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My take on the Cloud (pt1)

The Cloud. You knew I eventually had to get there didn’t you? What is all this hubub about the “Cloud”. Well I’ll try and explain what I think, without creating yet another definition. I think there are about 68 definitions now. Well According to Simon Wardley there are.

The Cloud is the next step in the gradual evolution of computer services from innovative tool to commodity. These days hardware is relatively cheap. CPU cycles are relatively cheap. Gone are the days when computers were only used by wizards with special hats. Now anyone has access to CPU cycles, and for cheap.

Will we all end up eventually using the Cloud, whether we know it or not? I think that is eventually the end game.  We’ll have small local physical hardware with virtual desktops. The software is there now to do it. We’re just waiting for the infrastructure to do it. The average connection speed in the UK is so slow it makes something like that undoable.

Currently we’ll just have to put up with browser-based apps with about 75% functionality of the desktop apps. Developers will use Clouds for development. Teams will be dispersed around the world and VPNs will die a most honourable death.

We here at Chameeya have embraced this concept by signing up with Azure and SQL Azure. We see this as the way forward. Particularily for small firms which can now offer big iron when needed and no iron when not. Azure is a wonderful platform and its right that Microsoft has “bet their company on it”. Though I don’t think they have….

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The future wave of SQL development?

Last month Microsoft released the SQL Azure management tool currently code named project Houston. You can read more about it here. Houston is a Silverlight tool which provides a GUI to managed and create items within your SQL Azure database instance. I would encourage everyone to watch the demos and get hooked.

Houston will allow those developers not familiar with SQL Server to build tables, views and stored procedures quickly as part of their web project. Though if someone can code a stored procedure they wouldn’t really be a simple developer would they?

It is, in a sense, a kind of Access-ish type of interface to SQL Azure. SQL Azure really does allow a small operation like us to build robust applications for enterprises, hosted in the cloud and managed by us. No need for us to rent expensive servers and setup all the software on our own or, eek!, build our own with the expense and SLA requirements. The cloud commoditises all that and lets us develop and someone else manage. But with the additional flexibility that a customer can turn it off when not needed. So you only pay for the CPU and storage you are using.

This month I hope to attend several more seminars on SQL Server. And at the end of September there is SQLbits. For anyone who hasn’t been or heard of SQLBits, this is a community conference which has now expanded beyond its original Saturday format. Check out their website and register. This time they are in York.