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Posts Tagged ‘Cloud Computing’

ComputerWorld: Best Places to Work in IT 2010

June 24th, 2010 4 comments

ComputerWorld just released its 17th annual report Best Places to Work in IT 2010. The criteria used for the selection include diversity, career development, retention, benefits and training. It does not include cutting edge technology though. I think that is pretty important but hard to measure and compare at the same time.

The top 100 companies come from different industries ranging from technology vendors like SAS, salesforce.com, to the customers. The list does not cover companies from other parts of the world. I am sure many companies from Europe, Canada, etc. would have made the list otherwise.

Ready for the list?

The Cloud of 2002 and Earlier: More Than a History

June 9th, 2010 1 comment

I read the book Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance by former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner several years ago. For people don’t know the author, Lou Gerstner became IBM CEO in 1993 when the company was on its way to losing $16 billion. The book is about his insider story of IBM’s historic turn around. Unlike other books by top executives, the book was really written by the author himself.

The book is just great with insightful observations and thoughts. So when I saw it in library weeks ago, I borrowed it back home again. This time I found something new or something that I didn’t pay enough attention the first time. Lou actually had the buzzword “cloud” in his book of 2002. Let’s see what he had to say about the cloud:

It had to be in one of these early discussions with Dennie that I was introduced to “the cloud” – a graphic much loved and used on IBM charts showing how networks were going to change computing, communications, and all manner of business and human interaction. The cloud would be shown in the middle. To one side there would be little icons representing people using PCs, cell phones, and other kinds of network-connected devices. On the other side of the cloud were businesses, governments, universities, and institutions also connected to the network. The idea was that the cloud – the network – would enable and support incredible amounts of communications and transactions among people and businesses and institutions.

Comment: The meaning of the cloud seems limited to networking, and quite different from what’s known today. Networking is still important today in the new cloud because the connectivity is a must for accessing cloud services.

Categories: Cloud Computing Tags: ,

Standardizing On Oracle is IT Cure? Testimonial for Cloud Computing

June 7th, 2010 No comments

In the May 3rd issue of InformationWeek, Bob Evans wrote an article “Oracle’s Phillips: Standardizing On Oracle Is IT Cure.” I am sure most IT companies won’t agree with it even though Oracle is now a full stack company after grabbing Sun MicroSystem not long ago. The big players probably want to claim the same for themselves, for example, standardizing on IBM is the IT Cure.

Digging further into the article, we can find some interesting arguments by Phillips:

What CIOs are struggling with right now is trying to find a way to get the opportunity and ability to manage the entire stack with a single management tool that’s predictive about that stack’s going to behave, how the change management around it is more prescriptive and planned, and where they really know how to upgrade and patch the entire stack.

All the dependencies between these layers – the middleware, database, storage, software, systems — they’re all related but unpredictable. And that’s the cycle they’re trying to get out of it — all that need to constantly provision and manage — it’s a huge cost, and it’s kinda boring and takes lots of people to do it, and it’s risky.

Categories: Cloud Computing Tags: ,

Continuous Deployment With Virtualization and Cloud: An Idea for Startups

May 28th, 2010 2 comments

If you have a new hire, do you want him/her to push code into production system on the very first day? You may be OK with this sometimes. What if it’s a trading system with real money involved? More often than not, you come up with a different answer.

On Wednesday night, I attended a seminar organized by SDForum SAM SIG at LinkedIn headquarter. Pascal-Louis Perez and David Fortunato from Kaching.com engineering team gave a great talk on how they streamlined their software development process to the extent that they normally release 20 times a day to their production system. It’s quite a safe process that it’s OK for a new hire to push code on day one.

Building Do-It-Yourself PaaS: My VMworld Session Proposals

May 19th, 2010 No comments

Most people who are interested in VMworld already know the public voting for the proposal is now open till 26th. If you would like to hear about specific topics, it’s high time to cast your votes.

For each track, all the presentation proposals are listed together in one page. To quickly locate a particular proposal, you can use find feature of your browser. Once you login, I would suggest to browse all the proposals and vote for those you find useful. Casting a vote is just two mouse clicks: one for voting and the other to close the confirmation message box.

BigDog: Next Big Thing After Cloud?

May 14th, 2010 No comments

This week I attended an exciting seminar by Marc Raibert. He is a former MIT Professor who founded the Boston Dynamics Corporation in 1992 as a spin-off from MIT. The company develops a quadruped robot called BigDog among other types of innovative robots, including PETMAN, an anthropomorphic robot for testing equipment, RISE, a robot that climbs vertical surfaces, SquishBot, a shape-changing chemical robot that moves through tight space, and etc.

The BigDog is different from other robots in that it’s designed to operate in rough terrain like rocky, muddy, sandy and snowy surfaces. It can walk, trot, jog, climb a slope, follow a person, and even dance. Marc showed several cool videos, some of which are actually available on Youtube as well.

