As any reader of this site knows we're huge huge supporters of the arts. To continue that theme here's a visionary poem by Mason Hale. Few have reached for inspiration and found their muse in the emotional maelstrom that is cloud computing, but Mason has and the results speak for themselves: Partly Cloudy We have a dream A vision An aspiration To compute in the cloud To pay as we go To drink by the sip To add cores at our whim To write to disks with no end To scale up with demand And scale down when it ends Elasticity Scalability Redundancy Computing as a utility This is our dream Becoming reality But… There’s a hitch. There’s a bump in the road There’s a twist in the path There’s a detour ahead on the way to achieving our goal It’s the Database Our old friend He is set in his ways He deals in transactions to keeps things consistent He maintains the integrity of all his relations He eats disks for breakfast He hungers for RAM He loves queries and joins, and gives each one a plan He likes his schemas normal and strict His changes are atomic That is his schtick He’s an old friend as I said We all know him well So it pains me to say that in this new-fangled cloud He doesn’t quite fit Don’t get me wrong, our friend can scale as high as you want But there’s a price to be paid That expands as you grow The cost is complexity It’s more things to maintain More things that can go wrong More ways to inflict pain On the poor DBA who cares for our friend The one who backs him up and, if he dies, restores him again I love our old friend I know you do too But it is time for us all to own up to the fact That putting him into the cloud Taking him out of the rack Just causes us both more pain and more woe So… It’s time to move on Time to learn some new tricks Time to explore a new world that is less ACIDic It’s time to meet some new friends Those who were born in the cloud Who are still growing up Still figuring things out There’s Google’s BigTable and Werner’s SimpleDB There’s Hive and HBase and Mongo and Couch There’s Cassandra and Drizzle And not to be left out There’s Vertica and Aster if you want to spend for support There’s a Tokyo Cabinet and something called Redis I’m told It’s a party, a playgroup of newborn DB’s They scale and expand, they re-partition with ease They are new and exciting And still flawed to be sure But they’ll learn and improve, grow and mature They are our future We developers should take heed If our databases can change, then maybe Just maybe So can we
In case you are interested here's the info: INFOSCALE 2009: The 4th International ICST Conference on Scalable Information Systems. 10-12 June 2009, Hong Kong, China. In the last few years, we have seen the proliferation of the use of heterogeneous distributed systems, ranging from simple Networks of Workstations, to highly complex grid computing environments. Such computational paradigms have been preferred due to their reduced costs and inherent scalability, which pose many challenges to scalable systems and applications in terms of information access, storage and retrieval. Grid computing, P2P technology, data and knowledge bases, distributed information retrieval technology and networking technology should all converge to address the scalability concern. Furthermore, with the advent of emerging computing architectures - e.g. SMTs, GPUs, Multicores. - the importance of designing techniques explicitly targeting these systems is becoming more and more important. INFOSCALE 2009 will focus on a wide array of scalability issues and investigate new approaches to tackle problems arising from the ever-growing size and complexity of information of all kinds. For further information visit http://infoscale.org/2009/
Update 4: Heroku versus GAE & GAE/J
Update 3: Heroku has gone live!. Congratulations to the team. It's difficult right now to get a feeling for the relative cost and reliability of Heroku, but it's an impressive accomplishment and a viable option for people looking for a delivery platform.
Update 2: Heroku Architecture. A great interactive presentation of the Heroku stack. Requests flow into Nginx used as a HTTP Reverse Proxy. Nginx routes requests into a Varnish based HTTP cache. Then requests are injected into an Erlang based routing mesh that balances requests across a grid of dynos. Dynos are your application "VMs" that implement application specific behaviors. Dynos themselves are a stack of: POSIX, Ruby VM, App Server, Rack, Middleware, Framework, Your App. Applications can access PostgreSQL. Memcached is used as an application caching layer.
Update: Aaron Worsham Interview with James Lindenbaum, CEO of Heroku. Aaron nicely sums up their goal: Heroku is looking to eliminate all the reasons companies have for not doing software projects.
Adam Wiggins of Heroku presented at the lollapalooza that was the Cloud Computing Demo Night. The idea behind Heroku is that you upload a Rails application into Heroku and it automatically deploys into EC2 and it automatically scales using behind the scenes magic. They call this "liquid scaling." You just dump your code and go. You don't have to think about SVN, databases, mongrels, load balancing, or hosting. You just concentrate on building your application. Heroku's unique feature is their web based development environment that lets you develop applications completely from their control panel. Or you can stick with your own development environment and use their API and Git to move code in and out of their system.
