Cloud Computing Archive

How do we define cloud computing?

It’s comes up again. Folks are asking us to define cloud computing and every time we do, we refine it a little more. At times it’s seemed like Cloud Computing became the new web 2.0 as a blanket term for everything:). I actually think we define it similarly to the Wikipedia definition. For us it breaks down into two categories: cloud services and cloud infrastructure.

Cloud services are defined as technologies that provide a virtual service either through and Open API or through a user interface. Examples range from the classic Salesforce.com to cloud email like Gmail or Twitter and the Twitter Open API, and Facebook Connect. There are lots others, and it’s growing at a frantic pace. Open API’s like Facebook Connect and the Twitter API are incredibly powerful for driving traffic and getting your product, brand, and service out there. In the past we would build a social network from scratch for a web site, that would mean custom application development and maintenance, now we use Javascript and REST to interface with Facebook Connect and we are up and running in a fraction of the time it used to take in the past.

Cloud infrastructure is defined as the virtual and physical infrastructure powering web and digital applications. Cloud infrastructure was strongly enabled through technologies like VMWare that made it possible to make one physical server into 10 or more virtual servers. This coupled with low cast storage created an elastic scalable platform to enable us to do things that weren’t feasible using the old cost models. These services are metered and you only pay as you go, which is a drastic departure from the buy a server, manage and drive it all the time whether you use it or not. While it used to take weeks to get a server up and ready now takes minutes and all you need is a credit card. Companies paving the way include Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, with traditional hosting companies like Rackspace, Savvis, Terremark and others also making these infrastructure services available.

We believe the cloud and it’s ability to scale at a lower cost point will enable more innovation like never before.

SharePoint Conference 2009 - Day 1

I’m at the SharePoint Conference in Vegas this week. Registration and Exhibit Hall started Sunday night, but sessions officially started Monday. I am tweeting all day during the conference, follow me (@mmdeluna) if you are interested. You can track tweets using #spc09. I will be posting daily summaries. Stay Tuned!

Registration and Exhibit Hall

This year’s conference is SOLD OUT. Compared to last years 3,800 attendees, this year’s 7,400 attendance is a testament to how big SharePoint has been adopted in the enterprise. Registration was pretty well organized and the badges are smart cards that are being scanned (optionally) by vendors for mailing list subscriptions and contests; and are also scanned by event managers for session attendance. Most of the vendors I saw in the Exhibit Hall are from Document Management Services - scanning, annotating, encrypting, converting, etc. And then there are the normal partner vendors: ISVs, SIs, Training, Data Recovery, Content Migration and Professional Services. Having said that - the give aways were a bit lame :)

Keynotes

There were 2 keynotes scheduled on day one, which lasted the whole morning. You would think that it wasn’t smart to have 7,400 attendees to sit still for almost 3 hours but Kudos to the presentation team, they pulled it off. Steve Ballmer did his FIRST SharePoint Conference keynote, one of the last few things Bill used to do that he hasn’t done yet. Tony Rizzo and the others did a great job on the demos doing enough to whet the appetite of all the geeks (like me) in the room. Here are the items that “struck” me during the keynotes. I am hoping to attend some of the sessions that show these in action.

  • There’s a HUGE emphasis on SharePoint and Internet facing sites. So much so that MS has renamed their products and services to emphasize this. Expect licensing prices to reflect this change

    • Intranet Products: MS Sharepoint Foundation 2010 (formerly known as WSS), MS SharePoint Server 2010, MS Fast Search Server 2010 for SharePoint

    • Internet Products: MS SharePoint Server 2010 For Internet Sites (STD, ENT editions) and MS Fast Search Server 2010 for Interet Business

  • Oh yeah - Steve Ballmer features Kraft Foods on his keynote - Nice! I wonder if this will drive attendance on our session (Wednesday, 1021 @ 1:15 pm)

  • SharePoint 2010 goes on public beta in November - don’t forget to download

  • SharePoint Online (SharePoint in the Cloud)

  • SharePoint Workspaces (Groove Makeover)

  • SharePoint Composites - I need to know more about this.  Interesting.

  • Developer tool integration in VS 2010. One-Click build, deploy and debug >> AWESOME!

  • Powershell Scripting - say goodbye to STSADM

  • New External Content Type / BCS (formerly BDC) - opens up possibilities with integration to backend systems. I’m very excited about this

  • SharePoint Service Applications - say goodbye to SSP

  • Improved List Performance and Caching - taxonomy navigation (tags and labels)

  • New and Improved Central and Site Admin UI - it’s AJAX yo!

  • Built in Spell Checker - it’s the little things…

  • Our PLDs and PLAs will like the improved support on standards specially WCAG

  • Some Social Computing features out of the box - ratings, notes/comments, blogs, wall (My Network)

  • VS 2010, SharePoint 2010 running on Windows 7 - 64 bit mobile development machine. yay!

Steve made a point by saying he didn’t think there’s any software out there that competes directly with SharePoint. Jeff Teper implies the same when he compares SharePoint to a Swiss Army Knife. Both videos are available online for viewing at the SPC09 website.

