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Cloud Computing Journal: Current Themes & Topics

A round-up of the world of delivering massively scalable IT as a service using Internet technologies

A round-up of Cloud Computing issues and topics as seen through the lens of the many contributors whose thoughts and ideas appear in SYS-CON's pioneering Cloud Computing Journal.

From Amazon EC2 and App Engine from Google to Utility Computing, Virtualization, and Walled Gardens - there's no aspect of Cloud Computing that hasn't already been addressed at some level of detail in SYS-CON Media's Cloud Computing Journal. Here's a round-up of the world of Delivering Scalable IT as a Service, seen through the lens of the many contributors whose thoughts and ideas have already appeared there since it first appeared in June 2008 as the world's first journal devoted exclusively to the delivery of massively scalable IT resources as a service using Internet technologies.

Abramowski, David - CEO of MorphLabs and author of "Getting Your Groovy On with Grails and Cloud Computing" in which he examines the three different layers of Cloud Computing - infrastructure, infrastructure management & platform as a service.

Amazon EC2 - is the focus of Don MacAskill's "Cloud Computing: The SmugMug Approach to Using Amazon's S3 and EC2" in which he writes: "Everyone knows that SmugMug is a heavy user of S3, storing well over half a petabyte of data (non-replicated) there. What you may not know is that EC2 provides a core part of our infrastructure, too. Thanks to Amazon, the software and hardware that processes all of your high-resolution photos and high-definition video is totally scalable without any human intervention. And when I say scalable, I mean both up and down, just the way it should be. Here's our approach in a nutshell...". Don is the CEO of SmugMug.

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud - see Amazon EC2

Amazon Simple Storage Service - see Amazon S3

Amazon S3 -
which Amazon itself describes as "storage for the Internet...designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers" - features in "Cloud Computing: The SmugMug Approach to Using Amazon's S3 and EC2" by is the CEO and Chief Geek of SmugMug, Don MacAskill. The article is covers how EC2 provides a core part of SmugMug's infrastructure in addition to its heavy use of S3.

App Engine - Google's offering aimed at enables the building of web applications "on the same scalable systems that power Google applications." Billy Marshall in "Cloud Computing Casts Shadow on Walled Gardens" declares himself "a bit disappointed with Google's AppEngine" since in his view "It appears that Google is embracing the 'walled garden' approach of salesforce.com and Microsoft instead of the cloud approach of Amazon."

Charrington, Sam - is author of the "In the Loop" blog and wrote "Cloud Computing: It's the Future of Enterprise IT" - in which he declared "I strongly believe that in the future, most if not all server-side software applications will be deployed in a cloud-computing-like manner." Charrington is VP of Product Management & Marketing at Appistry.

Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum - With 60+ members (November 2008), the Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum is a group of industry stakeholders that are active in cloud computing. The group's goal is to define an organization that would enable interoperable enterprise-class cloud computing platforms through application integration and stakeholder cooperation. [[email protected]]

Cloud Computing Layers -
are looked at by MorphLabs' CEO David Abramowski in "Getting Your Groovy On with Grails and Cloud Computing," which profiles three different layers - infrastructure, infrastructure management & platform as a service.

Cloud Computing Terminology - is what Geva Perry tries to nail down in "Cloud Computing Terminology" (a work in progress, obviously).

"Cloud Dining" Analogy
- Devised by Cisco's Omar Sultan, this analogy sheds light on the essence of Cloud Computing. In "Cloud Computing and the "Cloud Dining" Analogy", Sultan writes: "I am the cook in the house and I am tasked with feeding the family. If my 10-year old is lobbying for Italian, I am cook at home or order out. The decision may also vary from day to day. For instance, I might not have all the ingredients and have to order out, or, like this weekend, it may be 103 outside and cooking at home is not all that appealing. Now, the same can be said for supporting a given application in a cloud computing environment."

Cloud Reliability - see Reliability

Cloud Security - In "The Need for Two-Factor Authentication in Cloud Computing", David Jevans contends that all Internet services that have personal or business information should offer strong 2-factor authentication to their users and customers. "Think about all of the critical data and IT systems that are moving into the cloud these days," Jevans - Chief Executive Officer of IronKey - writes. In "Do You Really Want Your Data in the Cloud?" Microsoft's Don Dodge raises similar concerns.

Cloud Tools - are the subject of "Deployment Tools for Cloud Computing" by the Chairman & CEO of WaveMaker, Chris Keene. "For cloud computing to take off," Keene contends with characteristic insight, "there need to be tools available that enable a developer to build and deploy an application without having to download anything to their desktop." In Keene's this requires an on-demand development tool that sits on top of the cloud and provides a development Platform as a Service (PaaS).

Cloud Pyramid, The
- is an interesting graphical way of differentiating the various Cloud offerings out there offered by Michael Sheehan in "Introducing the Cloud Pyramid" - cloud applications, cloud platforms, and cloud infrastructure are the three layers of Sheehan's easy-to-grok pyramid diagram.