For website developers this is as high up the stack as it gets. With Heroku we lose that "build your first lightsaber" moment marking the transition out of apprenticeship and into mastery. Upload your code and go isn't exactly a heroes journey, but it is damn effective...
I must confess to having an inherent love of Heroku's idea because I had a similar notion many moons ago, but the trendy language of the time was Perl instead of Rails. At the time though it just didn't make sense. The economics of creating your own "cloud" for such a different model wasn't there. It's amazing the niches utility computing will seed, fertilize, and help grow. Even today when using Eclipse I really wish it was hosted in the cloud and I didn't have to deal with all its deployment headaches. Firefox based interfaces are pretty impressive these days. Why not?
Adam views their stack as:
1. Developer Tools
2. Application Management
3. Cluster Management
4. Elastic Compute Cloud
At the top level developers see a control panel that lets them edit code, deploy code, interact with the database, see logs, and so on. Your website is live from the first moment you start writing code. It's a powerful feeling to write normal code, see it run immediately, and know it will scale without further effort on your part. Now, will you be able toss your Facebook app into the Heroku engine and immediately handle a deluge of 500 million hits a month? It will be interesting to see how far a generic scaling model can go without special tweaking by a certified scaling professional. Elastra has the same sort of issue.
Underneath Heroku makes sure all the software components work together in Lennon-McCartney style harmony. They take care (or will take care of) starting and stopping VMs, deploying to those VMs, billing, load balancing, scaling, storage, upgrades, failover, etc. The dynamic nature of Ruby and the development and deployment infrastructure of Rails is what makes this type of hosting possible. You don't have to worry about builds. There's a great infrastructure for installing packages and plugins. And the big hard one of database upgrades is tackled with the new migrations feature.
A major issue in the Rails world is versioning. Given the precambrian explosion of Rails tools, how does Heroku make sure all the various versions of everything work together? Heroku sees this as their big value add. They are in charge of making sure everything works together. We see a lot companies on the web taking on the role of curator (, , ). A curator is a guardian or an overseer. Of curators Steve Rubel says: They acquire pieces that fit within the tone, direction and - above all - the purpose of the institution. They travel the corners of the world looking for "finds." Then, once located, clean them up and make sure they are presentable and offer the patron a high quality experience. That's the role Heroku will play for their deployable Rails environment.
With great automated power comes great restrictions. And great opportunity. Curating has a cost for developers: flexibility. The database they support is Postgres. Out of luck if you wan't MySQL. Want a different Ruby version or Rails version? Not if they don't support it. Want memcache? You just can't add it yourself. One forum poster wanted, for example, to use the command line version of ImageMagick but was told it wasn't installed and use RMagick instead. Not the end of the world. And this sort of curating has to be done to keep a happy and healthy environment running, but it is something to be aware of.
The upside of curation is stuff will work. And we all know how hard it can be to get stuff to work. When I see an EC2 AMI that already has most of what I need my heart goes pitter patter over the headaches I'll save because someone already did the heavy curation for me. A lot of the value in services like rPath offers, for example, is in curation. rPath helps you build images that work, that can be deployed automatically, and can be easily upgraded. It can take a big load off your shoulders.
There's a lot of competition for Heroku. Mosso has a hosting system that can do much of what Heroku wants to do. It can automatically scale up at the webserver, data, and storage tiers. It supports a variery of frameworks, including Rails. And Mosso also says all you have to do is load and go.
3Tera is another competitor. As one user said: It lets you visually (through a web ui) create "applications" based on "appliances". There is a standard portfolio of prebuilt applications (SugarCRM, etc.) and templates for LAMP, etc. So, we build our application by taking a firewall appliance, a CentOS appliance, a gateway, a MySql appliance, glue them together, customize them, and then create our own template. You can specify down to the appliance level, the amount of cpu, memory, disk, and bandwidth each are assigned which let's you scale up your capacity simply by tweaking values through the UI. We can now deploy our Rails/Java hosted offering for new customers in about 20 minutes on our grid. AppLogic has automatic failover so that if anything goes wrong, it reploys your application to a new node in your grid and restarts it. It's not as cheap as EC2, but much more powerful. True, 3Tera won't help with your application directly, but most of the hard bits are handled.
RightScale is another company that combines curation along with load balancing, scaling, failover, and system management.
What differentiates Heroku is their web based IDE that allows you to focus solely on the application and ignore the details. Though now that they have a command line based interface as well, it's not as clear how they will differentiate themselves from other offerings.
