:

The Policy Generator shows me the current statements as I build the policy:

I can generate my Access Policy by clicking the Generate Policy button:

You can copy the policy, paste it into a text file, and then use it with the APIs calls or command-line tools as appropriate.

imageCheck out the AWS Policy Generator today and make better use of our fine-grained access control mechanisms!

The IAM team is hiring:

Amazon beefing up its Identity and Access Management is interesting.

Lydia Leong (@cloudpundit) asks and answers What’s cloud IaaS really about? in a 1/4/2011 post to her Cloud Pundit blog:

image As expected, the Magic Quadrant for Cloud IaaS and Web Hosting is stirring up much of the same debate that was raised with the publication of the 2009 MQ.

Derrick Harris over at GigaOM thinks we got it wrong [see below]. He writes: Cloud IaaS is about letting users get what they need, when they need it and, ideally, with a credit card. It doesn’t require requisitioning servers from the IT department, signing a contract for any predefined time period or paying for services beyond the computing resources.

image Fundamentally, I dispute Derrick’s assertion of what cloud IaaS is about. I think the things he cites above are cool, and represent a critical shake-up in thinking about IT access, but it’s not ultimately what the whole cloud IaaS market is about. And our research note is targeted at Gartner’s clients — generally IT management and architects at mid-sized businesses and enterprises, along with technology start-ups of all sizes (but generally ones that are large enough to have either funding or revenue).

Infrastructure without a contract? Convenient initially, but as the relationship gets more significant, usually not preferable. In fact, most businesses like to be able to negotiate contract terms. (For that matter, Amazon does customized Enterprise Agreements with its larger customers.) Businesses love not having to commit to capacity, but the whole market is shifting its business models pretty quickly to adapt to that desire.

Infrastructure without involving traditional IT operations? Great, but someone’s still got to manage the infrastructure — shoving it in the cloud does not remove the need for operations, maintenance, patch management, security, governance, budgeting, etc. Gartner’s clients generally don’t want random application developers plunking down a credit card and just buying stuff willy-nilly. Empower developers with self-provisioning, sure — but provisioning raw infrastructure is the easy and cheap part, in the grand scheme of things.

Paying for services beyond the computing resources? Sure, some people love to self-manage their infrastructure. But really, what most people want to do is to only worry about their application. Their real dream is that cloud IaaS provides not just compute capacity, but secure compute capacity — which generally requires handling routine chores like patch management, and dealing with anti-virus and security event monitoring and such. In other words, they want to eliminate their junior sysadmins. They’re not looking for managed hosting per se; they’re looking to get magic, hassle-free compute resources.

image I obviously recognize Amazon’s contributions to the market. The MQ entry on Amazon begins with: Amazon is a thought leader; it is extraordinarily innovative, exceptionally agile and very responsive to the market. It has the richest cloud IaaS product portfolio, and is constantly expanding its service offerings and reducing its prices. But I think Amazon represents an aspect of a broad market.

Cloud IaaS is complicated by the diversity of use cases for it. Our clients are also looking for specific guidance on just the “pure cloud”, self-provisioned “virtual data center” services, so we’re doing two more upcoming vendor ratings to address that need — a Critical Capabilities note that is focused solely on feature sets, and a mid-year Magic Quadrant that will be purely focused on this.

I could talk at length about what our clients are really looking for and what they’re thinking with respect to cloud IaaS, which is a pretty complicated and interesting tangle, but I figure I really ought to write a research note for that… and get back to my holiday vacation for now.

Lydia Leong is an analyst at Gartner, where she covers Web hosting, colocation, content delivery networks, cloud computing, and other Internet infrastructure services.

Derrick Harris claimed Gartner Gets It Wrong With Cloud Quadrant in this 1/4/2011 post to the Giga Om Stucture blog:

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The Gartner Magic Quadrant isn’t an entirely accurate, or even objective, measure of who’s who in any given IT field. If you haven’t heard, the analyst firm’s ranking system has been called out as being everything from merely subjective (as opposed, I guess, to being only partially subjective like every other list of industry leaders) to rewarding vendors that have paid Gartner the most money for its services. I can’t comment on these allegations, nor do I care to. What I can say is that with its latest Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service and Web Hosting, Gartner just flat got it wrong.

imageInitially, it seems inconceivable that anybody could rank IaaS providers and not list Amazon Web Services among the leaders. Until, that is, one looks at Gartner’s ranking criteria, which is skewed against ever placing a pure cloud provider in that quadrant. Large web hosts and telcos certainly have a wider range of offerings and more enterprise-friendly service levels, but those aren’t necessarily what cloud computing is all about. Cloud IaaS is about letting users get what they need, when they need it — ideally, with a credit card. It doesn’t require requisitioning servers from the IT department, signing a contract for any predefined time period or paying for services beyond the computing resources. AWS is the epitome of IaaS and Amazon EC2 is what most other providers strive for in their IaaS offerings. (But, if customers really do want a more classic IT experience, they can engage with any number of AWS partners selling value-added services – such as the Datapipe Managed Cloud for Amazon Web Services offering.)

image Furthermore, AWS has by far the broadest breadth of features and services of any other IaaS provider. Nobody else can boast multiple database and storage offerings, a CDN, Hadoop as a service, its own monitoring/management tool and two flavors of full-on HPC-grade images. As far as I know, AWS has the only PCI-compliant self-service, multitenant cloud infrastructure. It’s true that AWS doesn’t have non-cloud-type offerings like colocation or dedicated hosting, but its sheer number of cloud services all but ensures that traditional service providers will never catch it in terms of IaaS capabilities. It has its limitations, but in terms of pure cloud-based IaaS, AWS has no equals.

