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Two More Sources of Cloud Computing News You May Not Have Heard About

I recently posted on “9 Sources of Cloud Computing News You May Not Know About“, providing you with a list of my favorite “short cuts” to keeping up on the cloud computing marketplace. I’d like to quickly add two more to the list:

  • CloudAve CloudNews posts: I’m still getting a feel for the long term direction that the folks at CloudAve are taking, but this category of posts provides a steady stream of industry news, mostly focused on vendor activities. There is a good mix of cloud infrastructure, SaaS and others markets covered here, and the commentary added to each link is an added feature for quick browsing.

  • Twitter Search: I leave a tab open in my browser now with the single word, “cloud”, active in Twitter Search. This page has a nice feature in which it indicates how many more recent tweets there are available since the last time you reloaded. What’s great about this is that you get a feel for the pace of traffic, which can help you identify a big story breaking. I also like the fact that little known bloggers and authors can make their content known to me this way. This is quickly becoming my favorite way to find unusual opinions on–and visions for–the cloud.

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Categories: blogs, cloud computing

9 Sources of Cloud Computing News You May Not Know About

September 20, 2008 Leave a comment

I’m a cloud junkie, as most of you know, and I spend way too much of my time perusing feeds and lists for content that sheds light on cloud trends and challenges. However, I have a secret; I streamline my looking somewhat by leveraging sites that aggregate amazing information into regular lists of stories. Below is a rundown of several of these lists, including a few that you may not have been aware of.

Please note that this is not a list of all of my favorite cloud computing blogs; I have scads of favorites that are not listed here because they are not “news feeds”, but rather pure commentary/analysis, vendor blogs, or technical errata. (The problem with categorizing blogs, however, is that many “news feeds” are filled with commentary and analysis as well…*sigh*.)

Without further ado:

  • Google Alerts: “Cloud Computing” | “Utility Computing”: Actually, I run these two terms in two different alerts, but the two of them are more than I can read most days. “Utility Computing” is rather light, but “Cloud Computing” often runs in the tens of posts/stories a day now.

  • cloudfeed.net: Jian Zhen and Michael Mucha run this automated feed of cloud computing and SaaS related stories. The list is dense every single day, and is the quickest way I know of right now to catch on to the more subtle conversations going on about these subjects. It is also lightly (or even not) moderated, so be prepared for tons of “its all been said before” posts.

  • On-Demand Enterprise’s Cloud Computing Topic: The former Grid Today folks at Tabor Communications have really become a go to resource when it comes to vendor coverage, especially in the traditional enterprise data center software and virtualization space. Good analysis, complete coverage of announcements, and posting of entire press releases (which is very handy, believe me). Not quite as good for the theory stuff, though.

  • Avastu Blog: Sustainable Global Clouds: I just discovered Tarry Singhs’ excellent blog a few weeks ago. He somehow finds companies and stories that I absolutely do not find elsewhere. Tarry appears to be very well connected in the Indian venture capital world (and, I assume, the EU equivalent, as he states he is from the Netherlands). He also “gets” cloud computing.

  • GigaOm – Infrastructure: Of the “big” tech bloggers, Om Malik and his team get my vote as the most informed and connected in the cloud computing space. Yeah, they are largely telecom/Web 2.0 happy, but they clearly understand that there is less and less distinction between those markets and the cloud, and they regularly produce news items that make you think. Oh, and you can subscribe to just the Infrastructure feed, which is where most of the good PaaS and IaaS stuff is.

  • ZDNet – Software as Services: For the SaaS game, there is no one like Phil Wainewright for a combination of scoops and analysis. In fact, his analysis is so deep I thought of leaving him off this list, but in the end this blog makes me aware of too many new SaaS vendors, applications and services.
  • TechCrunchIT: Steve Gillmore’s new collaboration with Michael Arrington’s red-hot TechCrunch isn’t a “pure” cloud computing news source, but it scoops just enough that I thought I’d include it. Be prepared to wade through tons of politics and “Social Software” to look for the cloud computing gems, however.

  • Data Center Knowledge: Rich Miller’s blog is (for me) the source of two key pieces of intelligence in the cloud computing game: data center build-outs, and outages. Rich seems to find every single announcement about new or growing data centers, the companies planning to enter the cloud provider game, and the infrastructure challenges of the cloud. This is one of my favorites for sure.

