Friday, May 13, 2011

Windows Azure and Cloud Computing Posts for 5/10/2011+

image2 A compendium of Windows Azure, Windows Azure Platform Appliance, SQL Azure Database, AppFabric and other cloud-computing articles.


Reposted 5/13/2011 11:00 AM PDT with 5/11/2011 updates after Blogger outage recovery. Read Ed Bott’s Google's Blogger outage makes the case against a cloud-only strategy post of 5/13/2011:

The same week that Google made its strongest pitch ever for putting your entire business online, one of its flagship services has failed spectacularly. …

• Updated 5/11/2011 with new articles marked from Paul McDougall, Giga Om, Shamelle, Yves Goeleven, Richard L. Santaleza, Lori MacVittie, Steve Yi, Windows Azure Team, Michael Coté, Randy Bias and the Windows Azure AppFabric LABS Team.

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.

Azure Blob, Drive, Table and Queue Services

Avkash Chauhan explained How to deploy ClickOnce Application using Windows Azure Storage in very simple steps in a 5/10/2011 post:

image In this blog I will show you step by step how you can deploy a ClickOnce application designed using Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 using Windows Azure Storage.

In this case, I have a Windows Form Application name VHDMountAzureVM (  which I will deploy to my Windows Azure Storage account name HappyBuddha (

Step 1: Creating a public container in the Windows Azure Storage:

imageI have created a public container name "clickonceinstall" in the root location of my Windows Azure Storage account name "happybuddha" as below:

Based on above, my Clickonce install location will be described as below:

Step 2: Publishing Windows form Application:

In the VS2010 solution, launch "Publish" option as below:

In the Publish URL enter the Windows Azure Storage container URL ( as below:

After you start the "Publish" option the follow files will be created as clickonce install package files:

Step 3: Copy all ClickOnce files to Windows Azure Storage Container:

In this step please copy 3 main files (setup.exe, publish.htm and <Application_Name>.application) along with the Application Files Folder directly to Windows Azure Storage container as below:

(If you are using CloudBerry Azure Storage Explorer, you can just drag and drop all the files at once from Windows Explorer to Azure Storage)

Step 4: Launching the installer URL:

Now we can launch the application installer URL as below:

Above when you will click on "Install" button Setup.exe application will be downloaded to your local machine which you can launch to start the installer which you can see in following screen shots:

After the application installation is completed the application will be launched as below:

Step 5: Launching application any time in the machine where the application is installed:

Once application is installed in the machine it will be available in the startup menu as below:

You can just launch the application by clicking the application name.

Step 6: Removing/Uninstalling the application

ClickOnce application does leave the application installation signature in the Control Panel > Programs and Feature > list as below:

You can uninstall the application just by double clicking the application above. 

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SQL Azure Database and Reporting

• Steve Yi (pictured below) reported a new wiki article about SQL Azure Connection Security by Selcin Turkarslan on 5/11/2011:

imageSelcin Turkarslan has written an in-depth TechNet wiki article about connection security considerations when using SQL Azure. The article is primarily concerned with writing secure connection strings for SQL Azure Database. I’d highly recommend reading it, as it details good procedures and best practices when connecting with SQL Azure.

Click here to read "SQL Azure Connection Security"

imageIf you have any questions about connection security within SQL Azure, please leave a comment. We’d like to be able to help you out if you have any questions.

• Steve Yi described a new 00:12:34 Video How To: Business Intelligence with Cloud Data on 5/11/2011:

imageThis walkthrough discusses how businesses can take business intelligence to the cloud with SQL Azure. The video covers the benefits of SQL Azure—including the ability to establish business intelligence without adding hardware costs or IT overhead—and it also introduces SQL Azure Reporting.

imageThe ability to embed SQL Azure reports into on-premises Apps and Windows Azure Web Apps—and the ability to create and export SQL Azure reports using available report authoring tools is also covered. The demonstration portion of the video shows users how to author a report with Business Intelligence Development Studio (BIDS), display reports, embed a report into a web app, and manage and deliver reports.

Get Microsoft Silverlight

DCSIMGIf you would like to view the code that was mentioned in this video, it is available on Codeplex.

David Pallman announced on 5/10/2011 a Webcast: Windows Azure Relational Data Architecture scheduled for 5/11/2011 at 10:00 to 11:00 AM PDT:

image Tomorrow (Wed 5/11/11) I'll be giving the third in Neudesic's series of public webcasts on Windows Azure architecture. This month's webcast is on Windows Azure Relational Data.

In this webcast Windows Azure MVP and author David Pallmann will discuss the architecture of SQL Azure, the area of the Windows Azure platform responsible for providing relational database capabilities. You’ll learn how SQL Azure is similar to SQL Server in some respects and different in others, and what that means for developers and DBAs. In addition to SQL Azure Database we'll also discuss the upcoming SQL Azure services currently in preview--SQL Azure Reporting, SQL Azure Data Sync, and SQL Azure OData--as well as the Windows Azure DataMarket service. The session will include a survey of relational data design patterns.

Windows Azure Relational Data Architecture Webcast
Wed., May 11, 2011, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM Pacific Time

Klint Finley posted From Big Data to NoSQL: The ReadWriteWeb Guide to Data Terminology (Part 1) in a 10/5/2011 to the ReadWriteEnterprise blog:

image It's hard to keep track of all the database related terms you hear these days. What constitutes "big data"? What is NoSQL, and why are your developers so interested in it? And now "NewSQL"? Where do in-memory databases fit into all of this? In this series, we'll untangle the mess of terms and tell you what you need to know.

The first part covers data, big data, databases, relational databases and other foundational issues. In part two we'll talk about data warehouses, ACID compliance and more. In part three, we'll cover non-relational databases, NoSQL and related concepts.


The best definition of data I've been able to find so far is from Diffen:

Data are plain facts. When data are processed, organized, structured or presented in a given context so as to make them useful, they are called Information." On the subject of whether data is singular or plural:

It should be noted that data is plural (for datum), so the correct grammatical usage is "Data are misleading.". However, in practice people tend to use data as a singular form. e.g. "This data is misleading."

Big Data

image In short, big data simply means data sets that are large enough to be difficult to work with. Exactly how big is big is a matter of debate. Data sets that are multiple petabytes in size are generally considered big data (a petabye is 1,024 terabytes). But the debate over the term doesn't stop there.

There are other factors that can make data difficult to work with, such as the speed at which data is updated or the data's lack of structure. Clive Longbottom of Quocirca suggests the term "unbounded data" for data that is fast or unstructured:

Indeed, in some cases, this is far more of a "little data" issue than a "big data" one. For example, some information may be so esoteric that there are only a hundred or so references that can be trawled. Once these instances have been found, analysing them and reporting on them does not require much In the way of computer power; creating the right terms of reference to find them may well be the biggest issue.

Where might you run into big data or unbounded data? Social networks, where of users are adding status updates and comments at a high-speed. Or sensor networks with data about the surrounding environment is being stored at a fast pace. Or genomics, where huge amounts of genetic data is being processed.


A database is simply a way of storing and organizing data. According to Wikipedia Simple English: "The data can be stored in many ways. Before computers, card files, printed books and other methods were used. Now most data is kept on computer files." A non-electronic database could be a card catalog or a filing cabinet.

When the term "database" is used, it's usually to refer to a database management system (DBMS), which is a piece of software designed to create and manage electronic databases. A simple example might be an electronic address book.

Data Store

Data store is an even more general term than database. It's a place where any type of data is kept. Databases are data stores, but a text file full of data could also be a data store. A text file with a list of names and addresses is a data store, but an address book application on your computer is a DBMS.


According to Wikipedia, a database system's schema is "its structure described in a formal language supported by the database management system (DBMS) and refers to the organization of data to create a blueprint of how a database will be constructed (divided into database tables)."

Relational Database or RDBMS

Here's where things get interesting. A relational database is a specific type of database in which data is stored in "relations." Relations are usually tables, with rows representing different "things" and columns representing different attributes of those things.

For example, let's look at a hypothetical database for an oversimplified blogging system. Each post has a set of attributes, such as title, author, category and the post content itself. Every post has these attributes, even if some are left blank. Here's a example:

Database example 1

The blogging system database might also have a table called "categories" that looks something like this:

database example 2

The database's schema includes the facts that post content is stored in the posts table, that posts use the Category-Id attribute for categorization, that the names of categories are stored in the categories table, etc.

When we want to view - or "query" - a post, the software fetches each attribute from each column for the row of the post you want to look at and assembles it into a post.

If you want to query a list of categories that have been created but not used in posts, the software would cross-reference the categories table with the posts table, combine them into a new table and return a list of categories without posts. This cross-referencing and combining process is called "joining."

Here's a more traditional example:

database example 3

Imagine this system extended out over a number of years. You could use queries to determine which of your customers hadn't placed an order in the past year and either call them or close their account.

This may seem straight forward, but the underlying mathematics is complex. It's based on the relational model, which was created by E.F. Codd in 1969.

RDBMS stands for relational database management system, which is the type of software used to create and manage relational databases. Examples include: Oracle RDBMS, IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL, Microsoft Access, MySQL, PostgreSQL and FileMaker.


SQL stands for Structured Query Language. It specifies the commands the commands the blog software must give the database server in order to display a particular blog post or list of tags. It makes it easy for someone with experience in one RDBMS to use another RDBMS with minimal re-training.

Here's the query, written in SQL, that would join the categories table with the posts table and check for unused categories in the blog database example from above:

SELECT categories.Category-name, posts.Post-Id FROM categories JOIN LEFT posts ON categories.Category-Id = posts.Category-Id WHERE Post-Id IS null

Special thanks to Tyler Gillies for his help with this series

Herman Mehling asserted “Research firm The 451 Group coins "NewSQL" to categorize a new breed of database designed for distributed environments -- like the cloud” as a deck for his NewSQL: The Relational Model Meets Distributed Architectures article of 5/10/2011 for DevX:

First came SQL, then NoSQL, and now there's another addition to the SQL nomenclature: NewSQL.

The latest addition comes from the research firm The 451 Group, which published a report last month entitled How will the database incumbents respond to NoSQL and NewSQL?

"NewSQL is our shorthand for the various new scalable/high performance SQL database vendors," explained 451 Analyst Matthew Aslett. "We previously referred to these products as 'ScalableSQL' to differentiate them from the incumbent relational database products. Since this implies horizontal scalability, which is not necessarily a feature of all the products, we adopted the term 'NewSQL' in the new report."

Aslett identified three major product areas in the space:

  • NoSQL databases -- designed to meet the scalability requirements of distributed architectures, and/or schema-less data management requirements
  • NewSQL databases -- designed to meet the requirements of distributed architectures or to improve performance such that horizontal scalability is no longer needed
  • Data grid/cache products -- designed to store data in memory to increase application and database performance

Aslett emphasized that the term NewSQL, like NoSQL, should not be taken too literally.

"The new thing about NewSQL is the vendor, not the SQL," he said. "Like NoSQL, NewSQL is used to describe a loosely-affiliated group of companies."

What the NewSQL companies have in common is their development of new relational database products and services designed to bring the benefits of the relational model to distributed architectures, he said.

So which companies does the 451Group consider to be NewSQL vendors?

In the first group the firm includes: Akiban, Clustrix, CodeFutures, Drizzle, GeniDB, MySQL Cluster with NDB, MySQL with HandlerSocket, NimbusDB, RethinkDB, ScalArc, Schooner, Translattice and VoltDB.

The second group, which 451 classifies as NewSQL-as-a-service, includes Amazon Relational Database Service,, FathomDB, Microsoft SQL Azure, and Xeround.

Clearly there is the potential for NewSQL to overlap with NoSQL. For example, said Aslett, it remains to be seen whether RethinkDB will be delivered as a NoSQL key value store for memcached or a NewSQL storage engine for MySQL.

"NewSQL is not about attempting to re-define the database market using our own term, but it is useful to broadly categorize the various emerging database products at this particular point in time," said Aslett.

NewSQL as Cloud Database

In addition to the differentiators Aslett outlines between the various NewSQL solutions, Xeround's CEO Razi Sharir adds some more.

"Aslett did not use the term 'cloud database,'" said Sharir. "I would maintain that a cloud-database is one that's built from the ground-up optimally for the cloud environment, providing 'natural' and unlimited elasticity by using only cloud resources.