The hosting model has a possible downside if you want to do something other than straight web hosting. Let's say you want your system to insert commercials into podcasts. That sort of large scale batch logic doesn't cleanly fit into the hosting model. A separate service accessed via something like a REST interface needs to be created. Possibly double the work. Mosso suffers from this same concern. But maybe leaving the web front end to Heroku is exactly what you want to do. That would leave you to concentrate on the back end service without worrying about the web tier. That's a good approach too.
Heroku is just getting started so everything isn't in place yet. They've been working on how to scale their own infrastructure. Next is working on scaling user applications beyond starting and stopping mongrels based on load. They aren't doing any vertical scaling of the database yet. They plan on memcaching reads, implementing read-only slaves via Slony, and using the automatic partitioning features built into Postgres 8.3. The idea is to start a little smaller with them now and grow as they grow. By the time you need to scale bigger they should have the infrastructure in place.
One concern is that pricing isn't nailed down yet, but my gut says it will be fair. It's not clear how you will transfer an existing database over, especially from a non-Postgres database. And if you use the web IDE I wonder how you will normal project stuff like continuous integration, upgrades, branching, release tracking, and bug tracking? Certainly a lot of work to do and a lot of details to work out, but I am sure it's nothing they can't handle.
My Table has 2 columsn .Column1 is id,Column2 contains information given by user about item in Column1 .User can give 3 types of information about item.I separate the opinion of single user by comma,and opinion of another user by ;. Example- 23-34,us,56;78,in,78 I need to calculate opinions of all users very fast.My idea is to have index on key so the searching would be very fast.Currently i m using mysql .My problem is that maximum column size is below my requirement .If any overflow occurs i make new row with same id and insert data into new row. Practically I would have around maximum 5-10 for each row. I think if there is any database which removes this application code. I just learn about key value pair database which is exactly i needed . But which doesn't put constraint(i mean much better than RDMS on column size. This application is not in production.
The Gear6 Web Cache hybrid DRAM-flash memory architecture allows for 5-10 times more memcache memory per unit of rack space than DRAM-only configurations, and cuts memory costs by 50%. Other software enhancements include a slab allocator that is more efficient than traditional memcache implementations due to its fine-grained bucket sizing. Gear6 Web Cache also supports object sizes greater than 1 megabyte and manages evictions based on the cost of replacing objects, depending on the size and frequency of object access. It intelligently places cache instances across DRAM and flash, taking into account their different characteristics, while at the same time monitoring their health and detecting and de‐allocating faulty or failing memory.
Gear6 Web Cache is a Memcached protocol compliant solution that scales and accelerates web applications, reduces memory footprint, enhances availability and implements comprehensive Memcached management features. Designed to work with all popular memcache clients, Gear6 Web Cache integrates seamlessly into existing deployments and immediately provides a scalable, high density caching solution for your web application environment.
Some of the web services which are using Gear6 are Answers.com (wiki answers), Veoh.com (online video), myYearBook.com (social network).
Read more about Gear6 hardware and customer cases studies on Gear6 website
Update 10: The Value of CDNs by Mike Axelrod of Google. Google implements a distributed content cache from within large ISPs. This allows them to serve content from the edge of the network and save bandwidth on the ISPs backbone. Update 9: Just Jump: Start using Clouds and CDNs. Bob Buffone gives a really nice and practical tutorial of how to use CloudFront as your CDN. Update 8: Akamai’s Services Become Affordable for Anyone! Blazing Web Site Performance by Distribution Cloud. Distribution Cloud starts at $150 per month for access to the best content distribution network in the world and the leader of Content Distribution Networks. Update 7: Where Amazon’s Data Centers Are Located, Expanding the Cloud: Amazon CloudFront. Why Amazon's CDN Offering Is No Threat To Akamai, Limelight or CDN Pricing. Amazon has launched their CDN with "“low latency, high data transfer speeds, and no commitments.” The perfect relationship for many. The majority of the locations are in North America, but some are in Europe and Asia. Update 6: Amazon Launching New Content Delivery Network: No Threat To Major CDNs, Yet. All the Amazon will kill all other CDNs is a bit overblown. As usual Dan Rayburn sets us straight: The offering won't support streaming, live broadcasting, or provide many of the other products and services that video content owners need...the real story here is that Amazon is going to offer a high performance method of distributing content with low latency and high data transfer rates. Update 5: When It Comes To Content Delivery Networks, What Is The "Edge"?. Dan Rayburn is on edge about the misuse of the term edge: closest location to the user does not guarantee quality, often content is not delivered from the closest location, all content is not replicated at every "edge" location. Lots of other essential information. Update 4: David Cancel runs a great test to see if you should be Using Amazon S3 as a CDN?. Conclusion: "CacheFly performed the best but only slightly better than EdgeCast. The S3 option was the worst with the Nginx/DIY option performing just over 100 ms faster." Also take look at Part 2 - Cacheability? Update 3: Mr. Rayburn takes A Detailed Look At Akamai's Application Delivery Product . They create a "bi-nodal overlay network" where users and servers are always within 5 to 10 milliseconds of each other. Your data center hosted app can't compete. The problem is that people (that is, me) can understand the data center model. I don't yet understand how applications as a CDN will work. Update 2: Dan Rayburn starts an interesting series of articles on Highlights Of My Day In Cambridge With Akamai. Akamai is moving strong into the application distribution business. That would make an interesting cloud alternative.. Update: Streamingmedia links to new CDN DF Splash that specializes in instant-on TV-quality video streaming. A question was raised on the forum asking for a CDN recommendation. As usual there are no definitive answers, but here are three useful articles that may help your deliberations.