As you may have known, robots have many real world use cases. For example, it can help to carry weapons in battlefields, move heavy logistics for exploring wild areas, etc. In daily life, it can be a house maid who can help to handle house chores, take care of your kids; it can be a replacement for the Segway.

Real-time Communication Cloud: Can You Take Advantage of It?

May 13th, 2010 1 comment

Like it or not, many technologies in IT industry have a new tag called “cloud” these days. Tonight I came across yet another one at a SDForum emerging technology SIG meeting. It’s a great presentation Tropo & Moho: Disrupting telco with simple cloud-based communications by Jason Goecke, VP of Innovation of Voxeo Labs.

The company was started at Silicon Valley in late 1990s’ and almost went belly up in the Internet Bubble. It then relocated to Orlando FL and became profitable slowly thereafter. Now it’s emerging again with some cool technologies, mainly the communication cloud service.

Their cloud service is quite different from what most cloud companies offer in that it helps to build voice, IM related applications. To do that, the computing cloud has to connect to the telephone system, and be able to handle voice in real-time. This sets a high bar for most start-up companies. If we have to put the service into one of the IaaS, PaaS and SaaS, it fits in the PaaS where the platform is for real-time communication applications.

Top Ten Things a CIO Should Know About VMware vCloud

May 7th, 2010 1 comment

Since the term “vCloud” was made public at VMworld 2008 in Las Vegas, VMware has been working hard to define and implement its vCloud vision and strategies.

In 2009, VMware announced vCloudExpress with service provider partners such as Terremark. VMware also submitted its vCloud API spec to DMTF so that the industry could benefit from the standardized management of APIs. VMware also acquired SpringSource in 2009. The acquisition attracted a lot of attention, scrutiny and questions.

Earlier this year VMware acquired Zimbra, the leading provider of SaaS collaboration software, and subsequently it also bought RabbitMQ. Both are now part of the VMware SpringSource portfolio. Last week, VMware and Saleforce.com announced vmforce.com which is a joint venture targeting enterprise PaaS cloud. Yesterday VMware announced acquisition of GemStone (pending).

With these acquisitions and announcements, the company’s strategy is clearer than ever. Looking back again, VMware has been building a cloud product and service portfolio under the vCloud umbrella. Some previously misunderstood acquisitions become well aligned in the vision and strategies of vCloud.

vCloud is not the only player in the industry but VMware is well on its way. Given its deep roots in enterprise data center virtualization, no one can ignore the potential of VMware in cloud computing.

To help enterprises better understand vCloud, I offer ten things you should know:

Facebook HipHop Compiler for PHP: What Is It For You?

May 6th, 2010 2 comments

I attended a great seminar at Stanford by Haiping Zhao on the open source compiler which converts PHP code to C++ yesterday. Haiping is the tech lead for the open source HipHop project at Facebook.

As many have known, Facebook is a PHP shop with all the front end dynamic pages written in PHP. The upside of using PHP is that it’s very easy to read, write and debug, plus platform independent. The downside is that it’s really slow, probably one of the slowest scripting languages.

Why PHP is slow?

Haiping summarized three reasons, which he thinks are common contributors for slowness of scripting languages in general:

  1. Byte-code interpreter.
  2. Dynamic symbol lookups, including functions, variables, constants, class methods, properties, etc.
  3. Weakly typing. The zval has to evaluate the data type of any variable before any operation. Plus, the PHP array is too generic because it can represent any collection. 

Why Should Facebook Care?

When Haiping joined Facebook, new servers cannot catch up the new users. The server farms became so big that any percentage saving could save the company millions of dollars. Like all the big web companies, Facebook does not disclose the number of servers they have. The size of the datacenter is guarded as a secret. One of the professors did an estimate in his questions anyway: 15,000 to 30,000 servers.

What Does DevOps Mean for Cloud Professionals?

April 29th, 2010 No comments

I heard about DevOps a while back but didn’t really look into it. My initial understanding was that the roles of developer and system administrator would merge into one called devops. Last week, I attended a DevOps meet up at Palo Alto and got the chance to learn from others about DevOps.

The hosting organization even wrote up a good blog defining what a DevOps is. According to the blog,

DevOps is, in many ways, an umbrella concept that refers to anything that smoothes out the interaction between development and operations. However, the ideas behind DevOps run much deeper than that.

So the DevOps is more about a movement than merging of two roles. The basic idea behind the DevOps is to breach the wall between development and operations.

Traditionally developers ship products which are then run by operators in other companies. In this new age where much of software is delivered as services, the developers run their software directly. When there is a problem, the developers must fix it right away. That is why you see engineers at Google required to rotate on calls for support. When more companies ship software as services, it’s natural that more engineers will have two hats on their heads. The DevOps concept is not really new, but the terminology is.