Tools, applications and solutions used in a traditional on-premise and/or hosted environment simply don't cut it anymore on the uniquely distributed environment of the cloud, said Sharir.

"To take advantage of the benefits of the cloud, a cloud-enabled solution needs to be designed, built and deployed in a cloud fashion, so that the core technology relies on virtualized resources -- with the cloud as an abstract management layer on top," he said.

Simply running a traditional hosted database in a VM is not sufficient for providing a database service that's optimal for the cloud, he added.

Sharir claimed Xeround is the only NewSQL solution to offer a native cloud Database-as-a-Service, and that the solution combines the best of both worlds: NoSQL and SQL.

"Underneath the hood, we're a fully virtualized cloud NoSQL database (DHT + distributed b-tree indexes and object store,) and on the forefront, we have a customized parser that enables us to offer various database flavors, which currently expose MySQL via the storage engine API," he said.

What lies ahead for SQL, NoSQL and NewSQL?

"The lines are blurring to the point where we expect the terms NoSQL and NewSQL will become irrelevant as the focus turns to specific use cases," said Aslett.

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MarketPlace DataMarket and OData

The Windows Azure Team announced MSDN Webcast May 24, 2011: Leveraging DataMarket to Create Cloud-Powered Digital Dashboards in a 5/10/2011 post:

image If you want to learn more about the DataMarket section of the Windows Azure Marketplace, don’t miss the upcoming free MSDN webcast, “Leveraging DataMarket to create Cloud-Powered Digital Dashboards”, on Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 8:00 am PST. During this one-hour session, ComponentArt Director of Development Milos Glisic, and Microsoft Program Manager Christian Liensberger will demonstrate how to create interactive, web-based digital dashboards in Microsoft Silverlight 4 and mobile dashboards on Windows Phone 7 using ComponentArt’s Data Visualization technology and Windows Azure Marketplace DataMarket.

imageWindows Azure Marketplace DataMarket is an information marketplace where users can easily discover, explore, subscribe, and consume trusted premium data and public domain data. Content partners who collect data can publish it on DataMarket to increase its discoverability and achieve global reach with high availability. Data from databases, image files, reports and real-time feeds is provided in a consistent manner through internet standards. And users can easily discover, explore, subscribe and consume data from both trusted public domains and from premium commercial providers.

Click here to learn more about this session and to register.

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Windows Azure AppFabric: Access Control, WIF and Service Bus

The Windows Azure AppFabric LABS Team warned on 5/11/2011 about an Update to Windows Azure AppFabric LABS Scheduled Maintenance and Breaking Changes Notification (5/12/2011) on 5/12/2011:

image722322222[Update]: In the planned release scheduled for 5/12/2011, we are making sure that customers will have parity between the Access Control and Caching services (currently in production) and the LABS preview environments. As result there will be some impacts as described below in the updated sections.

Due to upgrades and enhancements we are making to Windows Azure AppFabric LABS environment, scheduled for 5/12/2011, users will have NO access to the AppFabric LABS portal and services during the scheduled maintenance downtime.


  • START: May 12, 2011, 10am PST
  • [Update] END: May 12, 2011, 10pm PST
  • Service Bus will be impacted until May 16, 2011, 10am PST

Impact Alert:

  • AppFabric LABS Service Bus, Access Control and Caching services, and the portal, will be unavailable during this period.
  • Additional impacts are described below.

Action Required:

Access to portal, Access Control and Caching will be available after the maintenance.

  • Existing Access Control namespaces will be preserved.
  • [Update] Existing Access Control configuration under the namespaces will not be available following the maintenance, to upgrade to parity to the production environment. Users should back up Access Control configuration in order to be able to restore following the maintenance, or transition the application over to the production environment (Access Control is not being charged for billing periods before January 1, 2012).
  • Existing Caching namespaces and data will not be available following the maintenance, to upgrade to parity to the production environment. Users should back up Caching configuration in order to be able to restore following the maintenance, or transition the application over to the production environment (Caching is not being charged for billing periods before August 1, 2011).
  • Service Bus will not be available until May 16, 2011, 10am PST.
  • Furthermore, Service Bus namespaces will be preserved following the maintenance, BUT existing connection points and durable queues will not be preserved.

Users should back up Service Bus configuration in order to be able to restore following the maintenance.

Thanks for working in LABS and providing us valuable feedback.
For any questions or to provide feedback please use our Windows Azure AppFabric CTP Forum.

Once the maintenance is over we will post more details on the blog.

Maarten Balliauw posted A Glimpse at Windows Identity Foundation claims on 5/10/2011:

image For a current project, I’m using Glimpse to inspect what’s going on behind the ASP.NET covers. I really hope that you have heard about the greatest ASP.NET module of 2011: Glimpse. If not, shame on you! Install-Package Glimpse immediately! And if you don’t know what I mean by that, NuGet it now! (the greatest .NET addition since sliced bread).

image722322222This project is also using Windows Identity Foundation. It’s really a PITA to get a look at the claims being passed around. Usually, I do this by putting a breakpoint somewhere and inspecting the current IPrincipal’s internals. But with Glimpse, using a small plugin to just show me the claims and their values is a no-brainer. Check the right bottom of this '(partial) screenshot:

Glimpse Windows Identity Foundation

Want to have this too? Simply copy the following class in your project and you’re done:

1 [GlimpsePlugin()] 2 public class GlimpseClaimsInspectorPlugin : IGlimpsePlugin 3 { 4 public object GetData(HttpApplication application) 5 { 6 // Return the data you want to display on your tab 7 var data = new List<object[]> { new[] { "Identity", "Claim", "Value", "OriginalIssuer", "Issuer" } }; 8 9 // Add all claims found 10 var claimsPrincipal = application.User as ClaimsPrincipal; 11 if (claimsPrincipal != null) 12 { 13 foreach (var identity in claimsPrincipal.Identities) 14 { 15 foreach (var claim in identity.Claims) 16 { 17 data.Add(new object[] { identity.Name, claim.ClaimType, claim.Value, claim.OriginalIssuer, claim.Issuer }); 18 } 19 } 20 } 21 22 return data; 23 } 24 25 public void SetupInit(HttpApplication application) 26 { 27 } 28 29 public string Name 30 { 31 get { return "WIF Claims"; } 32 } 33 }

Enjoy! And if you feel like NuGet-packaging this (or including it with Glimpse), feel free.

Vittorio Bertocci (@vibronet) described Fun in Netherlands (Presenting @ DevDays, Before You Get Any Ideas) in a 5/10/2011 post:

image As anticipated, a couple of weeks ago I came back to EU to present at the Belgian TechDays and at the Netherland’s DevDays.

For schedule constraints, I ended up being able to travel from Antwerp to the Hague only Thursday night (a nice train ride with Isabel, during which I once again confirmed that Spaniards and Italians are not that different after all). As a result, all my 3 sessions in Netherlands had to take place on a single tour de force on Friday. Kudos to some of the guys there, who came to hear my blabbering at 9:15, came back from more at 13:15, and even braved my session in the last slot of the conference at 4:15.

image722322222Fun fact: when I arrived to check in the speaker room on Friday morning, with my breakfast uniform (frys, jeans and long sleeved t-shirt got during one speaking engagement at Disneyworld), the lady at the counter told me that they had only medium speaker polos left. Let’s just say that the Mickey tee was much preferable to that...

The DevDays guys already uploaded the videos to Channel9, hence you can see for yourself:

Important: MSDN Blogs will clip the embeded player, double click on it while playing to set it at full screen.

Here that was early morning and I was still reasonably energetic. The deep dive session was a bit harder:

Here there’s the thing. A lot of our story for identity and access control in the cloud is ACS, hence the overlap between my usual intro to identity and the cloud and the first few slides of any ACS session is pretty significant (with the sole exception a room where the audience all played with ACS before, in which case you can skip). Here more than half of the room didn’t know anything about ACS; OTOH the other almost-half was at my earlier session. I knew I had to repeat the main intro & ACS demo for the benefit of the former, but the presence of the latter made me feel guilty that I was repeating stuff they heard just few hours earlier; hence I really glided through that part, in hindsight perhaps a bit too fast. However I got really good questions and really good laughs, hence I’ll go ahead and assume it was not a complete disaster after all.

The last session of the day I was, quite frankly, exhausted; and so was my audience, although the smaller room made it harder to hide and drift. However a Red Bull really helped here: I never ever drink it unless I have to drive after a long flight or, you know, I have to talk about SaaS to an audience that endured 2 super-packed conference days and is braving the last slot on a less than trivial topic. I didn’t re-watch myself, but I was told that things were pretty lively nonetheless.

The DevDays experience was great. Kudos to Arie Leeuwesteijn , Matthijs Hoekstra and the rest of the crew for a job well done. I had a lot of fun, and acquired a few tens of new twitter followers (at @vibronet) in the process. In fact, just for setting expectations I am usually not a prolific twitterer but all those people may just shame me into tweeting more!

I certainly hope I’ll have the chance to come back next year. Until then, don’t be shy: send me your questions, one you your colleagues can confirm that I may not get back to you right away but when I do you’ve got a lot of stuff to read.

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Windows Azure VM Role, Virtual Network, Connect, RDP and CDN

• Yves Goeleven (@yvesgoeleven) posted Building Global Web Applications With the Windows Azure Platform – Offloading static content to blob storage or the CDN on 5/10/2011:

image In this third post on building global web applications, I will show you what the impact of offloading images to blob storage or the CDN is in contrast to scaling out to an additional instance. Remember from the first post in this series that I had an extra small instance that started to show signs of fatigue as soon as more than 30 people came over to visit at once. Let’s see how this will improve by simply moving the static content.

imageIn a first stage I’ve moved all images over to blob storage and ran the original test again, resulting in a nice scale up in terms of number of users the single instance can handle. Notice that the increase in users has nearly no impact on our role.  I lost about 50ms in minimum response time though, in comparison to the initial test, but I would happy to pay that price in order to handle more users. If you need faster repsonse times than the ones delivered by blob storage, you really should consider enabling the CDN.

And I’ll prove it with this second test: I enabled the CDN for my storage account, a CDN (or Content Delivery Network) brings files to a datacenter closer to the surfer, resulting in a much better overall experience when visiting your site. As you can see in the following test result, the page response times decrease dramatically, down to 30 percent:

But I can hear you think, what if I would have scaled out instead? If you compare the above results to the test results of simply scaling out to 2 extra small instances, you can see that 2 instances only moved the tipping point from 30 users to 50 users, just doubling the number of users we can handle. While offloading the images gives us a way more serious increase for a much lower cost ($0.01 per 10.000 requests).

Note that the most probable next bottleneck will become memory, as most of the 768 MB’s are being used by the operating system already. To be honest I do not consider extra small instances good candidates for deploying web roles on, as they are pretty limited in 2 important  aspects for serving content, bandwidth and memory. I do consider them ideal for hosting worker roles though, as they have quite a lot of cpu relative to the other resources and their price.

For web roles, intended to serve rather static content, I default to small instances as they have about 1GB of useable memory and 20 times the bandwith of  an extra small role for only little more than twice the price. Still the bandwidth is not excessive, so you still want to offload your images to blob storage and the CDN.

Please remember, managing the capacity of your roles is the secret to benefitting from the cloud. Ideally you manage to use each resource for 80% without ever hitting the limit… Another smart thing to do, is to host background work loads on the same machine as the web role to use the cpu cycles that are often not required when serving relatively static content.

Next time, we’ll have a look at how to intelligently monitor your instances which is a prerequisite to being able to manage the capacity of your roles…

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Live Windows Azure Apps, APIs, Tools and Test Harnesses

The Windows Azure Team recommended that you Don’t Miss Real-Time Global Fan Chat Next Friday, May 20, 2011 with KISS Rock Legends Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley - Hosted by Ortsbo and Powered by Windows Azure on 5/11/2011:, the real-time social media language translation platform, just announced that it will host “ Presents: KISS Live & Global”, next Friday, May 20, 2011 at 7:30 am PDT with international rock legends and KISS co-founders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Billed as the world’s first real-time, interactive global fan chat in 53 languages, the event will give fans the opportunity to submit questions and interact with Simmons and Stanley in their native language. The conversation will be instantly translated by the Ortsbo service. This event will serve as a prototype for future global commercial events with Live Nation, their artists and

Built on the Windows Azure platform, eliminates the need to cut/copy and paste text into a translator by automatically translating typed text into the specified language instantly. Users simply indicate the desired language for their intended recipient and Ortsbo does the rest. Ortsbo even lets users conduct multiple chat sessions simultaneously across multiple social networks in multiple languages, all in real time. enables real-time conversational translation in over 50 languages to well over 1 billion active chat accounts in more than 170 countries and/or territories and seamlessly integrates with most popular social media platforms.