What it comes down to is that comparing providers like Verizon, AT&T and Terremark with providers like AWS and Joyent is akin to comparing apple with oranges. All of them are technically cloud providers, but the latter two – intentionally – have very few ties to traditional IT delivery models; they are absolutely not MSPs or colocation providers. If we’re ranking service providers based on the breadth of their delivery models, then AWS can’t be considered a leader. But if we’re ranking cloud IaaS providers, AWS has to be near the top – probably at the top. To pit pure IaaS providers against service providers that they went out of their way to avoid mimicking is a disservice to what cloud computing is all about.

Image courtesy of Flickr user JP Puerta.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Click here for a Magic Quadrant reprint.

I, too, was surprised by (and disagree with) Lydia’s assignment of Amazon Web Services below CSC, GoGrid, Terremark Worldwide, Verizon Business, Rackspace, AT&T and Savvis in the “Ability to Execute” axis. I do agree that Amazon owns the top “Completeness of Vision” slot.

Adron Hall (@adronbh) described The Confusions of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS in a 1/4/2011 post:

image IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS stand for Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Software as a Service respectively.  But what exactly is the context & definition of each of these acronyms?  The simple definitions I have included below.

  • IaaS – A service provided by a company, group, community, or government that provides basic computer networking, load balancing, content delivery networks, routing, commodity data storage, and virtualized operating system hosting.
  • PaaS – A service provided by a company, group, community, or government that provides a platform in which to develop software applications, usually Web based, with immediate abstractions of the underlying infrastructure.
  • SaaS – A service provided by a company, group, community, or government that provides a software solution to the system clients.  The software may be internal to a business, delivered by other means, or most commonly delivered over the Internet.

IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS are heavily used acronyms in the cloud computing industry.  These three acronyms describe services in particular, but not cloud computing specifically.  It just happens that cloud computing is often broken down into these three segments.  From here on though, I will use IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS in relation to cloud computing.


Windows Azure is highly focused around being a platform.  It has often been said internally and externally at Microsoft that Windows Azure is not infrastructure or software that you can buy, but a platform that software is built to without a need to think about the infrastructure.  Recent events and changes have cast a shadow of doubt on Microsoft’s intentions toward the infrastructure and services aspect of this. I’ll cover more specifics as I break these services apart.

Traditionally, and even today and ongoing tomorrow, there are a number of existing infrastructure, platforms, and software solutions that are provided in the context of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.  These solutions are not always cloud technologies, and can be provided in a number of ways.  Let’s break out the three into the traditional environments that would provide these services.

Traditional Infrastructure

Traditionally infrastructure was, and still today, often provided to companies internally and by third-pary party providers.  These providers, such as small businesses or internal IT Departments, would deliver actual hardware including cabling, architectural design, network configuration & setup, load balancing, hosting of physical servers, data storage in arrays, and other services.  Some examples would be a traditional RAID array with multiple disks, and storing dedicated single copy data as a backup on that array.  Another is documents stored on a file server and backed up to a tape drive.

For further context, take this working example of a very common infrastructure scenario.  An industrial company that makes, manages, and operates the manufacturing of widget X. The company has a primary office space in an office building in a major metropolitan area.  In that office there are approximately 90 employees.  There is a satellite office with another 25 employees in another part of the city, located about 6 miles from the main office.  These two offices have a combined total of 115 PCs & Laptops.  These machines are interconnected on a network that connects to a collocation facility where the servers are stored & connected to a large pipe on the Internet.  This collocation facility provides the access for all customers via the Internet and also all the access for employees to their internal servers.

In this example we have a number of systems & networking interconnects needed for day to day operations.  This is a very common, and often a rather complex array of services.  This scenario is one that requires a moderate need for Internet infrastructure, but needs mount for file sharing, backups, redundancies, a the ability to startup new servers easily for usage, testing, development, or day to day operations.  The purchase cycle for additional hardware to bulk up this infrastructure isn’t measured in minutes, but is measured in days, weeks, and all too commonly months.

Take another example using a software game company.  This company traditionally delivers games via boxed medium to stores like Target, Wal-mart, or Gamestop.  The game shop is primarily located in a single office with 45 employees.  They have Internet access that connects them to their partners that handle graphics rendering compute time, e-mail & communication server hosting, & other sources.  The backup and storage for their work is on-premises with tape backups, file servers in building, and other equipment for the day to day operations of game development.

