Archive for July, 2010

muSOAing for 7/29/10 – Snowflakes

July 29, 2010

Getting back on track. Let us examine Big Data in a bit more detail. The first question is what is that magic marker that catapults data into the Big League. I think there is no set industry standard but a very commonly used yardstick is around 1TB of data. The goal here is to convert data into meaningful information and ultimately into saleable intelligence that will have a bearing on the bottom line and ROI.

These days, the problem really is two fold. One is to deal with such vast amounts of data, to be able to park it somewhere on a cost effective infrastructure and then to be able to analyze and slice and dice it to obtain that intelligence. With even very small under 10 person businesses generating enormous amounts of information on a daily basis, affordable storage has indeed become a very big issue.

Traditional Relational databases simply don’t cut it anymore not only due to their size limitations but also the arcane SQL technology used to access and process such vast amounts of information is beyond the scope of this technology. Also given that each database is tied to one server, there are a lot of technology limits that you will hit. Hence the popularity of grid based storage where you can have n number of physical storage nodes on top of which you can have n number of some Big Data oriented framework like Hadoop or Cassandra and both can expand elastically based on your needs. You add physical and/or framework nodes as the need dictates and there is no single point of failure at least from a hardware standpoint.

More on this later.

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muSOAing for 7/24/10 – Light Hailstorm

July 24, 2010

Before I begin, here is a short rant. Of late, I have been reading posts like “Cloud is immature”, “Cloud is still in a hype cycle”. It is clear from these posts that there are people out there who have not been cloud enlightened or cloudified. Gents, far from being immature, the cloud is here to stay, it is very much mainstream. It has become the bread and butter for pretty much every horizontal aspect of IT and vertical industries. In fact, a lot of the stuff we do today will simply not be possible without the cloud.

Could you ever imagine a Google or a Facebook without a cloud infrastructure? The beauty of the cloud is that, we avail of it on a daily basis but are yet unaware of it. The cloud has permeated pretty much every aspect of IT, be it servers (Hypervisors, Grid Computing), Storage (BigData, Hadoop), Network, Desktop, the cloud and virualization is omnipresent.

Availing of all these on a rental (pay as you go, pay per use) basis is already the norm and this trend is only going to increase in the near future. So go out, circulate and get your daily dose of cloud.

muSOAing for 7/20/10 – Overcast with chance of drizzle

July 20, 2010

So we have so far examined three very common patterns of Cloud Consumption and Adoption but is that it? Well no, these as I said are only broad patterns. There are myriad sub-patterns we have to delve into. Given the plethora of options available, you might be led to believe that a Cloud Solution is pretty much a slam dunk and all you have to do is put together a solution with best of breed offerings woven together with some custom built and home grown IP, well think again.

Some of the most common challenges especially the ones that have to do with Big Data pose unique challenges even to the most nerdy and geeky code slinger. One of the most common ones is SPOC related and has to do with the failure of the master node in a Grid Computing environment. As they say in any implementation, the folks think that their problem lies in the process, too many manual touch points, longer cycle times etc and put all their energies into straight thru processing well think what, you problem is not the process but it is the Data.

In almost all IT Projects, you have to start at the first floor which is your Data. Pay enough attention to it and all the rest of the issues will take care of themselves so to speak. So in my next few posts we will delve into the gory details of data in general and Big Data in specific.

muSOAing for 7/16/10 – Stratus

July 16, 2010

So how do large organizations avail of the Cloud and Virtualization. The needs of these organizations is vastly different from the ones discussed in earlier. Though cutting costs is definitely one of them, it is at a whole new level. Think Data Centers with 1000s of servers. Do you think Google would be able to run it’s DCs without Virtualization and availing of the Cloud?

The typical issues faced by large Data Centers these days are,

a. How to do more with less. Can the same work be done and efficiencies achieved by deploying 500 servers instead of a 1000.
b. How to maintain service levels, SLAs, QoS etc in the Cloud
c. Do I need a private cloud or a hybrid cloud
d. Which technologie(s) should I bet the house on.
e. Build vs Buy or a mix of both. In most cases it the latter choice.

So as you can see these are not trivial questions. So my focus for the foreseeable future is going to be to address all three categories of users.

muSOAing for 7/13/10 – Cirrus

July 13, 2010

There are different usage models of the cloud for individuals and small startups. The very nature of usage being of the DIY kind and hence PaaS oriented platforms are best suited for these sort of users who want to play around, get their hands dirty and build their own thing as opposed to settling for some prebuilt functionality. The mantras here are APIs read web services, code, build, deploy. This is cloud meets geek and it is a sort of utopia depending on who you ask.

Now let us shift gears a bit and talk about another form of usage. This has to do with some heavy duty stuff like moving your email server to the cloud, building workflow in the cloud and other esoteric stuff. The users here can again be the individuals and small startups and in addition, non-profits and educational outfits like community colleges. As you can imaging their IT Budgets range from drastically cut to non-existent but they still have to provide the same level and quality of service to their internal and external users. The Cloud has suddenly become their Knight in Shining Armor. All of a sudden all of the above is possible which is sort of saying “I would like to have my cake and eat it too”. And belive me they are. These CIOs are hunting for the right Superman(woman) outfits for the next halloween bash.