Click here to pre-register for the KISS Live & Global event and to learn more about Ortsbo.

Kevin Casey asserted “Targeting SMBs and branch offices, CA will launch a version of its ARCserve platform on the Windows Azure cloud later this year in partnership with Microsoft” in a 5/10/2011 InformationWeek article:

imageCA Technologies announced on Tuesday that it will launch an online version of its ARCserve backup and recovery platform later this year, to be delivered in partnership with Microsoft via the Windows Azure cloud. The subscription-based software is intended to attract smaller business and branch office customers.

"This is very much targeted at the SMB market," Brian Wistisen, director of product management at CA, said in an interview. "It really allows a much more attractive model for them versus some of the more conventional kinds of backup solutions that they might be presented with."

imagePricing has not been set, nor has a launch date. CA simply said the cloud subscription service will be available at some point in the second half of this year. CA isn't putting its definition of small business in permanent ink. Wistisen said that CA typically considers somewhere between 20 to 200 employees as the range, but notes that the software is built to scale into the midmarket. In terms of data volume, the cloud version of ARCserve could suit firms with just a few gigabytes up to several terabytes, according to Wistisen.

A better benchmark than the number of employees might be the size of the IT department. "It's meant for organizations that really don't have a lot of the resources or infrastructure in place to be able to manage and service more of a traditional backup solution," Wistisen said.

Given growing virtualization adoption among SMBs, there's one noteworthy catch: Because it will be delivered through Windows Azure, the cloud version of ARCserve will only support Microsoft's Hyper-V for backup of virtualized environments. That could change in the future, but at launch Citrix and VMware users will have to look elsewhere. "We're specifically focusing on the Windows Azure relationship right now, although there's a lot of potential we have and that we're looking at with regards to other platforms and other kinds of potential offerings," Wistisen said.

Wistisen describes the Azure-based version of ARCserve as a hybrid backup and recovery tool, noting that it will support on-site storage as well. That's important for both data redundancy as well as minimizing latency in recovery situations. "It really allows the best of both worlds from the standpoint of cloud-based data protection, but we're going to be allowing these customers to store that data locally as well for disaster recovery purposes," Wistisen said.

The hybrid model for backup and recovery appears to be gaining steam, at least among vendors catering to small and midsize firms. Symantec recently announced it will add both cloud and appliance versions of its client-side Backup Exec software. Earlier in the year, Cisco entered a partnership with Mozy to offer optional online backup on its network storage devices for SMBs.

"Customers are realizing it's very, very critical not to place all of your eggs in one basket in terms of storing your data," Wistisen said. "We're seeing a lot of demand for hybrid as a go-forward model, especially in SMB arenas where they may not have the resources to develop their own private cloud or an additional off-site repository."

Bruce Kyle recommended that you Connect iPhone Apps to Windows Azure with New Toolkit in 5/10/2011 post to the US ISV Evangelism blog:

image A new toolkit helps you connect your iPhone apps to the cloud. Check out Windows Azure Toolkit for iOS. This toolkit contains resources and services designed to make it easier for iOS developers to use Windows Azure.

This iOS toolkit includes the following pieces:

  • A compiled Objective-C library for working with services running in Windows Azure (e.g. push notification, authN/authZ, and storage)
  • Full source code for the objective-C library (along with Xcode project file)
  • Sample iOS application that demonstrates how to use Windows Azure Storage with full source code
  • Documentation

Take a look at Windows Azure Technical Evangelist Wade Wegner’s post for a detailed technical review of the iOS toolkit.

imageFor more information and how to get the toolkit, see NOW AVAILABLE: Windows Azure Toolkit for iOS. Toolkit includes source code.

Also Windows Azure Toolkit for Android should be ready in June.

Tim Anderson (@timanderson, pictured below) asserted Microsoft’s Azure toolkit for Apple iOS and Android is a start, but nothing like enough in a 5/10/2011 post:

image Microsoft ‘s Jamin Spitzer has announced toolkits for Apple iOS, Google Android and Windows Phone, to support its Azure cloud computing platform.

I downloaded the toolkit for iOS and took a look. It is a start, but it is really only a toolkit for Azure storage, excluding SQL Azure.


imageWhat would I hope for from an iOS toolkit for Azure? Access to SQL Server in Azure would be useful, as would a client for WCF (Windows Communication Foundation). In fact, I would suggest that the WCF RIA Services which Microsoft has built for Silverlight and other .NET clients has a more useful scope than the Azure toolkit; I realise it is not exactly comparing like with like, but most applications built on Azure will be .NET applications and iOS lacks the handy .NET libraries.

A few other observations. The rich documentation for WFC RIA Services is quite a contrast to the Doxyfile docs for the iOS toolkit and its few samples, though Wade Wegner has a walkthrough. One comment asks reasonably enough why the toolkit does not use a two or three letter prefix for its classes, as Apple recommends for third-party developers, in order to avoid naming conflicts caused by Obective C’s lack of namespace support.

The development tool for Azure is Visual Studio, which does not run on a Mac. Microsoft offers a workaround: a Cloud Ready Package which is a pre-baked Azure application; you just have to amend the configuration in a text editor to point to your own storage account, so developers without Visual Studio can get started. That is all very well; but I cannot imagine that many developers will deploy Azure services on this basis.

I never know quite what to make of these little open source projects that Microsoft comes up with from time to time. It looks like a great start, but what is its long-term future? Will it be frozen if its advocate within Microsoft happens to move on?

In other words, this looks like a project, not a strategy.

The Windows Azure Tools for Eclipse, developed by Soyatec and funded by Microsoft, is another example. I love the FAQ:


This sort of presentation says to developers: Microsoft is not serious about this, avoid.

That is a shame, because a strategy for making Azure useful across a broad range of Windows and non-Windows clients and devices is exactly what Microsoft should be working on, in order to compete effectively with other cloud platforms out there. A strategy means proper resources, a roadmap, and integration into the official Microsoft site rather than quasi-independent sites strewn over the web.

Related posts:

  1. Microsoft PDC big on Azure, quiet on Silverlight
  2. Trying out Remote Desktop to a Microsoft Azure virtual machine
  3. Microsoft’s Scott Guthrie moving to Windows Azure

The Windows Azure Team posted Real World Windows Azure: Interview with Itzik Spitzen, VP of Research & Development at Gizmox on 5/10/2011:

MSDN: Can you tell us about Gizmox and the Instant CloudMove solution?

Spitzen: Gizmox was founded in 2007 with a vision to bridge the gap between the security, performance and ease of development traditionally provided by client/server desktop applications and the scale, economics and stability provided by the Cloud.

Based on our award-winning Visual WebGui technology we created migration solutions from client/server desktop to Web and the cloud. The Instant CloudMove solution enables the auto-transposition of application code that runs locally as a client/server application into an application that runs natively on Windows Azure as a rich Web application.

MSDN: What is unique about Instant CloudMove?

imageSpitzen: Visual WebGui CloudMove provides one of the shortest paths for moving client/server applications to Windows Azure. Our tools allow 85-95% of the migration process to be done automatically, which saves organizations from throwing away years of investments in code when looking to move to the cloud.

Once the code is transformed into Visual WebGui, applications can be accessed from mobile devices, tablets and PCs from the same application code, without the need for specific client installations.

MSDN: What are the key benefits of the solution for Windows Azure?

Spitzen: Visual WebGui's unique architecture and protocols are optimized for Windows Azure; our tests indicate savings of about 90% in bandwidth consumption and 50% on Windows Azure compute instances for many scenarios. We provide tools to assess the expected resource consumption of an existing application once it is migrated to Windows Azure to help predict the costs of running in the cloud before making the move.

MSDN: Can all client/server applications be transformed to Windows Azure using this solution?

Spitzen: Basically yes. We have tools for migrating from .NET and VB6 and we are working on automated solutions for migrating from technologies such as Oracle Forms and COBOL. Our solution also includes a free assessment tool, which provides a quick readiness test to Cloud. The tool generates a detailed report that indicates on the level of complexity and as a result the effort that would take to migrate a certain client/server application to the Cloud.

We are currently giving a 25% discount on transposition licensing and services to Windows Azure customers.  Learn more about Windows Azure offers here.  Learn more about the discounted services we are offering here.

VIDEO: CloudMove Transposition Process in Action

Click here to learn more about Gizmox.  Click here to learn more about partner opportunities with the Windows Azure platform.

Click here to read how other companies are using the Windows Azure platform.

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Visual Studio LightSwitch

Beth Massi (@bethmassi) posted a Trip Report: DevDays/TechDays 2011, Netherlands on 5/10/2011:

image Recently I spoke at DevDays 2011 in The Hauge, Netherlands, and what a show! It’s my second time speaking here at the World Forum – a great venue that holds a few thousand people. This is a professional developer and IT Pro conference that they put on every spring. I did 3 sessions and 1 “geek night” talk all on Visual Studio LightSwitch so I came up with some new content and demos that I think people enjoyed.

Introducing Visual Studio LightSwitch

image2224222222This session was in a huge theater that had maybe 400-500 people. It was awesome to see such an interest in this new member of the Visual Studio family. In this session we build my version of the Vision Clinic application from scratch, end-to-end, including security and deployment. We do write some code but only some simple business rules and calculated fields, and in the end we have a full-blown business application. The goal is to show what LightSwitch can do for you out of the box without having to know any details of the underlying .NET technologies upon which it is built. I did the entire demo with just Visual Studio LightSwitch installed (not VS Pro or Ultimate) so that I could show how simplified the menus, toolbars, and tool windows are inside the development environment. The recording is available on Channel 9. I suggest downloading the High Quality WMV:

Discover What is LightSwitch? Video Presentation: Introduction to Visual Studio LightSwitch

When I asked who had downloaded the Beta already, only about 10% raised their hand so I made it my job to convince everyone to go download it afterwards ;-).  I also asked how many people were not professional developers (didn’t get paid to write code) and a few people raised their hand (I expected only a few  since this was a pro developer conference). Those few were IT pros and business people that came to listen in and one business person followed me to my next talks because of how excited he was in the prospect of using LightSwitch for his cloud consulting business. 

What I showed in the session is pretty much exactly what I included in the LightSwitch Training Kit. If you look under the “LightSwitch Overview” on the right-hand sidebar on the opening page of the kit you will see the complete demo code and demo script that you can use for training folks at your local user groups. :-) Here are some more resources to check out that will help introduce you to Visual Studio LightSwitch:

Visual Studio LightSwitch – Beyond the Basics

This session drew about 100 or so attendees, and everyone but a couple people had either been to the intro session or already knew what LightSwitch was. In this talk I show what you can do with LightSwitch beyond just the screen templates and entity designer.

Discover What is LightSwitch? Video Presentation: Visual Studio LightSwitch – Beyond the Basics

I started off by quickly walking through the Course Manager sample which shows off features of Beta 2. This application does not have any custom controls or extensions and really shows what kind of powerful applications you can build right out of the box with just Visual Studio LightSwitch installed. Check out the series Andy has started on how he built the Course Manager.

We then dove into the LightSwitch API and I explained the save pipeline and the DataWorkSpace as well as talked a little bit about the underlying n-tier architecture upon which LightSwitch applications are built. I also showed how to build custom controls and data sources as well as use extensions. In this session I had LightSwitch installed into Visual Studio Professional so that I could show building custom controls. You create custom controls like you would any other Silverlight control in a Silverlight class library which can be referenced and used on screens. If you want to go a step further you can create a LightSwitch extension which (depending on the type of extension) integrates into the LightSwitch development environment and shows up like other built-in items.

To demonstrate custom controls, I built a simple Silverlight class library with a custom list box of my own and then showed how you can set up the data binding to the view model and reference the control on your LightSwitch screen. I also built a custom RIA service and showed how LightSwitch screens interacted with custom data sources. When I got to extensions, I used the Bing map control extension (which is included in the Training Kit) and loaded it into LightSwitch. Just like any other Visual Studio extension, LightSwitch extensions are also VSIX packages you just click on to install. I then added the map to a Patient details screen to display the address of the patient.

