Saturday, January 31, 2009

My “Retire Your Data Center” Article about Azure’s Table Storage is VSM’s February 2009 Cover Story

Visual Studio Magazine’s February 2009 issue includes my “Retire Your Data Center” article about Azure Table Storage Services as its cover story. Here’s the deck:

Visual Studio 2008, ASP.NET, and the Azure Services Platform combine to simplify local development of data-intensive Web apps and automate their deployment in Microsoft data centers. The result: You get maximized availability and reliability with almost limitless on-demand scalability, while you pay only for resources consumed.

The piece contains a link to download the source code for the OakLeaf Systems Azure Table Services Sample Project that’s running on Microsoft’s Azure CTP data center:

For more details about the sample project and how to use Azure Table Data Services, see my Windows Azure Test Harness Is Live! post of 12/9/2008 and Azure Storage Services Test Harness: Table Services 1 – Introduction and Overview of 11/18/2009.

“Visual Studio Magazine” Merges Print Operations with “Redmond Developer News”

According to Michael Desmond, founding editor of Redmond Developer News and editor-at-large of Redmond magazine, RDN, the twice-monthly publication for development managers, will be integrating its print operations into VSM commencing in February 2009.

Michael’s Better Together: RDN Merges with Visual Studio Magazine post of 1/30/2009 for RDN’s Desmond File blog explains:

[Y]ou'll see a lot of RDN content in future issues of VSM. RDN Senior Editor Kathleen Richards ( will be in charge of running the RDN Web site, Tuned to the needs of software development managers, RDN online will continue to offer a unique blend of news, opinion and technology guidance. I expect good things out of that site in the weeks and months to come. …

VSM, of course, is the leading publication for enterprise-oriented professional developers. The publication actually dates clear back to 1991, when it was launched as Basic Pro Magazine and later became Visual Basic Programmers Journal. Today, VSM delivers practical, proven and unbiased how-to articles and insight for enterprise development professionals working with Microsoft tools and technologies. VSM and RDN have been sibling publications since 2007, after 1105 Media purchased VSM's parent company, FTP.

The decision to combine RDN with the VSM print publication reflects the fact that developers need context. They need to know about the tools they are mastering so they can make better decisions on how to use them. To that end, future issues of VSM will deliver the kind of in-depth features, timely technology and product news, and expert insight that you've seen in RDN since 2006.

My 1105 Media Acquires Fawcette Technical Publications' Assets post of 1/3/2007 covered 1105 Media’s purchase of FTP operating assets, which included VSM, the VSLive!, Software Architecture Summit, Web Design World, and Web Builder 2.0 conferences, and Java Pro, Window Server System Magazine, and Enterprise Architect online magazines, and Insight newsletters, including .NETInsight, JAVAInsight, XML & Web Services Insight, Software Architecture Insight, and Web Design & Development Insight.

I’ve been a VBPJ and VSM contributing editor for about 10 years and have written 21 VSM cover stories and countless other Database Design and related articles over the past five years. I’ll miss my close relationship with former VSM editor-in-chief Pat Meader, about whom Michael writes:

Finally, those of you who are VSM readers are likely familiar with outgoing Editor in Chief Patrick Meader and Managing Editor Guy Wright. It's been my pleasure to work on occasion with Patrick over the past two years, and I've respected him deeply for his intelligence, composure and commitment to principle. Patrick is as dedicated and forthright a person as I've ever run across in my 16 years in IT publishing, and his success over the years at VSM is testament to that.

RDN’s Kathleen Richards will serve as VSM’s executive editor. I’ve written several RDN stories for Kate and have enjoyed the chance to publish occasional RDM-style technology news pieces in addition to VSM’s traditional “how-to” programming articles with fully functional Windows and Web forms sample projects, such as the OakLeaf Systems Azure Table Services Sample Project (for the February 2009 VSM issue) and OakLeaf Systems Azure Blob Services Test Harness (for a later 2009 issue.) VSM founder Jim Fawcette paraphrased Steve Ballmer’s “Developers! Developers! Developers!” rant with his demand for “Code! Code! Code!” in VSM stories.

It will be interesting to see how code-centric VSM readers react to RDN content juxtaposed with C# and VB articles as in the January 2009 issue’s “Partition Web Apps Intelligently” cover story by Steve Michelotti and “Connect to the Cloud” interview with Microsoft Corporate Vice President Robert Wahbe by Jeffrey Schwartz and Michael Desmond. Let me have your reaction to this event in the comments.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Windows Azure and Cloud Computing Posts for 1/26/2009+

Windows Azure, Azure Data Services, SQL Data Services and related cloud computing topics now appear in this weekly series.

Note: This post is updated daily or more frequently, depending on the availability of new articles.

• Updated 1/28/2009 10:00 AM PST: Many additions

Azure Blob, Table and Queue Services

Dave Graham continues his Cloud Optimized Storage Solutions series with Cloud Computing Expo: Cloud Optimized Storage Solutions (Neural Networks and Heuristics) of 1/28/2009. Dave writes:

The previous three Cloud Optimized Storage Solution (COSS) articles in this series discussed the content being stored, the method of storage, as well as principles derived from data tiering.  Today, I want to jump ahead a bit and discuss how neural networks and heuristics can impact the processing of object and file data for the cloud.

David LemphersWindows Azure - Accessing the Request.Url Property! post of 1/27/2009 describes …

[A] known issue regarding port translation/mapping in Windows Azure, and … an interesting side effect of this issue when accessing the Request.Url property within a Windows Azure web role. … [A]nytime you access the HttpContext.Request.Url property (or any derivation of that), you will be unknowingly getting some extra info you may not want.

The solution is simple, anytime you call something that returns a Request.Url object, make sure you ensure any calls you make on that Url object do not explicitly return the port (this gets tricky when doing local testing where you need the port, so you'll need to manage that). Construct your new URL with only host or path details, otherwise you'll make mischief for yourself!

SQL Data Services (SDS)

No significant SDS posts discovered as of 1/28/2009 at 12:00 PM

.NET Services: Access Control, Service Bus and Workflow

The .NET Services team’s .NET Services – Announcements feed sends you links to posts about .NET Services outages, planned downtime, and account provisioning problems and their resolution.

There’s a surprisingly large number of posts.

Sam Gentile’s Blog Post 4 – Publish-Subscribe Messaging and Neuron Topic Networks, the fourth in his Enterprise Service Buses (ESBs) Drive SOA Adoption series, describes the Neuron ESB’s internal publish-subscribe messaging model.

As noted in previous posts, Neuron and .NET Services' ESBs aren’t identical but they’re used for the same purposes.

Live Windows Azure Apps, Tools and Test Harnesses

• Jim Nakashima explains Adding Files to your Windows Azure Service Package for use by the Development or Cloud Fabric in this 1/28/2009 post. The Development Fabric uses a *.csx file while the Cloud Fabric requires a *.cspkg file for deployment. *.cspkg files are zipped and encrypted. The current version of the feature doesn’t handle linked files.

Jon Udell’s Alternative logging for Azure services post of 1/28/2009 describes how he replaced Windows Azure’s RoleManager.WriteToLog() function with “thin C# wrappers around the HTTP/REST interface” to write logs to Amazon SimpleDB, SQL Data Services, and Azure Table Storage. Jon’s strategy is to:

  1. Make a thin wrapper around the REST interface to the query service
  2. Use the available query syntax to produce raw results
  3. Capture the results in generic data structures
  4. Refine the raw results using a dynamic language

He says that “You can use this strategy with any of the emerging breed of cloud databases.”

