Friday, February 06, 2009

Windows Azure and Cloud Computing Posts for 2/2/2009+

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

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

• Update 2/4/2009 1:00 PM PST
Update 2/5/2009 4:00 PM PST

Azure Blob, Table and Queue Services

Scott Watermasysk reports an anomaly with Duplicate Context Keys in his 2/2/2009 post. Here’s his description of the issue:

One of the things I have been doing early on in my pet Azure project is working through a couple different data storage scenarios. Since creating/querying/managing tables is very simple, I have tried to take the approach of separating larger/heavier properties which are not frequently used into their own tables. To tie it all together, the entities stored in each table have the same PartitionKey and RowKey. This of course is not a requirement, but it makes managing them much easier since I can make some very simple assumptions.

So with [the StorageClient library’s base Entity object], I am able to quickly create my entities, create a simple DataService context wrapper and attempt to insert my entities. To keep things simple, I add my two entities to my context and before I reach the Save line an exception stating “The context is already tracking the entity” is thrown.

The way I read the Azure Table Services tea leaves, the composite object identifier (PartitionKey + RowKey) should be unique within a service.

Mike Amundsen’s Pagaltzis: on the brilliance of REST post of 2/3/2009 agrees with Aristotle Pagaltzis on "the brilliance of REST. Mike writes:"

[T]hat's why [I] often describe rest using my "REST Upside Down approach. [I]f you start w/ hyperlinking, the URI design will 'fall into place' without much effort.

Bryce Calhoun reports on 2/3/2009 that the Midwest Cloud Computing User Group will hold

the third local meeting of the Cloud Computing User Group – this month in Downers Grove. At this meeting, we will be learning about how Live ID integration works in the Azure cloud computing platform. We’ll demo and dig into the code of an application built in the cloud that integrates directly with the Live ID service and stores information specific to the individual associated with that ID.

Also, Scott Seely, Architect at MySpace, will kick off the meeting with a 20-30 minute overview of the top three cloud computing offerings available today: Google App Engine, Amazon EC3 and Azure Services. His discussion will be primarily focused on a compare/contrast of the functionality and features inherent to each platform.

Event Details: Time: February 25, 2009 from 5:30pm to 8pm
Location: Microsoft Downers Grove Office
Street: 3025 Highland Pkwy, 2nd Floor (MPR 2)
City/Town: Downers Grove, IL
Website or Map:
Contact Info: 310.594.1480
Event Type: user, group
Organized By: Bryce Calhoun
Latest Activity: just now

Alin Imirie’s Live Framework Tools January CTP Released post of 2/3/2009 includes details on the January Live Framework Tools CTP. If you’ve previously activated a Live Framework CTP token, you can download the new CTP from here. If not, you receive a custom 404 error message:

The content that you requested cannot be found or you do not have permission to view it.

SQL Data Services (SDS)

• Joe Healy and Jeff Barnes will conduct the MSDN Roadshow Tiki Hut Tour - Winter 2009 starting on 2/11/2009 in Pensacola, FL and ending 3/26/2007 in Tampa. The duo will also visit Tallahassee, Melbourne, Jacksonville, and Ft. Myers. The three Roadshow topics are:

  • Session 1 – jQuery with ASP.NET
  • Session 2 – Data Services (ADO.NET Data Services Framework [Astoria] and SQL Data Services in the cloud)
  • Session 3 – Architecting for the Cloud using Windows Azure

Mike Amundsen’s HTTP: Why I Love SDS post of 2/2/2009 explains:

[I] can do this from any client, any platform that understands HTTP and Basic Authentication. [I] don't need a fancy code library. [I] don't need a specific platform. [I] just need HTTP.

.NET Services: Access Control, Service Bus and Workflow

Sam Gentile’s Enterprise Service Buses (ESBs) Drive SOA Adoption Part 5 - Itinerary Based Routing is a tutorial for the Itinerary Based Routing Message Pattern in the Neuron message bus. As mentioned in earlier posts, Neuron and the .NET Message Bus aren’t identical but they’re used for similar purposes.

Vittorio Bertocci delivered A visual tour of the .NET Access Control service via Azure Services Management Console on 1/12/2009, which I didn’t catch when posted. The Azure Services Management Console is a MMC add-in that manages one project at a time:

  (Click for full-size image.)

