Microsoft unveils new cloud project

Microsoft demonstrated its latest System Center feature -- a cloud-based project with the code name "Concero" -- at its 2011 Management Summit. Jo was there, and she'll share everything she saw on this week's episode of Cloud Cover TV. Meanwhile, Carl presents the latest on Hadoop and OpenStack.

And check out the Cloud Cover TV home page for the rest of the episodes.

Read the full text transcript from this video below. Please note the full transcript is for reference only and may include limited inaccuracies. To suggest a transcript correction, contact   

Microsoft unveils new cloud project

Jo Maitland: Hello, and welcome to Cloud Cover TV, our weekly show on all the juiciest news in the cloud computing market.  I am Joan Maitland, in San Francisco.

Carl Brooks: I am Carl Brooks, here in Boston. 

Jo Maitland: So I spent a full day in Vegas this week, at the Microsoft Management Summit. There was about 4,500, 5,000 IT guys there all from big companies. DuPont was there, and Chevron was there, to learn all about the latest and greatest products from Microsoft, on the management side. This year the company focused, yet again, on cloud computing, but talked more about private cloud than public cloud, last year they made a big deal about public cloud computing and Azure and freaked out a lot of the audience. That is like telling those guys you are going to be taking them to the moon, and basically, they hid under their desks.

This year, they focused more on private cloud and meeting these guys where they are at, focused on internal products. A lot of these big companies use the Microsoft System Center family of management products, and the big news there, around cloud, is this new feature that will come in systems centers sometime, released to manufacturing later this year, called Project Conchero, which is a feature that lets you manage both internal resources, basically, it lets you deploy an application on your internal machines, also on Windows Azure, then manage them both at the same time through one view, it is a portal essentially, that lets you deploy managed applications in two places.

Initially, the first release will only let you manage apps and move applications between VMM clusters, between virtual machine manager clusters, and manage applications over Azure, between Azure subscriptions. The Holy Grail here, is to be able to move applications back and forth in this notion of hybrid cloud, between the two places, public and private. That is a long way off, and it is yet to be seen, too, how important this hybrid notion of moving applications back and forth between different environments actually is to IT guys, and to the cloud computing world. Right now it is just this great idea, but there are not too many use-cases for why you want to be moving applications back and forth. With bandwidth, latency, security, and stuff it is not clear.

They demo’d Conchero, there is a lot of talk, a lot of buzz about it. We get to see this feature out in the wild.Carl, at the opposite end of the spectrum, in terms of innovation, there is word from Hadoop this week?

Carl Brooks: Not Hadoop per se, but there is a new company that has launched called Hadapt, everything in this space is called Hada-something. I has actually, been co-founded by Daniel Abbate, who is basically data base genius, who some of the work that he has done in academia, has led to other successful ventures, such as Vertica, which was recently acquired by HP, this is all in the space of what they call next generation databases. Hadoop is one of them; this is the open source version of what Google uses, called MapReduce, on its giant server farms.

Hadapt is really neat. It is an an outshoot from Hadoop DB, which is an open source project that basically tries to marry the functionality of your standard, traditional, structured QWERTY-language database techniques, with the more less traditional big pool of data, next generation databases that are coming around. The trick is, that these next generation databases are unstructured, they are extremely inexpensive, relatively speaking, and they are more or less useless, except for a very few small, certain applications. 

However, Sequel is very, very useful, but the bigger the data, the more expensive it gets. What Hadoop DB, and now Hadapt, which is commercial closed source, wants to do is wants to basically run little interface nodes of database management system nodes on various types of servers located around a big pool of data that might be running, structured using Hadoop.  This is similar to, but an add-on to Hive, which is a very popular interface for Hadoop that lets you use structured queries, Sequel, against Hadoop databases.

Hive plus Hadoop DB, essentially equals Hadapt, which is this new product. If you want to know why it is relevant, you want to think, big data, no Sequel databases, fairly useless. Medium sized, small data, Sequel, extremely useful, but extremely expensive. What this eventually will mean, is that people will be using Amazon AC2 and products like Hadapt for hundreds and thousands of dollars, what Oracle now charges millions and millions of dollars for. Potentially, long term extremely interesting, new way to attack the data market.

Jo Maitland: Interesting. Cool. So, also this week, the EU has got behind this idea of an international, well first of all European, but hopefully an international cloud computing standard. Right now, to move data out of one cloud computing service provider into another service provider is impossible, all of these companies have their own proprietary mechanisms for loading data and pulling data in and out of the cloud. To actually try and move to another service is pretty much impossible, it is very hard to do. The EU, rightly so, is promoting cloud computing standards, but these guys move at a snail’s pace, so we will check back in a decade and see how far they got with that. 

Also this week, there is a gentleman by the name of Rick Clark, from Rackspace; there is some news with him, Carl.

Carl Brooks: Rick Clark, dendrobates on Twitter, if you are looking for him. He jumped ship from Rackspace to Cisco, in the process, he wrote out a blog post detailing, in part, one of the reasons for the move was that Rackspace had fumbled of a little bit on managing the Openstack project, which it is heavily involved in, but involves a lot of other companies, some big companies, including NASA, and many, many independent developers. Rackspace apparently, made some behind-closed-doors changes to the governing structure of the open source project, that is a big no-no in the open source world. It got a little overblown, I think there was a lot of reaction to this, but I honestly do not think there is any big plot here. We are definitely making mountains out of a molehill. I think it is more corporate inexperience with dealing with open source projects; that led to do this.

After all, Rackspace, no matter what, has basically nothing to gain from either from taking over Openstack or pushing it around in a new direction that the community does not want it to go, because they do not sell software, they are not very good at it. They may have some talented people in the company, but they have no way to make any money off Openstack. They want it there as a leveler, a competitor against the really big boys who are going to come along and try to monopolize or really strangle out innovation in the cloud platform market. That is basically it, but it did generate a bit of controversy there, and you are seeing the business world meeting open source world again, that, combined with the departure last week, that you noted, of Chris Kemp, CTO of NASA, it means that most of the active participants in Openstack are actually concentrated at Rackspace now, so they probably felt like, ‘OK. Well, we are in the driver's seat. We have got Anso Labs, we have got the cloud files part of it, so well I guess we just go ahead and make these changes.’ It just ruffles feathers, but probably does not mean much in the long run.

Jo Maitland: Great. We will see where it goes from here.  Thank you for watching. This has been Cloud Cover TV, tune in next week for more insider news on the cloud computing market.

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