Benjamin Day will present a Windows Azure: Is the Relational Database Dead? session at 1105 Media’s Visual Studio Live! San Francisco 2009 conference that will be held at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero hotel from 2/24/2009 to 2/26/2009. Registration at VSLive! 2009 includes a free pass to the MSDN Developer Conference held at the same venue on 2/23/2009. MSDN DevCon offers four Azure sessions:

Follow the MSDN Developers Conference on Twitter @MSDNDevCon

Lamont Harrington presents MSDN Webcast: Discover the Windows Azure Services Platform (Level 200) on 1/28/2009 at 7:00 to 8:00 AM PST. (The link is to the on-demand version;free registration required.) Here’s the Overview:

At the Microsoft Professional Developer Conference in October, Microsoft unveiled its cloud computing platform, Windows Azure. Windows Azure represents Microsoft's firm commitment to making cloud computing a compelling and cost- effective means for addressing the many challenges IT departments within the public sector face in trying to deliver business value. Come join us for this webcast as we explore the cloud computing offerings in the Windows Azure Services Platform. We provide an overview of the components and services that make up the platform and the development environment for developing and deploying cloud-based applications.

Dare Obasanjo’s Office Live Workspaces, Live Mesh and Windows Live Coming Together post of 1/27/2009 quotes the Office Live team blog’s Looking ahead and bringing you even more post and the MSDN forum post entitled Working Together: Live Mesh and Windows Live by the Live Mesh team. The gospel (party line) according to Dare:

To simplify and improve the customer experience around our Live services, we’ve made the decision to converge Windows Live and Office Live into an integrated set of services at one single destination. We think that just makes a ton of sense and goes a long way toward giving you a simpler, richer, better service that allows you to do more with one account.

Did Steve Ballmer’s cost-reduction program cause these services to coalesce or was it kismet?

Mindscape offers its SimpleDB Management Tools (SMTs) add-in for Visual Studio 2008 [Standard or higher] for the bargain price of US$ 29.00. You can download a free trial version (with a limit of returning 20 results when writing queries) by clicking here. Mindscape, which also is the publisher of the LightSpeed object/relational mapping tool, says the following their SMTs:

Working with domains, attributes and your data in Amazon SimpleDB has never been easier for Visual Studio users. SimpleDB Management Tools makes it easy to connect to SimpleDB instances from the Visual Studio Server Explorer. Query data, add edit and delete domains and attributes. Everything you need to work faster with SimpleDB.

and here’s the SMTs’ UI:

Alin Irimie describes “Cloud Status, the first iPhone application from Babilim Light Industries, allows you to monitor the status of Google App Engine, Amazon Web Services and Twitter in real time” in his Weekly Cloud Application: Cloud Status post of 1/26/2009.

Cloud Status, an example of Monitoring as a Service (MaaS), doesn’t include Windows Azure currently but it’s likely to do so in future versions.

James Johnson’s Code Camp 2009 Presentation - Anonymous Types post of 1/24/2009 provides a link to the sample code for his Anonymous Types and SQL Data Services presentations to the Southern California CodeCamp 2009. His SQL Data Services Adventure – Day 2 and SQL Data Services Adventure – Day 3 posts describe his adventures with SDS during preparation for his sessions.

Mark Everett Hall’s Cloud programming will rule app dev's future post for ComputerWorld of 1/26/2009 asserts that developers should concentrate on cloud apps because the cloud is “the best place to be working now because it's growing and is likely to do so for the foreseeable future.”

Hall reports:

[A]fter more than 20 years building security and management software for DOS and Windows machines, Danny Kim, the chief technology officer at FullArmor Corp. in Boston, has begun moving his company's focus to Windows Azure, Microsoft's cloud computing initiative.

He says, "Azure is like when Microsoft took DOS to Windows. It changes the game."

Davis, Kim and many others I've spoken to see that money is to made in the cloud. In part, because IT is having so much trouble coming up with funding for large capital-intensive projects. Why bother when Google, Microsoft,, and others have already made the investment for you? [Emphasis unchanged.]

Azure Infrastructure

James Urquhart’s The need for a standard cloud taxonomy post of 1/27/2009 recites the quest for a uniform taxonomy for cloud computing at the Cloud Interoperability meeting prior to Cloud Connect in Mountain View, Calif., last week. James writes:

While the whiteboard may suggest that there was a large amount of agreement on the core concepts and that taxonomy was but a minor player, the reality is exactly the opposite. We couldn't agree on much of anything, except that there is a need for taxonomy and that trust (namely security) was one of the most pressing issues.

Funny enough, this is almost exactly the same conclusion reached in my recent discussions with some Cisco Systems partners, and (apparently) by Reuven Cohen, founder of Enomaly and the Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum (CCIF). Reuven conversed with Cannonical Services Director Simon Wardley--one of the Cloud Interop participants--and reached the joint conclusion that we need a stable, accepted taxonomy for cloud computing to "grease the skids," so to speak, for vendor interoperability discussions.

What’s your take on the likelihood of destruction of today’s Tower of Babel in the cloud computing sector?

Cristopher Hoff’s Cloud Computing Taxonomy & Ontology :: Please Review post of 1/28/2009 includes a first draft of this diagram of Chris’s response to John Willis' "Unified Ontology of Cloud Computing" of the same date:

Lamia Youseff of UC Santa Barbara, and Maria Butrico and Dilma Da Silva of the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center wrote an undated “Toward a Unified Ontology of Cloud Computing” whitepaper which includes the following illustration:

Fig. 1. Our Proposed Cloud Computing Ontology: depicted as five layers, with three constituents to the cloud infrastructure layer. The layered figure represents the inter-dependency and composability between the different layers in the cloud.

The paper, which appears to have been written before Microsoft released the Windows Azure CTP, includes an extensive set of references to related cloud computing topics.

Adam O'Donnell asks Will EDoS be the next DDoS? in this 1/25/2009 post to ZDNet’s ZeroDay security blog. According to Adam:

Christofer Hoff, the Chief Security Architect at Unisys, has recently been discussing the concept of an Economic Denial of Sustainability on his blog. Put simply, it is an attack against the billing model that underlies the cost of providing a service with the goal of bankrupting the service itself. Before we go into why EDoS is a threat, and one that is separate from DDoS, we have to understand how companies turn dollars into bytes, which they hopefully turn back into dollars. …

EDoS, like DDoS, is not an insurmountable problem. The billing models that underlie cloud services may not be mature enough to properly account for an EDoS like attack. I am sure they will all be straightened out in time, but there will probably be a business or two that fails in the meantime because their unwarranted usage spike causes them to go deeply into the red.

Dare Obasanjo’s Asking "should we trust the cloud" is like asking "should we trust horseless carriages" post of 1/27/2009 takes Sarah Perez of ReadWriteWeb to taks for her blog post entitled In Cloud We Trust?, which contends (in part):

Surprisingly, even on a site that tends to attract a lot of technology's earliest adopters, the responses were mixed. When asked the question: "Do you trust the cloud?," the majority of responses either came back as a flat-out "no" or as a longer explanation as to why their response was a "maybe" or a "sometimes." In other words, some people trust the cloud here, but not there, or for this, but not that.

Dare responds (in part):

The question this article asks is pointless on several levels.  First of all, it doesn't really matter if people trust the cloud or not. What matters is whether they use it or not. The average person doesn't trust computers, automobile mechanics or lawyers yet they use them anyway. Given the massive adoption of the Web from search engines and e-commerce sites to Web-based email and social networking services, it is clear that the average computer person trusts the cloud enough to part with their personal information and their money.

Krishnan Subramanian’s SaaS Risk Reduction – Planning for Maintenance and Outages post of 1/27/2009 is the fifth post in his SaaS Risk Reduction Series.

Other Cloud Computing Platforms and Services

Amazon CloudFront announces new pricing, effective 2/1/2009, for delivery of more than 250 TB per month from US, European, Hong Kong, and Japan Edge locations in an update of 1/28/2009 to Amazon CloudFront.