  • The Wisdom of Clouds (RSS/Atom Feed): OK, a bit of shameless self-promotion, but for those of you who have arrived at this site via HTTP, and are not subscribed to my feed, it is important to note that I use Feedburner to publish my daily Del.icio.us bookmarks. In addition, I currently use del.icio.us as my “quick blog” tool, and I comment on every bookmark I record there. Several readers have highlighted this as a favorite aspect of my feed. I am trying to get the del.icio.us “Blog Posting” feature working, so the same lists appear in the HTML pages (so they can be commented on, etc.), but so far no luck.

What are your favorite sources of cloud computing news?

Categories: blogs, cloud computing

What the hell is going on with the Cloud Computing group on Google?

September 17, 2008 Leave a comment

Update: There is some counter evidence to Sam’s claim that he is the number 3 poster on the Google Groups Cloud Computing group, so I edited this post to reflect what is actually confirmed at this point.

Update 2: Sam points out below that he measured his ranking based on the last month, not all time. I’ll leave the text the way it is, as I can’t verify that (though I have no reason to doubt it), and the text is still accurate. If anyone in the group can verify Sam’s claim, I’ll change the text back and qualify it better.

One of the great resources for cloud computing fans and foes alike has been the Google Groups Cloud Computing online community. Started by Reuven Cohen at Enomaly in Toronto, and promoted by many of us participating in its discussions, it has quickly grown from 0 to over 3500 members. It is generally pretty active (though it ranks as “low activity” according to Google), but the sweet spot has been the frank and open discussions on threads that were incredibly informative and civil.

Normally one would praise moderation for keeping the riff raff out, but yesterday Sam Johnston told a story that has me very, very concerned. In the midst of a rant about the Enomalism as “vaporware” (which I won’t discuss here), Sam describes an exchange that, if true, indicates abuse and self-serving censorship of the kind that undermines the credibility of the group as an open forum.

Here is what Sam had to say:

It’s worth mentioning that I had good reason to do some background research. My recent post (cached copy) to one of the larger cloud computing Google Groups announcing Cloud User Shell (cush) (a free, open source prototype and the first cloud computing shell) made it through the invisible moderation net but information about its mailing lists was silently redacted and an off-list invitation for “Moderator ” (later found to be Khazret Sapenov, Director of R&D at Enomaly) to participate in the list management rudely rejected. When I requested that he “please add a few of the other active community members to [help] administer it” citing that “long blackouts are extremely disruptive” he childishly and silently evicted me from the group, deleted me from the member list, updated the FAQ to read ‘This group is moderated…at moderators personal discretion‘, and worst of all, silently and inexplicably deleted the announcement from the archives. Furthermore, in a stunning display of hubris they have hidden the member list even from members and infringed copyright by retrospectively relicensed the group posts under a Creative Commons license with neither notification nor permission!

Repeated requests to rejoin were denied and as the #3 poster at the time I reached out to Reuven, calling for “an unfettered communications channel which is open for anyone to join and post, and which is not dependent on (nor able to be held hostage by) any one person“. Reuven conceded that Khazret was his employee and that this “rather fascist approach to its moderation” was a “recurring theme“, adding that he “would love to have [me] involved in [his!?!] cloud book“. He promised to take care of it the following week (but didn’t) and repeated calls for them to open up the community have gone unanswered. Of course they claim this is an extracurricular activity but it’s hardly a basket weaving group, rather a massive conflict of interest directly related to their core [in]competency. Did this heated debate about the private cloud oxymoron really end here for example?”

Reuven and Khazret need the opportunity to respond, and I offer this post as a neutral venue to do so. Assuming they respond with a family friendly response, I will update this post to reflect it. Reuven took the initiative to found the group, as well as CloudCamp, and has an excellent blog, so I’d like to think this is all a big misunderstanding. I find it likely that Sam said something controversial about Enomalism or something, but unlikely that he did anything that justified being expelled.

I also think, however, that the Google Groups group needs to ask the Enomaly guys what their moderation policy is. The group’s home page says, “[M]oderation of comments is necessary to prevent spam, personal attacks, profanity, or off-topic commentary.” However, it is very hard to see how the Cust post could be seen as clearly falling in any of these categories. Is Reuven looking for independent moderators? If so, he should ask for them via a post in the group, and perhaps cite this controversy as a driving need for someone to step up. Out of 3500+ members, I am sure he would find two or three qualified people to help out.

In fact, perhaps moderation needs to move to a balanced team of, say, 3 people–no two of which work at the same company.

At the very least, transparency MUST be better than it has been in this case; having the number 3 poster a top 2% poster–one with that often forced you to think hard about your positions–cut without announcement or explanation is not acceptable. I, for one, am going to lose trust in the openness of the forum unless transparency and accountability improve.