Cohen, Reuven - Author of a string of insightful articles: "Cloud Computing and Virtualization - A Perfect Match", "The Geopolitical Cloud", "The Business of Building Clouds", "Forget the Darknets, Make Way for The Dark Cloud" and "Morgan Stanley is Banking on the Cloud", Cohen is Founder & Chief Technologist for Toronto based Enomaly Inc.

Crosby, Simon - Now CTO of Citrix Systems, Simon Crosby was founder and CTO of XenSource prior to the acquisition of XenSource by Citrix. He makes some very interesting remarks about the Cloud during this recent SYS-CON.TV Power Panel. About mid-way through, worth watching!

Dark Clouds - are the topic of "Forget the Darknets, Make Way for The Dark Cloud" by Reuven Cohen, who asks "Are we on the brink of seeing the rise of private corporate darknets a.k.a. 'dark clouds'?"

Defining Cloud Computing - In "Twenty Experts Define Cloud Computing" (an article that was Slashdotted), Cloud Computing Journal's publisher Jeremy Geelan gathers together in one place definitions by Reuven Cohen, Brian de Haaff, Don Dodge, Trevor Doerksen, Damon Edwards, Praising Gaw, Douglas Gourlay, Kevin Hartig, Jeff Kaplan, Ben Kepes, Markus Klems, Yan Pritzker, Aaron Ricadela, Michael Sheehan, Kirill Sheynkman, Omar Sultan, Thorsten von Eicken, Paul Wallis, and Irving Wladwasky Berger.

Doerksen, Trevor - is the author of "Who Can Help Me Get an Application onto EC2 and Storage onto S3?" and is CEO & Founder of MoboVivo. He is also one of the experts quoted in Jeremy Geelan's round-up: "Twenty Experts Define Cloud Computing" - in which Doerksen boils it down to being simply "the user-friendly version of grid computing." [emphasis added]. This is also the subject of a separate article, "Cloud Computing - The User-Friendly Version of Grid Computing" in which Doerksen argues that the difference between 'grid computing' and c'loud computing' is "purely academic."

EC2 - see Amazon EC2

Enterprise Cloud Computing
- is succinctly investigated by Jian Zhen in "The Five Key Challenges of Enterprise Cloud Computing" who names them to be Data Governance, Manageability, Monitoring, Reliability & Availability, and Virtualization Security.

Future of the Cloud -
is covered well by Sam Johnson in "The Future of Cloud Computing"

Google's App Engine -
see App Engine

Grid Computing -
is different from Cloud Computing, explains FastScale CTO Thorsten von Eicken in "Cloud Computing vs. Grid Computing - What's the Difference?" Another article on the same topic is "Understanding 'Clouded' Terms of Cloud Computing" by the Technology Evangelist of ServePath, Michael Sheehan. A very nice "History of the Cloud", written by Paul Wallis, looks at Cloud Computing's forerunners, and describes how in the early 1990s Ian Foster and Carl Kesselman came up with a new concept of 'The Grid'. Sam Johnson, in "The Future of Cloud Computing," that "The Cloud is what the Grid could have been."

History of The Cloud - In "Is the Cloud There Yet? - A Brief History of Cloud Computing", Paul Wallis notes: "In order to discuss some of the issues surrounding The Cloud concept, I think it is important to place it in historical context. Looking at the Cloud's forerunners, and the problems they encountered, gives us the reference points to guide us through the challenges it needs to overcome." His article does just that, and is a great read.

Johnson, Sam - author of "The Future of Cloud Computing" in which he notes "The Cloud is what the Grid could have been" - Johnson is also responsible for a recent overhaul of the Wikipedia definition of Cloud Computing.

Keene, Christopher - Chairman & CEO of WaveMaker and author of "Deployment Tools for Cloud Computing" about the need for an on-demand development tool that sits on top of the cloud and provides a development Platform as a Service (PaaS).

Klems, Markus - Author of "The Cloud Computing Ecosphere", Klems is a research assistant at Germany-based FZI Research Center for Information Technology. He also wrote "Merrill Lynch Estimates Cloud Computing To Be $100 Billion Market" and "Cloud Computing is a Developer-Facing Business."

Levels of Cloud Computing - is what Thorsten von Eicken, CTO & Founder at FastScale, sees and discusses in his article "The Three Levels of Cloud Computing" on how the different offerings compare, from Amazon Web Services to Google App Engine and Force.com.

MacAskill, Don - CEO and Chief Geek of SmugMug and author of "Cloud Computing: The SmugMug Approach to Using Amazon's S3 and EC2" about how EC2 provides a core part of SmugMug's infrastructure in addition to its heavy use of S3.