Ashlee Vance’s “Cisco Plans Big Push Into Server Market” story of 1/19/2009 for the New York Times has drawn widespread responses from tech bloggers according to Technorati’s Reactions to story from The New York Times. Most bloggers are surprised that Cisco would risk the lower gross margins associated with server hardware compared with that for the company’s traditional networking product line.

Bob Warfield’s Are We Surprised Cisco Will Build Cloud Computing Servers to Compete With HP, Dell, et al? post of 1/20/2009 is typical of most responses to Ashlee’s article:

The emphasis will be on reliability and cost efficiency.  I’ve likened the advantages of such highly standard machines to the business advantage Southwest Airlines gets by standardizing all of their aircraft as 737’s.  Companies like Google have already seen the light and taken these steps.

Mind you, these boxes are not strictly for the Cloud, but the vision of highly standardized corporate datacenters where the important thing about the machines is virtualization and efficiency more than absolute maximum throughput is pretty much what the Cloud wants anyway.

It’s going to be interesting to watch, but this isn’t the first or the last time that the Cloud will change the dynamics of the marketplace.

Cloud Computing Journal issues an IBM Advances Research through Cloud Computing press release in the guise of a blog post on 1/28/2009. The release describes how:

The Qatar Cloud Computing Initiative, driven by three universities, will open its cloud infrastructure to local businesses and industries to test applications and complete various projects, including seismic modeling and the exploration for oil and gas.

The remaining 80% of the post is an SEO list of companies who’ve contributed stories to Cloud Computing Journal.

Krishnan Subramanian’s Google Gears – Lifeline of SaaS post of 1/27/2009 observes:

Apart from the technological capability, the very fact that Google released it as open source made it easy for other companies, including those who compete with Google directly, to adapt it in their environment to offer offline capability in their SaaS applications. This is an important example of open source playing an important role in SaaS.

It will be interesting to see how Windows Azure developers make use of Google Gears.

• Cloud Computing Journal offers a downloadable UniCloud Case Study: Data Processing in Amazon EC2 Cloud Service (free registration required) subtitled “How Pathwork Diagnostics leveraged UniCloud for processing needs.” Pathworks Diagnostics describes its services:

Pathwork® Diagnostics develops and delivers innovative molecular diagnostics for oncology. The Pathwork® Tissue of Origin Test delivers unique clinical information not available through other methods—using a tumor’s genomic information to accurately and objectively identify the tissue of origin of challenging tumors, including poorly differentiated, undifferentiated, and metastatic tumors.

The Building HPC Clusters in the Cloud case study describes how

Pathwork investigated several cloud providers before choosing Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) for pay-per-use computing. Pathwork then selected Univa UD’s UniCloud
product to build high-performance computing (HPC) clusters in the EC2 cloud, in order to perform their compute-intensive research. Pathwork downloaded and installed UniCloud,
referencing a published ‘How-To’ white paper for guidance. Integrating their own applications into the UniCloud cluster was easy, and with the help of Univa UD’s support team,
Pathwork was up and running with access to a fully functioning HPC cluster in a cloud environment. [Link added.]

• Gary E. Smith announces in his Cordys Award-Winning Process Factory(TM) Now Available as Community Platform Free of Charge post of 1/27/2009 that Cordys has launched an Open Community version of its award-winning Cordys Process Factory On-Demand platform for developing and executing process enabled mashup applications (MashApps).

Alin Irimie’s Amazon vs. On Premises Price Calculator post of 1/28/2009 includes a link to a Google Docs spreadsheet that offers comparative monthly cost data for running a 24-instance server cluster with SQL Server on premises versus on Amazon Web Services EC2, S3, and SQS.

Importing the spreadsheet into Excel 2007 didn’t reveal formulas for the arbitrary constant values. Considerably more explanation is required for rounded on-premises costs, such as Rent/Power = $1,000/month and IT Support = $4,000/month.

Jim Liddle’s The Economics of Cloud post of 1/23/2009 uses James Hamilton’s detailed Cost of Power in Large-Scale Data Centers post of 11/28/2008 to compare costs of 50,000 nodes on premises or an extra-large EC2 instance on AWS. You can read more about this comparison in my Azure and Cloud Computing Posts for 1/19/2009 post.

Until Microsoft releases an Azure Platform Services price list (expected in 2009H2), on-premises-to-Azure comparisons are moot.

Phil Wainwright analyzes Oracle’s newly reduced monthly per-seat charge for its SaaS CRM OnDemand application in his Oracle puts a price on single-tenancy post to the ZDNet Software as a Service blog of 1/27/2009. The former multi-tenancy price was US$ 70 per seat-month with a US$ 55 per seat-month surcharge for a single-tenancy subscription. The new single-tenancy surcharge is US$ 20 per seat-month with a minimum of 350 seats, which corresponds to US$ 7,000 per server-month.

BrightTALK’s BrightTALK Hosts Cloud Computing Summit post of 1/26/2009 announces an online conference about cloud computing to be held Thursday, 1/29/2009 7:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. PST. Here’s the abstract:

At this online summit, leading technology experts from around the globe will present webcasts sharing best practices, tips, techniques, and strategies for conducting business in the cloud. Audience members will be able to interact with speakers live by submitting questions and responding to presenter-created votes. The webcasts will also be immediately recorded and viewable on-demand on

And the list of presenters:

  • David Dworkida, software executive for cloud computing at IBM
  • Dwayne Meloncon, vice president of TripWire -- "Practical Steps to Mitigate Security Risks in Virtualization and the Cloud"
  • Eva Chen, CEO of Trend Micro -- "Security in the Cloud"
  • Mike DiPetrillo, principal systems engineer at VMware -- "The Future of Virtualization: Visions of Clouds"
  • Pat Patterson, Federation Architect at Sun Microsystems -- "OpenSSO in the Clouds"
  • Sajai Krishnan, CEO of ParaScale -- "Cloud Storage - The Anatomy of a Cloud: Public and Private"
  • Sam Charrington, vice president of Appistry -- "The Cloud Platform Landscape"
  • Scott Blomquist, CTO at Vidoop -- "The Importance of Authentication in the Cloud"
  • Tarry Singh, founder and CEO of Avastu; technology evangelist -- "Cloud Computing: The New New Deal"
  • Vik Chaudhary, vice president of product management at Keynote

Notice that no one from Microsoft’s Azure group is participating.

Update 2/28/2009: Miko H. Matsumura (@mikojava) said in an @Reply to my Twitter request for the date on which the video archives will be available: “I need to get the video imported and edited, maybe next week?”

You can access the conference (when Miko gets the video organized) at

Monday, January 26, 2009

LINQ and Entity Framework Posts for 1/19/2009+

Note: This post is updated daily or more frequently, depending on the availability of new articles.

• Update 1/23/2009: Minor additions
• Update 1/26/2009 10:00 AM PST: Minor additions

Entity Framework and Entity Data Model (EF/EDM)

•• Greg Duncan’s LINQPad and the Entity Framework post of 1/25/2009 cites Simon Segal’s LinqPad for the Entity Framework, Shawn Wildermuth’s Using LinqPad and Entity Framework Models and Stefan Cruysberghs’ .NET - ADO.NET Entity Framework & LINQ to Entities – Part 2LINQPad post as evidence that using LINQPad with Entity Framework is “officially cool.”

•• Udi Dahan discusses issues with value objects, many:many associations and aggregated roots in his DDD & Many to Many Object Relational Mapping post of 1/24/2009.

Sanjay Nagamangalam’s detailed Customizing Entity Classes in VS 2010 post of 1/23/2009 describes expected improvement to code generation in EF v2 and VS 2010.

• Julie Lerman reports that my new “LINQ and the Entity Framework” book from WROX/Wiley has reached in her Roger Jennings' ADO.NET 3.5 is now "In Stock" on Amazon! post of 1/23/2009. My post about the arrival is here.

