Microsofts Azure cloud platform- A guide for the perplexed Or

Posted on: October 31st, 2008 by Michael Rotkin

Now that the initial Microsoft PDC pixie dust has settled, developers are trying to digest exactly what Microsoft’s cloud platform is. Here’s my attempt to explain it.

Microsoft layed out its “Azure” foundational infrastructure for the cloud during the keynote kick-off on day one of the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) here in Los Angeles. The goal of Azure is to provide developers who want to write applications that run partially and/or entirely in a remote datacenter with a platform and set of tools.

Microsoft did not disclose pricing, licensing or timing details for Azure. The company is planning to release a Community Technology Preview (CTP) test build of Azure to PDC attendees on October 27. (The CTP consists of a software development kit and access to Microsoft’s cloud.

This is what Microsoft’s cloud looks like, from an architectural diagram standpoint:

Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform: A guide for the perplexed

Layer zero (which is not on this slide) is Microsoft’s Global Foundational Services. GFS is like the hardware abstractionlayer (HAL) in Windows. It is the lowest level of the software that interfaces directly with the servers.

Layer one is the base Azure operating system. This is what used to be codenamed “Red Dog.” Red Dog was designed by a team of operating-system experts at Microsoft, led by Amitabh Srivastava, Corporate Vice President of Cloud Infrastructure Services. Dave Cutler, the guy who is credited as the father of VMS and Windows NT, was one of the lead developers on Red Dog. (I asked Srivastava what Cutler’s role was with Red Dog and he said he focused heavily on how the hypervisor/virtualization technology could be made to scale across datacenter servers.)

Red Dog is what networks and manages the set of Windows Server 2008 machines that comprise the Microsoft-hosted cloud. At the highest level, Red Dog consists of four “pillars”: Storage (like a file system); the “fabric controller,” which is a management system for modeling/deploying and provisioning; virtualized computation/VM; and a development environment, which allows developers to emulate Red Dog on their desktosp and plug in Visual Studio, Eclipse or other tools to write cloud apps against it. The way Red Dog is architected is Microsoft only has to deploy Red Dog on a single machine and then multiple instances of it can be duplicated on the rest of the servers in the cloud using virtualization technology, Srivastava said.

“We do Xcopy to deploy on every machine. Each machine has its own cache,” Srivastava explained.

Layer two is the set of building block services that run on top of Azure. Developers are not required to use these services and will be able to mix and match among them. The initial set of services include Live Services (a k a the Live Mesh platform); SQL Server Data Services (now known as SQL Services); .Net Services (formerly known as “Zurich”); SharePoint Services and Dynamics CRM Services. Developers will be able to build on top of these lower-level services when constructing cloud apps. SharePoint Services and CRM Services are not the same as SharePoint Online and CRM Online; they are just the platform “guts” that don’t include user-interface elements.

(Another clarification: Layers one and two together — the thing Microsoft calls the “Azure platform” — is what was briefly known as “Windows Strata.”)

Layer three are the Azure-hosted applications. Some of these are from Microsoft and include SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, Dynamics CRM Online. Others will be authored by third-party developers.

Over time, Microsoft is promising some bigger things from its cloud platform. First, the company has committed to delivering Microsoft-hosted versions of all its enterprise apps. So those rumors of Forefront Online and System Center Online that I’v been hearing about for months sound like they are on the drawing board. These Online services — as well as all of Microsoft’s Live services — are being slowly moved to run on top of Azure. (Right now, the only Microsoft Live property hosted on Azure is Live Mesh. The next one that will be is Live Meeting, Srivastava said.)

So besides the obvious — licensing, pricing and due date — what else do you want to know about Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure? Any holes you see so far?

Full Office functionality coming soon to the iPhone stores

Posted on: October 31st, 2008 by Michael Rotkin

Matthew Miller was interviewed on his blog and he stated about the iphone industry the story below.

I’ve been using my T-Mobile G1 quite a bit lately and overall I am pretty happy with the device, but think it is more of a “hobby” phone right now rather than a reliable daily companion. The battery life and limited application storage memory are pretty limiting, as I mentioned a couple days ago. I pulled my original iPhone down from the dock where it has been serving as my home music server and took it on this current business trip with me to test out some new applications and games. I am finding that I enjoy using the iPhone quite a bit again and am liking the large number of 3rd party applications that are out or coming out to make it even more functional.

Over on The Apple Blog they mentioned that DataViz’s Documents To Go is coming to the iPhone and you can even visit the DataViz site and sign up to be notified when it is available. Documents To Go gives you full Office document capability and should be awesome on the large display of the iPhone. Apple now just needs to issue an update to the Bluetooth driver so we can use external keyboards to make it a true business road warrior device.

In other iPhone application news, the amazing Evernote application continues to be updated and now supports offline note creation in version 1.4. This is great for the traveler who wants to create notes on the airplane or when out of signal range and then have them synced up when a wireless connection is made again. Check out the Evernote blog where they show how this works and also talk about the new handy tips option. Evernote is one of my favorite iPhone applications and just keeps getting better and better. Thanks to Michael Connick for the heads-up on this Evernote news.

