Jul 25, 2010

Open is the New Black (hmm.... Standard)

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Only few years ago when a technological company was lagging behind in a new niche that was turned into a mainstream, it had a magic move: creating a new standard.

Standard: The Magic Touch
Many times the standard technology was less efficient, less robust and with less users than the technology that was advanced by the market leader. Yet, it had a magic charm: it was open, and most the players in the market could use it without royalties or other fees. That was including #2, #3 in the market as well as many other giants that were not focused in that market, but had to integrate and expand their product support to that technology.
It worked for DEC with Ethernet (vs. IBM's Token Ring); it was great for NetApp that chose iSCSI with 3% market share vs. EMC leading Fiber Channel protocol and it was like a charm for a small silicon valley firm named CISCO that chosen IP.

How do you Standardize Software?
Let say you are a software company that is lagging behind. Anyone said Yahoo! vs. Google in the internet market? Yahoo! had a great idea to scale out using a BigTable like product, but had no deep pockets for that.
Another example? Facebook? What if you had the largest image store publicly available, yet you have only few hundred developers and you need a new scalable database. What do you do?

Open: The New Magic Touch
Well, both Yahoo! and Facebook chose Open Source their infrastructure products creating two of the leading infrastructure products in todays world: Apache Hadoop and Apache Cassandra.

And Cloud, What about the Cloud?
Well it seems that last week Rackspace move: establishing OpenStack.org and contributing major parts of its propriety cloud infrastructure code to this project, is a clear say that being #2 in the IaaS market (see Jack of all Clouds latest report) that is being invaded by major players such as VMware, Google, Salesforce.com and Microsoft is not an easy task even to such a major player in the old hosting business. (If you want to know more regarding this move, see Geva Perry's analysis).

Bottom Line
It seems that the cloud market and mostly the IaaS one is getting to their mainstream phase, where scale is a top factor and community is a major factor in survival.

Would you like to share you opinion? Can you add more information? Feel free to comment!

Keep Performing,
Moshe Kaplan
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Jul 10, 2010

New Blog Announcement: The VP R&D Handbook Blog

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Last month I opened a new blog

Are You Leaving Us?
No. The focus of the two blogs are totally different, I'll continue to post here new and good stuff more than once in a while.

So, What is the Difference?
Well it is gonna be a major one:
  1. Language: Hebrew blog rather that English one.
  2. Location: Microsoft Israel rather than Google US.
  3. Content: Soft stuff like people management, R&D management issues and other issues from the VP R&D desk rather than cloud, system architecture and performance and other hard core stuff.
Sounds Cool?
If you are interested in this blog, feel free to enter my VP R&D handbook blog that may turn someday into a book.

Last Words
If you feel that you have something to contribute, feel free to send me a draft. I will be glad to have host posts.

Keep Performing,
Moshe Kaplan Follow MosheKaplan on Twitter

Jul 3, 2010

Microsoft is Catching Up with the Internet Industry

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For a long time I blame Microsoft for not really understanding the Internet and cloud Industry basic need: very large systems that can handle billions of daily transactions with a very low revenue per transaction. Now, after admitting its failure in the mobile industry (see Kin's death earlier this week), Microsoft finally reveals AppFabric after a very long time (I would like to thank my colleague Alon Biran for notifying me regarding it).

What is AppFabric?
The roots of AppFabric are located in the "Velocity" project that was developed in the SQL Server group (a year and a half ago I wrote a Knol about). This project was aimed to provide a key-value store (super hash) that will be used for two main objectives:
  1. Instant in memory storage data store (database replacement).
  2. Shared web session repository that will enable instant failure between web servers (the only Microsoft in house solution till now was using SQL Server as a shared repository)
After being in various CTP and beta versions for almost two years, AppFabric is finally out as part of the Windows platform rather than being a part of the SQL Server product. You may take a look at my colleague David Chappell's AppFabric white paper for complete set of features and scenarios.

Who are the Current Players?
The major players in the market these days are open source (Every each of the products has its own unique features, please feel free to comment on this post regarding it):
  1. Memcached: the #1 product in the market. Its roots are in 2003. It is an open source and Linux based product. Yet, Memcached has .Net client API as well as windows porting of the product itself.
  2. SharedCache: a native C# open source product that is a Memcached like.
  3. StateServer: commercial native windows product by ScaleOut Software.
  4. NCache Express: another commercial native windows product by Alachisoft.
Since AppFabric is provided for "free" as part of the Windows platform, the commercial native .Net products may be hurt from the Microsoft move. However, they may gain more users due to better publicity for this kind of solutions in the Microsoft development community,

Why Did It Take So Long?
It seems that Microsoft had a major cannibalization issue: If you provide a good key-value store then you may reduce the databases size and usage intensity. Thus, the number of high cost database licenses will be significant lower and the bottom line will be smaller. Oracle has the same problem with Coherence that is now part of the Fusion platform.
Taking this product into RTM is a true Microsoft understanding that if it really want to take a significant role in the Internet and cloud industry, it will have to sacrifice more than just few cents in its financial reports bottom line.

Bottom Line
These are very good news that Microsoft is finally provide a solution for a basic need of the Internet and cloud industry. However, while Microsoft was catching up with the Industry 2003 news, new requirements were raised including MapReduce, BigTable and other NoSQL advanced features. How much time will it take this time? Probably only Steve Ballmer has the answer.

Keep Performing,
Moshe Kaplan Follow MosheKaplan on Twitter


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