• Julie Lerman’s EntityObject Class Constructors post of 1/22/2009 observes that the entity classes generated by the EDM Designer don’t have a default constructor. This lets you add your own constructor to set default values for foreign keys, which is supported in by the Designer.

Julie Lerman will present two sessions about Entity Framework at Philly.NET Wednesday night (Jan 21) - Thanks INETA.

David Klein’s Why the Oakton Microsoft Application Framework (OMAF) Will Not Be Moving to The Entity Framework (EF) 1.0 or any 3rd Party ORM Products Right Now post of 1/20/2009 explains why OMAF will stick with LINQ to SQL until the ADO.NET team releases EF v2.

Many comments to the ADO.NET Team’s Migrating from LINQ to SQL to the Entity Framework: Stored Procedures for data retrieval post of 12/4/2008 reflect sentiments similar to David’s.

Kristofer Andersson describes in his Tools - Part 9 - Add-ins - Filtering intellisense dropdowns on required vs optional members post of 1/21/2009 how he used Alex James’ “simple and elegant way to filter Visual Studio’s Intellisense dropdowns by using interfaces and properties returning those interfaces” in the latest version of his Huagati DBML/EDMX Tools.

A beta version of Huagati DBML/EDMX Tools version 1.60 including this new feature is available for download here. Kris writes:

Unlike the other features in the add-in, this feature don’t require any license/activation. You can use it with or without having a license for the other add-in features.

Ken Cox’s Learning CRUD and Data Forms in Silverlight 2, Creating a Silverlight 2 Data Form - Episode 1 and Creating a Silverlight 2 Data Form - Episode 2 posts of 1/19/2009 show:

[A] small, but realistic example of how to create a CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) application against the familiar Northwind database. It uses the latest stuff from Microsoft including Windows Communication Foundation, ADO.NET Data Services (Astoria), and the Entity Framework.

Ken uses VB because, in his words:

“I’m more comfortable in VB (although I write lots of C#); there’s a dearth of sample Silverlight code in VB; and people who write only in C# don’t need beginner-level content because they already know everything. <grin>”

Alex James continues his posts about Composable Services for EF v2 with The problem with Function Signatures of 1/17/2009, which introduces the issue of different representations of the same object, as analyzed by Stefan Tilkov in his link and self post of 1/16/2009 about the Atom Syndication Format’s use of the “self” relation. Stefan cites the ambiguity of using “self”:

[T]o refer to a canonical resource, i.e. the one that represents the object or entity itself in the default way. …

This has the downside that retrieving the resource identified by the outermost self link would yield something different than what you’re looking at. Whether this is acceptable or not depends on whether you consider these two resources to be “identical”. I’m undecided whether the official definition of the self link relation allows for this usage.

But in conclusion, I stand by my opinion that URIs can and should be used for identity – whatever “identity” might mean for you.

Alex concludes:

This is why things like hyperdata / and lazy-loading is so important.

A signature alone is not enough to help me call functions.

Particularly when the target function is called from somewhere with different context, data availability, and trustworthiness.

Hmm… lots of questions

PS: starting to solve this problem seems like a pre-requiste of truly Composable Services.

It seems to me to be an issue for ADO.NET Data Services also.


Matt Warren’s Building a LINQ IQueryable Provider - Part XIII is the latest (13th) episode in his IQueryable series, which covers:

    • Updates - Insert, Update & Delete operations.
    • Batch processing - true SQL Server batch processing.
    • Server language type systems - correct parameter types.
    • Mapping Changes - use the same class with multiple tables, etc.

Be prepared: The post is several feet long and contains a substantial amount of source code. Complete source code for Matt’s project to date is available at

• Damien Guard writes Multiple outputs from T4 made easy on 1/22/2009 to explain how his updated T4 templates can split the output into a single entity class per file.

Jim Wooley’s LINQ supported data types and functions post of 1/21/2009 relates:

I happened upon a listing on MSDN showing the functions and methods which are and are not supported. The full list of LINQ to SQL supported and unsupported members is available online at

As an example the following methods are shown as having translations for DateTime values: Add, Equals, CompareTo, Date, Day, Month, Year. In contrast methods like ToShortDateString, IsLeapYear, ToUniversalTime are not supported.

David Klein’s Why the Oakton Microsoft Application Framework (OMAF) Will Not Be Moving to The Entity Framework (EF) 1.0 or any 3rd Party ORM Products Right Now post of 1/20/2009 explains why OMAF will stick with LINQ to SQL until the ADO.NET team releases EF v2. (Copied from the “Entity Framework and Entity Data Model (EF/EDM)” section.)

Damien Guard announces that his LINQ to SQL templates [are] updated, now on CodePlex on 1/19/2009. The latest updates include:

  • Now licensed under the Microsoft Public License and hosted at CodePlex
  • User options specified with a var options block at the start of the template
  • Option for each class to be a separate file that is reflected in the VS project (EntityPerFile=true)
  • Detection and support of IsComposable functions
  • General code clean-up and better error handling such as missing DBML file

You can download a 05:00 screencast that shows how to use the templates here.

See Kristofer Andersson’s Tools - Part 9 - Add-ins - Filtering intellisense dropdowns on required vs optional members post that’s described in the “Entity Framework and Entity Data Model (EF/EDM)” section.

John Opincar recommends in his Expressions versus Delegates in LINQ to SQL Performance post of 1/18/2009:

Favor Expressions over Delegates when using LINQ. If you have to have a Delegate, you can always use Compile to turn your Expression into a Delegate as needed. But you can’t turn a Delegate into an Expression (that I’m aware of).

LINQ to Objects, LINQ to XML, et al.

•• Daniel Moth’s PLINQ post of 1/25/2009 demonstrates code to use “PLINQ as a black box” and create a simple demo example.

•• Jon Skeet starts a project to add LINQ operators that he believes are missing in LINQ to Objects with his Designing LINQ operators post of 1/23/2009.

Barry Dahlberg’s LINQ to NHibernate, IEnumerable vs IQueryable post of 1/21/2009 and Virtual Methods vs Extension Methods post of 1/23/2009 discuss his initial tests of the LINQ to NHibernate alpha in conjunction with Ayende’s new NHibernate Profiler.

Alex JamesLINQ to Objects and Buffer<T> post of 1/20/2009 analyzes the OrderBy() extension method’s implementation of Buffer<T>, and concludes:

[I]f the Buffer<T> class encounters an ICollection<T> it has a little optimization, that uses Count and CopyTo(..)to initialize an array with the correct size and take a copy of the data, rather enumerating and re-sizing a target array as needed.

When I thought about this I realized that my little Lazy Loading Collection class would return a Count of 0 until it is enumerated. And because the count was 0, the collection would never actually get enumerated.

So when I used OrderBy() over my collection, I get no results.

His solution to the dilemma is to “trigger… a LazyLoad whenever Count is called”.

Keith Brown creates an aggregating LINQ operator for TimeSpan types in his Linq and TimeSpan post of 1/19/2009.

ADO.NET Data Services (Astoria)

•• Udi Dahan’s Building Super-Scalable Web Systems with REST post of 12/29/2008 suggests “leveraging the Internet” with RESTful caching for a highly scalable custom weather reporting mashup. The techniques Udi describes apply to Astoria’s resource mapping to URIs.

Beth Massi adds an Office-related member to her ADO.NET Data Services series with the ADO.NET Data Services - Building an Excel Client post of 1/21/2009.

Beth Massi continues her ADO.NET Data Services series with ADO.NET Data Services - Intercepting Queries and Adding Validation of 1/21/2009.

Jon Udell’s Unifying HTTP success and failure in .NET discusses the differences in how Python’s httplib and .NET’s HttpWebRequest/HttpWebResponse pair handle some HTTP headers and respond to HTTP status codes.