You can download the MMC from here.

Live Windows Azure Apps, Tools and Test Harnesses

•• David Aiken’s Azure Services Training Kit Feb 2009 Update post of 2/6/2009 reports that the updated Training Kit, a 143-MB download, includes the following updates:

    • 19 demo scripts that walkthrough several of the services
    • 10 presentations covering the entire Azure Services Platform
    • 3 additional hands-on labs for Live Services

Click to download the Azure Services Training Kit - February Update.

Soul Solutions asks on 2/5/2009 if they’ve created the World’s first Azure Vista / Windows7 Gadget? Their “pure JavaScript” gadget monitors the sizes of your Windows Azure Queue Services and displays the number of waiting messages.

Mary Jo Foley asks What’s Microsoft hiding in its Skybox in the cloud? on 2/3/2009 and answers her rhetorical question:

If you’ve been wondering what Microsoft’s Software+Services strategy is for its Windows Mobile platform, the answer should become a lot clearer in another couple weeks.

There have been a few leaks during the past year about Skybox, Skyline and Skymarket — Microsoft’s cloud-based service complements to mobile phones. Microsoft is set to take the wraps off these three services at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona in mid-February.

The most interesting member of the new Microsoft mobile trio, Skybox, is a hub for user data and information — a place for storing and accessing photos, contact lists, calendar items and more on Microsoft datacenter servers. If you lose or switch your phone, all your data and contacts are saved in your Skybox. Skybox is based on the Mobicomp synchronization technologies that the Redmondians acquired when they purchased the Portuguese services company Mobicomp in the summer of 2008.

Azure Infrastructure

• Joe Healy and Jeff Barnes will conduct the MSDN Roadshow Tiki Hut Tour - Winter 2009 starting on 2/11/2009 in Pensacola, FL and ending 3/26/2007 in Tampa. The duo will also visit Tallahassee, Melbourne, Jacksonville, and Ft. Myers. The three Roadshow topics are:

  • Session 1 – jQuery with ASP.NET
  • Session 2 – Data Services (ADO.NET Data Services Framework [Astoria] and SQL Data Services in the cloud)
  • Session 3 – Architecting for the Cloud using Windows Azure

[Copied from the SQL Data Services (SDS) topic.]

Ina Fried’s Microsoft's Muglia talks Windows Azure undated page presents a Q&A session with Bob Muglia that dates from December 2008. Ina introduces the interview with:

A long time ago, Bob Muglia worked on a Microsoft project designed to offer a variety of services in the cloud. That effort, known as Hailstorm, didn't exactly go gangbusters, and Muglia's career took a detour. [Emphasis removed.]

But both Muglia and Hailstorm are back. Last month, Microsoft elevated Muglia to divisional president, a recognition of the success he has enjoyed as head of Microsoft's server software business. As for Hailstorm, the name is gone, but many of the concepts are back, as part of the Windows Azure platform that Microsoft announced in October.

I don’t see much (or any) connection between Hailstorm, which was primarily concerned with identity services, and Azure and there’s no mention of Hailstorm in the Q&A. Hailstorm might be more closely associated with the Live Services platform, which is moving to Windows Azure (RedDog) infrastructure.

Zain Naboulsi posted to Azure Slides on 2/4/2009 the slides (DEVSVC-200 - Zain - from his recent “Demystifying Windows Azure” presentation to the Tulsa .Net Users Group. The slides that depict SQL Data Services storage architecture are especially interesting. It’s unfortunate that Zain, who’s a Microsoft developer-evangelist in Texas, didn’t record his presentation’s audio track.

David Linthicum bemoans the fact that Private Cloud Technology Doesn't Exist in his post of 2/3/2009. Dave writes:

However, if you think that building a private cloud is just a matter of Google searching for private cloud technology providers, you have a rude awakening coming. While the number of private cloud and virtualization startups increase every month, there is still no one single killer technology out there that will make moving to a private cloud both cool and easy. …

But he concludes:

While cloud computing is hot, private clouds could be where the money is spent in 2009 and 2010.

My take: If all the technology concentrates on public (Internet-based) clouds, how can non-existent private technology draw a major market share?