Categories: blogs, cloud computing, Web X.0

Is a Grid a Cloud? Probably not, but…

Sam Johnston has recently been writing some very provocative posts (provocative as in “thought producing” as well as, at times, “controversial”). One of his latest is his missive on cloud computing, and the confusion created by vendors pushing their grid platforms as defining cloud computing.

He has some good points, and I recommend reading the post. However, very early on he makes a statement that I think clearly demonstrates his own flawed logic when it comes to the term “private cloud”. In the first paragraph, he says:

“Some of this confusion is understandable given issues get complex quickly when you start peeling off the layers, however much of it comes from the very same opportunistic hardware & software vendors who somehow convinced us years ago that clusters had become grids. These same people are now trying to convince us that grids have become clouds in order to sell us their version of a ‘private cloud’ (which is apparently any large, intelligent and/or reliable cluster).”

[Emphasis mine.]

There’s the root problem, right there. By equating a “private cloud” with “any large, intelligent and/or reliable cluster”, he misses much of what the private cloud is–and biases his definition from the point of view of traditional job based grid computing (which does act very much like a cluster).

Let’s use my alma mater as an example of a private cloud infrastructure vendor that does not sell a clustering platform–at least not in the traditional sense of the word, as it relates to software. Cassatt does not tie a bunch of servers into a single, interconnected unit for a workload run on top of it. In fact, that remains the job of the software platform deployed into Cassatt, if it is indeed desired. There is no software coordination intelligence in Cassatt today (other than some dependency management to control startup and shutdown).

Cassat works purely at the server and OS level. No, it doesn’t create an OS cluster, because the OS isn’t aware that it is being managed. All that Cassatt does is pool server resources into a general pool that can be assigned as needed to meet capacity (and reliability) demands as defined by the service levels applied to the software payloads. If Cassatt sees that application A needs more capacity, it grabs another server. If an instance of server B goes down, Cassatt creates a new instance with the same IP address and hostname (if safe) as the original.

Cassatt is not job based. Any running server payload, including web applications, enterprise applications or “always on” monitoring and feed reading processes can be hosted in exactly the same manner as batch jobs. Cassatt doesn’t do queueing of jobs, it just provisions servers as needed to meet the service levels defined for business workloads.

Read Cassatt’s web site for more. They say it much better than I am expressing it now.

The point is, though, that Cassatt is not a cluster, it is a resource pool, and as such acts much more like a cloud than a grid. Sam may say “well, that’s just autonomic computing” and he’s right, but the cloud is autonomic. So calling an autonomic system running behind an enterprise firewall a “private cloud” is not much of a stretch at all.

By the way, ksankar of http://doubleclix.wordpress.com notes nine great differences between a grid and a cloud. I think he captured more of my own thinking about this subject in that one post than I’ve been able to express in the last three years. Worth a read as well.

Finally, subscribe to Sam’s blog. He’s asking some important questions, and deserves your attention.

Off Topic: The Best Way to Serve You, The Reader

I want to ask you, my readers, a question. Would you find it more valuable to have The Wisdom of Clouds managed more like Nick Carr’s RoughType or Matt Asay’s Open Road?

Let me explain. As you can see, I’ve been posting less frequently of late. This is due in part to the increasing velocity of my day job, but it is also due to my increasing use of del.icio.us to highlight posts of interest. Using Feedburner, I can automatically post the links I collect in a given day as an entry in my feed. So, I post essays when the mood and my schedule allow, but I regularly direct my feed subscribers to interesting cloud computing content.

I generally like this approach, except for the fact that the links posts are lost to those readers that actually come to my site, and are also not picked up by Google or other search engines. It is impossible to comment on those link posts as well. Plus, writing the longer essays takes significant time, I usually need to write them all in one sitting to keep them remotely coherent, and thus finding time in the schedule gets harder and harder.

For the last couple of months, I have been working with (well, for, really) Matt Asay, a very successful blogger in the open source community. Matt’s approach is to write several short but sweet posts every day, with only the very occasional in depth analysis post. His goal is to be the one place to go for open source news.

My goal is a little bit different. I want to call out the trends and issues related to cloud computing, as well as to make some bold (and, at times, foolish) predictions about what is being overlooked or undervalued in the hype surrounding the topic. So, I don’t see myself posting as frequently as Matt, but I wonder if perhaps I should drop the del.icio.us approach, and actually write short but sweet posts about each link or group of related links. It may be a little more time intensive for me, but I would have searchable content, and I would get out smaller samples of my thinking more frequently.