More on this later.

muSOAing for 7/9/10 – Cumulus

July 9, 2010

Getting back to the subject of how the Geeky Joe would avail of the Cloud or for that matter an under 10 person startup bootstrapped with credit cards. The most obvious platform of choice is normally a PaaS oriented one such as Google App Engine which would let Geeky Joe to cobble together an application and deploy it on that same platform. For the startup a usage model could be to have their email hosted on the Google Apps platform. These are just two very simple use cases and there are several hundreds or even thousands of these.

So what makes these platforms so compelling. A lot of these I have already articulated in my previous posts but it doesn’t hurt to repeat these. For one thing, the barrier for entry is very low in terms of adoption. You hosting absolutely nothing. Pretty much all the computing needs you need in terms of Software, APIs, Servers and Storage are provided by the PaaS Vendor. So as you can see, all that you need is to create an account and for the most part this process is free. You are given a limited amount of resources to try things out. It is really try before you buy approach.

Once you feel that you are getting what you need then you sign up for the next level. There are different payment models including pay for what you use or monthly subscription based plans. So the whole process is made as painless for you as possible.

What we just spoke about was the applications space where prebuilt applications (SaaS) or cloud based toolkits (PaaS). There is another important usage model which is more oriented towards Data and Big Data oriented needs which we will address in the next post.

muSOAing for 7/8/10 – Apres moi le deluge?

July 8, 2010

Nope, nothing that apocalyptic. While there is certainly a revolution in progress, no Jacobian tyranny a la Robespierre. More like a Declaration of Independence with 50 happy cloud constituents working harmoniously and resulting in the levelling of the playing field for the Aristocracy, Bourgeois and Proletariat of the Internet. What could not be achieved politically by Lenin et al is now possible with the Cloud, a sort of communo-socio-capitalism.

muSOAing for 7/7/10 – Got Cloud?

July 7, 2010

So while we can pontificate to no end about the benefits of Cloud Adoption, let us get some facts straight. Why is the this becoming the kind of phenomenon that it is. Why is it able to cater to such a diverse segment of users both horizontally and vertically. Well there are some very obvious reasons.

Let us talk about a few of these first. The first and foremost reasons why Cloud Adoption is catching on like widlfire is this term called “Low Barrier For Entry”. Yes, and I will repeat, LBFE is one of the principal reasons that both Geeky Joe and Mr. Fortune 10 CIO are gravitating towards it. The value proposition is pretty much the same for these two contituencies but the scope and scale is obviously at vastly different levels.

Think about it, at what point of time were there options where you could try something out for free and if you liked it, you could start using it on a pay as you go basis and best of all, the software expanded automatically depending on your growing needs and you did not have to worry about all of this stuff. A truly elastic computing model and you have just eliminated or outsourced whole or part of your IT department.

So what else does the Cloud have in store for us, stay tuned.

muSOAing for 7/6/10 – Cloudy with a chance of Rain

July 6, 2010

While SOA and services have become the bread and butter for integration and delivering applications over the web, what is the prognosis for the Cloud. I would say very, very good. The Cloud is permeating every Horizontal and Vertical layer of computing and not only that it is beginning to address the need of every type of consumer starting with Grandmothers to the IT departments of major Fortune 50 companies.

Never before has such a paradigm taken root with such rapid speed and gained the amount of mindshare it has so as to qualify as a true Computing Revolution. Dwelling on all the aspects of the Cloud, it’s past, present and future will fill several books but suffice to say that in the following few posts I will attempt to distill this information as best as I can. I would even go so far as to say that this paradigm can be termed the Water Hyacinth of the computing world but in a very, very good way.

So how do we get our arms around this and where do we start. Let us start with the Individual. Let us examine how cloud computing paradigms are playing a role in our daily lives, affecting our lifestyles and what does it have in store for the various types of users out there including casual users to your most fanatic computing geek.

Hang on tight, it is going to be a wild ride.

muSOAing for 7/1/10 – It’s ok to Cloud your judgement

July 1, 2010

SOA has become so mainstream that it does not need any more evangelization or demystification. So let us move on to the Cloud. Henceforth, I will be blogging exclusively on cloud computing related topics and issues.

So let me kick off the first one by writing a small piece on PaaS. This concept of Platform As A Service has come a very long way. The question is which type of user does such a platform cater to. Almost all the PaaS platforms are focused on the UI and Front End. They very heavily emphasize drag and drop, ease of use and ease of deployment. You can build and deploy an application in ridiculously low cycle times measured in minutes. You do not have to worry about DB connections and lot of those other pesky things that take you time away from focusing on the core features of your application.

With PaaS, almost 100% of your time is devoted to designing and building the core application features. We still have not answered the question of who the typical audience is for such a platform. It is certainly not your hardcore java codeslinger. These are not platforms that allow you to write and generate copious amounts of code. They emphasize on building very pretty looking screens to build the UI front ends for your applications. So the users for such a platform will be all those people involved in designing and building the presentation layer. In fact, it now empowers Information Architects who used to design screen offline to do that as they are building screens. So here you have your proverbial two birds with one stone.

Continuing our discussion on this topic we will examine what other types of computing is possible in a PaaS Platform and how people are leveraging them and what the future holds.