Microservices Matters

Nov 25 2009   5:30PM GMT

Grid yourself for the cloud

Mike Pontacoloni Profile: Mpontacoloni

by Jack Vaughan

Have you heard the one about the private cloud? The IT staff took the “Data Center” plaque off the door and replaced it with a “Private Cloud” sign … oh, and they locked the door too.

All kidding aside, “cloud computing” has been a big story this year. But, like most would-be technology revolutions, it is actually a collection of existing technologies that come together in a slightly new way.

Behind the cloud are services and architecture advancements, of course. Who could argue that the march of virtualization is not a big factor in cloud? Maybe cheap processors and cheap memory are the biggest drivers. And so on. At this desk the feeling is that cloud most closely resembles other “latest and greatest things” in that the vendors focus on how latest and greatest it is and gloss over the potential complexity.

This is not to say you should not look at cloud computing architectures. When you do, take a look at data grids. They have been used in data centers and grid computing for a few years now. Some applications benefit greatly from such grids. Data grids have evolved slowly, with great effort. It is just such a long-percolating distributed computing technology that could make cloud something really new.

The Azure cloud computing platform was the major news from last week’s Microsoft Professional Developers’ Conference in L.A. Amid all the news coming out of the conference was a new product from ScaleOut, a firm that builds data caching servers and data grids. ScaleOut StateServer 5.0 has added automatic global data integration and full parallel Microsoft Language Integrated Query (LINQ), as well as the ability to perform parallel queries to retrieve .NET and Java-based objects. While other vendors are figuring out what cloud is, this company is among those enhancing the products that will come to define cloud.

ScaleOut is headed by William Bain, who we spoke with recently. Bain worked over the years at Bell Labs and Intel on a host of distributed computing issues, and he founded Valence Research, a company that did Web load-balancing software, and which was acquired by Microsoft.

We talked with Bain recently. “Data grid is an infrastructure technology being sucked into cloud platforms because it is key to scalability for some applications,” he told us.

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