Monthly Archives: January 2009

Cloud Computing != Grid Computing?

Following up to a previous post, I came across a July 2008 article by Thorsten von Eicken, CTO and founder of RightScale, which provides a front-end for managing Amazon Web Services (Amazon’s cloud computing offerings):

Grid computing has been used in environments where users make few but large allocation requests. … [O]nly a few of these allocations can be serviced at a time and others need to be scheduled for when resources are released. …

Cloud computing really is about lots of small allocation requests. … The allocations are real-time and in fact there is no provision for queueing allocations until someone else releases resources. …

It’s easy to say “ah, we’ll just run some cloud management software on a bunch of machines,” but it’s a completely different matter to uphold the premise of real-time resource availability. If you fail to provide resources when they are needed, the whole paradigm falls apart and users will start hoarding servers, allocating for peak usage instead of current usage…

The comments on that post are worth reading, as well.

An earlier post from Thorsten (republished later on Cloud Computing Journal) clearly and succinctly defines some terminology used to refer to different aspects of cloud computing:

Applications in the cloud: … Some company hosts an application in the internet… The service being sold (or offered in ad-sponsored form) is a complete end-user application. To me all this is SaaS, Software as a Service, looking to join the ‘cloud’ craze.

Platforms in the cloud: … where an application platform is offered to developers in the cloud. … The service being sold is the machinery that funnels requests to an application and makes the application tick.

Infrastructure in the cloud: … the most general offering that Amazon has pioneered and where RightScale offers its management platform. … virtually any application and any configuration that is fit for the internet can be mapped to this type of service.

Again, the comments are worth reading and link to other articles on the subject.

When Things Go Wrong…

Do you have a backup and recovery plan in place for your data, that you can turn to when the inevitable (catastrophic system failure and possible data loss) happens? Do you have a revision control system in place for your source code, that you can turn to when you break something in the functionality of your system?

Yesterday morning, a web-based bookmarking service, ma.gnolia, suffered a catastrophic failure. It will be at least a matter of days before the service returns, and users’ bookmarks may be lost, either partially or completely. Michael Calore writes at Wired’s Epicenter blog:

In light of today’s outage, many are questioning the reliability of web apps and web-based storage in general. Twitter in particular is full of users venting their suspicions.

“Cloud computing becomes fog when it goes down,” says Todd Spragins in a Twitter post.

Another common thread: People are talking about bailing on Ma.gnolia in favor of competitor Delicious.

More ammunition for the critics (warning: NSFW) of “the cloud”, or web-based software and data storage.
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WeedWiteWeb Woundup

A few interesting articles from ReadWriteWeb published in the last week or two:

Related to Google Chrome:

Also of interest, from Google’s Chromium Blog:

IE Market Share Continues to Decline

On Ars Technica, Dave Moyer writes:

Recently published Market Share statistics show the browser down almost 7% from the beginning of last year, continuing to slide down as time goes on. On the other hand, open source browsers such as Firefox and Google Chrome are constantly increasing.

This isn’t exactly news, and IE still has nearly 70% of the market, but it’s a positive sign.  Serious competition between Microsoft, Mozilla, Google, and others will not only force Microsoft to fix IE’s problems, but serve to promote innovation, rather than stagnation, in the whole browser marketplace.

Security Concerns in Web Applications

Yesterday, Alex Payne (API lead at Twitter) tweeted about the security issues that reared their ugly heads on Twitter a week or so ago:

PROTIP: if you don’t take the time to do periodic security reviews, you WILL get called out by Bruce Schneier. http://bit.ly/DwGr

He later tweeted a link to his blog post on the subject:

The Thing About Security: http://bit.ly/3gwR

Twitter user bonsai (Keith Williams) responded to Alex’s blog post:

@al3x It’s preposterous to think that your threat model didn’t include auth/msg-bot issues unless you simply didn’t have ANY models at all.

Alex replied:

@bonsai Indeed, we’ve never talked about threat models in a holistic way here. It’s gotta change.

No kidding.  The moral of the story is:  If you have no internal or external security policy whatsoever and enforce no minimum password strength (i.e., allow admin users to set their passwords to dictionary words), and allow unlimited login attempts, your system WILL be breached; it’s simply a matter of time.

Old Software Attacking SaaS

Via social|median, ZDNet’s Phil Wainewright notes an uptick in attacks on Web-based software (Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS):

I welcomed Harry Debes’ outburst against SaaS last summer, because being attacked is always better than being ignored. After years of indifference to SaaS, the conventional software world has suddenly woken up to the threat and started attacking it in the hope it will all go away. …

[T]he harder these holdouts rage against SaaS, the more steadily it advances. Today, Evans Data released the results of a developer survey that found almost a third of developers in North America are already working on SaaS projects, and more than half worldwide expect they’ll be doing so in 2009. …

Faced with such a relentless surge, the anti-SaaS chorus is hitting ever more frenetic notes. …

When the attacks become this desperate, you know you’re onto a winner.

Well, we at redPear certainly hope we’re onto a winner — namely, our new SaaS CRM application, redPear|Core.  Core is the first in a line of SaaS applications to come.

My sense is that this is only the beginning of the end for old, dinosaur, legacy software and media.  Those Old Software and Old Media companies who are capable of changing, of adapting to and embracing this New Software and New (+Social) Media environment, are those who will survive.  Those who are only capable of desperately clinging to the Old models and launching baseless attacks on the New will not.