Edge Acceleration Strategies: Akamai by Tony ChangThe edge network is the "network physically closest to the end user and the 'origin' is where the application(s) is hosted." Tony talks about how you use CDNs to manage the user experience through meeting millisecond+ level SLAs using edge acceleration services. He does this in an interesting way. He follows a request through its life cycle and shows how to turn your caterpillar into a butterfly at each stage:
Video on Content Delivery Network Pricing, Costs for Outsourced Video Delivery by Dan RayburnAlso CDN Pricing Data: Average Cost Per GB Declines In Q4 Due To Startups. It's evident Dan really knows his stuff. His articles and presentations are highly educational for anyone interested in the complex and confusing CDN world. Dan sees hundreds of real-life customer-CDN vendor contracts a year and he reports on real prices averaged over all the contracts he has seen. One of the hardest things as a consumer is knowing what a good price is for your basket of goods and Dan gives you the edge, so to speak. What I learned:
Memcached is generally treated as a black box. But what if you really need to know what's in there? Not for runtime purposes, but for optimization and capacity planning?
Read more on Evan Weaver, a software developer working for Twitter (a contributor for Rails core and Mongrel).
Update 3: A Comparison of Approaches to Large-Scale Data Analysis: MapReduce vs. DBMS Benchmarks. Although the process to load data into and tune the execution of parallel DBMSs took much longer than the MR system, the observed performance of these DBMSs was strikingly better. Update 2: H-Store: A Next Generation OLTP DBMS is the project implementing the ideas in this paper: The goal of the H-Store project is to investigate how these architectural and application shifts affect the performance of OLTP databases, and to study what performance benefits would be possible with a complete redesign of OLTP systems in light of these trends. Our early results show that a simple prototype built from scratch using modern assumptions can outperform current commercial DBMS offerings by around a factor of 80 on OLTP workloads. Update: interesting related thread on Lamda the Ultimate. A really fascinating paper bolstering many of the anti-RDBMS threads the have popped up on the intertube lately. The spirit of the paper is found in the following excerpt: In summary, the current RDBMSs were architected for the business data processing market in a time of different user interfaces and different hardware characteristics. Hence, they all include the following System R architectural features: * Disk oriented storage and indexing structures * Multithreading to hide latency * Locking-based concurrency control mechanisms * Log-based recovery Of course, there have been some extensions over the years, including support for compression, shared-disk architectures, bitmap indexes, support for user-defined data types and operators, etc. However, no system has had a complete redesign since its inception. This paper argues that the time has come for a complete rewrite. Of particular interest the discussion of H-store, which seems like a nice database for the data center. H-Store runs on a grid of computers. All objects are partitioned over the nodes of the grid. Like C-Store [SAB+05], the user can specify the level of K-safety that he wishes to have. At each site in the grid, rows of tables are placed contiguously in main memory, with conventional B-tree indexing. B-tree block size is tuned to the width of an L2 cache line on the machine being used. Although conventional B-trees can be beaten by cache conscious variations [RR99, RR00], we feel that this is an optimization to be performed only if indexing code ends up being a significant performance bottleneck. Every H-Store site is single threaded, and performs incoming SQL commands to completion, without interruption. Each site is decomposed into a number of logical sites, one for each available core. Each logical site is considered an independent physical site, with its own indexes and tuple storage. Main memory on the physical site is partitioned among the logical sites. In this way, every logical site has a dedicated CPU and is single threaded. The paper goes through how databases should be written with modern CPU, memory, and network resources. It's a fun an interesting read. Well worth your time.