Beth Massi’s ADO.NET Data Services - Enforcing FK Associations and a Fix for Deleting Entities post of 1/20/2009 describes a problem with disallowing nulls in foreign key fields for associated entities and saving changes to the parent entity and its solution. Beth also observes:

You may have issues deleting entities that are involved in an association (regardless of whether they are enforced or not). This was a bug in ADO.NET Data Services described in KB958484 and is fixed with this update. (This should be flowing along with your regularly scheduled Windows Updates but you may not have gotten it yet so if you're experiencing this issue make sure you install this fix.)  In our example I was forced to detach the category object from the client context before submitting the deletes.

ASP.NET Dynamic Data (DD)

Steve Naughton’s Setting the Initial Sort Order – Dynamic Data post of 1/23/2009 supplements the post below.

Steve Naughton makes up for an earlier posting hiatus with his Getting Default Values from List page Filters for Insert – Dynamic Data tutorial of 1/23/2009.

Steve Naughton’s Writing Attributes and Extension Methods for Dynamic Data of 1/20/2009 is “a short article on some useful tips I’ve found for writing Attributes for Dynamic Data.”

Scott Hanselman warns that the ASP.NET team’s “ASP.NET Dynamic Data 4.0 Preview 2 that was quietly put up just a month ago with this scary disclaimer:

NOTE: These previews contains features that may not be in the next version of the framework. These previews are not production quality and should be used at your own risk.

but then goes on to analyze Preview 2 in his lengthy ASP Dynamic Data Preview - More ways to exploit ADO.NET Data Services for fun and profit post of 1/19/2008.

Steve Naughton’s Dynamic Data – Cascading FieldTemplates post of 1/19/2009 discusses how to handle pairs of dropdown lists in which one list filters the source of the other list. For example, a selection in a Category dropdown changes the list of a paired (dependent)Products dropdown.

The solution is more complex that you’d think.

SQL Data Services (SDS) and Cloud Computing

This topic moved on 1/3/2009 to Azure and Cloud Computing Posts for 1/5/2009+.

SQL Server Compact (SSCE) 3.5 and Sync Services

This topic was dropped as of 1/3/2009.

Miscellaneous (WPF, WCF, MVC, Silverlight, etc.)

No significant posts in the Miscellaneous category were found as of 1/21/2009 11:30 AM PST.

Azure and Cloud Computing Posts for 1/19/2009

Windows Azure, Azure Data Services, SQL Data Services and related cloud computing topics now appear in this weekly series.

Note: This post is updated daily or more frequently, depending on the availability of new articles.

• Updated 1/22/2009 10:00 AM PST
• Updated 1/26/2009 10:00 AM PST

Azure Blob, Table and Queue Services

Scott Watermasysk explains Azure Table Storage Key Conventions for PartitionKey and RowKey columns in his 1/23/2009 post.

George Crump’s Cloud Storage Matures InformationWeek blog post of 1/23/2009 observes that:

[C]ompanies like Bycast, Cleversafe, Amazon and Nirvanix have real customers paying real money to use their products or services. Companies like EMC and HP are bringing legitimacy to the concept and companies to watch like ParaScale are moving through the development cycle. …

[Y]ou can consider other options to the cloud storage wave. While leveraging your backup process should not be considered, (see our article Backup vs. Archive) Disk Archive solutions like those from Permabit and Nexsan are an alternative to consider.

•• Rob Bagby describes how to avoid IIS 7.0’s dreaded “The security certificate presented to this website was issued for a different website’s address” in his Self-Signed Certificates on IIS 7 – the Easy Way and the Most Effective Way post of 1/23/2009.

Note: Clients receive this error if you use the approach recommended by Scott Guthrie in his Tip/Trick: Enabling SSL on IIS 7.0 Using Self-Signed Certificates post of 4/6/2007. Rob demonstrates the workaround.

Dare Obasanjo concludes in his Cloud Computing Conundrum: Platform as a Service vs. Utility Computing post of 1/22/2009:

As it stands today  platform as a service offerings currently do not satisfy the needs of people who have existing apps that want to "port them to the cloud". Instead this looks like it will remain the domain of utility computing services which just give you a VM and the ability to run any software you damn well please on the your operating system of choice.

Dare cites the lack of a “SQL database in the cloud” and the need to rewrite Windows Azure applications to remove reliance on relational features such as foreign keys, joins, triggers, and stored procedures to be “adoption blockers.” SQL Data Services now emulates joins, but not other RDBMS capabilities. Amazon EC2 running Windows 2003/SQL Server 2005 instances is a partial solution to the “drop in your ASP.NET project” but I’m still not sanguine about the scalability of SQL Server instances with .mdf/.ldf files in the Elastic Block Store.

Note: Dare cites Tim O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 and Cloud Computing post of 10/26/2008, which discusses the thread of a cloud computing infrastructure monopoly, defines key cloud computing models, and predicts that supplying cloud infrastructure will be a low-margin business.

Richard Jones’s Anti-RDBMS: A list of distributed key-value stores post of 1/19/2009 provides a list and Java-centric analysis of today’s distributed key-value persistence stores, such as BigTable and Hadoop. (Azure Table Services and Amazon SimpleDB are distributed key-value stores.) Richard’s post prompted the following Tweet from Dare Obasanjo:

Carnage4Life Reading reminds me that I have to finish my Anti-Anti-RDBMS post. The way I see it BigTable has set us back five years.

The computer science folks at UC Berkeley, such as Joseph Hellerstein, believe BigTable, Hadoop, and MapReduce are a better approach to big data than SQL. UC Berkeley’s EECS department in 2008 replaced relational database systems (RDBMSs) and SQL with Hadoop and MapReduce in the introductory computer science curriculum.

SQL Data Services (SDS)

•• Nic Smith’s Microsoft BI Strategy Update post of 1/23/2009 reports:

Based on customer feedback, we’re announcing today that Microsoft is consolidating the scorecard, dashboard, and analytical capabilities from PerformancePoint Server into SharePoint Server as PerformancePoint Services, making these capabilities available to millions of SharePoint users around the world.

For more information, watch Guy Weismantel’s video. Guy is Director of Microsoft BI.

This move to increase PerformancePoint’s demographics might speed arrival of the promised SQL Business Intelligence Service, as mentioned by Arthur Cole in his Appliances and the Cloud — Two Great Tastes…? post of 1/9/2009 in which he says:

Microsoft in particular seems to be heading toward a cloud/appliance model with the expected development of a new SQL Server-based appliance created from technology acquired from DATAllegro. And if that appliance shows up in the SQL Server Data Services plan as expected, you’ll have the ability to manage vast amounts of data across literally thousands of nodes. [Emphasis added.]

James Johnson supplements his MSDN Webcast: geekSpeak: SQL Data Services with James Johnson (Level 200) Webcast of 1/14/2009 with three tutorial posts about SDS:

  1. SQL Data Services Adventure - Day 1: Introduction to SDS and the Azure Services Training Kit
  2. SQL Data Services Adventure – Day 2: The ACE model
  3. SQL Data Services Adventure – Day 3: Universal Resource Identifiers (URIs) and security

Quantivo’s White Paper: The Case for Sofware-as-a-Service Analytics (requires registration) argues:

In the Business Intelligence and analytics market where expensive and hard to use solutions are frustrating managers and business analysts alike, SaaS solutions offer cheaper, easier to deploy and use alternatives. The Quantivo analytics service combines revolutionary technology with cloud-computing, enabling a fundamentally new approach to delivering customer behavior analytics at scale.

The SDS team continues to mention analytics (and reporting) services as forthcoming Azure SQL Services but the team doesn’t mention an estimated delivery date.