Key Takeaways from VMForce Announcement

April 28th, 2010 No comments

Today VMware and Salesforce.com announced vmforce.com finally after several weeks of speculations on what the joint project is about. The following diagram I captured from the live webcast of the event answered the question nicely.

The event attracted about 3,500 online viewers, not to mention the audience onsite. This was a very successful event, resulted in more media coverage than anyone can read. If you missed the live webcast, you can check out the recorded one from the website.

Among all the blogs and news coverage, I think you should read the one by Steve Herrod who has done a great job in explaining the joint adventure in a big picture. His blog also has links to other bloggers.

Looking beyond the exciting keynotes and demos, I think the key takeaways from the announcement are as follows:

SOA and Cloud Computing: Are They The Same?

April 21st, 2010 No comments

SOA has been a buzzword in enterprise computing for a while. Cloud computing is relatively new one but gaining stronger momentum than SOA. With these two terms, many people get a little confused: is cloud computing just a new name for SOA? And can they play together?

Definitions

Before drawing a conclusion, let’s take a look at the definitions from wikipedia.org:

Service Oriented Architecture (SOA): is a flexible set of design principles used during the phases of systems development and integration. A deployed SOA-based architecture will provide a loosely-integrated suite of services that can be used within multiple business domains.

Cloud Computing: is Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software and information are provided to computers and other devices on-demand, like a public utility.

What’s Common?

As we’ve read in various articles and books, SOA is mainly for enterprise; the cloud computing is, as its definition points out, Internet based services. In my previous blog, I mentioned cloud as architecture pattern (CAA), which can be leveraged in enterprises as well. If we compare the SOA and CAA, they look somewhat similar and share some core principles:

Categories: Cloud Computing Tags: ,

Will Service Providers Dominate? A Business Outlook of Cloud EcoSystem

April 12th, 2010 No comments

When talking about cloud computing, people normally refer it as services provided by service providers over the Internet. These services are normally, at least in theory, elastic and with no limits on resource usage.

To differentiate the levels of services, the cloud computing is categorized into three different types of services: IaaS (Infrastructure As A Service), PaaS(Platform As A Service), and SaaS(Software As A Service).

Why is it layered as such? Simple. These three layers correspond to the traditional computing stack: machine, OS/Middleware platform, application. In light of this mapping, shouldn’t we call SaaS as AaaS?  I think that’s a right change technically. But which service providers would like to be called AaaS?

When more people and more companies use cloud computing as services, we will see a rapid growth of service provider sector. In my previous blog, I made an analog between the cloud services and office rental business, and predict the growth pattern of cloud computing would be similar to the office rental. Size matters when it comes to the scale of economy. The bigger the enterprises, the more likely own their offices and their cloud datacenters.

Cloud Computing: As Service or As Architecture?

April 11th, 2010 2 comments

Last week I saw an incoming link at my blog site from privatecloud.com, a website promoting private cloud computing inside enterprises backed by EMC. Due to curiosity, I browsed the website and found a video by VMware CEO Paul Maritz on cloud computing. BTW, my website is also featured at the home page. Thanks privatecloud.com!

In the video, Paul talked about the cloud computing, mostly referring to services over the Internet, can also be an architecture pattern for enterprises. When that architecture is implemented, you will have a private cloud on premise. Although not using cloud services from any service provider, you still get almost all the benefits in a private cloud.

From the system architecture perspective, your applications built within a private cloud aren’t much different than those built using external cloud services. If both of the services follow the same interface spec, your application may switch between public cloud and private cloud either statically or dynamically.

Cloud Computing: How Much Can It Change IT?

April 5th, 2010 3 comments

There have been many debates on the potentials of cloud computing and how it can change the IT. Some say it’s the future of IT and everyone and every enterprise will have to go with it; others say it’s a hype and just another name for already vanished on-demand computing, utility computing.

So which will be the trend? Or should we take a middle ground between these two?

While predicting the future, we tend to look back and try to leverage historical data. I bet you have seen many such analysis that draw different conclusions. History can be interpreted differently.

In this article, I would like to take a different approach — make an analogy between cloud computing and office rental business, and then predict the future of cloud computing from what’s today in office rental business.

Technology wise, cloud computing and office rental are two totally different things. Business wise, they are actually very similar. Whatever benefits of cloud computing can be found in office rental, for example, no initial capital investment in building either office or data center.

Although new technology companies get started and make impact on many things, the fundamentals of business haven’t changed. You still use the same balance sheets to evaluate high tech companies just like the blue chip companies. When making decisions, companies base more on business than on technology. That’s why I can make a safe analogy here.

Categories: Cloud Computing Tags:

Slides From The Cloud Club March Meetup

April 2nd, 2010 No comments

Almost forget to report last Cloud Club meet-up which took place at Santa Clara Convention Center on the night of March 16. The meet-up was conveniently co-located with the CloudConnect 2010 Conference.