This company has needs for a large pipe to their rendering farm partners.  The file servers are local and also require a fair sized pipe to the workstations and huge disks for storing rendered images.  The rendering farm partners have appropriate networking connections on their end for uploading and downloading of their content to this company.  At the end of the development cycle when the game is ready for release they send off the gold copy of the build to manufacturing which is also in another geographic location.  This company then prints the boxes & discs and sends the game out through logistical distribution companies to the stores that will sell the product.

A Traditional Platform

Traditionally a platform was something that consisted of Ruby on Rails, the .NET Framework, Java Server Pages, or PHP.  One had to be responsible for the deployment of these platforms to infrastructure, and all the configuration, maintenance patches, updates, software installation, and other work required staffing at appropriate levels to handle the workload.  The .NET Framework is an example of developing to a platform, and then installing Windows Server (or running it on Mono under Linux), setting up the IIS Server on Windows, then appropriately installing updates, patches, fixes, and other pieces of software.

A great example of real world platform usage is alive in almost all companies to some degree.  Take Visual Basic [for Applications, VBA] for Office as an example.  This is often used in offices that have no dedicated development teams, nor any real trained developers.  [VBA] allowed almost anyone to get up to speed and use very simple programming concepts to get something built using the Microsoft Office Suite as the platform.

A great scenario, and extremely common, is a mid-size enterprise at approximately 170 employees.  In the main office there are a number of people in accounting, sales, support, logistics, marketing, advertising, and other departments.  Each of these departments often have custom needs to deal with their specific business needs within the enterprise.  Sales may want to have an ongoing list of customer contacts and their relation to particular sales people, so one of the sales guys hacks together a solution with Microsoft Office Access.  The next thing everyone in sales is using it.  Going beyond that someone in accounting figures out some cool tricks with Visual Basic for Applications and builds a way to keep in progress work in balance to simplify the daily tracking of numbers.  Again, the next step is other people in the department start using that same application.  Visual Basic for Applications, and the later incarnation Visual Studio Tools for Office is a great example of a software suite that had a platform built on it.

Another common scenario is the business that has grown to about 320 people and starts to migrate some of the rogue databases or custom Visual Basic for Application tweaks into applications that can be formalized and setup for use more easily within the enterprise.  Visual Studio and SQL Server are purchased and development work begins on the .NET Framework to codify these solutions.

The last example is one of the newer platforms out today.  Ruby on Rails started out as a platform to build on that did things in a very simple, minimalistic, rapid manner.  Development was started on the platform by people that eventually formed and built the tools that company sells: Basecamp, Highrise, Backpack, and Campfire.  The Ruby on Rails Platform makes web development faster and easier than it ever has been with traditional software platforms.  It has had such a huge impact that Microsoft has even released competing offerings such as ASP.NET MVC to counter the development patterns and style of the Ruby on Rails patterns.  This platform has some notable applications including Twitter, Yellowpages, Scribd, Hulu, Slideshare, Medhelp, Github, Odeo, Jango, Ravelry, MTV Style and many more.

A Traditional Software Solution

This is the point of all the other layers, the ability to provide software that clients can use to complete daily work, communicate, and create solutions for their business needs.  This traditionally has been provided by installing tools like Microsoft Office, Visual Studio, WordPerfect, Lotus, or other software packages.

This is probably the easiest service type of the “as a Service” differentiations to describe.  It is what is commonly seen by end users.

One of the most common software solutions that is used throughout the world is the Office Suite.  Microsoft’s Office Suite being the most common at this time.  Another great example of a software package commonly used is CAD & Photoshop.  There are literally thousands of other software offerings that are used at home, in the enterprise, or in small businesses every day.

James Vastbinder (@JamesVastbinder) posted about OpenStack on 12/31/2010 (missed when published):

image I wanted to familiarize myself with OpenStack today, as usual, I built out a mindmap of OpenStack.  It is interesting that in they have a current release of Austin out and are on track to deliver the Bexar release in early February with the Cactus release coming just 2 shorts months later in April.  Even more interesting is that Rackspace is committed to deploying the Cactus release on their own servers.

On a similar note, it is suggested the filesystem used be XFS, you know, the old filesystem left over from SGI and donated to the open source community.

Open Stack.png

OpenStack logoI didn’t have an opportunity today, but I really want to take a harder look at the architecture in Object Storage.  From what I can discern, Cloudfiles is built on top of Object Storage with CDN capabilities.  On a lighter note, I saw folks on Twitter were having CDN issues because they were using Google DNS server or OpenDNS servers instead of their local ISPs DNS servers… woops!!  An inherent by-design flaw in most CDN implementations…

Also, Amazon just upped the game announcing an S3 block size limit of 5TB.

Current logical view of Object Storage I made while messing around with Omnigraffle – not my best work:

OpenStack Objects Architecture.png

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