Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Windows Azure and Cloud Computing Posts for 4/13/2009+

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

• Updated 4/21/2009 for posts through 4/19/2009.
Updated 4/15/2009 3:40 PM PDT for 33-page McKinsey & Co. Clearing the Air on Cloud Computing report and Nicholas Carr’s The big company and the cloud response (see the “Azure Infrastructure” section).

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

Azure Blob, Table and Queue Services

Joe Gregorio, the primary contributor to the AtomPub protocol, concludes on 4/18/2009 that The Atom Publishing Protocol is a failure in the light of “browsers are much more powerful, Javascript compatibility is increasing among them, there are more libraries to smooth over the differences, and connectivity is on the rise.” He also attributes AtomPub’s failure to JavaScript Object Notation:

The idea was that with a common format you could build up libraries and make it easy to move information around. The 'problem' in this case is that a better format came along in the interim: JSON. JSON, born of Javascript, born of the browser, is the perfect 'data' interchange format, and here I am distinguishing between 'data' interchange and 'document' interchange. If all you want to do is get data from point A to B then JSON is a much easier format to generate and consume as it maps directly into data structures, as opposed to a document oriented format like Atom, which has to be mapped manually into data structures and that mapping will be different from library to library.

Dare Obasanjo adds his commentary on Joe’s post in Joe Gregorio on why the Atom Publishing Protocol (AtomPub) is a failure of 4/18/2009. Dare’s conclusion:

In my opinion, the growth in popularity of object-centric JSON over document-centric XML as the way to expose APIs on the Web has been the real stake in the heart for the Atom Publishing Protocol.

Rick Strahl discusses browser support for JSON in his Native JSON Parsing: What does it mean? post of 4/19/2009.

Brent Stineman’s detailed Azure Storage – Hands on with Queues, Part 1 of 4/16/2009 is the first member of a series on writing HTTPWebRequest calls to Azure Queues without using the sample ServiceClient library.

Rob Bagby proceeds with his detailed, lavishly illustrated Azure Web Services project with Azure Application Part 3: Expose (REST) Web Service And Consume in Silverlight of 4/17/2009. The screencast is here.

Rob Bagby continues his Azure shopping cart project with a 10-foot-long Azure Application Part 2: Access Azure Table Storage post of 4/14/2009:

This is part 2 in this series where I am building an Azure shopping cart application from the ground up.  In this post, I will create a simplified ASP.NET version of the wine catalog.  We will create a table in developer storage (the local version of Azure Storage) to store our wines and write 2 web pages: 1 to view all wines and another to add a wine.  We will then access the same table in the cloud in Azure Table Storage.

Here’s a link to the screencast: deCast - Building an Azure App Part II: Azure Table Storage

SQL Data Services (SDS)

Ryan Dunn asks Why does Windows Azure use a cscfg file? and provides the answer in this post of 4/16/2009.

Microsoft reminds us that Microsoft SQL Server Data Mining Services for the cloud are available for SDS. There’s more information at the home page: http://www.sqlserverdatamining.com/ssdm/.

.NET Services: Access Control, Service Bus and Workflow

Don’t forget the New Azure Training Kit [is] Available with

    • 11 hands-on labs – including new hands-on labs for PHP and Native Code on Windows Azure.
    • 18 demo scripts – These demo scripts are designed to provide detailed walkthroughs of key features so that someone can easily give a demo of a service
    • 9 presentations – the presentations used for our 3 day training workshops including speaker notes

You can download it from http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=130354

Live Windows Azure Apps, Tools and Test Harnesses

Aleksy Savateyev describes his forthcoming Azurelight project that combines a Silverlight front end with an Azure Services Platform back end in his Announcing Azurelight post of 4/10/2009:

Microsoft codename "Azurelight" is an easy-to-use application for providing basic product support in the cloud, collecting feedback about products and exchanging opinions with other users. It's also intended to be used by developers as a reference application utilizing both Windows Azure and Silverlight for rich yet scalable and highly available business solutions.

Thanks to Mary Jo Foley for the heads-up in her Aleksey Savateyev's Blog- Web, S+S, etc. - Announcing Azurelight post of 4/13/2009.

Note: As of 4/15/2009, 12:00 noon Aleksy’s blog has reappeared after being 404 all morning.