Dave Graham’s Cloud Optimized Storage Solutions: Tiering & Expectations article of 1/20/2009 for Cloud Computing Journal discusses supporting the following Information Lifecycle Management tiers in the cloud:

  1. Tier 0 & 1: Performance & Availability Guaranteed Storage
  2. Tier 2: Availability Guaranteed Storage
  3. Tier 3: Accessibility Guaranteed Storage

Part 1 of the series (1/5/2009) was subtitled Data Storage Has Been Taken for Granted and Part 2 (1/10/2009) is How is Content Stored in the Cloud?

Dave is a Technical Consultant with EMC Corporation.

.NET Services: Access Control, Service Bus and Workflow

• Ryan Dunn’s Azure Issue Tracker Released post of 1/22/2009 describes his new Issue Tracker service:

This sample application is a simple issue tracking service and website that pulls together a couple of the Azure services:  SQL Data Services and .NET Access Control Service.

This demo is meant to show a realistic SaaS scenario.  As such, it features federation, claims-based authorization, and scalable data storage. [Emphasis added.]

His post provides a detailed, illustrated description of the services architecture, implementation, and usage. You can download the sample code from the project’s page on CodePlex.

Sam Gentile’s Enterprise Service Buses (ESBs) Drive SOA Adoption - Part 3 focuses on:

[A] very high level view of the Neuron ESB architecture. This will help lay a solid foundation for the articles to come. This material in this particular article is influenced by both posts and talks with Neuron’s Architect, David Pallmann.

[See reference to David Pallman below.]

Live Windows Azure Apps, Tools and Test Harnesses

Alex Golesh reached episode four of his detailed Silverlight in the Mesh and the “Cloud” – Silverlight Mesh Enabled Web Application and Azure Services (Part 4) tutorial on 1/23/2009. These links point to previous parts Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. Part 1 describes his project:

For quite some time I’m investigating the Azure Services and Live Framework. After gaining some experience, I decided to build simple project - Content Store – to share with you how to build the next generation of applications.

My “Cloud Store” project will use Windows Azure Storage Account to persist content at the cloud, will use Windows Azure Hosted Services as business logic provider (submit contents to the store, display the contents and “purchase” it). Also, my project will use Live Framework Mesh Silverlight applications to provide UI for content submitters and content viewers/buyers.

Note: SMEWA is an acronym for Silverlight Mesh-Enabled Web Application.

• Ryan Dunn’s Azure Issue Tracker Released post of 1/22/2009 describes his new Issue Tracker service:

This sample application is a simple issue tracking service and website that pulls together a couple of the Azure services:  SQL Data Services and .NET Access Control Service.

This demo is meant to show a realistic SaaS scenario.  As such, it features federation, claims-based authorization, and scalable data storage.

His post provides a detailed, illustrated description of the services architecture, implementation, and usage. You can download the sample code from the project’s page on CodePlex. [Copied from the “.NET Services: Access Control, Service Bus and Workflow” section.]

• Deni Connor reports in Iron Mountain, Microsoft team for online backup of 1/19/2009 that Iron Mountain and Microsoft inked a deal last week to support organizations with System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) and back them up to Iron Mountain's CloudRecovery.

I’m surprised that DPM doesn’t back up with Microsoft Azure or at least to Microsoft Data Centers. Are Iron Mountain’s servers more reliable than Microsoft’s?

Charles Babcock’s How The Cloud Enables A New Set Of Personal Applications post of 1/22/2009 to InformationWeek’s Plug into the Cloud blog describes a mash-up that uses Amazon Mechanical Turk workers to translate iPhone or other images of business cards uploaded to an Amazon EC2 app (Lasso2Go) into a Salesforce lead, an email message, or spreadsheet.

Gus Perez of the Azure Tools team updated his original Windows Azure Links post on 1/19/2009.

David Pallman, the author of the Azure Storage Explorer tool and active participant in the Windows Azure forum, posted Azure Blob Sync on 1/19/2009. According to David:

Azure Blob Sync is a GUI tool that syncs a local file folder to cloud Blob storage or vice-versa. Binaries, sources, and documentation are up on CodePlex. …

To keep the sync fast, simple, and safe, it uses a very simple algorithm: a file or blob is not copied from source to destination if there is already an item of that name on the destination side.

Future plans for AzureBlobSync include a command line version you can use in batch jobs and a means of scheduling automated syncs.

David’s Azure Storage Explorer Updated post of 1/19/2009 notes that the new 0.3 preview version has the following updates:

  1. It's built against the January 2009 Azure CTP.
  2. Blobs in a folder hierarchy (with prefixes)[, including log folders,] now display and can be viewed.
  3. Blobs whose names end in ".xml" (like log files) are auto-formatted as pretty XML with whitespace to make them more readable.

Azure Infrastructure

•• Waiming Mok, a member of the Azure team, posted Servers vs Green (1/24/2009), a chart that  shows the projected contribution to the energy crisis, and consequently the carbon dioxide emission of servers in 2010. One of the suggested solutions:

Migrate to cloud-computing, where virtualization is deployed and the cost of deployment is shifted from CAPX to OPEX, which could made the adoption easier for some businesses.  The following requirements would need be solved:  security, system availability, IT ownership,

Waiming’s More Cores Slow Computing post of 1/25/2009 cites a Sandia National Lab study that shows the current design of multi-core processors with high core count actually slow down the system performance.

•• Matt Penner’s What is the Microsoft Cloud Platform? post of 1/24/2009 critiques Woody Pewitt’s presentation of the same name at the Southern California CodeCamp 2009 and describes the Windows Azure sign-up process:

Woody, and Lynn Langit who is in the audience, just mentioned the sign on process.  It’s a nightmare!  Even some of the internal MS people don’t have keys.  I think with all the talent that’s in MS they could have designed and built out the whole sign-up and beta key process much better.  It’s terrible to put it lightly.  The forums are filled with disgruntled users that can’t log in and have no idea what state their application process is in.  This is one of those examples where a little more time and care up front would have saved hours and hours of support calls/emails/postings and upset and confused users.  OK, that being said check out Lynn’s post on this very subject.

•• Jim Liddle’s The Economics of Cloud post of 1/23/2009 delivers a cost comparison between building and running your own 50,000 node data center (US$ 112.42/node-month), renting a extra-large Amazon EC2 instance with one 4-core CPU (US$ 576/month or $144/node-month) without an operating system. 

Note: The on-premises costs are derived from James Hamilton’s Cost of Power in Large-Scale Data Centers post of 11/28/2008.

GigaSpace subscription cost would be $7,500 per CPU per year for 4 * 4 core servers, which would be equivalent of 8 CPUs or US$ 60,000 per year, or US$ 312.50/node-month.

EC2 running four GigaSpaces 4-core instances costs US$ $55,910.40 per year or US$ 291.20/node-month and requires no up-front outlay. 

Jim is Director, Sales and Operations, UK, Ireland & Benelux at GigaSpaces. GigaSpaces markets the eXtreme Application Platform (XAP), a highly scalable application server. GigaSpaces XAP lets you deploy applications that use Java, .Net, C++, or scripting languages.

My Microsoft Postpones Construction of Iowa Data Center post of 1/23/2009 quotes the ms datacenters blog’s Building a Better Mousetrap a.k.a. Optimizing for Maximum Efficiency in an Economic Downturn post of 1/23/2009 by Arne Josefsberg and Mike Manos:

[W]e’re postponing construction of the data center in Iowa that we recently purchased land for. We are still continuing construction of our facilities in Chicago and Dublin, and are planning to open them as customer demand warrants. [Emphasis added]

Cloud Computing Journal writes Cisco's David Bernstein to Present at Cloud Computing Conference in NYC. Bernstein is

VP and General Manager of Network Applications Infrastructure for Cisco Systems, Inc, where he directs product and research efforts around application aware networking and distributed computing. He serves on several industry boards including the IEEE Computer Society Advanced Technology Executive Board.

