Posts Tagged ‘cloud’

Understanding the cloud

In Cloud, ecommerce, software on November 30, 2011 at 10:09 pm

First it has been around a lot longer than you think and in a lot of different formats. The modern cloud came about from the requirements of online companies to solve the problems of providing 100% uptime and security on cheap hardware. Mainframes solved these problems a long time ago, but were not cheap.

The modern cloud was independently created by a number of ecommerce and software as a service companies whose revenues and reputations depended on providing 100% Security, and Availability to their customers. In the case of the ecommerce companies both @UK and Amazon derived 100% of their income from online sales, and had carried out pioneering work into low cost clustering, which is part of the basis for the modern cloud technology.

Amazon had virtually unlimited cash for their operations and consistently lost significant sums of money as they built the business. This meant that they threw hardware at the problem and needed tools and systems to manage a vast infrastructure.

@UK was created in 1999 by a leading software house @Software PLC, and missed out on the dot com boom for funding. Thus, @UK developed its cloud between 1999 and 2006 with minimal financial resources. This changed with the @UK IPO in 2006, however the philosophy of high quality software as the solution rather than hardware remained.

Cloud Application Stacks

The result is that @UK has developed a cloud application stack that is at least 100x more efficient than well know web software stacks such as

  • Linux Apache PHP and MySQL
  • Oracle Java and
  • Microsoft IIS, DotNet and SQL server

For most real world applications the level of change is not measurable since they collapse under load before a measurable change in load is recorded for the @UK system.

Clustered Storage and Virtualisation

The other parts of the modern cloud are clustered storage, and virtualisation. The first large scale deployments of clustered storage were by Google who created their own file system to cope with their requirement for large amounts of inexpensive storage. Cern (the creators of the web) also contributed to this effort with low cost hardware designs for their storage requirements.

Virtualisation has been around since the mainframe, however the x86 chip is difficult to virtualise and there are a limited number of virtualisation solutions for the older chips and they were often very inefficient. The new VT enabled chips mean that commodity x86 hardware now provides reasonably efficient virtual hosts.

It is the combination of low cost virtual hosts, clustered storage and the experience of managing clustered application stacks that created the modern cloud. However the problems that they were trying to solve of providing secure available applications have been around for a much longer time.

Cloud Delivers Security and Availability

This is why for most major cloud players the current concerns about cloud security and availability are things that they normally started to address over 10 years ago and solved a long long time ago.


New email system is brilliant

In business, Cloud, Email, software, ubuntu on October 4, 2010 at 10:46 pm

@UK PLC’s new cloud email system is brilliant.

I am in the midst of parallel running our new cloud email system vs Microsoft Exchange, and we have just been sending out 100’s of thousands of emails as part of our new green marketplace launch. The new cloud email system has been fast and responsive through out, where as exchange has frozen the computers that are connected to my exchange account.

I wanted to make sure that customers were not upset by our sending out emails, and so had all the emails send out with delivery and read status turned on to feedback to my own email address.

The result was hundreds of thousands of mails hitting my account at the same time, which was a great test of both systems.  Sue and my pc’s ground to a halt with outlook connected to exchange, but my PC was fine when just connected to our Cloud Email 4 business system.

In terms of managing the email, it was quick and straightforward with a reasonable imap client.  I have been experimenting with Mutt, which is brilliant if you like vi.   However, the great thing about imap is that virtually all email clients from Outlook to thunderbird support imap and work fine.

I was able to move tens of thousands of emails around quickly from folder to folder, and I was delighted with the speed and responsiveness. It was remarkable how much faster it was than exchange, especially as exchange is sitting on our local network and has about 30 accounts and our cloud email 4 business is in a remote data centre and has tens of thousands of domains a huge number of clients.

We are going to try and switch over from Exchange to cloud email 4 business as quickly as we can.