Azure Infrastructure

Mike Amundsen announced in RESTful Web Services Cookbook of 4/19/2009 that he and Subbu Allamaraju are writing a book titled RESTful Web Services Cookbook, which will be published by O’Reilly by the end of 2009. Mike describes the book:

Each recipe in this book will tackle one or more related design problems, and then discuss solutions and trade-offs. We think that learning the trade-offs is sometimes more important than just learning the right way, because an important part of software development is about making judicious trade-offs. In this book, we will therefore try to emphasize pragmatism over principles.

Amy Wohl chimes in with her McKinsey Got It Wrong: Cloud Computing is for Enterprises summary post of 4/18/2009. Amy’s full post is here.

James Hamilton’s SSD versus Enterprise SATA and SAS disks post of 4/18/2009 provides a detailed analysis of the economics of solid-state disks (SSDs) vs. conventional mechanical hard disk drives (HDDs). James concludes:

If you are storing data where you need 1.109 MB/s of 8k I/Os per GB of capacity or better, then the Intel device will be I/O bound and you won’t be able to use all the capacity. If the workload requires less than this number, then it is capacity bound and you won’t be able to use all the IOPS on the device. For very low access rate data, HDDs are a win. For very high access rate data, SSDs will be a better price performer.

Mike Walker reports that a “Mapping Applications to the Cloud” article will appear in Architecture Journal 19: TechEd 2009 Special Edition, which you can download here.

• John Foley says Cloud Computing Gets A Much-Needed Reality Check by McKinsey & Co. in this 4/17/2009 InformationWeek post. Michael Hickens does the same in his Anti-Cloud Hype Is Hype post of 4/16/2009.

• Jim Nakashima details the contents of *.cspkg files in his Digging in to the Windows Azure Service Package post of 4/16/2009.

• Leena Rao concludes that McKinsey’s Cloud Computing Report Is Partly Cloudy on 4/16/2009 in this TechCrunch post.

Steve Lohr chimes in with another McKinsey review in the NY TimesWhen Cloud Computing Doesn’t Make Sense article of 4/15/2009.

Instead of chasing cloudy visions, McKinsey suggests, corporate technology managers should focus mainly on adopting one building-block technology of the cloud model, virtualization. Such virtualization allows server computers to juggle more software tasks, and thus increase utilization, reducing capital and energy costs.

Steve Nagy “dive[s] a little deeper into the lifetime of a server in the Azure Fabric and the process of deploying resources on demand” in his Azure Server Virtualization Provisioning and Multitenancy post of 4/18/2009.

Steve Nagy’s Multitenancy And The Cloud post of 4/17/2009 describes why the definition of the term “multitenancy” has changed over time.

Nicholas Carr critiques the McKinsey & Co. report (see below) in his The big company and the cloud post of 4/15/2009:

[I]t has to be said, the numbers McKinsey presents seem a bit skewed, probably understating some of the savings or other benefits of moving to a cloud. For instance, again drawing on a "disguised client example," McKinsey suggests that replacing an in-house data center with cloud services would reduce IT labor costs by only about 10 to 15 percent.

I look forward to further analyses of these numbers. I'd be particularly interested in hearing Amazon's perspective on McKinsey's comparisons.

Will Forrest defines cloud computing as “hardware-based services
offering compute, network and storage capacity where:

    1. Hardware management is highly abstracted from the
    2. Buyers incur infrastructure costs as variable OPEX
    3. Infrastructure capacity is highly elastic (up or down)”

in a detailed, 33-page McKinsey & Co. final report, Clearing the Air on Cloud Computing, dated 4/14/2009. Don’t miss it!

Steve Marx’s Does Windows Azure Support Java? post of 4/15/2009 answers the question with:

Windows Azure doesn’t support Java today. … But, you can run whatever you want.

Sun Microsystems reports about Cloud Security Presentation at the 10th Annual CERIAS Symposium on 4/15/2009:

A panel of four experts addressed the issue of “Security in the Cloud” at the recent symposium hosted by The Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS). The speakers included Lorenzo D. Martino, College of Technology, Purdue University; Keith Watson, CERIAS, Purdue University; Dennis R. Moreau, Configuresoft Inc.; and Christoph Schuba, Sun Microsystems.

Cost Savings Will Drive Users to the Cloud; Providers Will Take Care of Security

Bill McColl’s What's Really Industry-Changing About Cloud Computing? post of 4/15/2009 describes “Four exciting new directions in massively parallel cloud computing:”

    • Cloudbursting.
    • Libraries and App Stores.
    • Live Data.
    • Domain Specific Development Tools.