LightSwitch Advanced Development and Customization Techniques

In this session I showed some more advanced development and different levels of customization that you can do to your LightSwitch applications. There were about 50 people in the session and I recognized some of them as MVPs and other speakers. This isn’t surprising since the product is still in Beta, I was happy to see 50 people there ready to dive deeper. :-)

Discover What is LightSwitch? Video Presentation: LightSwitch Advanced Development and Customization Techniques

I started off by showing an application called “Contoso Construction” that I built using Visual Studio LightSwitch edition (no VS Pro installed) that has some pretty advanced features like:

  • “Home screen” with static images and text similar to the Course Manager sample
  • Personalization with My Appointments displayed on log in
  • “Show Map..” links under the addresses in data grids
  • Picture editors
  • Reporting via COM interop to Word
  • Import data from Excel using the Excel Importer Extension
  • Composite LINQ queries to retrieve/aggregate data
  • Custom report filter using the Advanced Filter Control
  • Emailing appointments via SMTP using iCal format in response to events on the save pipeline

(I PROMISE I will get this sample uploaded but we want to use it at TechEd next week so I was asked to wait a week.) 

During the session we built some of the parts of the application that any LightSwitch developer has access to. You don’t necessarily need VS Pro to write advanced LightSwitch code, you just need it to build extensions (which we did in the end). I showed how to access the code behind queries so you can write more advanced LINQ statements (and I messed up one of them too – my only demo hiccup of the conference so not so bad!) I showed some advanced layout techniques for screens and how to place static images and text on screens. I also showed how to flip to File View and access client and server projects in order to add your own classes. We injected some business rules into the save pipeline in order to email new, updated and canceled appointments and I walked through how to use content controls in Word to create report templates that display one-to-many sets of data.

I then went through the 6 LightSwitch extensibility points. Shells, themes, screen templates, business types, custom controls and custom data sources. I showed how to install and enable them and then we built a theme. I showed off the LightSwitch Extension Development Kit which is currently in development here. This will help LightSwitch extension developers build extensions quickly and easily and I used it to build a theme for the Contoso Construction application. Just like I mentioned before, LightSwitch extensions are similar to other Visual Studio extensions, they are also VSIX packages you just click on to install and manage via the Extension Manager in Visual Studio (also included in LightSwitch). For a couple good examples of extensions, that include all source code see:

You can get a good understanding of more advanced LightSwitch features by working through the LightSwitch Training Kit. If you look under the “LightSwitch Advanced features” section on the right-hand sidebar on the opening page of the kit you will see the demos and labs.


Here are some more advanced resources of Visual Studio LightSwitch to explore:

Fun Stuff

One of our ASP.NET MVPs and LightSwitch community champions, Stefan Kamphuis held down the fort at the Visual Studio LightSwitch booth. He said it was packed the entire conference. I stopped by a couple hours and there were a lot of great discussions around how LightSwitch works, how does it scale, and deployment options. I also found it cool that everyone that came by on my watch had backgrounds in VB6, Access, Cobol and/or FoxPro and struggled with the move to .NET in the beginning for these types of business applications (myself included).

My geek night session was titled “Build a Business Application in 15 minutes” but the session was 45 minutes long and no one brought beer. So I started asking people what king of bells and whistles we should add to the app. I screen scraped the session and speakers lists from the DevDays website and then used the Excel Import extension to upload the data into the system. The cool thing about this control is that it will also relate data entities together for you, so I had a list of speakers and their sessions. I then added a rating control from the Silverlight Toolkit and adapted it to use it in LightSwitch to give speaker ratings. I think people enjoyed it even though I didn’t have beer. ;-)

I stayed thru Saturday for Queensday and OMG what a party. I’ve never seen so many people dancing on the streets nor that much trash in my life. What an unforgettable experience. I had an absolute blast!

Beth gets a full-size mug shot to make her Oakland A’s badge readable.

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Windows Azure Infrastructure and DevOps

• Shamelle posted Windows Azure Multi-tenancy Cloud Overview on 5/6/2011 to the Azure Cloud Pro blog (missed when posted):

I heard the word multi-tenancy about a year ago when it was brought up in a requirements meeting I was part of. While I can’t disclose the entire conversation, let’s just say one of the main requirements was, “This application should support multi-tenancy!”.

Since then my knowledge on multi-tenancy has grown (or so I’d like to think!) . As part of today’s blog post, I thought of writing an overview on Multi-tenancy to help anyone else, who’s hearing the word multi-tenancy for the first time!

What is Multi-tenancy?

Multi-tenancy refers to a principle in software architecture where a single instance of the software runs on a server, serving multiple client organizations (tenants)
(reference: wikipedia)

For example (a simplified one!), let’s say there are 5 customers that require to use the same application. So instead of offering 5 copies of the OS, 5 copies of the database and 5 copies of the application, there could be 1 OS, 1 Database and 1 application on the server (note: Hardware resource capabilities may defer). Thus, the 5 customers would coexist within the application and work as though they had the entire application just to themselves.

Single-Tenant vs Multi-Tenant

Single-tenant has a separate, logical instance of the application for each customer.
Multi-tenant has a single logical instance of the application which is shared by many customers.

single-tenant vs multi-tenant

(reference: Developing Applications for the Cloud on the Microsoft® Windows Azure(TM) Platform (Patterns & Practices))

Multi-Tenancy Architecture Options in Windows Azure

Multi-Tenancy in Windows Azure is not as clear cut as it is depicted in the above figure. It can get a lot more complicated! Meaning, components in Windows Azure can be designed to be single tenant or multi-tenant.

Multi-Tenancy Architecture

You think that’s hard enough, think again. Even for databases there can be many options. Do you want to share the entire database and schema with all the customers, or perhaps have one database then then have separate schemas etc. There is a good article on MSDN, titled Multi-tenant data architectures, if you like more information.

All in all, the underlying infrastructure is shared, allowing massive economy of scale with optimal repartition of load.
Additionally, multi-tenancy allows for easier application maintenance since all application code is in a single place. It is much easier (and cheaper!) to maintain, update and backup the application and its data.

I will be writing more and maybe even tryout some examples with windows Azure code for multi-tenancy. Stay tuned..

Christian Weyer explained Erm, whats happening? Updating Windows Azure role configuration in a 5/20/2011 post:

image Sometimes the question shows up why the change of configuration of a Windows Azure deployment does not take effect immediately (whatever that means).

If you change the configuration (via the portal or via the management API) of your Windows Azure deployment then the change will happen almost immediately.
Well, not exactly.

The change will be rolled out to the instances using upgrade domains.


Source: Ryan Dunn’s TechEd 2010 presentation “Deploying, Troubleshooting, Managing and Monitoring Applications on Windows Azure”

For each upgrade domain a status change event will be raised and the instance can decide whether it will handle the change or whether it needs to be restarted.
Once the instances in that upgrade domain have reported that they are ready (either by handling the change, or by coming back online after restarting) then the fabric controller will move to the next upgrade domain.

Hope this helps.

JP Morgenthal (@jpmorgenthal) claimed Dependency Creep Can Impact Your Cloud Migration Strategy in a 5/10/2011 post:

image With Cloud Computing emerging on the scene as a solution to a number of computing use cases, it will drive modernization of your existing systems. Perhaps it's just a new interface for driving mobile access to corporate data or consolidating standalone servers into a Cloud for achieving greater utilization from fewer resources. In either case, the number of dependencies between system tiers is increasing shrinking the distance between them.

While we have been trained to believe silo systems are inefficient, they are much easier to develop businesses continuity plans around. In recent discussions with a Director of IT from an insurance company, it was relayed to me that the processes for managing in face of a disaster for his mainframe was well-tested every year for the past ten years. While his process still takes between four and five days to complete, the nature of restoring the mainframe systems are straightforward: turn on disaster recovery site hardware, load applications, load last known data, run missed jobs, etc.

The problem for this individual is that users have progressively stopped using these applications directly in the past five years. Instead, these users are now accessing the mainframe data through a hierarchy of applications that have been built over the years. Moreover, these applications have not been developed as part of a cohesive strategy that incorporates them into the business continuity planning in face of a disaster. So, now, there's a host of applications that are all feeding each other and there's no roadmap detailing the connectivity and flows between these applications nor a plan for the order in which they need to be restored in the event of a disaster. We call this dependency creep.

As difficult as dependency creep is as described above, if each of these applications are deployed on silo hardware in a single data center, there's an opportunity to catalog these applications after the fact. When these applications move into the Cloud and may be distributed across public and private nodes and integrated with other public services, the dependency creep becomes unwieldy and unmanageable. Moreover, without appropriate levels of communications between engineering and operations, these dependencies can become recursive. These recursive dependencies work fine when all services are up and available, but can be extremely problematic to restore if a very specific ordering is not followed.

So, what can you do today to avoid these issues later? First, initiate the development of a DevOps initiative within your enterprise. DevOps fosters communications between engineering and operations so that applications are developed with an understanding of how they will be deployed and operated. When operations and engineering operate in isolation, applications work fine in a pristine test environment, but tend to fall over when deployed in production. Engineers must understand the production environment that their application will be running in and operations must understand how the application works and how it is designed. Building a DevOps group may require individuals to learn new skills to support this effort.

Secondly, develop your IT services catalog. Your service catalog will provide you with the means of identifying dependencies. Unfortunately, the organic nature of IT means that we have built systems with the spaghetti-like interconnections that we typically associate with bad software development. Untangling those dependencies is going to take a concerted effort, but is critical to not only ensuring that you can survive a disaster but that you can respond to less critical outages as they occur without the “fire-drills” that typify many operations environments.

Migrating to the Cloud offers multiple benefits and offers opportunity to solve problems that were previously cost prohibitive. However, any time you open the doors to the data, it seems that the line rapidly forms to consume that data; or as it is commonly known as “build it and they will come!” Furthermore, once the business taps that source, ecosystems will build around it that includes business processes and applications. These dependencies must be cataloged, managed and incorporated into your business continuity planning or it's very likely your business will be significantly impacted by service outages.

imageNo significant articles today.

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

Carl Brooks (@eekygeeky) reported Private cloud vendors send mixed message from Interop 2011 on 5/10/2011:

image IT shops are on the hunt for practical uses for cloud computing, both private and public, while vendors are stuck on rehashing old debates about the meaning of and the business case for cloud computing.

A panel on private cloud at Interop this week saw representatives from Novell, IBM, NEC and Intel deliver a confusing mixed message. John Stetic, VP of product management at Novell, said private cloud was essentially a second step after virtualization and, at its core, mostly about automation and ease of provisioning for users. Rich Lechner, VP of cloud marketing for IBM, said it was great for delivering desktop information services.

image "We have 100,000 in sales and marketing using business analytics in our private cloud," Lechner said. He added that IBM also had 15,000 to 20,000 developers in India and China who were using what he called a "more traditional" cloud model for virtual machines and test and development.

Cloud computing has been broadly defined by NIST since 2009 as online, self-service, pay-as-you-go access to computing power and IT services. The panel agreed that moving to private cloud meant installing tools and platforms in the data center to gain the kind of flexibility and capabilities demonstrated by public cloud providers, like Amazon, and that installing appropriate mechanisms for chargeback and accounting was vital. Some users took umbrage at this idea.

IT pros offer their two cents on cloud
"If anyone in the room is considering a cloud project and starting with charging mechanisms, don't do it," said Christian Reilly, speaking from the audience to the panel. "It'll fail and you'll go down all the [wrong] rabbit holes, so that's a piece of free advice."

Reilly is an IT architect with a large multinational and considers his firm to have built a private cloud. He said the focus on accounting and infrastructure was a snooze, and what ended up being really important was delivering entire application stacks and services instead of focusing on infrastructure automation.

Also speaking from the floor, Randy Bias, CEO of consulting firm Cloudscaling, complained that it simply wasn't realistic to expect enterprises to try and ape Google or Amazon, since the enterprise data center has a completely different set of purposes and needs than that of a technology provider. He said it wasn't enough to want technology, there had to be specific, actionable uses for cloud computing techniques.

"Why are they going to adopt cloud?" he asked.

Novell's Stetic responded that it was necessary to take a long view, adding that cloud, like virtualization, would be adopted incrementally as users discovered it could actually be operationally more efficient. He said companies like Google and Facebook provided a "leading edge."

