After a lot of preparation and work, Techwave 2011 has come and gone. However, this was a special Techwave for the SQL Anywhere team because we unveiled our brand new project , code-named “Fuji”, to the world. “Fuji” is a data management solution that enables ISVs to take business applications to the cloud without compromising either their needs, or their customers’ needs.
There is a lot of more information available about “Fuji” on the official beta site , and I invite everyone to go take a look. While there, sign up and pre-register to be notified when the beta software becomes available.
For today’s post I would like to focus on one particular aspect of the Fuji, and that is the flexibility that it gives ISVs in choosing a hosting provider. This was made even more clear to me after reading an article that appeared in The Register on September 2nd entitled Apple’s iCloud runs on Microsoft and Amazon services.
The gist of the article is that The Register is reporting on a rumour that Apple is planning on hosting its iCloud service across both Amazon Web Service and Microsoft Azure. While I do not want to comment on the veracity of this rumour, I did find the reasons the article cited for this fascinating. I have quoted the most interesting parts below:
By selecting two suppliers, both very different in their services and their level of maturity, Apple is reducing its risk of becoming hostage to a single supplier.
The iCloud data is being striped between the Amazon and Microsoft clouds. That means Apple or Microsoft or Amazon or all three have to implement through the software a way of identifying which user’s information is stored in what locations and then to route requests to the correct server.
If the data is duplicated, then software would handle load-balancing or randomly send user’s requests to one cloud or the other, or change access policies depending on things like network speed and server availability.
The challenge in running two clouds under an overall service, if there is one, will be in smoothly managing a unified system where the controllers could well be running on different operating systems or be written in different languages.
The benefits to Apple in this setup are very clear. They are not hostage to a single hosting provider, and they have balanced the risk because it is likely that service disruptions between both hosting providers will be independent events. As the article said, the challenges of this architecture include handling the duplicated data, performing load balancing, and smoothly managing the unified system that may be running on separate operating systems. This is all well and good for the company with the largest market capitalization in the world, but how would *you *do this for *your *application?
This is exactly what Fuji’s flexibility is designed to let you do. A single Fuji cloud can span over multiple data centers and hosting providers. Furthermore, it can even span over multiple operating systems and bitnesses. All that is required for a machine to become part of a Fuji cloud is that it is running either Windows or Linux, and has network connectivity to all of the other machines that make up the cloud. That is it!
Fuji will automatically do the work of letting you create copies of the data across other machines, and keep them up-to-date as changes are made. When a new connection is attempted, Fuji performs load balancing by redirecting the connection to the least loaded machines to run the queries. Lastly, Fuji allows you to manage all of the databases, servers, and machines that make up your cloud from a single, unified, management tool.
What does this mean for you? Well, it means you can do with your own application’s data what Apple is rumoured to be doing with their iCloud service. For example, we have had some customers tell us that they would rather use local hosting providers, rather than some of the big hosting providers like Amazon or Rackspace. This is because they want to be able to visit the servers that are hosting their data and talk to the operators face-to-face. But, they do not believe that local hosting providers are able to give the same level of SLA as the “big providers”. To mitigate this risk, they want to be able to run their databases across multiple local hosting providers. Fuji lets them do this.
Furthermore, there is very little risk of hosting vendor lock-in because of humble requirements needed to run Fuji. The cloud space is currently immature and ISVs are afraid they may not have picked the best hosting provider. Fuji allows ISVs full flexibility to move to any provider that is able to supply them with either a Linux or Windows machine instance, and network connectivity. By using Fuji, ISVs can be sure they are making bets that will give them the flexibility to respond to changes in the hosting market as they arise.
We can’t all be Apple. But by using Fuji, you can get some of the same benefits; making Fuji the data cloud platform ‘for the rest of us’.