Kym Jones discusses Legal Issues Surrounding Cloud Computing in this 4/15/2009 Cloud Computing Journal post. Jones writes:

Deploying cloud resources requires a different legal analysis than using, or selling, traditional Internet services. This session [at Cloud Computing Expo Europe] will focus on the interconnected nature, but nationless state, of cloud computing. Delegates will come away with: Five legal theories that will minimize risk regardless of the nation in which you live; a legal toolkit to address thorny contract issues in the United States and European Union; and a comparison of the risks of doing business with several major grid providers.

Dave Linthicum “talks about the use of architectural approaches for cloud computing, and issues with moving towards the clouds” in this Moving Towards Cloud Computing podcast of 4/15/2009.

Cath Jennings’ (no relation) Cloud computing: The answer to supply chain woes post of 4/15/2009 claims:

The adoption of cloud computing services in a supply chain context will mirror the former uptake patterns of on-premise enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. This means that such offerings are unlikely to be used to support non-commodity, core business processes for at least another three years.

Gordon Haff’s Thoughts on the cloud from Razorfish CNet News post of 4/15/2009 describes Microsoft’s Razorfish organization’s:

[W]ork with Rackspace's cloud hosting division, Mosso, to "build consumer-facing websites and web applications that can handle large traffic spikes during promotions and product launches of brands." However, we mostly discussed cloud computing more broadly. Here were some of the takeaways of which that I took particular note.

Razorfish is operating its internal systems more and more in the style of public cloud providers. Almost nothing runs on a dedicated physical server. They're also consolidating down from 25 datacenters to three. Klauder told me that big enablers here were cheap bandwidth and wide area network (WAN) acceleration--for which Razorfish uses Riverbed products. Razorfish also uses co-location facilities to optimize bandwidth use.

I wonder what the Azure team has to say about this turn of events.

Andrew Nusca asks Is adopting the cloud a money-losing mistake? in this 4/15/2009 post to ZDNet’s Between the Lines blog and reports:

But new research from McKinsey & Co. says that trying to adopt the cloud model would be a money-losing mistake for most large corporations. The research is being presented at a symposium this afternoon sponsored by the Uptime Institute, an organization that focuses on improving the efficiency of data centers.

The McKinsey study, “Clearing the Air on Cloud Computing,” concludes that outsourcing a typical corporate data center to the cloud would more than double the cost. The study uses Amazon’s well-known Web Services as the model for the price of outsourced cloud computing. According to McKinsey, the total cost of the data center functions would be $366 a month per unit of computing output, compared with $150 a month for the conventional data center. …

On the other hand, the cloud can be beneficial for small and medium-sized companies, typically with revenues of $500 million or less.

Dustin Amrhein’s Enhancing Development and Test with Cloud Computing post of 4/15/2009 describes “Five ways cloud computing strengthens IT development and test efforts.”

Maureen O’Gara reports EMC Creates Whopping Big Cloud Storage on 4/14/2009: EMC also has the first product derived from this new architecture, the world's biggest high-end storage array ever:

Dubbed the Virtual Matrix Architecture, it promises storage that scale to hundreds of thousand of terabytes and tens of million of IOPS supporting hundreds of thousands of virtual machines in a single federated storage infrastructure.

Dmitry Sotnikov’s Will Cloud make SOA mainstream? post of 4/14/2009 comments on Gartner’s report on SOA and Cloud Computing: “Cloud Computing Will Cement the Mainstream Role of SOA”.

In my opinion, on the one hand this is all common sense, and web interfaces are the obvious API approach for cloud/SaaS applications, and thus indeed in that way make SOA finally become widely spread. …

Overall, this is a very short report (less than one page of actual text) with a $195 price tag, so you might want to spend the money elsewhere. However, obviously do buy it if you need an analyst-approved document to prove to your boss that SOA is important.

Kyle Gabhart asserts Owning Hardware is Soooooo 2008 in this 4/14/2009 review of Fortune Magazine’s recent Tech Daily post: "Goodbye hardware. Hello, services". Kyle quotes Fortune:

"As Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said back in November: In this economy, ‘customers are not going to bring out their checkbooks for the cost and risk and complexity of big database purchases, or application server purchases, or data center purchases.' They're buying more services, and fewer servers."

