Monday, October 27, 2008

Cloud Computing at PDC and Elsewhere: Day 1 (10/27)

A daily compendium of PDC keynotes and sessions about Cloud Computing, SQL Server Data Services, and related topics. This post will be updated frequently from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM PDT or later. Unless otherwise noted all blog posts are dated 10/27/2008.

Ray Ozzie Keynote: Red Dog Turns Azure

Yet another example of a “heap big smoke; no fire” PDC keynote. As expected Ray Ozzie announced the name of SQL Server Data Services’ and Live Services’ underlying cloud operating system that Steve Ballmer recently called Windows Cloud. The new name is Windows Azure (WinAz).


Steve Marx built and deployed a “Hello Cloud” service on a machine with WinAz SDK and the Azure Tools for VS 2008 SP1 installed. The newly scaled-up service is live at Steve Marx: Windows Azure for Developers is a Channel9 video interview with Steve for the developer audience. The Manuvir Das: Introducing Windows Azure interview is directed toward IT management.

Bob Muglia assured developers that WinAz will be the “next generation of platform for developers to take advantage of” with “built-in scale-out Service bus; federated access control; and scale-out workflow services so workflows span from on-premises to the cloud.” A primary feature will be symmetry between on-premises application design and debugging with the Windows Azure SDK and projects deployed to the WinAz cloud.

J. Nicholas Hoover’s Microsoft PDC Live Blog for Information Week is one of the first  reasonably complete and readable synopses of the keynotes, so this completes OakLeaf coverage of the day one keynote.

Mary Jo Foley offers a more technically oriented post, Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform: A guide for the perplexed, and answer the rhetorical Why ‘Azure’? question. She cites the following Azure PDC usage limitations:

    • Total compute usage: 2000 VM hours
    • Cloud storage capacity: 50GB
    • Total storage bandwidth: 20GB/day

Joe Wilcox’s Azure: Windows Becomes the Web post is more marketing oriented. Joe says:

If there was ever a "Microsoft conquers, or perhaps becomes, the Web" strategy, Azure is it. The Web services—cloud computing—platform is brilliant in concept, but execution will determine whether or not Microsoft walks rather than just talks.

Here’s the complete transcript of the Day One keynotes from Microsoft PressPass: Professional Developers Conference 2008 Day 1 Keynote: Ray Ozzie, Amitabh Srivastava, Bob Muglia, Dave Thompson.

Useful Windows Azure Links for Developers

Soma Somasegar provides more details on Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio in his Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio CTP post, which includes Solution Explorer and New Project screen captures. He also discusses the Emerging Trends pillar of VS 2010.

The OakLeaf Blog’s SQL Data Services (SDS) Update from the S[S]DS Team post of 10/27/2008 provides a detailed list of changes to SQL Data Services (SDS) (formerly SQL Server Data Services, SSDS) in Sprint #5.

Ryan Dunn posted a link to the What's new in SQL Data Services for Developers Channel9 screencast that includes details on new relational features (joins) an blob support in the upcoming public CTP.

From the Cloud Computing Tools Team’s Bookmarks: Windows Azure post of 10/27/2008:

Here's a set of bookmarks that you'll find useful as you ramp up and use Windows Azure.




Some of these links haven’t fully propagated yet. If you receive 404’s, try again later today.

Once you have the SDK and Tools, check these links from the Register for Azure Services page:

and the Azure Tools blog:

Note that the SQL Data Services SDK is the SQL Server Data Services SDK with a new name.

Posts About Cloud-Related Sessions

Channel9’s John Shewchuk and Dennis Pilarinos: Inside .NET Services video covers much of the content of  BB01 A Lap Around the Azure Services Platform (Mon 10/27 | 3:30 PM-4:45 PM | Petree Hall CD).

Channel9 describes the Dave Campbell: Inside SQL Services video thusly:

Technical Fellow Dave Campbell digs into the "fabric" of Azure's SQL Services. What are the current capabilities of SQL Services and how will they evolve? Can you upload stored procedures to the cloud and expect them to run? What does extending a shrink-wrapped application to the world of distributed cloud services really mean?

You can expect the video to cover much of the content of Dave’s BB15 SQL Server: Database to Data Platform - Road from Server to Devices to the Cloud (Mon 10/27 | 5:15 PM-6:30 PM | 408B).

Paul GielensA Lap Around Windows Azure post of 10/27/2008 is a detailed analysis of session ES16 A Lap Around Windows Azure (Mon 10/27 | 11:00 AM-12:15 PM | Petree Hall CD)presented by Manuvir Das. Paul has several earlier posts that equally insightful.