The list just goes on and on! There are way too many things to get excited about in 2010. I am hoping to get into the details of a lot of these in the upcoming sessions.

Day 1 Sessions

For the breakout sessions on day 1, I selected a couple of SharePoint overview topics.  One was SharePoint 2010 Overview and What’s New and more specifically for developers, Visual Studio 2010 SharePoint Developent Tools overview.  These sessions give me enough information on the overall features available so I can make a more informed selection in the coming days.

How does cloud technology benefit marketing and service organizations?

** **Lots of folks have been asking about how Cloud Computing helps marketing or web development projects. Here’s a couple of the key benefits that have bubbled to the top of the conversations.

  • Cost, cloud services are drastically less expensive than tradition hosting options, so the marketer can do more and innovate more with their money. Cloud services enable some basic things such as faster time to market, so faster results because we can build solutions in less time and not have to wait for an technology team to allocate servers and setup physical devices.

  • Faster scalability to better keep up with the peaks and valleys of marketing campaigns** and user traffic**. In the old days we would have to prepare for an ad, email, keyword, or offline-online campaign and get servers ready on standby. With cloud services we can scale on demand with a lower cost and faster timeline. That’s because we aren’t limited by physical servers

  • Strategically, social services are enabled through cloud computing, new offerings like Facebook connect, Twitter/delicious/reddit/digg/etc. apis, or even Youtube embed capabilities are all cloud services that enable you to drive traffic to your site without having to build your own social network. Facebook connect is a cloud service that enables the portable social graph bringing users to your property. One user post back to a user’s Facebook wall results in three more users accessing your site. So not only do you get exposure, but you save on Google keyword buysJ. In the old days, 3 years ago, we tried to build social networks on sites like flip.com and other properties, now we tie into the cloud service and get the same functionality in a fraction of time .

*lastly, there’s a word of caution around cloud services. Make sure you have some sort of redundancy, i.e. multiple services to achieve the same goal. We worked with Billboard on the latest release of their site which is a great example. See the red arrow as good example, if Facebook goes away, we are still sharing with other services. Other questions arise around redundancy for infrastructure cloud providers. The cloud computing manifesto is at least acknowledging the need for redundancy, but how to get the providers to do it.

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Microsoft talking about a private cloud?

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr... Image via CrunchBase

Just a couple of weeks after Amazon’s announcement of their private cloud offering it looks like Microsoft is starting to open discussions in that direction. What’s interesting about Microsoft’s discussion is that are coming at it from two directions. They are a provider to the data centers, hosting providers and enterprises building these offerings as well as a provider directly to the consumer.

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.gov is saving money and time with cloud computing

Cnet reports today on how Vivek Kundra, the US Chief Information Officer (CIO), is pushing for more movement into the clould computing space to help save taxpayer dollars. There are definitely huge savings with clould computing and it’s getting harder and harder for enterprises to ignore. Especially with the recent announcement around Amazon’s Private Cloud, it seems like the enterprise barriers to adoption are slowly eroding away.

I did find Vivek’s assertion here, hard to believe,

_“Using a traditional approach to add scalability and flexibility, he said, it would have taken six months and cost the government $2.5 million a year. But by turning to a cloud computing approach, the upgrade took just a day and cost only $800,000 a year.”_

but not knowing all the details it might real. Six months down to one day, sounds too much like pixie dust to me!

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Amazon Advances Cloud Computing with the Private Cloud

Clouds above Pacific. The picture also shows a... Image via Wikipedia

Amazon Advances Cloud Computing with the introduction of a private clould. The economics really are powerful enough to force business to take note. Anecdotally I’ve spoken to several highly functional startup web application using the clould succesfully. WIth the advent of more secure private clouds I don’t see how enterprise can stay away much longer.

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Cloud interoperabiltiy

Image representing Google App Engine as depict... Image via CrunchBase

It’s great to see cloud computing pushing for deep interoperability. This MSDN post covers some interesting topics around the manifesto and also speaks a bit about some interesting demos showing integration between Google’s App Engine and Azure. Very excting.

“At MIX, we highlighted the use of our Identity Service and Service Bus with an application written in Python and deployed into Google App Engine which may have been the first public cloud to cloud interop demo.”

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OpenCloud Manifesto = Skynet

The Terminator album cover Image via Wikipedia

Exciting to see folks pulling together some Cloud Computing standards to help us live seamlessly across the different cloud vendor offerings. I heard it first on the This Week in Tech podcast, it’s starting to sound a lot like the Terminator’s version of Skynet. Get it, clouds, skynet… Anyway, iIt seems like this should be a requirment for redundancy, not to mention the ability to move based on feature needs. Yes, sure, Cloud Computing is inherently redundant, but only across one vendor. It’ll also help us realize the best value and features quickly. I think the other thing it shows is that there is a lot of room for competition. It won’t just be the big players out there.

The manifesto itself was also interestingly absent of any of the big players. A quick glance at the manifesto and it’s refreshingly light, which is good. It seems to think more standards are on the way, which may or may not be a good thing. I think there are lots of lessons to be learned from standards like Corba or ws-deathstar. All in all good news and a recognition that the clouds are moving quickly.

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