James Manyika, a director in McKinsey & Co.’s San Francisco office, interviewed Hal Varian, professor of information sciences, business, and economics at the University of California at Berkeley in October 2008 for the McKinsey Quarterly.

Manyika writes in his Hal Varian on how the Web challenges managers post of January 2009:

Varian, currently serving as Google's chief economist, compares the current period to previous times of industrialization when new technologies combined to create ever more complex and valuable systems—and thus reshaped the economy.

The post contains an edited transcript as well as the original audio podcast.

Other Cloud Computing Platforms and Services

My IBM and Google Connect with Continua to Generate and Store Personal Health Records post of 2/6/2009 covers the flood of stories about Google Health’s first signs of life after Adam Bosworth left the project he helped initiate in September 2007. The post was too long to fit here.

Mark Everett Hall describes IBM's enterprise cloud dreams in this 2/5/2009 post to ComputerWorld Blogs. Hall writes:

IBM is all over the cloud computing business. Its Blue Cloud program, as described to me this week by Dennis Quan, director of autonomic computing, began less than two years ago and already has established 13 data centers around the globe with more being added every quarter.

Quan points out that when most of us think of cloud computing we imagine a public cloud, such as you get from,, Google and others. Not public in the sense that your information is out there for all to see, but that the services are out there for all to get.

What's interesting to Quan are private or enterprise clouds, where services are exclusive to a business or government. In fact, as James Hamilton at Microsoft has reported on his blog, the largest users of Amazon's cloud services are not start-up companies and individuals, as you'd expect, but large enterprises. Although these enterprises are using a public service, it does underscore corporate IT interest in exploiting resources in the cloud.

And goes on to attempt to distinguish between public and private clouds.

• Nicole Schepker’s U.S. Department of Defense Putting Cloud Computing to Work article of 2/5/2009 describes the DoD’s new Rapid Access Computing Environment (RACE), which offers accredited users 1 CPU, 1GB memory, 50 GB of storage and a LAMP stack running under Microsoft Windows or RedHat Linux in the cloud for $500 per month, payable by credit card or Military Interdepartmental Purchase Request (MIPR). Provisioning for developmental testing takes 24 hours or less.

• David Kralik, director of Internet strategy for Newt Gingrich's American Solutions for Winning the Future, explains Why feds should embrace the cloud in this “outside opinion” piece of 2/4/2009 for ZDNet’s Politics and Law blog.

Thanks to Krishnan Subramanian’s More Support For Putting Government On The Clouds post of 2/5/2009 for the head’s up on Kralik’s post.

• Paul Krill reports on Sun Microsystems’ intention to compete with Amazon Web Services’ EC2 in his Sun to take to the cloud article of 2/4/2009 for InfoWorld. Krill writes:

Sun Microsystems plans to detail on March 18 its grand entrance into the cloud computing space, Sun officials said Tuesday morning.

Speaking during SugarCRM's SugarCon 2009 conference in San Francisco, Sun President/CEO Jonathan Schwartz and Lew Tucker, Sun vice president and CTO for cloud computing, alerted the audience of Sun's plans, which will be fleshed out at the company's CommunityOne conference in New York. With cloud computing, applications are deployed over third-party shared servers over the Internet. Tucker hinted about Sun's cloud plans in an interview with InfoWorld last month.

• Erick Schonfeld’s Announcing Our Next TechCrunch Roundtable: Whose Cloud Is It Anyway? post of 2/4/2009 reports that the roundtable will start on Friday 2/27/2009 at 3:00 PM with product pitches followed by a roundtable moderated by Erick and Steve Gillmor with the following participants:

and end at 6:30 PM. Erick says additional speakers will be announced next week.

Location: Microsoft’s Mountain View Conference Center, which holds 275 people. Tickets are $75 and on sale now.

• CSC announced on 2/3/2009 a companywide Cloud Computing and Software Services initiative to deliver software-as-a-service and managed-cloud-computing solutions to help clients manage data. CSC describes itself as:

A global leader in providing technology-enabled solutions and services through three primary lines of business. These include Business Solutions & Services, Global Outsourcing Services and the North American Public Sector. CSC's advanced capabilities include systems design and integration, information technology and business process outsourcing, applications software development, Web and application hosting, mission support and management consulting. Headquartered in Falls Church, Va., CSC has approximately 91,000 employees and reported revenue of $17.3 billion for the 12 months ended Oct. 3, 2008. For more information, visit the company's Web site at

• James Staten’s slides for Forrester Research’s Cloud Computing for the Enterprise Webinar of 2/3/2009 are available for viewing as of 2/4/2009. This item will be updated when the audio recording is available. Staten is a Principle Analyst for Forrester Research.

John Foley’s The Economics Of Private Storage Clouds post of 2/3/2009 describes ParaScale’s cloud storage software that uses commodity servers and:

runs on Linux OS, the Linux XFS file system, and IP networking. The platform is designed for unlimited scalability, though in its first iteration it has been tested to 100 nodes. ParaScale describes its software as an object file system that's "largely self-managing."

ParaScale offers a free trial version that will store up to 4 TB.

Michael E. Driscoll announces that the Bay Area UseR Group (for the R Programming Language) will host a Cloud computing on an R-based platform presentation by Karim Chine, the author of the Biocep platform. According to Chine:

Biocep is a new platform for computing and data analysis, based on R, with current deployments on Amazon EC2 and on The British National Grid Service.

Using a rich workbench within the browser, the statistician can now work with an R server running at any location as if it was local to his or her machine. The platform hides the complexity of high performance.

Meeting details: Date and Time: Wed. 2/4/2009 7:00 PM PST
Location: Dataspora, LLC
350 Townsend St.
San Francisco, CA 94107

You can read more about the R language in this New York Times article.

Cath Everett’s Five cloud computing myths exploded lede for reads:

Cloud computing is one of the most overhyped phenomena to have hit the IT industry in a long time. It is a business model that definitely has its advantages. The trouble is vendors of all sizes and stripes are so desperate for a piece of the cloud action, they are willing to blur distinctions and fudge definitions for their own ends.

She then debunks:

  1. Myth 1: Cloud equals SaaS, grid and utility computing
  2. Myth 2: Cloud computing will take over the world
  3. Myth 3: You can use competing cloud services
  4. Myth 4: Flick a switch and your IT shifts to the cloud
  5. Myth 5: Switching cloud vendors is easy

Finally, she quotes Jon Collins of Freeform Dynamics:

Realistically, very few organisations would bet their entire company on the web and are unlikely to do so in the next 10 years.

Dana Moore and John Hebeler leave out Windows Azure in their Computing In the Clouds article of 2/3/2009 for Dr. Dobb’s Portal. Their article states:

Currently, you can create cloud applications through two major implementations:

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS).
  • Google Application Engine (GAE).

Of course, Azure wasn’t the only cloud platform the two Division Scientists at BBN Technologies omitted. Maybe they had an early (2008) deadline.

Krishnan Subramanian concludes Gartner prediction is way too conservative in this 2/3/2009 post about Gartner’s new research report that predicts a 7 year time frame for the maturation of Cloud based technologies.

The report costs users who aren’t Gartner subscribers $195 to read, but you can read a detailed press release with a summary of its contents at no cost.

John Foley shares Krishnan’s doubt about the Gartner report’s conclusions in his Gartner: Cloud Computing Still For 'Trailblazers' post of 2/3/2009.

Update 2/4/2009: The Cloud Computing Google Group has a long thread of generally netative comments about the Gartner report at Gartner Says Clouds Don't Mature until 2015.

Krishnan also posted on 2/2/2009 Rackspace Survey And Its Implications, which describes a survey conduced among US and UK small and medium size businesses that small businesses weren’t interested in “cloud hosting.” One problem with the survey report is that there’s no definition of small businesses.

James Urquhart writes about the Rackspace post “Good point, but I think that there is more to this story” in his Small business: A cloud-computing opportunity?

Maureen O’Gara’s Yahoo Closes Pioneer Cloud Storage post of 2/3/2009 reports that

Yahoo is shutting down its pioneering decade-old Briefcase cloud storage.

It's telling users they have to clear out their files by March 30th when Yahoo intends to delete any that remain, warning that it won't be unable to retrieve any of the purged files.