Despite the ambush from the audience, no one disagreed that cloud is here to stay and that enterprises are turning to it in various forms. It was also clear that enterprises are most interested in a hybrid, pastiche approach to cloud computing, picking and choosing from public, hosted cloud services where appropriate and revamping for private cloud-style operations over time.

"The reality is we're going to be hybrid cloud," said Dot Davis, who runs technical support operations for a large scientific equipment maker. She said her firm's IT was already a complicated web of services, applications, operations and products, and cloud computing wasn't likely to change her life.

Davis said despite the never-ending marketing noise around cloud, it was really just about finding and implementing the appropriate solution for a problem.

"I guess we'll all find some kind of Kool-Aid to drink," she said.

More from Interop:

Full disclosure: I’m a paid contributor to

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Cloud Security and Governance

• Lori MacVittie (@lmacvittie) warned A recent power outage in the middle of the night reveals automation without context can be expensive for aquariums – and data centers as an introduction to her Don’t Let Automation Water Down Your Data Center post of 5/11/2011 to F5’s Dev Central blog:

You may recall from several posts (Cloud Chemistry 101, The Zero-Product Property of IT and The Number of the Counting Shall be Three (Rules of Thumb for Application Availability) that one of my hobbies is “reefing.”

image No, it’s not that kind of reefer madness, it’s the other kind – the kind associated with aquariums and corals and all manner of strange looking ocean-living fish. I only recently re-engaged after years of avoiding the hassle (and enjoyment) and have been learning a lot, especially in terms of what’s been learned by others during my off-years.


When I set up my most recent aquarium adventure – a 150 gallon reef – I decided to use an external sump. Think of it like an external reservoir in which all sorts of interesting filtering and water quality activities can be handled without all the tubes and equipment that might otherwise clutter up the main display tank. It’s also handy for setting up things like automated top-off systems, which automatically add fresh water to the system to compensate for evaporation. Such systems can, it turns out, be problematic if they aren’t enabled with the proper context in which to automatically kick in. It’s loose coupling of a system, much in the same way application delivery can abstract policy enforcement and infrastructure services from the applications it delivers, making the system more agile and able to be adapted to problems without disrupting the main tank, er, application. 

I talked about achieving dynamic equilibrium in a previous post so suffice to say that as water evaporates from an aquarium only water is lost. This is not so critical a point in a freshwater system, but in a salt-water system it is absolutely important to understand.

The more “salt per gallon” in a salt-water aquarium, the higher the salinity. Obviously if salt is not evaporating but water is, then salinity increases. Conversely, if too much fresh water (i.e. 0 salinity) is added, salinity decreases. You might guess that a rather narrow range of salinity is required to support a reef. Too low or too high, and things start suffering rather quickly. The balance needs to be maintained in order to maintain a healthy ecosystem. 

Now, the relationship between all the moving parts in my reef setup are very much like the complex relationships between components and resources in a data center. Water (requests and responses) flow out of the display tank and into the sump (application delivery controller), are filtered by a protein skimmer (web application firewall), and then returned via a return line to the main tank. As water evaporates it reaches a minimum level on an automated sensor (application health monitors) that trigger a response that forces additional fresh water (compute resources) into the sump, which re-establishes equilibrium and maintains salinity by sustaining a specific water-salt ratio in the ecosystem. Flow rates are equalized between input and output, and when the power is on everything runs smooth as pie. 

But when power went out not once, but three times last week, that automation that saves me so much time under normal operations, bit me in the proverbial derriere.

So what happens when the power goes out? Well, if not for the protein skimmer (C in the lovely diagram to the left) nothing. The pumps stop pumping and water in the display tank (A) which continues to drain from the overflow until it hits the siphon break and then stops.

That’s about 13 gallons of water. When added to the sump’s level of 10 gallons, that’s about 23 gallons of a 25 gallon capacity container. But add in the approximately 2 gallons from the protein skimmer combined with natural water displacement from the equipment and … wet floor. Water overflow. Once might not be too bad, but twice? Three times in one night? 

But it wasn’t just the wet floor that was the problem. See, once the power returned the automated top-off system, recognizing the water level was down, did what it does best: pumped fresh, desalinated water into the sump. It did it so well, in fact, that the salinity levels in the entire system dropped from a comfortable 1.025 to a rock-bottom minimum of 1.023. Luckily that’s not “rock-bottom” in terms of survival, and everything that was alive is still doing well and in fact flourishing, but it pointed out a flaw with the automation I’d put into place – it’s not contextually aware. It’s not intelligent. It just … is.

A more experienced reefer (with these kinds of complex systems) would point out that salinity monitoring is essential and that a secondary system designed to ensure the maintenance of a specific specific gravity (another way to say salinity) is vital to maintaining the proper water chemistry. I would be inclined to agree after recent events, and find that this is a fine example of potentially similar problems with data center automation.

Let’s assume a data center that uses monitoring of application performance and has in place an auto-scaling or server flexing system that, when triggered, automatically adds new resources to a given application to improve performance, assuming resource consumption (high volume of users) is the core factor in performance.

That all sounds great in theory, like my reef setup, but in practice it can go horribly wrong. For example, if the reason resource availability is decreasing is due to a concerted DoS attack across multiple layers of the stack, adding more resources is unlikely to restore equilibrium. You can add compute resources all day but it won’t address the consumption of bandwidth or infrastructure resources caused by the attack. Without context, the automated system simply does without thinking what it’s been told to do. And if those resources are in a cloud-based environment for which you are charged by the instance hour, you may increase costs dramatically without seeing any return on that investment. Cloud-bursting can be a valuable tactical response to balancing the need for more capacity with costs, but if those resources are added without context then, like adding fresh-water to compensate for non-evaporative water loss to a salt-water system, you may be diluting the efficiency of the entire application delivery chain.

But if the automated system had visibility and context-awareness, if it was intelligent and could factor in all the variables – network and compute – it could react accordingly and perhaps take some other action that would address the real problem, like activating security-minded policies that throttle bandwidth based on usage patterns, or start blocking offending user sessions. The what is less important than how, for our purposes, because it’s really about having the context in the first place to enable the application of organizational-specific policies supporting operational goals. Without context, without collaboration, automation is likely to result in blind decisions – made without understanding the root cause and potentially causing more damage than good.

Context is critical to ensure that automation is supportive of – not detrimental to- operational efficiency and goals.

• Richard L. Santaleza announced the Third in our Cloud Computing Webinar Series in a 5/11/2011 post to the Information Law Group blog:

Legal Issues of Security and Privacy in Cloud Computing
Wednesday, May 24, 2011 – 12:30 pm ET

In this free upcoming webinar on cloud computing, Information Law Group Attorney, Richard Santalesa will examine the Legal Issues of Security and Privacy in Cloud Computing.  To register, click here.

The government is getting involved in cloud computing in a major way – both as a growing consumer of cloud services and as a standard setter in developing technical best practices and recommendations for achieving and maintaining security and privacy when using cloud services. Recently the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a draft for public comment of “Guidelines on Security and Privacy in Public Cloud Computing,” here, as part of ongoing developmental work by NIST’s various active cloud working groups.

image In this webinar and the accompanying white paper we examine the technical and legal implications for various security and privacy issues arising from the NIST’s guidelines and other related NIST materials, with a focus on the legal considerations any team tasked with implementation of security best practices will need to grapple with.

David Linthicum (@DavidLinthicum) asserted “The hacks and Sony's incompetence involve bad security practice, not a flaw in cloud services per se” as a deck for his Why Sony's PSN problem won't take down cloud computing article of 10/5/2011 for InfoWorld’s Cloud Computing blog:

image It's interesting to see the number of people calling for the downfall of cloud computing after the recent Amazon Web Services outage and, of course, Sony's huge PlayStation Network security blunder that potentially let loose 100 million credit card numbers. Clearly, the security was less than stellar and Sony is now scrambling to correct the issues after the fact.

Indeed, this Reuters article makes a case for Sony's ability to bring down the cloud. "Cloud computing companies have done a good job convincing customers that their data is safe, even though that may not be the case," said Gartner cloud security analyst Jay Heiser. The article goes on to cite a ton of cloud computing naysayers who point to the Sony incident as a reason not to go to cloud computing.

The logic around this sentiment is inconsistent. Those who are on the fence about public cloud computing take these incidents to a conclusion that defies logic. Just because Sony did not take the steps necessary to secure their data, how does that reflect on other public cloud computing providers?

Sony is not even a cloud computing provider. It does not sell PaaS, IaaS, or SaaS. However, it is another example of a large company that failed at the basic tenets of computing security. It happens all the time.

If you shun cloud computing because Sony compromised credit card numbers, do you also avoid laptops because of incidents over the years where they were lost or stolen, and the data on them (including credit card data) was compromised? Don't even get me started on thumb drives.

These concerns won't go away, whether or not you're using the cloud. Data will be compromised if those who own the data don't take steps to protect it -- regardless of where it's stored.

Jay Heiser asked How long does it take to reboot a cloud? in a 5/10/2011 post to his Gartner blog:

image Commercial cloud  computing raises two significant disaster recovery issues:

  • What is the cloud provider’s ability to recover their own services?
  • What is the enterprise’s ability to obtain an alternative to a vendor that can’t recover themselves?

image To the extent that cloud computing actually exists, and actually is a new model, we have to consider that traditional forms of BCP/DR, and the validation of the existence and efficacy of such, may either need to be reinterpreted, or new practices and even vocabularies may be necessary. As a parallel, I think its fair to say that traditional IT security concepts and the related business requirements are still perfectly valid, but the relative degree to which traditional forms of risk assessment and testing can be applied has been reduced by this new model.  The security domain doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel to respond to cloud computing, but there is every reason to think that current wheel designs (and tires, for that matter) are less than non-optimal for this new task.  It is almost certainly the case that other IT risk domains also need to consciously consider how to apply their old concepts to this new computing style.

The practical implications of cloud ambiguity is a wilful lack of attention to architectural and build issues, with relatively greater levels of attention to operational processes as a sub-conscious form of compensation.  The light shines strongly on operations, so that’s where everyone looks. The problem is that our understanding of what constitutes an appropriate set of processes is based upon the requirements of a single host using a familiar operating environment.  I can make a Unix or Windows box as secure as you want, and I can back it up out the whing whang and have a high degree of confidence that come what may, I can restore service within an expected time frame.

In contrast, I have no basis for determining the propensity to fail, in either a confidentiality or data availability sense, of a proprietary environment based on hundreds of thousands of servers in 3 dozen data centers, tenanted by millions of users of hundreds of applications and services.

There are clear fault tolerant advantages to most commercial cloud services.  A small to medium business, or a small business unit in any size business, can easily obtain a highly reliable level of service at a relatively low cost, and it can be done quickly and conveniently.

What is not the least bit clear is the relative ability of any Cloud Service Provider to restore your data into their services in cases in which their high availability, fault tolerance mechanisms do not protect your data. Indeed, in certain instances, the fault tolerant mechanisms can cause an auto-immune failure that virtually ensures that every live copy of your data will be impacted.

The fact that it took Google 4 days to restore .02% of the users of a single service is a sobering one to me.  Likewise, Amazon required 4 days to recover from a limited outage, and they were never able to get all the data back. Should the buyers of such a service expect a linear relationship between the restoration time and the amount of data lost?  Would it truly take 200 days to restore the data for just 1% of gmail users? Forgive me if I’m committing BCP/DR sacrilege, but I fail to see the utility of the letters RTO to this situation.

I choose to continue to believe that the acronym RTO is a way to express a business requirement, and potential vendors shouldn’t be telling potential buyers what their business requirements are.  Its even worse when cloud service providers are suggesting that their levels of fault tolerance are so good, that traditional forms of ‘recovery’ are no longer relevant.  One BCP/DR concept that should never be lost in the cloud is the need for contingency planning.