Krishnan Subramanian starts a new series with Scientists And Cloud Computing – Part 1 of 4/14/2009:

Again and again in this space, I have pushed the idea of scientific community tapping into Cloud Computing for their academic research. I have argued that it will save tons of money and time for the scientists. Of late, we are hearing many success stories about scientists and other academics tapping into the Clouds for their research. In this two part series, I want to highlight how scientists are taking advantage of the Clouds. In this first article, I want to, once again, emphasize the importance of Cloud Computing for scientists and in the second part, I will list out some of the successful use cases.

Reuven Cohen makes The Case for a Cloud Computing Trade Association in this lengthy 4/13/2009 post:

I believe the association should focus on the commonalities we share -- accelerating the adoption of cloud computing through a consensus view of the general opportunities cloud based technology brings to customers. I'm not speaking about defining what cloud computing is so much as defining the problems it solves and opportunities it enables. The things we can actually agree on.

Ruv also reports that as of 4/15/2009 his Open Cloud Manifesto Reaches 150 Supporting Companies.

Mary Jo Foley asks What is Microsoft doing to add Java support to Azure? in this 4/13/2009 post as the result of “Google’s recent announcement that is allowing developers writing for the Google App Engine cloud platform to develop in Java:

The answer? Not much that company officials haven’t said before. 

Cloud Computing Events

Markus Klems reports on 4/20/2009 from CloudSlam about Francis Carden’s OpenSpan - Workflow automization on the presentation layer presentation.

Mike Ormond’s UK Azure NET Usergroup post of 4/17/2009 is a brief postmortem of the first meeting of a new Windows Azure community in the UK.

Rob Bagby announced on 4/14/2009 MSDN Events Presents: The Best Of MIX, which will deliver “3 great sessions to you, including ‘What’s New in Silverlight 3?’, ‘Building Web Applications with Windows Azure’ and ‘MVC 1.0 vs ASP.Net Webforms’” (emphasis added). Where and When (registration links):

Joseph F. Fovar reports VMware Outlines Cloud Vision, Previews vSphere, At Partner Conference on 4/14/2009:

VMware opened its annual partner summit Tuesday by introducing how partners can take advantage of new VMware technology to help start moving customers to the compute cloud. [Link added.]

The company also unveiled a new partner initiative aimed at making it easier for solution providers to work with its technology.

David Linthicum chimes in a bit late with his 'Open Cloud Manifesto?' Just Stop! post of 4/13/2009: Dave writes (in part):

Manifestos are nothing new; I've been dealing with them since I started in IT. The core notion is that my ideas count and yours don't, and what I say is the way it should be. At least, that's the impression I get. I recall manifestos issued around relational database technology in the late '80s and around other topical IT trends. The trouble is, manifestos have the opposite of the desired effect, serving to polarize rather than bring together. This manifesto was no different.

Aaron Skonnard’s Speaking on Windows Azure at VSLive! Las Vegas in June post of 4/13/2009 announces that he’ll be presenting:

  • Windows Azure: A New Era of Cloud Computing, 8:30 a.m.–9:45 a.m., Wednesday, June 10
  • Codename “Dublin”: Windows Application Server, 10:00 a.m.–11:15 a.m., Wednesday, June 10
  • Workshop: A Day of Windows Azure, 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.,Thursday, June 11

at VSLive! Las Vegas in the Venetian.

SDForum describes its Shaping the New Age of Application Development Developers Conference as follows:

It’s no longer about a sweet web interface.  Instead it’s about applications with collaboration and analytics at the core and built from the ground up to easily accommodate elastic demand, community driven functionality and pay-per-use models. Along with the technology, profitable business models and the funding environment has also changed. 

The rules have changed. It’s a new age. SDForum’s “Shaping the New Age of Application Development” 2-day conference for developers can help you make sense of what’s changing, plot a winning course and keep you on the cutting edge. 

When: 8:30AM April 17 - 3:00PM April 18, 2009

Where: The Tech Mart, 5201 Great America Parkway, Santa Clara, CA  95054

Other Cloud Computing Platforms and Services

Dennis Howlett’s RightNow's DoD play: a good antidote to the cloud security naysayers post of 4/15/2009 details:

RightNow’s new hosting capabilities use DITSCAP/DIACAP to ensure compliance with DoD Instruction 8500.2, meet US Federal security standard FISMA (NIST 800-53) and include a 24×7 dedicated security and information assurance team. For civilian agencies with requirements similar to the DoD, RightNow now offers a second, highly secure hosting environment to meet their needs.

