Archive for December, 2008

A Quick Overview of a Database for the Cloud: CouchDB

December 21st, 2008 Comments off

Need a database in your cloud? Check out CouchDB.

What is CouchDB?

CouchDB is an Apache project. CouchDB is not a relational database. It seems that cloud computing has spawned, or at least made popular, a new breed of database. Rather than the hierarchical, network or relational databases of yore*, we have a new paradigm: key/value pairs. You declare a field and assign some values.

*I left object database and xml database off my database of yore list as they never really caught on.

SimpleDB is another key/value database that you may have heard of or used. SimpleDB is provided as part of Amazon Web Services (AWS).

What does CouchDB Offer?

CouchDB is accessible via JSON (which I like better than XML for tasks like these) and it uses JavaScript as a query language. CouchDB is document aware. That is, you create a new document and store related data wiithin that document. There is no schema, documents are the important classification of your data..

The really important thing is that CouchDB is highly distributed. It’s this feature that makes it desireable in situations where a relational database does not scale well. According to the Apache CouchDB Documentation:

CouchDB is a peer based distributed database system. Any number of CouchDB hosts (servers and offline-clients) can have independent “replica copies” of the same database, where applications have full database interactivity (query, add, edit, delete). When back online or on a schedule, database changes are replicated bi-directionally.

CouchDB has built-in conflict detection and management and the replication process is incremental and fast, copying only documents and individual fields changed since the previous replication. Most applications require no special planning to take advantage of distributed updates and replication.

Distributed from the ground up. Sweet.

An important note about where CouchDB is different from SimpleDB is that CouchDB is ACID. Rather than using logs for consitency, CouchDB uses redundants sets of data (much like Vertica). CouchDB, like the other key/value databases is “eventually consistent“. That means that it will take time for the replicas to be updated. CouchDB also uses MVCC and readers never block writers. Readers always see a consistent data set.

CouchDB is written in Erlang. That’s a down side to me in that it is not a very common language. If you do need a patch in a hurry, it may be difficult to find someone qualified to write it. CouchDB was originally written in C++ but the author chose to redo it in Erlang for scalability reasons. Hmmm.

That’s the short story on CouchDB. I plan to write more about actually using CouchDB in the near future.


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Does Flexiscale Still Exist?

December 20th, 2008 Comments off

I am checking out some of the lesser known (to me at least) cloud computing providers. I ran across Flexiscale. It looks promising. It’s related to xcalibre, a web hosting provider. Flexiscale is run by the same people who founded xcalibre. It looks like it is run out of Scotland and the only pricing I can find is in pounds (and pence).

The sign up form is still working, as is the rest of the site. I wonder about their viability though as the latest blog entry is October 16, 2008. The only recent activity I can find in the forums is spam. A forum with uncontrolled spam is usually a sign of the dead pool. To tie it all up, the latest news flash is dated April 2008.

Other than that, the pricing does not look unreasonable. They even offer Windows. Firewalling is an extra cost (which is just kind of weird).

I used the contact form to ask if they are still in business. I guess if I hear from them, I might give the service a try out. I got an automated reply from xcalibre. Not a good sign. Maybe business was so bad that flexiscale got sucked back into xcalibre? I will post an update if I hear anything.

I did do a google search and it looks like flexiscale had some major issues with outages back in the August and October time frames. However, I found an entry as recently as Nov 2008 about rightscale having an interface to Flexiscale. Oh well, I’ll just wait and see what kind of response, if any, I get.


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GridToday (On Demand Enterprise) Suspends Publication

December 19th, 2008 Comments off

I just got an email that I am sad to see.

Dear On-Demand Enterprise Readers:

Effective Dec. 19, 2008, we will be suspending publication of On-Demand Enterprise (formerly GRIDtoday). We appreciate your consistent feedback to us over the years and would like to thank you for your loyal readership.

Best wishes to you and yours for a happy, healthy holiday season and for a successful 2009.


Diane Lieberman
[email protected]

The GridToday website itself doesn’t mention anything about shutting down. I’m not sure of the cause but with the economy in the tank and news organizations taking huge hits all over, I guess this is just a sign of the times.

I’ve been depending on GridToday for a while now. In addition to highlighting important cloud press releases and announcements, they’ve done some good cloud reporting. GridToday was narrow enough to be insightful but wide enough to be useful.

The really ironic thing is that the bad economy will only help the adoption of cloud computing.

I’ll post if I hear anything else.


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Video Replay of Cloud Computing Webinar

December 12th, 2008 1 comment

Go to the TUSC Cloud Computing Briefing page.

Stream Cloud Computing With Amazon and Oracle (best viewed in IE)

Download Cloud Computing With Amazon and Oracle (best viewed in anything)

Or view the deck as powerpoint (best viewed in open office or word)

Or view the deck as Scribd iPaper (viewable online in any browser)

Big thanks to TUSC for putting this on and hosting the files.

I got plenty of good questions and was doing my best to answer them but my phone ran out of juice.  I use a landline but was on the cordless.  My desk phone quit working (which is really painful because that is my only speaker phone).

I will probably do this one again after I tweak it to better answer some of the questions I received.  Amazon has also been announcing some changes and I want to update it for those changes.

If you have any interest in a new webinar or maybe even a tele-conference (where everyone can ask questions), post a comment and let me know.


Cloud Computing with Oracle and Amazon

December 11th, 2008 Comments off

Here is the presentation I did live at SOUG in November and that I am doing a webinar on today.

An overview of cloud computing using Amazon Web Services (AWS). Also provides info on the business value of running in the cloud, what Oracle Corp provides for running in the cloud and a walk through of starting an EC2 instance and attaching an EBS volume.

Cloud Computing Using Oracle and Amazon Web Services