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Cloud Computing Events

• Giga Om updated on 5/11/2011 the Schedule for its Structure event to be held 6/22 and 6/23/2011 at UCSF’s Mission Bay Conference Center:

image Day 1 - Wednesday, June 22



8:40 AM: A Tale of Two Clouds: Private and Mobile

There are two clouds that when combined provide a big threat to the established practices and controls of the IT department. The first cloud, the private cloud, lacks two important attributes of cloud computing. First, you have to buy it up front – instead of paying for it as you go, and second, the adoption of cloud means almost no IT involvement. The second kind of kind of cloud is the "Cloud in your pocket" - the one that powers your smartphone or tablet. This talk will look at the infrastructural requirements to deliver both kinds of clouds, examine the state of development of such infrastructure generally, and propose a way forward for IT to enable enterprises to serve both consumer use of client devices and enterprise policy needs.

9:00 AM: CHAT

9:20 AM: The State of the Cloud Address

The Amazon public cloud accounts for an estimated 40% of the total public cloud market. Werner Vogels helped to elevate the cloud computing industry into the mainstream when his team at Amazon launched EC2 and S3. We asked Werner to deliver a very special "State of the Cloud" address in which he talks about where Amazon sees cloud computing currently and where he plans to take the industry next.

10:00 AM: BREAK / Optional Workshops - Located on Level 2

Intel Workshop - Room 1: Building Clouds: Real World Lessons from Intel Cloud Builder program and IT@Intel

Intel Cloud Builders is helping enterprises and service providers build more simplified, secure, and efficient cloud infrastructures. Additionally, Intel’s own IT department - with about 75,000 servers worldwide – is transforming its enterprise environment from a traditional infrastructure to a cloud-based service. Learn real-world lessons from the Intel Cloud Builders program and Intel IT that you can apply to your cloud deployments.

  • Speakers: Billy Cox - Director, Cloud Software Strategy, Intel
  • Das Kamhout - Cloud Computing Engineering Lead, Intel IT

Zeus Workshop - Room 2

IBM Workshop - Room 3

NetApp Workshop - Room 4

10:40 AM: The Future of The Cloud Panel

Recently, GigaOM Pro, The 451 Group, and Northbridge Venture Partners conducted an industry survey to map the future of enterprise cloud computing. The results of the survey will be revealed for the first time in this panel, and we will hold a lively discussion among the stakeholders in key industry sectors about the implications of these results.

11:20 AM: Microsoft and the Cloud: What’s Next?

Satya Nadella runs the $15 billion infrastructure business unit at Microsoft which encompasses the server business lines and the Azure platform. Microsoft remains a leading giant in the enterprise software space and is a leader in both public and private cloud computing, and its existing customer channels will be influential in shaping the course of how this trend will be realized. We will talk to Satya about his view of cloud computing and the direction that he sees Microsoft charting.

  • Moderated by: Derrick Harris - Site Editor, Structure and Staff Writer, GigaOM
  • Speakers: Satya Nadella - President, Server and Tools Business, Microsoft

11:40 AM: TALK

11:50 AM: KEYNOTE: Shaping The Cloud

What further technology leadership will VMware show in shaping the cloud computing industry? VMware defined the category for virtualization and subsequently helped make the term ubiquitous. Formerly at Microsoft, Paul Maritz led the entire software product lines across the board and in no small part created the giant that is MSFT. Now as CEO of VMware, what challenges will Paul Maritz face as VMware shapes the Cloud industry?

12:10 PM: Open Everything

  • Moderated by: Joe Weinman - Worldwide Lead, Communications, Media and Entertainment Industry Solutions, HP
  • Speakers: Derek Collison - CTO, Chief Archictect, Cloud Division, VMware
  • Lew Moorman - President, Cloud and CSO, Rackspace Hosting

12:30 PM: LUNCH / Optional Workshops - Located on Level 2

Rackspace Workshop - Room 1
Tilera Workshop - Room 2
Microsoft Workshop - Room 3
HP Workshop - Room 4
  • Speakers: Patrick Harr - Global Vice President, Cloud Computing, HP

1:30 PM: Evolving Network Architecture With Content-Centric Networking

It is becoming too costly to provision today’s networks for the rapidly increasing demands made on them. In this talk, Teresa Lunt will discuss content-centric networking, a new approach to networking being developed at PARC. Content-centric networking changes the way we think about networking, simplifies how applications consume content, and will enable applications and services to be designed in a way that more content can be delivered for far less cost.

  • Speakers: Teresa Lunt - VP and Director of the Computing Science Laboratory, PARC, a Xerox company


2:15 PM: Guru Panel - What Can the Enterprise Learn from Webscale?

Those who are at the bleeding edge of practice today will define everyday operations for the rest of us tomorrow. We assemble a panel of some of the top innovators -- and biggest infrastructure customers -- in the web world to talk about their experiences pushing the boundaries of cloud computing.

2:55 PM: CHAT

3:15 PM: BREAK / Optional Workshops - Located on Level 2

Cisco Workshop - Room 1: Cisco and the Cloud: Within, Across and Beyond the Data Center

Cisco's approach to the cloud opportunity includes helping to build out the data centers powering the cloud as well as applying capabilities in the network to enable intelligent connectivity within and beyond the data center. Join us to explore how to enable distinctive functionality across a secure, trusted, and ubiquitous platform.

  • Speakers: Simon Aspinall - Senior Director, Service Provider Marketing Data Center and Mobility, Cisco
Data Direct Networks Workshop - Room 2
Abiquo Workshop - Room 3
AMD Workshop - Room 4

3:55 PM: The VC Panel: Cloudy Bubble?

Is there a bubble? The Valley’s finest are giddy with their investments into the cloud space. But we ask, will it last? Meet some of the Valley’s leading venture capitalists, and find out where they’re investing their money and on what areas of technology entrepreneurs should focus.

4:35 PM: CHAT - TBA

  • Speakers: Dave Hitz - Founder and EVP, NetApp
  • Jeff Smith - CEO, Suncorp Business Services, Suncorp Group

4:55 PM: LaunchPad

Meet GigaOM’s picks for the 10 companies that have the "right stuff" to succeed in the cloud computing marketplace.


Day 2 - Thursday, June 23



9:05 AM: Cloud Storage: Moving Beyond Backup?

For a few years, cloud-based storage has been a ideal solution for backing up enterprise data, but a new breed of startups is trying to convince businesses to move their primary data into the cloud. This panel will examine whether the cloud can meet the performance, the security and cost requirements that businesses place on primary storage systems and what it will take to make the cloud an appealing option.


  • Moderated by: Derrick Harris - Site Editor, Structure and Staff Writer, GigaOM
  • Speakers: Bob Toohey - President Global Business Unit, Verizon

10:05 AM: The Next Frontier: Cloud Databases

One of the biggest challenges that remain is managing data in the cloud. While the need for database scalability, reliability and performance has always been an issue in computing, the cloud introduces new challenges such as elasticity, geographic distribution and multi-tenancy. It has become a breeding ground for a wave of new solutions, including database-as-a-service offerings. In this session, we will engage in a discussion with some of these cutting-edge companies. We’ll define what is a "true" cloud database is and explore the unique challenges of managing data in a cloud environment.

10:45 AM: BREAK / Optional Workshops - Located on Level 2

Mohr Davidow Workshop - Room 1
Softlayer Workshop - Room 2
CA Technologies - Room 3
Terremark Workshop - Room 4

11:25 AM: Is Data Privacy a Make-or-Break Issue for Cloud Computing?

Concerns ranging from consumer privacy to whether cloud-based data is entitled to Fourth Amendment protection have made data privacy one of the foremost legal issues facing cloud computing. This fireside chat will feature legal experts from both the cloud-provider and legal perspectives. We’ll explore what it will take to make all cloud stakeholders confident that their privacy needs are being met.

11:45 AM: PaaS: Potholes Ahead?

Developers, venture capitalists and big companies have embraced the idea of platforms as a service, but now the real work begins. What does the PaaS of tomorrow look like and what pitfalls lie ahead for unwary developers trying to build a business, not merely an application, on one of these platforms? Would a buyout of the vendor mean rewrite of the code? Should you use different platforms for one application? Will multi-language platforms prevail or those that are single-focused?

12:20 PM: DevOps - Reinventing the Developers Role in the Cloud Age

The old way: Development teams created code and then handed off to the infrastructure group who would put the code on the machines and deploy them. The new way: In the age of the cloud, programmers can deploy code and scale infrastructure in four minutes with fixes that can take place on the fly. Overall efficiency...vastly improved. For DevOps to be a ubiquitous process enterprise-wide, some hurdles, such as policy or training, still have to be scaled. In this talk with two leading proponents, we talk about what still needs to be done and what benefits businesses will derive from embracing the DevOps way.

12:40 PM: LUNCH / Optional Workshops - Located on Level 2

GoGrid Workshop - Room 1
Accenture Workshop - Room 2
Gist Workshop - Room 3
Virtustream Workshop - Room 4
  • Moderated by: Derrick Harris - Site Editor, Structure and Staff Writer, GigaOM

1:40 PM: Next-Generation Cloud

2:00 PM: TALK

2:10 PM: TBA

2:30 PM: High-Density Cloud

  • Moderated by: Jason Hoffman - CTO and Founder, Joyent
  • Speakers: Jason Waxman - GM, High Density Computing, Intel Corporation

2:50 PM: Dedicated, In More Ways than One: The IaaS Panel

Infrastructure as a service used to mean virtual machines running within a multitenant architecture, probably paid for with a credit with a credit card with a disclaimer of caveat emptor. My, how things have changed: this panel brings together leading IaaS providers to discuss how IaaS has evolved to include dedicated servers, and where this trend away from virtualization and economies of scale is headed.

3:20 PM BREAK / Optional Workshops - Located on Level 2

Nimbus Data Systems Workshop - Room 1
Brocade Workshop - Room 2
SeaMicro Workshop - Room 3
Deloitte Workshop - Room 4

4:00 PM: The Instrument of Cloud Monetization: The API

APIs are an important, but sometimes under-appreciated, potential source of income for cloud service providers. Although they don’t cost a dime, well-designed APIs can bring in hordes of developers that will help drive site traffic and popularity through the roof. These panelists are API experts at many levels and will share strategies for making more developers mean more money.

4:20 PM: Virtualized Networks

4:40 PM: Computers At the Crossroads: What Hardware Will Reign in the Clouds?

The hardware world is a changing. New scenarios seem possible as webscale and cloud computing companies take a hard look at their regular commodity hardware and find it lacking. High density server blades, Atom-based machines from SeaMicro, servers using cell phone chips, even specialty processors using hundreds of cores. Will any of these innovations make it big?

5:15 PM: The M&A Panel: A Year of Deals in Review and the Year Ahead

Since 2008, we have seen a “cambrian explosion” of cloud and infrastructure companies. This now being followed by an M&A feeding frenzy, as the early leaders were gobbled up by the giants. In this panel, we assemble some of the leading M&A rockstars and review some of their biggest hits from last year. We will also look to the coming months and find out the types of deals they are sourcing and what technologies will be on their radar.

  • Moderated by: Steve Smith - Senior Managing Director, Arma Partners



The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) reminded me on 5/10/2011 about their All About the Cloud Conference to be held 5/23 to 5/26/2011 at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, CA:

image OpSource and the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) proudly bring you the world's largest ISV Cloud Computing conference, All About the Cloud.

Marking its 6th year, All About the Cloud represents the world's largest forum for the advancement of the as-a-service industry. From security and compliance, true multi-tenancy, integration, and platform strategies, All About the Cloud has it all.

Attend All About the Cloud to join 550+ executives from ISVs, resellers, platform and infrastructure providers, along with industry leading analysts, venture capitalists and media – gathering to explore, debate and discuss all aspects of Cloud Computing. The Cloud is here to stay and it is changing the way every one of us consumes IT services and delivers applications.

Keynote Speakers

Ginny T. Lee, Chief Information Officer, Information Technology, Intuit

Ginny T. LeeGinny Lee is Intuit’s senior vice president and chief information officer. Appointed to the position in February 2008, she is responsible for further developing the company’s technology and business infrastructure to improve productivity, accelerate growth and provide customers with great experiences.

Working at Intuit since November 1996, Lee has held a variety of general manager and business operations leadership roles. Before being named CIO, she was vice president and general manager of Intuit’s Payroll business unit, where she was responsible for the company’s line of payroll products and services.
Previously, she was vice president of Intuit’s order-to-cash organization and customer service, and vice president of corporate business operations and enterprise systems, overseeing companywide business operations and infrastructure. Lee has also served as business line leader for QuickBooks Internet Gateway Services and director of operations and product management for the Financial Supplies Group.

Treb Ryan, CEO, OpSource, Inc.