She also quotes a Yahoo! help page that explains why Yahoo is shutting Briefcase down:

because, in a Web 2.0 world where Yahoo Mail has unlimited storage and Flickr offers media sharing, users and services have outgrown what the Yahoo Briefcase service can provide.

Maureen concludes

Faced with Briefcase's declining use, the reportedly imminent arrival of Google's GDrive and corporate belt-tightening, the company says it will "focus our efforts elsewhere."

My take is that Briefcase wasn’t competitive with other free cloud storage systems, such as Windows Live SkyDrive, and Carol Bartz didn’t want to make the investment to bring Briefcase up to snuff.

Gary E. Smith reports in Cloud Computing Seminar, February 26, San Francisco of 2/3/2009 that DealMaker Media will present an evening seminar, “Cutting Through the Cloud: Getting Past the Hype to What Matters and Why” on February 26, from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm at the offices of Hummer Winblad Venture Partners in San Francisco:

Join experts such as James Uruhart (Wisdom of Clouds) to find out more about actual opportunities vs. the cloud’s silver lining:

  • What are the new opportunities? What are the hurdles?
  • Which verticals have the largest need for cloud computing?
  • What is the use-case scenario of the early adopters?
  • What will be the trigger point to have it become more widespread?

Speakers are:

Paul Miller interviews Nick Carr in a 45-minute podcast that Paul describes in his Nick Carr Discusses Cloud Computing and the Economic Climate post of 2/2/2009. Paul describes the conversation:

Sometimes portrayed as holding dystopian views with respect to technology in general, and Google in particular, Carr’s comments during the conversation actually provide a balanced and informed view of the prospects for Cloud Computing providers in serving both consumers and Enterprise customers.

Given the severity of the economic situation currently gripping large parts of the world, Carr also comments on the implications for the nascent Cloud Computing industry. Unlike some other areas of technology, Carr agrees that providers of Cloud Computing may well gain during this slowdown as CIOs seize upon the promised financial advantages of subscription software and on-demand computing.

The Open Group reports that The Open Group's Inaugural Security Practitioners Conference to Initiate Industry Roadmap for Securing Cloud Computing Services will be held in conjunction with the inaugural Security Practitioners Conference (SPC), to be held February 4-5, 2009 at the Marriott Mission Valley in San Diego.

An Enterprise Cloud Computing Summit will precede the SPC on 2/3/2009. Topics will include:

What is the Cloud Computing Service Model?

The Need for Standardization:

  • APIs between Cloud layers (e.g. Platform and Infrastructure as a Service)
  • Interoperability and Portability among Clouds
  • Interoperability between public Clouds and enterprise systems

Cloud Implementation Guidelines and Best Practices:

  • Best practices for migrating appropriate applications to Cloud environments
  • Use cases and patterns for Cloud deployments
  • Organizational support with the Enterprise for Cloud Computing

Update: Slides and a transcript for David Linthicum’s Where Cloud Computing Meets Enterprise Architecture presentation at the Enterprise Cloud Computing Summit are available as of 2/4/2009. Recorded audio is available here.

Mike Walker’s TOGAF 9 Release and Impressions post of 2/2/2009 describes what’s new in the Open Group’s Architectural Framework (TOGAF) version 9.

Nick Malik’s A first look at TOGAF 9.0 post of 2/2/2009 provides another Microsoft enterprise architect’s view of the updated TOGAF framework.

IDC will hold the IDC Cloud Computing Forum on 2/18/2009 at the Stanford Court, a Renaissance Hotel, 905 California Street, Nob Hill, San Francisco, California 94108 -- 415.989.3500 or 800.227.4736

Reuven Cohen adds an (Update) [to his] Wall Street Cloud Interoperability Forum - NYC April 2nd meeting post.

ThompsonReuters has graciously offered the use of their 195 Broadway Street office for our event & cloud interop discussions to take place on Thursday April 2nd. The space is limited to about 150 attendees or so.

Larry Dignan announces 3Tera releases AppLogic 2.4, its cloud computing platform on 2/3/2009. New features include support for Windows and Sun Solaris, as well as:

    • System dashboards added;
    • Templates;
    • Appliance kits to add new devices; 
    • And architecture aware monitoring.

Get the full details about 3Tera AppLogic 2.4 Grid Computing here.