The cost, potentially, would be fewer of the in depth posts that I have come to be known for…though at this point the word “fewer” is relatively meaningless as I have been posting so infrequently anyway. I still want to do the in depth posts, but they may become more like summary analysis of trends from earlier posts than the “out of the blue” analysis I have been doing. Less like Nick Carr, in other words.

What do you think? Is a change in order. Would you like to see more information more often, or deeper analysis on a one or two posts a week on average pace? Are you happy with the del.icio.us for subscribers approach, or do you want a more permanent and interactive approach towards that type of content?

Any feedback I can get (either in the comments below, or by email to jurquhart at yahoo dot com) would be greatly and gratefully appreciated.

Categories: blogs

"Follow the Law" Meme Hits the Big Time

A few days ago, I checked in to my w3counter dashboard to see who was linking to my blog, and I discovered an very intelligent continuation of the “Follow the Law Computing” meme written by Greg Ness (also found on his blog). Greg’s addition of the “spice trails” analogy was something new to me, and raised some interesting thoughts about what the historical significance of the cloud will be to world wide wealth distribution. There certainly has been a limited but significant wealth effect created by the Internet itself, but will the ability to physically move data and/or compute loads accelerate these trends?

Noting that I should blog about this on the plane at some point during my trip to Austin this week, I dutifully bookmarked the article for later. I had no chance to look at traffic on Monday, so it was with great shock that when I got on line this morning I saw a hockey stick graph. I investigated, and then my heart skipped a beat.

As of now, today, quotes from my “Follow the Law” post make up Nick Carr’s latest post. Nick weaves together the work of Bill Thompson (which I also reference), myself and Greg to provide a clear, concise discussion of the concept of what he calls “itinerant computing”. (Damn, he’s good at coining these terms, isn’t he?)

Ever since I discovered Nick’s blog early in my career at Cassatt, I’ve wanted to get his attention. The Big Switch was an eye opening read–if only it served as a good counterpoint to Bill Coleman‘s optimistic vision. He made me look at utility computing and cloud computing with a more critical eye, and I wanted to add to his body of knowledge. I am honored to have done so in a small way.

Surprisingly, though, that wasn’t whole the hockey stick trigger. Greg’s post was picked up by a site called Seeking Alpha, a site I must admit I had never heard of before. Apparently a high traffic investment site (connected to Jim Cramer?), Seeking Alpha drove a record traffic load to my humble blog through a rebroadcast of Greg’s post. Rereading that, I noticed that there is a very strong business message there that may in fact be actual historical significance of “itinerant computing”: the flow of data and computing is simply an enabler of new business models and competitive advantages that change the face of global wealth. Being a resident of what is essentially a suburb of the Silicon Valley, I can’t help but think there is more downside than upside to that story.

Finally, as I looked at the other referrers to this blog, I found an excellent summary of all of the “Follow” computing options: Follow the Sun, Follow the Moon and Follow the Law. Kevin Kelly gives very good basic definitions of each concept, and then makes the following observation:

“Most likely different industries adopt a different scenario. Maybe financial follows the moon, while commerce follows the sun, and entertainment follows the law. A single computing environment (One Machine) should not suggest homogeneity. A meadow is not homogeneous, but its does act as a coherent ecological system.

Another way to dissect the daily rhythm of the One Machine is to trace the three distinct waves of energy, data, and computation as they flow through the planetary “cloud.” Each probably has its own pathways.”

Amen, brother. I’ll go even further. Maybe the customer server systems of a financial company follows the sun, the analytics systems follow the moon, and the trading systems follow the law. I do not mean to suggest at all that every distributed compute task will benefit from follow the law concepts. In fact, I would suggest that there are other “Follow” options that will be created over the coming decades.

All of this leads to the question of software fluidity

Off Topic: Introducing "Mining Alfresco"

I didn’t want to sully this blog by introducing a whole bunch of ECM/Alfresco stuff here, so I created a second blog for that content. Mining Alfresco will cover my experiences in learning the ECM market, Alfresco (look for a lot of technical postings), and how all of that relates to the topic of this blog, Cloud Computing. If you have an interest in ECM or “Content in the Cloud”, you may want to check it out and subscribe.

I also want to apologize for the “dead time” in my posting, but as you can imagine spinning up a new job takes a lot of focus. I’ll try to fit in several new posts in the coming days.

Categories: blogs, PaaS, personal, SaaS