Marshall, Billy - Founder of rPath and author of "Cloud Computing Casts Shadow on Walled Gardens", in which he declares himself "a bit disappointed with Google's AppEngine" since in his view "It appears that Google is embracing the 'walled garden' approach of salesforce.com and Microsoft instead of the cloud approach of Amazon." Marshall is also a speaker at the 1st International Cloud Computing Expo (November 19-21, San Jose, CA).

Merrill Lynch - is the focus of "Merrill Lynch Estimates Cloud Computing To Be $100 Billion Market" by Markus Klems, telling of a report in which the authors identify 10 companies + 2 'unconventional plays' with exposure to Cloud Computing growth. The companies? Amazon, Microsoft, Google, EMC, VMware, IBM, Sun, Dell, Akamai, SalesForce.com, NetSuite, and Activision.

Morgan Stanley - is, notes Reuven Cohen, "Banking on the Cloud." Why is the banking giant on track to spend more than ever on their IT budget? "They seem to think that during periods of lower economic activity it gives them a rare opportunity to establish themselves in new areas of emerging technology that may give them a competitive advantage down the road," according to Cohen.

Novikoff, Eric - author of "Cloud Computing and Reliability" in which he notes: "Despite claims of reliability, few cloud vendors have tight SLAs (service level agreements) that promise controlled downtime or offer rebates for excess downtime."

Perry, Geva - tries to nail down "Cloud Computing Terminology" in one handy reference article. "I thought I'd list some of the new terms I'm seeing with brief definitions, examples of usage and references to discussions related to these terms. Hope this is useful," writes Perry, with characteristic modesty.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) - constitutes on of the key elements of what Markus Klems calls "The Cloud Computing Ecosphere", and is the focus of "The Nine Features of an Ideal PaaS Cloud" by Joyent CEO David Young, who writes: "Clouds should be open. They shouldn’t be proprietary. More broadly, I believe no vendor currently does everything that’s required to serve customers well."

Reliability - is a key aspect of the Cloud dealt with by Eric Novikoff in his article "Cloud Computing and Reliability". "Despite claims of reliability, few cloud vendors have tight SLAs (service level agreements) that promise controlled downtime or offer rebates for excess downtime," he notes. "To get very good reliability, you must still apply traditional approaches of redundancy and observability that have been used in physical data centers for decades - or, you have to find a cloud computing services provider that can implement them for you," Novikoff concludes.

"Ruv's Law" - proposed by Reuven Cohen in "Cloud Computing and Virtualization - A Perfect Match" - holds that every 18 months the amount of cloud capacity will double.

Sheehan, Michael - author of "Understanding 'Clouded' Terms of Cloud Computing" and Technology Evangelist of ServePath. He also authored "Introducing the Cloud Pyramid" and "Cloud Computing vs Grid Computing."

Uptime - see Reliability

Utility Computing -

Virtualization - is not the same as Cloud Computing, even though Reuven Cohen declares "Cloud Computing and Virtualization - A Perfect Match"

von Eicken, Thorsten - author of "The Three Levels of Cloud Computing" on how the different offerings compare, from Amazon Web Services to Google App Engine and Force.com, is CTO & Founder at RightScale and a speaker at the 1st International Cloud Computing Expo. He also authored "Cloud Computing vs. Grid Computing - What's the Difference?"

Walled Gardens - ultimately restrict the growth of the market, argues rPath's founder Billy Marshall in "Cloud Computing Casts Shadow on Walled Gardens", in which Marshall declares himself "a bit disappointed with Google's AppEngine" since in his view "It appears that Google is embracing the 'walled garden' approach of salesforce.com and Microsoft instead of the cloud approach of Amazon."

Wallis, Paul - CTO at Stroma Software Limited and author of "Is the Cloud There Yet? - A Brief History of Cloud Computing". "In order to discuss some of the issues surrounding The Cloud concept," Wallis notes, "I think it is important to place it in historical context. Looking at the Cloud's forerunners, and the problems they encountered, gives us the reference points to guide us through the challenges it needs to overcome."

Wikipedia - has a definition of Cloud Computing recently overhauled by Cloud Computing Journal contributor Sam Johnson.

Young, David - CEO of Joyent, author of "The Nine Features of an Ideal PaaS Cloud" in which he writes: "Clouds should be open. They shouldn’t be proprietary. More broadly, I believe no vendor currently does everything that’s required to serve customers well." The nine features detailed in the article are as follows: Virtualization Layer Network Stability; API for Creation, Deletion, Cloning of Instances; Application Layer Interoperability; State Layer Interoperability; Application Services (e.g. email infrastructure, payments infrastructure); Automatic Scale; Hardware Load Balancing; Storage as a Service; and “Root”, If Required.

Jian Zhen - Senior Director of Product Management at LogLogic, succinctly investigates "The Five Key Challenges of Enterprise Cloud Computing" - which he deems to be: Data Governance, Manageability, Monitoring, Reliability & Availability, and Virtualization Security.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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