Treb RyanSince 1996, Mr. Ryan has been instrumental in defining and creating services organizations that improve the quality and reliability of the technology infrastructures businesses depend on for communications and commerce.

Prior to co-founding OpSource in 2002, Mr. Ryan was President of the Americas for Metromedia Fiber Network (MFN). He was responsible for integrating the sales and delivery organizations of the company's Internet businesses-hosting, IP networking, and managed services. Under his leadership, MFN customers included BP Amoco, JP Morgan Chase, Sony, Microsoft, and Mercedes-Benz. Mr. Ryan joined MFN from SiteSmith, a company that he co-founded in 1999 and ultimately sold to MFN the following year in a deal valued at $1.4 billion.

Mr. Ryan has been a guest speaker at numerous industry events, including CIO, venture capital, Internet, hosting, and software conferences. He attended UCLA and is an advisor to the UCLA CLAS fund.

Matt Thompson, General Manager, Developer and Platform Evangelism, Microsoft

Matt ThompsonMatt Thompson, General Manager, Developer & Platform Evangelism, is based in Silicon Valley. He and his team look after the "care and feeding" for the communities of developers, startups and IT Pros across the western US. Matt's passion centers around helping companies (of all sizes) be successful applying technologies that can help solve for scale, robustness, and ease of development.

Jim Whitehurst, President & Chief Executive Officer, Red Hat, Inc.

Jim WhitehurstJim Whitehurst was named President and Chief Executive Officer of Red Hat in December 2007.

Before joining Red Hat, Whitehurst held various positions at Delta Airlines, most recently as Chief Operating Officer, responsible for Operations, Sales and Customer Service, Network and Revenue Management, Marketing and Corporate Strategy. Prior to joining Delta, Whitehurst served as Vice President and Director of The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and held various leadership roles in their Chicago, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Atlanta offices.

A native of Columbus, Georgia, Whitehurst graduated from Rice University in Houston, Texas, with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Economics. He also attended Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen, Germany, holds a general course degree from the London School of Economics and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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Other Cloud Computing Platforms and Services

Michael Coté interviewed Randy Bias (@randybias, pictured below) and published a Cloud Philosophy: An Interview with Randy Bias transcript on 5/11/2011:

image I recently did a podcast interview with Michael Coté of Redmonk. We’ve posted a PDF transcript on our website. It’s a lengthy conversation, so we thought we’d post a text version here, with key comments underlined and bolded.

It’s an hour long interview, but with a lot of high quality content, so it’s worth your time. Enjoy!

Michael Coté: Well, hello everybody! It’s a special edition of the IT Management & Cloud Podcast. This week it’s just me, Michael Coté, at RedMonk and I have got a guest on to kind of just go over some exciting, sort of, real cloud stuff. I guess you could call it the real cloud on the ground kind of business, not just the theoretic stuff up in the sky.

So with that, you want to introduce yourself guest?

Randy Bias: Hi! I am Randy Bias, the CTO and Co-Founder of Cloudscaling.

Michael Coté: And if I remember recently you were the CEO for quite some time. And so I imagine — I always — I have been covering tech business long enough that when I see a Founder move from [being] CEO, it’s usually a tremendous relief. You can, sort of, — you can focus on the more technical things and, sort of, operational stuff rather than running around unclogging toilets and stuff that startup CEOs are always doing.

Randy Bias: It certainly was for me. I think I was a great Founding CEO, but I was quickly getting to the point where I was not really doing any of my CEO duties and there was a clear gap. And so I was happy to stop doing that 10% of the times — a 10% CEO is almost worse than no CEO.

Michael Coté: Exactly, yeah, sort of, things pile up at the best case and at worst you start to just damage things. So it’s always a nice sign of maturity like I was saying.

So for people who don’t know Cloudscaling and haven’t heard of you guys, you want to give us an overview of what it is you guys do?

Randy Bias: So Cloudscaling is a bunch of veterans who worked on Amazon Web Services, GoGrid, Engine Yard, and several other either platform or infrastructure clouds, who got together and we see ourselves as the real deal implementers for clouds at scale. So we have got several engagements that are well publicized, including bringing up both private and public clouds for Korea Telecom and then also bringing the first OpenStack storage cloud to market after the Rackspace Cloud Files.

Michael Coté: So how long have you guys been around for?

Randy Bias: Cloudscaling in this instantiation has really been around for about a year. So the current business model and team has been around for about a year, and in that time there is really just the two co-founders almost a year ago, and now we are 25, going on 30, and we will probably double again by the end of the year. So we have been under very rapid growth.

Michael Coté: And would you characterize yourself as a services organization largely or is there a product that you have?

Randy Bias: We are getting to the area where like I have to be careful about what I share. I will simply say this. We are currently a services organization. We have a new CEO who is not a services person. He has a history and track record of building product. And if I were looking at the organization from the outside I would think that, that was a clear signal. But it’s for other people to decide.

Michael Coté: That’s right. Everyone can cut open the bird and read the guts for the future on their own, right? They can do that on their own. The old osprey if I remember.

Yeah. So I mean, you guys have like — I have been kind of knowing a few, like Andrew Shafer who is, if I recall, the VP of Engineering, like, having spoken with him while he has been working there. I mean, you guys have — as a sort of credit to your name, rapidly scaled up staffing wise. I mean, there has been kind of phenomenal growth that you guys have been through.

Randy Bias: Yeah. We have been — we have still been tremendously lucky. We have got a lot of A-players like Andrew Shafer who have come on board, who have got a ton of domain knowledge to help us out.

We also recently acquired a gentleman by the name of Zed Shaw, who is rather infamous in both the Ruby and Python communities. He is awesome, absolutely awesome.

We have got a bunch of the backend engineers from GoGrid who are really great. We just
had one Amazon Web Services Product Manager start with us.

We have got a really all-star cast of folks who have just got a ton of experience in this area. Like I said, our forte has really been on the implementation side. We think of ourselves as cloud builders and operators who have practical experience. And sort of when you look out there in the ecosystem of folks who are offering product or services today, there is actually very few people who can make that claim, so pretty proud of that.

Michael Coté: So when you guys — when you and sort of the other initial clutch of people started out and you were, kind of, looking at the cloud opportunity, how did you end up, kind of, dividing [the market] into, kind of, [what companies were] ready to do cloud stuff, if you will? I mean, you, kind of, had to do sort of a market study, if you will, and kind of figure out: okay, these are the people who actually can build like full scale, and I am putting this in air quote, “real clouds.” And I am curious like how you kind of sorted that out initially and how that’s been evolving over time?

Randy Bias: Man, that’s a really good question actually. So the history of the business is funny, because it really — I have been working on this cloud stuff in one way or another since sort of late 2006 when I did my first kind of cloud startup, which didn’t go anywhere, but was sort of a competitor to RightScale, sort of a Cloud Application Management Framework for originally both Amazon Web Services and then eventually GoGrid, and that was one of the first cloud management platforms I had seen. In fact, RightScale wasn’t even launched at the time that I started working on it.

And during that whole time, from late 2006 till now, I have been blogging about this and thinking about it and I spent some time at GoGrid as a VP, Technology Strategy, where I was trying to help them with product direction and vision.

And when I left there and I formed Cloudscaling in the current incarnation, a couple of things were interesting for me. The first was that, the blog had really attracted a lot of readers. And the second was that I felt that I had a chance to step back from, kind of, what people were talking about and try to assess what I felt was happening from a big picture point of view and then try to build a business model towards that, which is a little bit different than most folks who I think have a product or a service that they are offering already and then they are trying to see how it can fit into cloud computing.

Michael Coté: Yeah, the so-called “cloud washing,” if you will, in the worst case.

Randy Bias: Right. So I started doing consulting and strategy and architecture engagements with, like, large enterprise companies. I worked with VMware on the vCloud API, and I worked with Kaiser Permanente on some of their internal private cloud stuff and a handful of other large enterprises.

It seemed to me like the enterprises were missing something, and I kept coming back and noticing that what Amazon, and to some degree Google, and some of the large Internet properties was doing was just building a fundamentally different kind of information technology.

And then sometime along though I just had this epiphany and part of it was that I read Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma, which is a must read on disruption in the technology business, and then the second was I read Nick Carr’s Does IT Matter? And my “a-ha” moment was like, hey, what Amazon has really done is they have cracked the nut on this new way of doing information technology, and it’s more of a way — it’s sort of — the way I like to highlight it is it’s the difference between building robotics factories for automobile manufacturing versus kind of having an assembly line for automobile manufacturing. It’s a fundamental transformation of the way that you actually build IT systems.

And when I figured that out I realized that a lot of folks were just really trying to take the assembly line model for it and call it cloud.

Michael and Randy continue their podcast for another 40 minutes or so. Click here to read the full transcript.

• Paul McDougall asserted “Big Blue is deploying elite teams to secure cloud computing wins as it looks to reignite services growth” in a deck for his IBM Hopes Tigers Will Tame Cloud report of 5/10/2011 from Interop Las Vegas 2011 for Information Week:

image IBM’s revenues from cloud computing are on track to hit $7 billion by 2015, a fact the company attributes in part to its decision last year to create small, highly specialized teams to pitch the benefits of the new-wave architecture to high-profile customers around the world.

Interop Las Vegas 2011Known internally as Tiger Teams, the units are “the tip of the spear” in pursuing cloud engagements, said IBM Global Technology Services general manager Scott Hopkins, in an interview Tuesday following a keynote he delivered at the Interop technology conference in Las Vegas, at Mandalay Bay.

image The teams, as small as four to five individuals in the early stages of the process, comprise individuals with specialized skills in software development, infrastructure planning, services delivery, and other disciplines, and are built to respond rapidly to customer questions and concerns about a possible move into the cloud.

image Once an engagement is in process, the teams could expand significantly depending on the resources needed to plan and, from IBM’s point of view, hopefully snag a new account. “20,000 sales reps have gone through extensive training on the cloud,” said Hopkins.

That IBM is devoting such resources to cloud services shouldn’t be surprising. The company’s Global Services unit, which accounts for about half of total revenue, has seen little growth in recent quarters as CIOs shied away from big outsourcing deals during the recession. But Hopkins said the company is seeing strong growth in revenue from cloud services.

What’s driving the demand is the fact that the amount of data that enterprises must deal with, from sources as disparate as call centers and iPhones, is such that CIOs are now looking at ways to hand off much of the analysis and processing of that data. Hopkins said that 1.2 zettabytes, or 1.2 billion terabytes, of data now exists in the digital economy, up 45% from just last year.

“CIOs are saying, ‘I can’t do this the way I’ve done it before,’” Hopkins said during his Interop keynote.

IBM is not only using its worldwide data centers to provide cloud services such as hosting and SaaS, it’s also using its portfolio of business analytics tools—bolstered by more than $14 billion in acquisitions and internal development over the past three years--to help customers spot choke points in their infrastructures that could be dispatched to the cloud.

According to a soon to be released IBM survey, 50% of CIOs are in the process of “totally reengineering” their internal processes to take advantage of cloud and other advanced architectures, like virtualization, to reduce their internal IT footprints without compromising their ability to manage the explosion of data.

“How do I manage the cost of IT without doing something radically different?” is a question that CIOs will increasingly face, Hopkins said.

See my Test-Driving IBM’s SmartCloud Enterprise Infrastructure as a Service: Part 1 and Test-Driving IBM’s SmartCloud Enterprise Infrastructure as a Service: Part 2 - Spring 2011 Promotion Free Trial posts of 4/11 and 5/6/2011 for more details on IBM’s current cloud computing push.

The Google App Engine Team posted The Year Ahead for Google App Engine! on 5/10/2011 in conjunction with its Google I/O conference in San Francisco:

image Google App Engine has grown tremendously since it launched in Preview status in 2008. More than 100,000 developers use App Engine every month to deliver apps that dynamically scale with usage without the need to manage hardware or software. App Engine now hosts more than 200,000 active apps that serve over 1.5 billion site views daily. Over the last three years we’ve collected great feedback from our customers and have continued to improve our services. We are now confident that App Engine is almost ready to graduate from Preview status, and we are pleased to announce that graduation will be taking place later this year. Graduation indicates a long term commitment by Google to App Engine which in turn means a long term commitment by App Engine to our customers!

