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Posts Tagged ‘PDC

Last week at Microsoft PDC we launched our Systems Management as a Platform offering with a few of the services going into private beta.

Now you can actually see a quick demo of one of these services and read some of the media coverage.

You can see the product demo if you watch the recording of Kim Cameron’s identity keynote session (the Quest OnDemand demo starts approximately at the 35:00 mark). If you don’t have Silverlight, here are the recording files in downloadable format:

In addition to watching the demo, you might want to read what media had to say about this service:

Network WorldMicrosoft adds identity to cloud

InformationWeek – Quest Launches Cloud Services Based On Microsoft Azure

Lawrence Wilson/SaaS, Cloud Computing and Virtualization Review: Quest Software Offers Software as a Service (SaaS) Windows Management Solutions

Kelly Higgins Jackson/DarkReading: Product Watch: Microsoft Unveils Windows Identity Foundation

Forefront Team Blog: Available now: Windows Identity Foundation for building more secure, simplified access to cloud applications

Read, watch, and sign-up for the beta.

Systems Management as a Service (is there an acronym for this yet?) is finally becoming a reality. Today at Microsoft Professional Developer Conference we have announced beta launch of Quest OnDemand our online IT management services.

This is one of the projects which have been consuming most of my time for the last year so I am extremely excited that we reached this roadmap.

We demoed one of the services – our Active Directory backup and recovery (Quest Recovery Manager OnDemand for Active Directory) – on stage at PDC (will hopefully be able to post a link to the recording in a couple of days) today – and there are 2 more down the line: InTrust OnDemand (event log management) and Site Administrator Reports OnDemand for SharePoint (SharePoint reporting).

We will not be able to let everyone sign up immediately. Instead, if you want to participate, you need to go to the Quest OnDemand web page and fill out the beta nomination survey. After that you will be contacted by our product management and granted access to the beta.

This is a huge step for Quest as a Systems Management company, and in my opinion, a big step forward in cloud computing and SaaS adoption. We hope these services will help a lot of administrators out there manage their IT environments more efficiently and really looking forward to the feedback we get from the beta.

More news to come. Congratulations to the whole team involved in developing and launching this service!

Now that we had a few days to look at Microsoft’s Windows Azure it is time to compare it with other alternatives on the market. For our comparison we picked solutions from the biggest players in the market and potential to impact the industry in that area: Microsoft Windows Azure, Amazon Web Services, Google App Engine, and VMware vCloud.

It is obviously too early to declare a clear winner here. Below is a feature-by-feature comparison table. Here’s a quick summary for each of them.

Microsoft Windows Azure

Currently in early private beta but boasts an impressive set of APIs, great development story, and a promise for good enterprise integration.

Amazon Web Services

The most mature solution on the market and the first one to exit beta. Offers basic cloud infrastructure required (compute power to run virtual machines, storage, communication queues, database) and allows you to fully control your virtual machines and run your LAMP- or Microsoft-stack applications any way you like.

Google App Engine

Boasts the “drop your code and we’ll figure out the rest” approach taking care of all the scalability and infrastructure management for you.

VMware vCloud

A pre-announced solution promising to let you simply take your standard VMware virtual appliances and run them anywhere: on-premise or in a datacenter of any provider supporting VMware’s infrastructure.

Now let’s look at each of them closer and examine them feature by feature:

Feature

Microsoft

Amazon

Google

VMware

Availability

Early private CTP

Yes, commercially available

In public beta

Announced

Computing Architecture

You provide .NET code for front-end and back-end servers which
Microsoft then runs on Windows 2008 virtual machines according to your
environment specifications (how many machines of each kind you need, and so
on.)

Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) allows you to upload your XEN virtual
machine images to the infrastructure and gives you APIs to instantiate and
manage them.

You write your web application in Python or Django with a specific
set of limitations set by Google and submit the application code to them.

Lets you easily move your virtual machines between environments and
run them on premise or at any partner datacenter.

Load balancing

Yes

Yes

Yes

Not announced

Storage

Yes: application storage and SQL services

Yes: Simple Storage Service (S3) and SimpleDB

Yes: database Datastore APIs

Not announced

Message queuing for machine communcations

Yes: queues in Windows Azure storage

Yes: Simple Queue Service (SQS)

No

Not announced

Integration with other services

So called .NET services (aka BizTalk in the cloud):

Access control services, workflow service, service bus.

Live Mesh

Various Live services (contacts, mail, maps and so on.)