SQL Services Incubation Projects

Following are links to descriptions of current SQL Services Incubation projects:

  • Codename “Astoria” Offline - Version 1 of ADO.NET Data Services Framework (a.k.a. Project "Astoria") introduced a way of creating and consuming flexible, data-centric REST services. Now we are working on creating an end-to-end story for taking data services offline using synchronization. Integrating data services with the Microsoft Sync Framework will enable developers to create offline-capable applications that have a local replica of their data, synchronize that replica with an online data service when a network connection becomes available, and use replicas with the ADO.NET Entity Framework for regular data access.
  • Accessing SDS using ADO.NET Data Services - This incubation project focuses on aligning SDS and ADO.NET Data Services. With this alignment SDS will support AtomPub and JSON formats. It will also provide support for established set of conventions for constructing URLs to point to resources. We are also extending ADO.NET Data Services to provide access to the flexible data stored in SDS.
  • Data Mining in the Cloud - The SQL Server Data Mining team is working to extend the power and ease of use of SQL Server Data Mining to the Cloud. Our goal is provide services that allow you to build rich, predictive applications without worrying about server infrastructure, and showcase these services with cool applications that give you a glimpse of what’s possible
  • U Rank – This Microsoft Research project is exploring how personalization, social context, and communication may be used to improve the search experience and leveraging SQL Data Services to power the service. Use the search engine to re-rank search results, move results from one search to another, add notes, and otherwise edit searches. Not only will you see your changes again the next time you come back, but your friends will see the changes too!
  • Project Codename "Anchorage" – We’re evolving the popular SyncToy application to enable much more than just file/folder synchronization between PCs, devices, and services! With this project, providers will be able to register and be discovered in a variety of sync groups including contacts, files, favorites, videos, as well as photos across endpoints such as the Live Mesh,,, and more
  • Project Codename “Huron”- Leverage the power of SQL Data Services to enable enterprise edge scenarios using the technologies in this incubation! Share data with relational stores like Access, SQL Express, SQL CE, SQL Server, enable B2B data sharing, and push workgroup databases to field workers and mobile users
  • Reporting against SQL Data Services – Leverage SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) 2008 to build and deploy rich reports against data hosted in SQL Data Services (SDS). SSRS data source extensibility framework is used to provide an incubation custom data extension for SDS. Developers can download the custom extension and configure it against their on-premise SSRS 2008 installation. This will allow them to connect to SDS authorities and containers via HTTP SOAP to extract data sets, build rich reports using standard tools like Report Designer / Report Builder and deploy the reports to Report Manager

VS 2010 Prerelease Download

Get your copy from the Microsoft Pre-release Software Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4.0 Community Technology Preview (CTP) page. The CTP is available only as a Virtual PC image and requires Virtual PC 2007 SP1. VS 2010 is not required to run the WinAz SDK or VS 2008 WinAz tools.

Links to Significant Cloud Computing Background Content

The Economist presents a multipart report on cloud computing by Ludwig Siegele in its 10/23/2008 edition:

Click here for an audio interview of the author.

The Seattle Times offers a Details about Microsoft's cloud computing expected at conference preview by Benjamin J. Romano:

Microsoft is expected to sort out its strategy for cloud computing, a broad change in how computer users retrieve and process information and applications, at the company's Professional Developers Conference this week.

Tim O’Reilly attempts in Web 2.0 and Cloud Computing of 10/26/2008 to explain why Larry Ellison is both right and wrong about the future of cloud computing:

A couple of months ago, Hugh Macleod created a bit of buzz with his blog post The Cloud's Best Kept Secret. Hugh's argument: that cloud computing will lead to a huge monopoly. Of course, a couple of weeks ago, Larry Ellison made the opposite point, arguing that is "barely profitable", and that no one will make much money in cloud computing.

In this post, I'm going to explain why Ellison is right, and yet, for the strategic future of Oracle, he is dangerously wrong.

Tim can’t avoid Web 2.0 agitprop in his conclusion:

So here's the real trick: cloud computing is real. Everything is moving into the cloud, in whole or in part. The utility layer of cloud computing will be just that, a utility, without outsized profits.

But the cloud platform, like the software platform before it, has new rules for competitive advantage. And chief among those advantages are those that we've identified as "Web 2.0", the design of systems that harness network effects to get better the more people use them.