Fluent.Interface


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Cloud Computing category.

Cloud computing report; Sun’s new API and DabbleDB

A recent McKinsey & Company report Clearing the air on cloud computing  reports that for companies to migrate their enterprise software platforms to the cloud:

The cost of cloud must come down significantly for outsourcing a complete data center to make economic sense

Although it is becoming cost effective for smaller ‘compute equivalent’ environment – where the total costs of assets for a typical data centre is US$45/month per CPU.

The report also suggests that:

CIOs should be working the cloud technology stack bottom up; cloud providers top down

Or in other words utilise virtualization and CDN’s available now, while waiting for the cloud service  providers to improved reliability and standardize offerings.  The recent Open Cloud initiative spearheaded by Sam Johnston from Australian Online Solutions might go someway to achieving this goal:

A common set of protocols and API’s for accessing cloud resources could be as revolutionary as HTTP was for TCP/IP.   And possibly the simplest and best implementation I have seen to date is Sun’s new cloud initiative, illustrated in this Hello Cloud example leveraging JSON over the RESTful API.  Hopefully the recent acquisition of Sun by Oracle won’t dent the enthusiasm of this project.

One of the great things about the cloud is the flexability developers/vendors have when choosing the software stack  for their implementation. DabbleDB was a recent example i came across that offers a rich database through a clever online spreadsheet-style interface.  It is built on the Squeak smalltalk engine utilising the SeaSide framework.  Avi Bryant talks to InfoQ on how his application works without the use of a RDBM instead storing virtual images of the smalltalk run-time.


Cloudera building a business around open source Map Reduce

The heavy hitting ex-executives behind start up CloudEra are banking on a business based around Hadoop, the open source Map Reduce implementation with a distribution capable of running on Amazon’s EC2.   Google is credited with popularising (inventing) Map Reduce and has been tuning its own implementation for many years.  It gave insights into the origin and future research direction in a round table video last year.

Increasingly companies need to make sense of Terabytes or even Petabytes of data.  This information is stored across many machines on many disks, and needs distributed algorithms for sifting through the data in any reasonable time.  This is where Map-Reduce comes in.

Interestingly Microsoft has taken a step back from this direction when with deciding that its SDS offering should support standard ‘relational’ features, in effect turning the product into a hosted SQL Server cloud.

It has however been active in this research field.  It released its functional programming language F# and it runs its ad serving on Dryad – a distributed execution software engine.  DryadLINQ combines the power of this engine, with the simplicity of LINQ by creating a SQL-like execution plan for distributed processing, very cool! 

Large scale distributed processing software typically runs on many low grade Linux servers running open source software so that licensing costs are kept low.  However with the army of MS developers out there, there are companies springing up to provide software to make the most out of idle cycles on Windows boxes around the network.  Manjrasoft a recent graduate from Melbourne University’s GridBus laboratory have released an Alpha of their Aneka software – a .NET Map Reduce implementation.


Bringing music to the cloud

After a well deserved break, I am back in Sydney enjoying good coffee, food and summer weather!

On my travels through Germany I saw an advertisement for SoundCloud in a music magazine.  It’s basically Flickr for Musos done really well.  And although Web 2.0 is dead, or at least ‘so per se’ these days, I see is a shiny example of how to build a great web app.  

Sound cloud allows you to upload your own tracks or mixes to your profile, or post to your friends drop boxes.  It has a great visualisation of your track, and allows people to comment at various points through out your track – at the breakdown for example.  You can also follow other artists in a similar fashion to flickr.  

Not only is it a killer web 2.0 web application it has a complete API able to support mashups likeRadioClouds and the pure web app CloudPlayer.

I see this as big year for musicians; another highlight being Ableton upcoming release of Live 8 with its hotly awaited Max/Msp integration – bringing sound design to the masses, bring it on!


CloudCamp in London

The good people at SkillsMatter recently hosted a series of lightening talks in their crypt in central London.

I can recommend checking out James Governor‘s blog which hosts a write-up by Benjamin Ellis.  Or watch the filmed video of the event.

Cloud computing, while the buzz at the moment is still in it’s infancy and this is particularlyobvious when looking at metrics around inefficiencies in power consumption required to run virtual machines.  But once this land grab stabilises expect to see standards emerge for accessing storage / data / virtual operating systems.


Microsoft’s cloud computing offering with SDDS

Microsoft weighs in with its cloud computing offering in the form of SQL Server Data Services.  Currently in beta, users are able to sign up for free access.

A good screen cast walks you through the new tiered ‘ACE’ architecture which is designed around a top level ‘Authority’ a unit of geo-location which maps to an explicit DNS address eg:

brightsparc.data.beta.mssds.com

Under this Authority are Containers, and within a container is a series of Entities.  The flat structure is analogous to Tables and Rows, however a Row can represent different Kinds of data that doesn’t necessarily conform to the same schema. In fact any data other then the core ID, Version and Kind attributes are ‘Flexible Properties’ and set similar to a key based dictionary.

Under the hood this functionality could well be implemented with the new Filtered Index and Sparse Column features of SQL 2008 which allow for efficient storage of such data.

SSDS is a web service accessed over the wire using a SOAP or simple REST interface currently secured with basic credentials over https.  To get started I recommend downloading the SDK to create / update and query your data using the explorer GUI.  In REST speak, use POST to create a record, PUT to update and record and DELETE speaks for itself.  Moving forward cloud computing security is a challenge for Microsoft, but will no doubt tie in with it’s claim-based Card Space initiative.

Ryan Dun has a great blog with some examples of what is possible right now with SSDS, as well as very nifty open source REST library that can wrap POCO’s for persisting them to the cloud.

Although I did experience some unexpected outage on the service, Microsoft do plan to charge for this service in the future so I’m sure they will be looking at SLA of at least two 9’s if they are planning on competing with the likes of Amazon and Google.