Google App Engine for Business
As you might recall, Google App Engine for Business (GAE4B) was announced at Google I/O last year. Since then we’ve been testing various aspects of the offering and getting a lot of feedback. At a high level what we’ve been hearing can be summarized as:
  • Our customers are really excited about many of the features of GAE4B: SLA, SSL for custom domains, SQL, etc
  • The per-user, per-app pricing is not appropriate for many customers that are excited about the GAE4B features because they are not always building applications focused on users within their organization.
  • Because App Engine is currently a Preview product, some businesses are reluctant to heavily invest in the platform.
App Engine graduating from Preview later this year!
Based on this feedback we’ve decided to make some fairly large changes:
  • We will be leaving Preview to become an official Google product! This is the top priority for our team and we are on schedule to graduate in the second half of this year. This does not mean we’ve stopped development of other much needed features, for example today we are releasing Backends.
  • Most of the GAE4B features are going to be rolled into App Engine, enabling all paying customers to take advantage of them. This includes: SLA, SSL for custom domains, SQL, Operational and Developer support, and the new business-oriented Terms of Service. The domain console is currently in trusted tester and will remain so for the time being. GAE4B will no longer be offered as a standalone product.
  • In order to become an official Google product we must restructure our pricing model to obtain sustainable revenue. Based on customer feedback this means focusing on usage-based pricing and placing per-user, per-app pricing on hold until further notice. [Emphasis added.]
For App Engine, leaving Preview will include providing all paid users a 99.95% uptime service level agreement, operational and developer support, billing via invoice, a new Terms of Service agreement geared towards businesses, and a new, easier to understand usage-based pricing structure for App Engine that is in line with the value App Engine provides. It will also reaffirm our deprecation policy whereby we will support deprecated versions of product APIs for 3 years, allowing applications written to prior API specifications to continue to function.
New App Engine Pricing Model
Although the change won’t take place until later this year, we are announcing this today because it will impact all of our customers and we want to ensure they have enough lead time to understand and account for these changes. We encourage our customers to review the details of the new pricing model, but the major changes are: Usage Types
  • Free Apps: Similar to the Free Apps of today but with more restrictive quotas
  • Paid Apps: Similar to Apps which have Billing Enabled today, except they will have a 99.95% SLA and cost $9/app/month in addition to usage fees. Customers will need to opt-in to this.
  • Premier Accounts: A new offering which will allow a company to not pay for individual Apps but rather use as many as they need. Premier Accounts will be eligible to receive Operational Support for $500/month in addition to usage fees.
Usage Fees
  • Instances: Due to customer feedback and to better service memory intensive applications, we will be eliminating CPU hours. Instead, our serving infrastructure will charge for the number of Instances running as a new unit called “Instance-hours (IH)” (1 instance running for 1 hour). These instances will be similar to the instances you can see in the Admin Console today with the exception that we will be improving our scheduler to ensure each instance has an appropriate level of utilization. IHs can either be pay-as-you-go ($0.08/IH) or you can commit to a minimum number of IHs over the course of a week and pay less for those reserved IHs ($0.05/IH).
  • APIs: All APIs which are currently charged as CPU hours will instead be charged per operation. This is intended to make it easier to predict and understand the cost of an application. Our website contains the details of the API pricing.
  • Datastore Storage: High Replication Datastore (HRD) storage is being reduced in price from $0.45/G/month to $0.24/G/month as of today. HRD has delivered essentially 99.999% uptime since we launched it in January. As of today HRD is the default option for new applications, and we strongly encourage users of the M/S Datastore to migrate to HRD. Master/Slave Datastore storage will increase to $0.24/G/month when App Engine leaves Preview. We are actively working on better tools to make this migration easier.
All of these changes (other than the HRD price change) will take effect later this year. We will be providing our customers samples of their new bills before the new pricing model is launched so that they will be able to see what will be changing.
Thank you!
We are excited to graduate from Preview and we want to let everyone know how much we appreciate the support, commitment, and feedback we have received. We look forward to working with you for years to come!

GAE and GAE4B are joining the cloud mainstream as the services leave “Preview” status with usage-based pricing similar to Windows Azure, IBM SmartCloud Enterprise, and Amazon Web Services.

As further proof of going mainstream with GAE and GAE4B, the Google App Engine Team announced the availability of long-running Backends and a High Replication Datastore in a App Engine 1.5.0 Release post of 5/10/2011:

imageThe App Engine team has been working furiously in preparation for Google I/O time and today, we are excited to announce the release of App Engine 1.5.0, complete with a bunch of new features. This release brings a whole new dimension to App Engine Applications with the introduction of Backends, some big improvements to Task Queues, a completely new, experimental runtime for the Go language, High Replication Datastore as the new default configuration (and a lower price!), and even more tweaks and bug fixes.

Serving Changes
  • Backends: Until now all App Engine applications have been running on short-lived dynamic instances that we spin up and down in response to application requests. This is great for building scalable web applications, but has a number of limitations if you are looking to build larger, long-lived, and/or memory intensive infrastructure. With 1.5.0, we are introducing Backends which will allow developers to do precisely this! Backends are developer-controlled, long-running, addressable sets of instances which are as large as the developer specifies. There are no request deadlines, they can be started and stopped (or dynamically start when called), they can use between 128M and 1G of memory and proportional CPU. If you’d like to find out more, have a read through our Backend docs for Java and Python.
  • Pull Queues: Most of our users are heavily using Task Queues in their applications today, but there is lots of room for more flexibility. With 1.5.0 we are introducing Pull Queues to allow developers to “pull” tasks from a queue as applications are ready to process them, rather than relying on Task Queues to push tasks at a pre-configured rate. This means you can write a Backend to do some background processing and pull 1, 10, or 100s of tasks off the Pull Queue when the Backend is ready for more. In addition, we’ve introduced a REST API which will allow external services to do the same thing. For example, if you have an external server running to do image conversion or OCR, you can now use the REST API to pull tasks off, run them, and return the results. In conjunction with these 2 improvements, we’ve also increased the payload limits and processing rate. We are excited both about expanding the use of Task Queues as well as improving the ease of integration between App Engine and the rest of the cloud.
  • High Replication Datastore as default: After months of usage and feedback on the High Replication datastore (as well as a record of 99.999% uptime so far) we are now confident that it is the right path forward for the majority of our users. So, today we are doing two things: setting HRD as the default for all new apps created, lowering the price of HRD storage from $0.45 down to $0.24, and encouraging everybody to begin plans to migrate. We really appreciate all the time that early users of HRD put into trying it out and finding issues and have fixed a number of those issues with this release.
Changed APIs
  • URLFetch API: In response to popular demand, the HTTP request and response sizes have been increased to 32 MB.
  • Mail API: We have added a few restrictions to the Mail API to improve the reliability and reputation of the service for all applications. First, emails must be sent from email accounts managed by Google (either Gmail, or a domain signed up for Google Apps). Second, we’ve reduced the number of free recipients per day from 2000 to 100 for newly created applications. Both of these will help ensure mail from your application arrives at the destination reliably.
  • Code downloads: As of 1.5.0, we have expanded the ability to download an Application’s source code to include both the user who uploaded the code to download it as well as the Owner(s) of the project as listed in the Admin Console. Owners were introduced in 1.4.2 as an admin role.
  • New runtime: With 1.5.0 we are launching an experimental runtime for the Go Programming Language. Go is an open source, statically typed, compiled language with a dynamic and lightweight feel. It’s also an interesting new option for App Engine because Go apps will be compiled to native code, making Go a good choice for more CPU-intensive tasks. As of today, the App Engine SDK for Go is available for download, and we will soon enable deployment of Go apps into the App Engine infrastructure. If you’re interested in starting early, sign up to be first through the door when we open it up to early testers. See the announcement on the Go Blog for more details.

There are plenty of additional changes and bug fixes in this release so please check out the full release notes, including all issues fixed for Java and Python. Finally if you are interested in where App Engine is heading later this year, check out our other announcement at I/O 2011!

Will Go gain market share from Java or .NET? I’m not so sure. But long-running Backends and a High Replication Datastore indicate that Google wants to compete with Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and others with similar PaaS/IaaS architectures.

The Go Proramming Language site offers documentation, downloadable packages, source code and a live demo in the Go Playground:

imageThe Go programming language is an open source project to make programmers more productive. Go is expressive, concise, clean, and efficient. Its concurrency mechanisms make it easy to write programs that get the most out of multicore and networked machines, while its novel type system enables flexible and modular program construction. Go compiles quickly to machine code yet has the convenience of garbage collection and the power of run-time reflection. It's a fast, statically typed, compiled language that feels like a dynamically typed, interpreted language.

About the Go Playground

imageThe Go Playground is a web service that runs on's servers. The service receives a Go program, compiles, links, and runs the program inside a sandbox, then returns the output.

There are limitations to the programs that can be run in the Playground. They must be single-threaded (but they may use many goroutines). There are also limits on execution time, and CPU and memory usage. The Playground can access only a subset of the standard library (notably absent are network and file system access). Therefore, the only communication a Playground program has to the outside world is via standard output.

The Nubifer Blog reported Microsoft Supports OpenStack in a 5/10/2011 post:

image Cloud computing has enjoyed many advances recently, and one of the most exciting is Microsoft’s decision to support the open source project OpenStack, the joint project announced by Rackspace and NASA. Announced last July, the goal of the project is to produce a suite of open source software to equip a cloud service provider with a standard set of services. OpenStack is likely to be adopted by young cloud service providers as well as some enterprises.

Although Microsoft offers its own Azure cloud—and hopes many Windows users gravitate to its cloud services—it has commissioned startup to provide support for Hyper-V in the OpenStack software. A supplier of cloud software, builds a variant of OpenStack called CloudStack, which is offered to the demanding large-scale service provider market. The cloud services of Tata Consulting, Korea Telecom, Logixworks,, and Instance Cloud Computing are based on CloudStack. CloudStack is open source code issued under GPL v3.

CMO of Peder Ulander says that OpenStack was announced as providing infrastructure software for a cloud environment that would run open source hypervisors Xen (also meaning XenServer from Citrix Systems, a commercial implementation) and KVM. This will broaden the opportunity to build clouds with the project’s open course code.

“Right now, clouds are architected for each environment,” said Ulander. That means Amazon Web Services’ EC2 runs Amazon Images, a proprietary variation of the Xen hypervisor, and because its virtual machines don’t run in EC2, VMWare has been equipping service providers with cloud infrastructures that run its virtual machines. vCloud data centers running workloads under the VMWare ESX hypervisor include AT&T’s Synaptic Compute Cloud, Bluelock and Verizon Business.

Along with its commercial implementers, like, OpenStack is trying to broaden the playing field. Ulander said that one open source stack able to run workloads from a variety of hypervisors might be more viable than the present trend of creating hypervisor-specific cloud services. The open source project, by integrating support for Hyper-V operations into OpenStack, will multiply the potential number of users of cloud services built on open stack—and hopefully its number of adopters.

Ulander revealed that Microsoft contributed code to and subsequently performed the integration into OpenStack. General manager of Microsoft’s open solutions group Ted McLean said on Microsoft’s website that the contribution was in line with Microsoft’s view that its customers operate heterogeneous environments and will use multiple hypervisors and cloud services.

In a blog, Citrix’s Simon Crosby commented saying, “Across the board, service providers and enterprises have told us that they are not enthusiastic about a monolithic, single vendor cloud stack that by definition makes all clouds identical.”

Although OpenStack organizers are geared towards meeting the needs of future cloud service providers, who will need to scale out to large numbers of users, the OpenStack code will likely be picked up by some enterprises—specifically those with a lot of employees. Ulander noted that smaller enterprise needs aren’t the primary focus of the project.

Ulander pointed out that Microsoft joined the project right before the Cloud Computing Conference & Expo in Santa Clara, California on November 1.

With a different focus than OpenStack, the Eucalyptus cloud stack provides a cloud infrastructure for the enterprise that is compatible with Amazon’s EC2; its open source APIs are capable of invoking EC2 services like S3. Simple API, another project backed by Zend Technologies, Microsoft, IBM and others, offers APIs to connect with cloud services that developers may build into their applications. Cloud vendors supporting the APIs will find that their services work with the applications.

Although open source code is providing several avenues into the cloud, Microsoft’s support of OpenStack is ahead of the pack.

To learn more about the OpenStack project, please visit

What’s a “CMO?” Chief Money Officer?

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