Alin Arimie reports on “automated, high-definition video encoding in the cloud for large-scale media companies” by HDCloud and Amazon EC2 in his HD Cloud - The FedEx Of Web Video. How Do They Do It? post of 4/15/2009:

This is another success story in the “cloud”. By leveraging public and proprietary cloud technologies, HDCloud is able to scale horizontally without limits. Remember, video processing requires lots of processing power and results must be delivered in timely manner.

More information is available from the HD Cloud Launches Next-Generation Video Transcoding Service post of 4/15/2009.

Reuven Cohen reposted on 4/15/2009 his The Unified Data Center: Unified Computing Perspectives article for the Cisco Data Center Networks Blog of 3/19/2009. Ruv claims:

For some the biggest buzz word so far in 2009 is “cloud”, for Cisco it’s “unified”. Today Cisco announced a new server centric strategy which is underpinned by the use of a “unified computing” methodology. This new unified approach to computing represents a radical shift in how we as an industry both visualize and manage a modern virtualized data center.

For Cisco Unified Computing seems to be an overarching mantra being applied to the broader management of data center resources (compute, storage, and network elements) through a singular virtualized point of interaction. In a sense they are attempting the unification of the the entire infrastructure stack in what some are calling a unified infrastructure fabric. …

What’s been exciting for us at Enomaly is envisioning the potential for a singular infrastructure abstraction that can encompass the entire infrastructure stack as well as emerging cloud centric technologies through a unified application interface (API). At Enomaly we have been saying this for awhile and fully believe that this model represents the future of computing.

James Hamilton goes Under the Covers of Google App Engine Datastore in this 4/14/2009 post that includes his “notes from an older talk done by Ryan Barrett on the Google App Engine Data store at Google IO last year (5/28/2008). Ryan is a co-founder of the App Engine team.”

John Foley reports in his Microsoft To Amazon: We'll Fix Windows Licensing post of 4/13/2009:

In a surprising admission, Microsoft president Bob Muglia says Microsoft's licensing arrangements with Amazon Web Services and other cloud service providers are both too complicated and too expensive. "We'll fix that," Muglia promises.

The subject came up in a recent 90-minute interview in InformationWeek's New York offices. I asked Muglia, president of Microsoft's Server and Tools division, about what I see as a growing rivalry between Microsoft and Amazon in the cloud computing market. "There are people at Microsoft who think of Amazon as a competitor," he admitted. "I don't. I think of them as a customer."

James Urquhart’s Maybe "cloud-computing" hasn't lost its VC luster post of 4/13/2009 for CNet News reports:

In reviewing the companies I will be judging [for Under the Radar] this year, it feels like the term "cloud" covers way too much ground to be useful in a venture pitch. In fact, a few weeks back I wrote a post that built on a conversation I had with venture capitalist Lars Leckie of Hummer-Winblad Venture Partners, in which I asked the question, "Has 'cloud computing' lost its VC luster?".

It's possible I'm being a little too harsh on the term, however. Soon after writing that post, I exchanged emails with good friend and sometimes mentor, Gamiel Gran, Vice President of Business Development at Sierra Ventures. I asked Gamiel what he thought of the term "cloud computing" as it is applied to start-up pitches.

His response frankly surprised me. Far from being a confirmation that the use of term has gotten out of control, Gamiel embraces "cloud" for all its worth (and its worth multiple trillions of dollars in Sierra's estimation). He is excited about the opportunities that cloud computing presents for new businesses, and wants to see more of it--lots more of it.

James goes on to quote the entire text of Gamiel’s response.

Joe Weinman claims in his 6 Half-Truths About the Cloud guest post of 4/11/2009 on GigaOM:

The following “six commonly held views that, while not wrong, are just not entirely accurate:”

  1. Economies of scale are the key to cloud benefits
  2. All IT will move to the cloud
  3. Clouds generate value by replacing capital expenditures with operating expenditures
  4. Private clouds are as effective as public clouds
  5. Cloud = virtualization
  6. Clouds are greener

Joe Weinman is Strategy and Business Development V-P for AT&T Business Solutions.

Peter Kim’s AT&T has Cloud Computing Advantages: What They Are is the Issue post of 4/13/2009 takes issue with Joe Weinman’s article for GigaOM. Kim wrote:

Weinman suggests that telcos will have an edge in "statistics of scale," essentially the ability to smooth out demand peaks created by customers in different verticals and time zones. …

Actually, a telco's potential advantages in cloud computing are interesting in an economist's sense, as the smoothing of demand over time and between verticals might be considered derivative from "scale" or a derivative from "scope economics.”