Bernstein's team runs Cisco's internal Cloud Computing platform and so has first-hand experience in this emerging category. 25 years in software and systems in Silicon Valley in companies including Cisco, Siebel, and AT&T provide him with a deep perspective on applications infrastructure

• Roger Smith reports on 1/22/2009 from the Cloud Connect unconference that Panelists Say Legacy Apps In The Cloud Are A Roll Of The Dice. Roger writes:

The premise of the Thursday morning panel discussion at the Cloud Connect event at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., was that it's possible to have the best of both worlds: your legacy applications and the cloud. By the end of the hour-long discussion, many of the 200 or so attendees seemed to have come to the conclusion that enterprise and Web-scale development were worlds apart and moving further away from each other at something approaching the speed of light. …

Asked if Microsoft was "coming out of its cave" on cloud computing, [director of research, Directions on Microsoft Rob] Helm said from his experience that Microsoft has three approaches to the cloud:

  1. The Microsoft Consumer cloud, with products like MS Live;
  2. The Microsoft Business cloud, with Microsoft online, Microsoft hosting of packaged apps, such as the 500,000 seats on MS Exchange e-mail, and Microsoft's Dynamic CRM;
  3. MS Windows Azure. Helm said that Azure isn't strictly your Microsoft apps running in the cloud. Azure will have new apps built with ASP.NET. to run on the Azure hosted Web platform. Currently in beta, Azure apps will run in a tight security "sandbox" to keep from crashing other Azure apps. Helm said it would be necessary to port your current .Net apps to Azure, they can't be run natively on the Azure cloud.

Note: According to Mary Jo Foley’s Microsoft to merge Windows Live and Office Live post of 1/22/2009, the Microsoft Consumer and Business clouds will merge.

Silicon Valley’s SDForum’s Cloud Services & SOA SIG (formerly the Web-Services SIG) will sponsor a Services in the Cloud Demo Night from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM on January 27, 2009 at Tibco Software Inc., 3301 Hillview Avenue, Building #2, Palo Alto, CA. Presenters are:

  • Mashery: Clay Loveless, Co-founder & Chief Architect
  • 2 Others TBD

Mashery offers an on-demand API infrastructure.

Mike Walker promotes the Microsoft's Generation 4 Data Center Vision - the Architects' Perspective post of 12/8/2008 to the DataCenter Blog. In his post of the same name on 1/20/2009 Mike writes:

The goal of Gen 4 is to modularize not only the server and storage components, which a number of companies are already doing, but also to modularize the infrastructure, namely the electrical and mechanical systems.  The real innovation is around the commonality, manufacturing, supply chain and integration of these modules to provide a plug-and-play infrastructure along with modularized server environments.  In addition, it is focused on scaling the infrastructure with the business demands, smoothing capital investment, and driving costs down

• Christopher Hoff’s What To Do When Your "Core" Infrastructure Services Aren't In Your "Core?" post of 1/21/2009 discusses issues surrounding “Infrastructure 2.0” that purports to "...enable greater levels of integration between the disparate layers of infrastructure: network, application, the endpoint, and IP address management, necessary to achieve interconnectedness."

Lori MacVittie, one of Infrastructure 2.0’s thought leaders who works for F5, posted Cloud Computing: Location is important, but not the way you think on 1/21/2009. She writes:

Location is, in fact, important to cloud computing, but probably not in the way most people are thinking right now. While everyone is concentrating on defining cloud computing based on whether it's local or remote, folks have lost sight that location is important for other reasons.

It is the location of data centers that is important to cloud computing. After all, a poor choice in physical location can incur additional risk for enterprises trusting their applications to a cloud computing provider. Enterprises residing physically in high risk areas - those prone to natural disasters, primarily - understand this and often try to mitigate that risk by building out a secondary data center in a less risky location, just in case. …

So choose your provider carefully, based not only on matching your business and technological needs to the model they support but on the physical location and distribution of their data centers.

Dana Gardner advocates “cloud-computing neutrality” in his Services consumers and developers must now mount pressure for cloud computing neutrality ZDNet post of 1/21/2009.

Robert Perry’s Obama Tech Teams Touts Cloud Computing post of 1/21/2009 hosts an Obama transition-team video that Perry describes as follows:

On the eve of his inauguration, President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team released a new video that touts the benefits of cloud computing and government transparency.

The Obama team is “attempting to make government institutions more effective,” Beth Noveck, a law professor and a member of Obama’s Technology, Innovation, and Government Reform team, said on the video posted to

Cloud computing, which allows consumers and institutions to access their files and projects anywhere via the Internet “is an important change for the federal government because it is dramatically cheaper than the old fashioned way of doing computing infrastructure,” said team member Andrew McLaughlin, head of global public policy and government affairs for Google, a longtime supporter of cloud services.

Stephen Walther’s Why ASP.NET Developers Should Care about Windows Azure post of 1/11/2009 explains the potential impact of the Azure Services Platform on building scalable ASP.NET Web sites.

Jonathan Sapir cautions Don't start from scratch with cloud-based business applications in this 12/30/2008 post and recommends starting out with a hosted vertical software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution such as

Pete Cashmore’s Mindblowing Numbers From the Obama Inauguration post of 1/20/2009 demonstrates the need for massive scalability when committing to serve live video streams of important and very popular public events.

The Microsoft Hosting Days team presents The Microsoft Hosting Days 2008 Webcast Series for Pure Play Hosters, Telcos, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), Resellers (VARs), or System Integrators who weren’t able to attend one of the live North American presentations during January through March 2008. The Webcast series is about:

  • Leveraging the Windows Server 2008 for next-generation Windows-Based Hosting Solutions

  • Turning the growing opportunities for SaaS on Windows technology into business advantage

  • Capitalizing on the wide range of business opportunities available with Microsoft Windows-based Hosting Solutions, including Windows-based Hosting for Applications, Hosted Messaging & Collaboration, Hosted CRM, and Hosted Dynamics

  • Aligning your business with Microsoft’s product roadmap to maximize benefits from the planned testing, release and availability of Microsoft products and services, especially with SharePoint 3.0 and IIS 7.0

  • Selling Business-Class Email to small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) using Exchange and the Hosted Messaging and Collaboration (HMC) solution.

Following are the topics covered by one-hour sessions in two tracks:

  • Business Track:
    • Next Generation Hosting
    • Licensing under the Service Provider License Agreement (SPLA)
    • Selling Business E-mail to Small Business (HMC and Exchange)
    • Software + Services - Marketing Best Practices - New!
    • Hosting Opportunities with CRM 4.0
  • Technical Track:
    • IIS 7 for Hosters
    • Hosted Exchange
    • Silverlight for Hosters
    • Windows Server Virtualization
    • Windows Server 2008 - Technical Features and Benefits
    • PHP on Windows

Although not directly related to Windows Azure many of the topics overlap Azure Platform Services and Amazon EC2 running Windows 2003 R2 and SQL Server 2005. (RightScale’s Windows! SLA! Beta bye-bye! All on Amazon EC2 today! post of 10/23/2008 says “Windows Server 2008 is apparently on the  roadmap but not available at present and it’s apparently against the T&C’s to upgrade on your own.”)

The Web Host Industry Review’s When to Choose an Application Service Provider post of 12/19/2004, while a bit dated, remains a good guide to making the move to third-party SaaS, S+S or Web hosting services.

James Urquhart contends that private clouds are to cloud computing as intranet is to Internet in his The argument for private clouds post of 1/19/2009. He writes:

Rich Miller of Data Center Knowledge noted an excellent response by my former Cassatt colleague, Jay Fry to Andrew Conry-Murray of InformationWeek and Eric Knorr of InfoWorld, who contend that there is no such thing as a Private Cloud.