We had several great speakers from companies like Makara, Engine Yard, Heroku, Appirio, etc. As you can guess from the speakers’ company profiles, the theme of the meet-up was about PaaS. Each speaker had about 20 minutes to introduce their technologies.

My Posts at VMware vCloud Blog

March 26th, 2010 No comments

I posted my first blog at VMware vCloud blog site, the company’s official blog on cloud computing, last month. It’s about the high level comparison between vCloud API and Amazon EC2 API: what is common and what is different?

http://blogs.vmware.com/vcloud/2010/02/a-quick-comparison-of-vmware-vcloud-and-amazon-ec2-apis.html

Yesterday I posted my second blog there about moving virtual machines back from the service providers’ cloud to the enterprise. It’s not as easy as we expect today. We need one click sending VMs to and from the public cloud.

Top 10 Best Practices Architecting Applications for VMware Cloud (part 4)

March 22nd, 2010 No comments

This 4th and last part contains best practice No.7 ~ 10. To be notified for future posts, feel free to subscribe to this feed, and follow me at Twitter.

#7 Levarage vApp

vApp is a new addition to vSphere. It’s essentially a group of VMs that work together as a solution. You can manage them as a basic unit like a VM. It provides you higher level granularity for resource allocation and management.

This is an ideal container for your application if you have multiple virtual machines involved. They may or may not form a cluster, but are bundled together for a same goal.

The vApps are not only easily managed by the vSphere, but also imported and export as a bundle. Therefore you can easily move it without worrying what should be included while copying it.

VMware provides tools like VMware Studio using which you can create and configure vApps easily. The VMware Studio has Web based console, customization and build engine, build process automation with CLI (command line interface).

Other alternatives include:

Top 10 Best Practices Architecting Applications for VMware Cloud (part 3)

March 19th, 2010 No comments

This 3rd part contains best practice No.4 ~ 6. To be notified for the rest, feel free to subscribe to this feed, and follow me at Twitter.

#4 Scale Applications as Needed

Most time, people think scalability is to handle more workload when needed. This is true, but not enough. A truly scalable system should scale back. This is how you will save money. This is equally important as the first case where you get more revenue by serving more traffic.

There are different ways to scale:

  • Up and down. This is unique in virtualized environment in which you adjust the memory or CPU allocation and use more or less of them instantly.
  • Out & in. This means you include more machines either physical or virtual into your application.

You have to think over several architecture decision points:

Top 10 Best Practices Architecting Applications for VMware Cloud (part 2)

March 18th, 2010 No comments

This second part contains best practice No.1 ~ 3.

#1 Move Up to Higher Level Software Stack 

“If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”

 Isaac Newton

Modern software development is all about leverage. You don’t want to build everything from bottom up. Whatever “giant shoulders” you can leverage, you should do so. Remember the keyword here is “giant shoulders.” You got to be selective on what is “a giant” and what is not, for the best quality of your system. Your application’s quality is a function of that of the systems underneath it.

The typical “giant shoulders” includes middleware, high level programming languages, tools. By leveraging these, you should expect your applications portable, and with much less code and higher developer productivity. The portability is very important when you want to deploy your applications in federated cloud environment.

I posted a short article after the cloud demo in VMworld 2009 keynotes. It’s reposted at SpringSource blog. The article introduced “DIY PaaS” concept which you could have a higher level of development platform inside your enterprise in a similar way as would you get from vendors like Google, but without vendor lock-in.

The “DIY PaaS” does not require you to use any specific platforms, middleware or framework. You could use any existing combination of systems on top of Java, .Net, Python, PHP. For example, you could use Java with Spring framework for building your web applications or enterprise integration frameworks. The choice is really yours, not of any vendors. When making a decision, you want to consider various factors like your team’s expertise and preference, total cost of software licenses, design constraints posted by for example existing investments on particular software.

Having decided the combination of software stack, you want to pack them into virtual machine templates that can be re-used by various teams. If you have multiple combinations, you can have multiple virtual machine templates in your catalog.

In general, you want as few templates as possible. Why?

Having less VM templates means less effort to build them, to manage, to upgrade, and to test. This might not seem like a big deal but could become a big deal in a longer term when you have to maintain multiple versions of these templates at the same time.

It also means less storage. vSphere has a special technology called linked clone. The new virtual machine doesn’t fully clone the disks, but links back to the template. If you have least templates, you can have a huge saving on the disk space. High quality storage can be very expensive.

Last but not least benefit is less memory. vSphere has memory page sharing technology which keeps one copy of same page contents, and converts others as pointers to the single copy. It’s only possible when you have identical memory pages. When you have virtual machines cloned from a same templates, the chance of identical memory pages increases dramatically.

There are several techniques to keep the least number of virtual machine templates: