Posts tagged ‘cloud computing’

June 13, 2011

Symantec.Cloud Review

I recently had an opportunity to attend a Symantec Conference (Enterprise 2011). I was mostly attracted by the 45  minute session on Cloud Computing – which was towards the end of the half day conference.

I waited with eager anticipation as I was ignorant of any of Symantec Cloud offerings. Being an ex Veritas File System developer with a long association at Symantec I was naturally curious.

As the hour approached, the presenter went on to unveil a set of Symantec Products offered via SaaS model (mostly concerning with Data Security/Availability – full list here

I was disappointed, to say the least, at this attempt to pass off SaaS as cloud computing. I was hoping to learn of some cool new storage/compute virtualization story (Symantec and Vware are buddies) tied together with utility computing and security thrown in the mix. Alas, no such thing.

Something did not add up in my own mind after that presentation. I was not sure why I should be disappointed that “SaaS is not the same as Cloud Computing” (A similar debate is going on concerning Apple’s iCloud).

SaaS – Cloud Computing? It is and It isn’t.

It is difficult to find a precise and widely accepted definition of what cloud computing is and what it isn’t. However, there are some Cloud Computing Guarantees (well, promises) that are generally well accepted. Some of which are –

  1. Availability – promises on service availability (five 9 availability for e.g.)
  2. Scalability  – promises on how well the service scales (horizontally and vertically)
  3. Utility Computing Based Billing – pay as you go
My own thoughts when someone mentions cloud computing is the cloud computing infrastructure – hardware and operating system software sans the (business logic) applications. Similar to Google App Engine, Amazon EC2, Microsoft’s Azure.
Applications written to run on such infrastructure are expected to exhibit availability and scalability properties.
It is interesting to note that Symantec promises 100% service availability and a guaranteed latency (from which you can draw inferences about the scalability). I suppose from a service consumer’s point of view this is all that matters.
It is anybody’s guess as to what kind of infrastructure powers Symantec.Cloud and consumers should not be unduly concerned. They should instead focus on the service availability and response times which are very very good indeed.
April 27, 2011

why we should avoid tipfy – a gae framework

as we recently found out, choosing a framework for GAE can be a costly and frustrating affair. for various reasons we decided to go with tipfy ( for one of our projects. at that time the tipfy framework version was 0.5.9.

GAE has evolved and i guess tipfy had to catch up with the new additions.

the current version of tipfy is 1.0b1 … the source layout has completely changed which means we have to spend effort to make it work with the latest form it has taken.

the maintainers of tipfy clearly don’t think backward compatibility or easy porting an issue worth consideration. we have since decided to do away with tipfy and port it back to vanilla GAE. from experience the only thing we will miss is the jinja templating which was superior to the django template engine a year or so ago. in fact more important (from our requirements point of view) things like the google map reduce functionality should work out of the box – it was a royal pain to get it to work on tipfy. the tipfy implementation appears quite weak.

our recommendation for anyone out there trying to choose a framework to start on GAE is to stick to the core GAE itself and at the most venture into django.

of course, we welcome tipfy experts to educate us on what we are missing. but for now, tipfy is not yet mature for serious development.

April 8, 2011

The recent Google App Engine Outage: pseudo transparency


The app engine team in its RCA explanation stops at this point :

The Datastore relies on Bigtable to store data (read more about
Bigtable here:  One of
the components of the Bigtable is a repository for determining where a
specific entity is located in the distributed system.  Due to
instability in the cluster, this component became overloaded.


Instability in the cluster? Sounds like a bug in the system which Google does not want to talk about in detail. But why go through this whole ritual of trying to be transparent with the community? Being an engineer, this is not an acceptable RCA. Who are they kidding? We don’t know whether the problem is really fixed or it is still lurking out there. Knowing a thing or two about clustering, instabilities of any kind are not that easy to fix. Let us wait and watch.


Still a fan of GAE.


January 9, 2010

Cloudy combo Google App Engine and Amazon S3 combo pack:

Google App Engine provides you a ready to use environment to build and host web applications. The hosting environment is secure and made highly available by the google’s cloud computing infrastructure.

While GAE provides you such a strong platform to build and host web applications, it has it’s own limitations as well. While Google’s infrastructure gives you abundant computing power but not the  case with storage which you would expect if you are developing web applications which require a large amount of flexible secondary storage as well, for that even the applications requiring moderate amount of secondary storage to store the files.

Coming to the actual point, GAE has a limitation of allowing applications to store not more than 10MB of a single large file on it’s server. This may not be a problem for some of the web applications. This is a serious issue for many web applications which assume sufficiently large underlying storage, given these days secondary storage is available in abundance at cheap rates. Some of the developers and users are shying away from using GAE as a platform for their web application development and hosting only because of this reason. And to make life hard google does not have a paid service either to work around this issue.

What are these web application developers supposed to do? Switch to something else which offers sufficient storage along with computing power. The other better options available are Amazon EC2 and VPS. Give me a break. Why do we want to run away from the problem? Well, look around. Amazing Amazon is there to help you out. We need to think creatively and be selective when making decisions about technology these days. There are a bunch of technologies lying around. It is just a matter of selecting and integrating the two technologies and using them to satisfy needs. I am not trying to promote any specific cloud here, but to highlight the fact that GAE and Amazon S3 work really well. And it turns out to be a cost effective solution.

GAE provides the development and hosting platform for you web applications at free of cost while Amazon S3 provides you reliable, powerful and abundant storage at cheaper rates. GAE and Amazon S3 together can do wonders.

Enough of theory, let me explain it to you with a practical example.
We, at BYGSoft, had a requirement to develop a web application for one of our clients. It was a simple web application which will work as a download portal for it’s customers. We chose GAE as a development and hosting platform for web application and Amazon S3 as the back end storage.
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