Jay's response is excellent and I absolutely concur. However, I get so frustrated with these "its gotta be off-premises" arguments, that for some time now, I've been trying to figure out a quick and dirty response I can fire off whenever such "puritanism" comes into play.

James’ standard answer to the “no private clouds” argument is:

Internet has Intranet. Cloud Computing has Private Clouds. Similar disruption, localized scale.

I agree.

David Burela has started an Australian Azure Mailing List (ozazure) to which you can subscribe by sending an empty e-mail message to and replying to the response.

Patrick Marshall’s Datacenter Managers Doing More with Less article of 1/14/2009 for Redmond Developer News cites Symantec Corp.'s 2008 State of the Data Center study, about which Patrick says:

The study also found that while many datacenter managers are pursuing green IT initiatives, the primary driver for those efforts is cost reduction. Reducing electricity consumption was a goal cited by 54 percent of respondents, followed by reducing cooling costs (51 percent) and a sense of responsibility to the environment (42 percent). …

The Symantec report examined data from a survey in late 2008 of 1,600 datacenter managers in large private- and public-sector institutions located in 21 countries.

Looming IT budget constraints in CY 2009 and possibly 2010 promise that CIOs will take the cloud computing alternative seriously.

Other Cloud Computing Platforms and Services

•• Alin Irimie describes Symantec’s new GoEverywhere “cloud workspace” (beta version) in his Your Cloud Workspace - Symantec GoEverywhere post of 1/26/2009 as

A secure SaaS-based workspace that allows users to access their preferred third party web-based email, IM, office and other online applications from one central online location.

Lew Tucker, Sun Microsystem’s CTO for Cloud Computing, trades “The Network is the Computer” for “Your Data Center is Your Computer” in this Sun Cloud CTO: 'Your Data Center Is Your Computer' post of 1/22/2009 by InformationWeek’s Roger Smith.

James Urquhart asks Is Google App Engine successful? on 1/22/2009 from the Cloud Connect conference that’s being held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. He contrasts Google App Engine (GAE) with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and finds:

Since its announcement in July 2002, the various services contained under the AWS umbrella have received a steady stream of press and accolades. Much of that is due to marketing (and the phenomenal technology evangelism program Amazon put into place), but part of it as well are successful start-ups passing on their own success stories independent of Amazon.

However, [he] spent the day yesterday at the Cloud Connect conference, hosted at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. Google was much more visible here (in part because they were a Platinum Sponsor), and perhaps more importantly, the "how to" sessions they hosted Wednesday afternoon were packed by interested developers and technologists.

Click for #cloudconnect tweets. Good reportage!

John Furrier rings in from Cloud Connect with “Build It Because They Are There” - The Real Meaning of Cloud Connect - It’s About Getting Apps Up and Running of 1/22/2009 that describes how Paul Buchheit and his GMail group built GMail “literally in a day.” John writes:

What we have here is a real time web waiting for real time code.  All of the discussion about cloud computing is really about rapid development,provisioning of resources..etc. - in the end a better product for users (hopefully).  Paul talks about this in his post -Gmail turned out pretty good.

Cloud computing allows developers the ability to get “stuff” up fast.  Speed and feedback is critical to success and more important than having some “hardened app” that no one wants.  This is only way to develop in the web today.  Success is about speed and product acceptance is dependent on that speed which drives relevance.  Build a great product and it will work.

• Geva Perry’s Upcoming Cloud-Related Events post of 1/22/2009 lists world-wide cloud-related events from 1/20/2009 to 6/25/2009. He’s also added a permanent events page at Included are six Cloud Camp events.

Alex Iskold explains How and Why Glue is Using Amazon SimpleDB instead of a Relational Database in this 1/21/2009 post. SimpleDB and Azure Table Services share many characteristics, so the post and its references are valuable for Azure developers.

John Foley’s Cloud Connect: Tackling The Issue Of Cloud Interoperability post of 1/21/2009 describes the recently formed Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum (Twitter: cloudforum; LinkedIn: CCIF Group) whose mission statement, discussion threads, and contact information for the 449 group’s members as of 1/21/2009 is in this Google Group.

Mindscape now offers an Amazon SimpleDB Management Tools add-in for VS 2008 that enables the firm’s LightSpeed drag-and-drop object/relational mapping (O/RM) tool to use SimpleDB as a data provider. Thanks to David Hayden for the heads-up.

Mike Brittain describes How We Built a Web Hosting Infrastructure on EC2 for video Web site and related sites in this detailed 1/19/2009 post. Mike automated addition of additional capacity so:

[W]e can add new servers to our production pool in under 20 minutes, from the time we call the “run instance” API at EC2, to the time when public traffic begins hitting the new server.  This includes machine startup time, adding custom server config files and cron jobs, rolling out application code, running smoke tests, and adding the machine to public DNS.

It will be interesting to hear whether the Azure team was able to add instances this quickly to any of their large-scale sample sites.

Krishnan Subramanian’s It Is Not A Bloodbath In The Clouds post of 1/19/2009 contradicts Steve Rubel’s Bloodbath in the Clouds Continues as RSS Email Service Shutters post about the demise of RSS FWD, a service that forwards RSS/Atom feeds as e-mail or SMS messages. Krishnan’s point is that cloud computing is closely related to Web 2.0 Software as a Service (SaaS) activities, which are resilient as a whole to recession and likely to survive the current economic downturn. Further, shutdown of a single service doesn’t constitute a bloodbath. Krishnan concludes by pointing out that it is a good policy to investigate the background and analyze the future stability of the SaaS vendors you rely one.

• Update 1/21/2009: I was able to sign up for RSS FWD’s “realtime” notification service, but it didn’t send me a message when I added a new post to the OakLeaf Systems blog today.

Broad Group’s Powered by the Cloud conference will be held in the Lewis Media Centre, Millbank Tower, London on February 2 – 3, 2009. Simone Brunozzi, Amazon Web Service Evangelist for Europe, will participate in the fourth of the following seven panel discussions:

  1. Making Money from Cloud Computing
    Successful business models for providers in the industry
  2. Corporate IT & Cloud Computing
    Opportunities and threats to large corporate technology
  3. Finance, Investors & Cloud Computing
    What are the key opportunities for investors?
  4. Technologies & Cloud Computing
    Obstacles to rollout and the innovations that will overcome them
  5. Consumers & Cloud Computing
    Software, web services and the PC industry: what will change?
  6. Infrastructure and Cloud Computing
    The coming transformation of internet service providers, data centres and the Internet backbone.
  7. Privacy, Regulation, Security and Cloud Computing
    How the industry will maintain the integrity of customer information and the role government will play

Alin Irimie’s Weekly Cloud Application: Eucalyptus post of 1/19/2009 describes the Elastic Utility Computing Architecture for Linking Your Programs To Useful Systems (Eucalyptus) for implementing cloud services on computer clusters. Eucalyptus lets you build cloud services on Amazon EC2.

IBM announced the availability of the LotusLive Engage Beta collaborative cloud-computing service on 1/19/2009, presumably to counter Microsoft’s Windows Live offerings. Following are highlights from the About page:

  • Join the LotusLive Engage Beta
  • Work outside the corporate firewall
  • Connect with companies relevant to your business needs
  • Integrated online Web conferencing with essential online business tools
  • Online social networking and collaboration service designed for business, without intrusive advertisements

IBM claims that LotusLive Connections (Web collaboration services) and LotusLive iNotes (Web-based messaging services) are “coming soon”, but LotusLive Meetings (a.k.a., IBM Lotus Sametime Unyte Meeting) is available to Buy or Try and LotusLive Events (a.k.a., IBM Lotus Sametime Unyte Events) is available to Try.

It appears to me that IBM has much catch-up to do before LotusLive is ready to compete with Windows Live services on a feature-to-feature basis. As Krishnan Subramanian puts it: IBM Inches Further Towards Cloud Computing.