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Contrast Amazon’s Elastic Beanstalk with

Recently Amazon released Elastic Beanstalk, as reported by Kevin Kell. This is interesting product release from both a technical and business perspective.

From a technical perspective, Platform as a Service has many advantages over Infastructure as a Service (IaaS) from zero administration to pay per use. However, PaaS offerings from providers such as Google App Engine or Microsoft Azure take away almost total control from developers all aspects of tuning and administration at the system level. This is not always an advantage. Micorosoft has began to recognise this and released PaaS with elevated privileges giving some access to IIS for instance. What is exciting about Amazon’s Elastic Beanstalk is that is offers PaaS with zero admin but also access to the complete underlying IaaS if required – PaaS that can morph into IaaS as and when required. This appears to be the perfect balance and I cannot wait to begin working with it.

From a business perspective I am intrigued about the differences between Amazon and in particular and their approaches to Cloud Computing and marketing. Amazon’s approach is about getting things working and then releasing them. Contrast that to, whose approach to Cloud Computing seems to be more about ‘land grab’ and momentum through acquisition at the moment. They have over the last 12 months made many announcements related to the cloud of products that were not ready for use – take for example – still far from available for general use. In the PaaS area they have formed alliances with the likes of VMware and acquisitions such as Heroku. How does Heroku fit now that Elastic Beanstalk is offering much the same service !

Keeping up to date with the incredible pace of innovation and development in Cloud Computing is very hard. Making sense of product releases,and distinguishing marketing hype from product reality is even more difficult. This is where Learning Tree’s three day Cloud Computing course can help. Delivered by Cloud Computing practitioners, It slices through the marketing hype and provides you with up to the minute detail and hands-on experience of the latest Cloud Computing products and innovations.

Chris Strengthens PaaS Offering

In past posts on Platform as a Service (PaaS) I have written about Heroku, a cloud based startup that delivers PaaS for Ruby developers. This month has acquired Heroku for $212 million in cash. It is interesting to consider how this acquisition fits into the Cloud Computing strategy.

When considering Cloud Computing, Software as a Service (SaaS) is an elegant application delivery model that has mastered. For application developers, PaaS is a perfect solution, providing a zero administration, scalable delivery platform. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offers instantaneous provisioning of infrastructure in a cost effective, pay as you use model but requires the same level of support as on-premise infrastructure. Application developers have a choice for deployment of using PaaS or IaaS. PaaS is, for the majority, the preferred option for many reasons, primarily ease of use and zero administration (think security, patches, operating system updates etc).

PaaS has been dominated by two companies, Microsoft with Azure and Google with App engine. Heroku, also provides a solution, focused on Ruby developers. What is interesting is that Heroku is built on Amazon EC2 IaaS. With PaaS being so attractive to developers and organisations, it is a market that are clearly keen to provide solutions for. I recently wrote about their Java PaaS offering, VMForce, in partnership with VMWare. Add to this the core PaaS Salesforce have for extending their SaaS and now via acquistition Heroku, Salesforce are now uniquely positioned to provide the cornerstone for hosting the next generation of applications developed using a variety of programming languages and tools, all with one common feature – exploiting to the maximum the benefits of cloud computing.

In summary, for software developers, the landscape for hosting and deploying applications is rapidly changing – for the better and, via the acquisition of Heroku have positioned themeselves if not at the head, certainly towards the front of the queue of solution providers.

If you would like to find out more about how Cloud Computing can benefit your organisation, what the solutions from various PaaS vendors offer, how they differ, advantages and disadvantages, as well as gain hands-on experience, why not attend Learning Tree’s Cloud Computing course.


SalesForce Announces

This last week has been exciting for anybody using or considering using Cloud Computing. One of the major announcements has been from It seems that 2011 will see not only continue to innovate in the Software as a Service(SaaS) area but will also see them significantly enhance their Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering to customers.

The release of, a cloud relational database service now places in direct competition with Microsoft’s SQL Azure and Amazons Relational Database Service (RDS). So what exactly are offering ? They are offering a database built for the cloud on open standards, secure reliable and available 24/7. Data is automatically backed up and disaster recovery built in. Also the database is automatically elastic eliminating concerns on scalability.

This is an exciting development for anybody building applications that will leverage the cloud. The database can be accessed from any application written in any programming language as access is provided by open standards such as REST, SOAP, oAuth and SAML. Since the technology is the same that is used by the SaaS it has been vetted by Governments, Healthcare providers and many large organisations. In addition it has been certified by ISO27001, SysTrust and SAS70 Type II.

An interesting feature of the database is that it comes with a built in enterprise social graph meaning it is easy to add user profiles, status updates, feeds and groups that are built using this database. As for pricing, it starts free for upto 3 users, 100,000 records and 50,000 transactions a month. has always considered itself to be a disruptive company, starting many years ago with its no software marketing and building its product on a model that is now known as SaaS., its cloud database is also now a disruptive approach to data storage in the cloud. It offers many compelling features not found in Windows Azure and Amazon RDS. One thing is for sure, the people who benefit most from this vendor competitiveness is the cloud adopters and users.

If you would like to discover about how Cloud Computing can be used in your organisation and the benefits it can bring, as well as familiarise yourself with all the major products currently offered by Cloud Computing vendors, why not attend Learning Tree’s comprehensive hands-on training course.


More Than A Million Reasons the Cloud May Be Safe

I am back on the theme of cloud security. Why cloud security again ? Because cloud security raised its head again last week on a consultancy assignment I undertook. My client requires a new business application. This is available as Software as a Service(SaaS), but can also be purchased as a self hosted application. On the analysis I provided, my client could see many business advantages that a cloud solution could provide them – significant cost savings, transparent scalability, an ability to improve business process efficiency, more effective use of staff time …. the list continued. On the downside, security of the cloud was the factor that was pulling the company away from the cloud.

When I questioned which aspects of security were the primary concerns they listed data privacy and access control and then added availability and reliability. Ok, I know these are not all security but they were perceived as security issues by my client. I know from other consulting assignments and also from teaching the Learning Tree Cloud Computing course that many people have exactly these concerns and see them as a barrier to cloud adoption.

As an example of SaaS that works in a secure, highly available and reliable manner I provided the example of Here is an organisation that has been providing SaaS for over 10 years. This company has over a million users, all of who have data that is stored securely, and accessed with high availability and reliability. They have major customers such as Starbucks and Cisco. show their availability, reliability and performance statistics to all users in real time – an approach that builds confidence based on transparency. The reason I use as an example is that they prove that Cloud Computing works – over a million user cannot be wrong surely ?

Now, just because works does not mean everything cloud related will work too. However, they are an example of a company doing things incredibly well and providing major benefits to their customers. There are many other cloud providers who do similar great things. The key in selecting a Cloud Computing provider is understanding the cloud and knowing what questions to ask of a provider. Its this kind of knowledge that is gained in Learning Tree’s Cloud Computing course which provides a vendor neutral technical and business view of Cloud Computing.


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