At the moment, all these components do not seem to be integrated with
the solution but rather bundled.

No

Yes, with existing Google services: authentication, mail, base, calendar,
contacts, documents, pictures, spreadsheets, YouTube.

No

Tied to the vendor datacenter

Yes

Yes

Yes

No, the VMs can be hosted by any of the partners or used on-premise

Development tools

Yes, integration into Visual Studio, support for any .NET languages,

Not applicable. Amazon simply runs your virtual machines and does not
care which development platform you are using on top of the base OS.

Yes, have basic editing, local simulation, and deployment tools.
Language selection limited to Python and Django.

Application-level tools such as Google Web Toolkit (GWT) do not seem
to have any integration with Google App Engine.

Not applicable. VMware simply runs your virtual machines and does not
care which development platform you are using on top of the base OS.

What’s your take? Did I miss any features or comparison criteria?

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As Microsoft is ramping up its cloud story it seems that Live Mesh is starting to be positioned as one of the key elements. For example, now the Mesh framework got renamed to just Live Framework – quite a promotion unless there’s something else added in there.

I am quite skeptical about the technology and here’s why:

So the Live Mesh project has two components: an application for file (and other data in the future) synchronization and a set of APIs other developers can use. Let’s have a look at both of them.

The Live Mesh application (as I mentioned in my other blog, and as Joel also noticed) is just another version of Groove. Groove was a team collaboration product with brilliant underlying synchronization architecture which allowed aid agencies to effectively communicate in regions like Africa or Afghanistan. However, it never really got into mainstream.

We recently discussed the reasons why with Ilia from SharePoint-Recovery.com and came to the conclusion that for mainstream users it makes much more sense to exchange emails for ad-hoc communications and connect to SharePoint sites for project-related stuff than to set up Groove and communicate within the Groove spaces. Is Live Mesh much different from that? Not really. It has a web UI so you can access the data without installing the client – but does that make it radically different? Is it again falling somewhere in-between email/file uploading site and real team portals? If that will be the case I am not sure this second attempt will be any better than the first one (i.e. Groove).

Live Framework about which we will soon learn more is presumably the underlying APIs for data synchronization across devices and with some offline capabilities. Is that a big deal? Offline is a big deal but not for data only – people want to have the whole web applications offline and Google’s Gears or Adobe’s AIR seem to be addressing the need in a much more comprehensive manner.

I can sort of see how I could use generic data synchronization in my applications but from what I have heard so far (PDC might change it all) it seems to have too many limitations: client download is required (and I have not heard of redistributable version or in-browser implementation) and Live ID needs to be used to authenticate (if that’s the case the system will never take off outside Microsoft – just imagine Google requiring gmail account to access a mesh-up with Google Maps – there would have been 0 of them on the net.)

Will Live Framework repeat the fate of another cool technology which never found a valid application – WinFS?

Microsoft obviously has much more cloud-related stuff which they will start sharing even more in a few weeks. But so far they seem to be producing a lot of isolated over-engineered solutions which do not make up a convincing story. Let’s see if in a few weeks we will have a completely new perspective on their efforts.

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Just a couple of years ago Microsoft was spending incredible amount of effort developing, standardizing and publicizing their WS-* web service stack. This was a huge effort, they teamed up with IBM and others and built and documented a pretty impressive set of protocols covering every possible communications need over http. Now it looks like their internal libraries is the only beneficiary of that work.

Don’t get me right 😉 , ADFS is using (depending on version) WS-Federation and WS-Trust, winrm and PowerShell remoting is relying on WS-Management, and so on, but in general these “standards” are not what the rest of world is using. And it looks like Microsoft is switching its gears too.

Have a look at the PDC 2008 (Professional Developers Conference – Microsoft’s key event on software development and APIs) agenda, and search for REST and WS-.

“WS-” will produce just two sessions. One of them is PowerShell and how it relies on WS-MAN. The other on Windows 7 web services API.

“REST” will give 4 including .NET and SQL ones.

And simply “web service” will give as much as 10.

Do we see WS-* being pushed to the edges and the simpler API coming from grass roots winning even inside Microsoft? Looks like we do.

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The posts on this blog are provided “as is” with no warranties and confer no rights. The opinions expressed on this site are mine and mine alone, and do not necessarily represent those of my employer Jelastic or anyone else for that matter. All trademarks acknowledged.

© 2008-2012 Dmitry Sotnikov

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