January 20, 2011
While Microsoft has always ensured that your SQL Azure database is replicated multiple times for reliability, there is now a way to perform your own ad-hoc backup. This is known as copying. You can copy to the same server or to a different one. The process is asynchronous. Full details including the T-SQL syntax (CREATE DATABASE…AS COPY OF) can be found here.
December 24, 2010
Sharding is a technique used to horizontally partition data across physical servers. It is used to achieve high levels of scalability. Each database in this architecture is referred to as a shard.
Microsoft has recently published a whitepaper to explain how sharding can be accomplished on SQL Azure today. The application will need to implement the sharding logic and route calls to individual databases as necessary. The whitepaper can be found here: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/sharding-with-sql-azure.aspx
The final section of the paper explains how an upcoming feature of SQL Azure known as SQL Azure Federations will make sharding much simpler and in the long run possibly totally transparent. Clients will continue to route to one database, known as the root database. That database will contain definitions for one or more Federations. Each Federation will include the sharding details (known as Federation Scheme) – included is the Federation key(s) which describes how the data is partitioned. Each Federation consists of one or more Federation Members which then map to physical databases.
A T-SQL command will be available to split a Federation unit into two, resulting in two physical databases with the data spread across the two. The really cool bit is that SQL Azure will let you do this “online” by ensuring that the view of the federation unit is consistent until the split is complete! And a T-SQL ‘merge’ is also planned which does the reverse.
I’d also like to refer you to Steve Yi’s post which explains this at a high level: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/sqlazure/archive/2010/12/23/10108670.aspx. Steve is one of the reviewers of the whitepaper.
November 17, 2010
Microsoft has published a new White Paper about the Economics of the Cloud.
The paper argues that given the economies of scale large clouds could deliver computing power at up to 80 percent lower cost than small ones. The also claim that private clouds may one day carry a cost that is as much as 10x the cost of public clouds.
Read the full paper at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/cloud/docs/The-Economics-of-the-Cloud.pdf
November 9, 2010
From the massive posters that catch your eye when entering Messe for Tech Ed to the theme of the keynote to the hardware and software on display it’s clear Microsoft along with its partners is pushing the “cloud”. This includes both on-premise computing (private cloud) and platform as a service (Azure).
With either cloud model the focus is on improving the processes of deploying, monitoring, and scaling. To that end, Microsoft is breathing new life into its package known as System Center Operations Center (SCOM). I’ve always thought that SCOM fell more into the monitoring space than any other. However that would be selling the product short particularly in light of the new features coming in the 2012 version.
Response at the conference to these new features has been very positive. It’s joining Office programs with the inclusion of a task focused ribbon bar but that’s just icing on the cake. One click by the IT Pro you’ve authorised in your organisation and you have a new private cloud provisioned complete with applications. One tweeter referred to this as the “God button”. On the Azure front, SCOM will now keep an eye on the pulse of your systems there with the help of a new Management Pack. And the announcement of SCOM integration with Microsft’s recently acquired AVIcode means deep integration with .NET applications.
As revealed at PDC and reiterated at Tech Ed Microsoft is opening up Azure VMs for greater control by those hosting applications on them. You can direct that startup tasks be run that install 3rd party components. You will have full IIS capability meaning multiple websites not just one. You can RDP onto the VMs for complete visibility of the instance. A much richer portal along with an MMC snap-in for management are on the way. These are just to name a few of the enhancements on Azure. Microsoft is moving at lightning speed responding to customer requests.
So there’s lots to look forward to in cloud computing!
November 7, 2010
A big benefit of cloud computing is the ease with which you can add resources to meet increasing demand. Same goes for reduced demand. This is known as elasticity.
Windows Azure makes this a snap via its config files. Sometimes you may wish to eliminate the manual effort altogether and design a solution that automatically scales based on performance and load.
This is possible via Azure’s REST based management API. Joseph Fultz explains this approach in the October 2010 MSDN article, Performance-Based Scaling in Windows Azure: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/gg232759.aspx
October 28, 2010
Gartner predicts that by 2013, only two vendors will be perceived as leaders in both cloud computing and enterprise computing. Those two vendors are likely to be Microsoft and VMware, they said.
They went on to say that Microsoft has “one of the most visionary and complete views of the cloud”.
Read more here http://blogs.pcmag.com/miller/2010/10/gartner_will_microsoft_and_vmw.php
November 19, 2009
This evening we held a cloud computing dinner for a selected group of CIOs and IT Directors from the London financial services sector. We also invited two representatives from Microsoft to attend to provide information about the Windows Azure cloud computing platform.
The dinner, which was held in The Gherkin, proved to be a highly successful event. There is clearly a lot of interest in cloud computing right now. Perhaps the most surprising outcome was that security was not the number issue for the attendees. There seemed to be an acceptance that cloud computing environments could be made as secure as traditional environments.
What was of more interest to people was the location and jurisdiction of the data. There seemed to be more concern about who would have access to the data and how easily it could be accessed, transferred, controlled etc.
All attendees gave the event high marks and have indicated an interest in reconvening in 2010 to see how everybody has progressed.
If you would like to be on the invite list for future cloud dinners then please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 020 7836 1800.
These dinners are intentionally non-technical in nature. They examine the wider issues of cloud computing and are thus ideally suited to board-level IT executives.