Shoemoney Gives Great SMX Video on Gov-EDU Sites

Posted on: October 30th, 2008 by Michael Rotkin

This is a great Shoemoney Video, that provides great information for how to obtain links with .govs and .edus and get ahead of the game. I recently had a talk with Shoemoney and I respect him for his work he has done, since he has outranked most of the Top SEO Firms and Directories

See Video

The mobile web market in the US and UK is booming

Posted on: October 30th, 2008 by Michael Rotkin

I am wondering, at a time when there’s a shortage of good news, it’s great to hear that the mobile web market in the US and the UK is booming. With a company I used called, Bango you can collect mobile payments in the US very easily and with payout rates for mobile content in the UK at credit card levels, now is the best time to capitalize on these markets. So here are the reasons to choose Bango for mobile billing:

WAP billing on AT&T, Sprint and Virgin Mobile in the US

Some of the operators Bango has relationships with Industry-leading payout rates, up to 61% in the US and up to 88% on Orange in the UK

Also charge for content in over 150 other countries

Lots of ways to pay: on-phone bill, credit/debit card and Paypal

Supports pay per download, subscriptions and timed access

Data on all of your transactions, customers and revenues in real-time

With all these new ways of reaching online cell phone mobile customer worldwide, why isn’t the Internet Booming.

Google Android vulnerable to drive-by browser exploit

Posted on: October 29th, 2008 by Michael Rotkin

I found this story quite interesting. Its good to know the bugs in the Google android phone are being found. Google is now aware of this situation and will be acting immediately.

Story by ZDnet-The Google Android operating system is vulnerable to a serious security vulnerability that allows malicious hackers to launch drive-by browser attacks, according to alert from a security research outfit.

Technical details of the vulnerability, which occurs because Google Android uses an unpatched open-source software package, is being kept under wraps until a patch is available.

Google was notified of this issue on October 20th, 2008.

According to a warning from Independent Security Evaluators (the company that found the first iPhone code execution flaw), this particular security vulnerability “was known and fixed in the relevant software package,” but Google used an older, still vulnerable version.

The Google Android OS powers the T-Mobile G1 by HTC, a device that’s currently in stores in the United States.

[ SEE: Research firm: Google Android SDK has multiple vulnerabilities ]

A user of an Android phone who uses the web browser to surf the internet may be exploited if they visit a malicious page. Upon visiting the malicious site, the attacker can run any code they wish with the privileges of the web browser application. We have a very reliable exploit for this issue for demonstration purposes.

The researchers, however, acknowledged that the impact of this attack is “somewhat limited” because of the way Google Android is designed.

A successful attacker will have access to any information the browser may use, such as cookies used for accessing sites, information put into web application form fields, saved passwords, etc. They may also change the way the browser works, tricking the user into entering sensitive information. However, they can not control other, unrelated aspects of the phone, such as dialing the phone directly.

Patience is a Virtue on Seo-By Web Pro News.com Featuring Aaron Wall-John Chow Video

Posted on: October 29th, 2008 by Michael Rotkin

Aaron Wall discusses how some industries can take 1-3 years on Seo , such as the mortgage sector and etc. Aaron Wall also mentions, which I have been saying for years, is to buy other domains that are old to get in the game”

Check out this video. John Chow offers his small bits of intake. John Chow is not a Seo guy, just a blogger. Aaron Wall is the owner and founder of seo book.

Napping at Digital Hollywood Los Angeles Conference Video-LOL

Posted on: October 29th, 2008 by Michael Rotkin

A user sent me this cool video. This is too funny. This Internet goer is falling asleep on the conference speaker at Digital Hollywood Conference.

By the looks in the background, it does not look like to much people were there last year.

This year everyone was awake to hear most of what last years message was.

Michael Rotkin Speaks on Digital Hollywood Conference 2008

Posted on: October 29th, 2008 by Michael Rotkin

I attended the digital technology hollywood Ces conference in Santa Monica California, today at the Loews Hotel on Ocean ave by the Santa Monica Pier. The conference was cool, See this intro video

Doing business in repressive regimes-Big Internet companies agree to some rules

Posted on: October 28th, 2008 by Michael Rotkin

This story was very interesting. If you own a website or are in the field, or are just a news goer for the craziest stories made public for Internet Marketing, see below

After years of criticism for their willingness to collaborate with the Chinese government in exchange for a piece of the nation’s huge supply of Internet users, the Big Three Internet companies have come up with a voluntary set of principles for doing business in repressive conditions.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the companies promise to protect users’ personal information wherever they do business and to “narrowly interpret and implement government demands that compromise privacy.” The companies say that will look at a country’s record of repression before agreeing to do business and to discuss the risks with their officers and directors.

The companies, as well as human rights groups like Human Rights First and Committee to Protect Journalists, are introducing these principles under the Global Network Initiative (coming soon). The participation of the nonprofits may mean this is more than just empty promises.

For one thing the companies agree to be monitored by independent groups. And for another, this is not just about China but the whole world.

“Common action by these diverse groups is more likely to bring about change in government policy than the efforts of any one company or group acting alone,” said Robert Boorstin, director of corporate and policy communications at Google.

Will it make a difference?

But the World Organization for Human Rights USA says the plan should have addressed whether the companies violate laws by complying with demands for users’ information. “More serious questions have to be asked about these company’s legal obligations,” said Morton Sklar, the group’s executive director.

Even so, it’s a huge step forward, Rebeccca McKinnon, who teaches journalism and media studies in Hong Kong, told the Journal’s China blog.

Does it solve all problems? Probably not. [But] part of this is about getting companies to think through these issues before they get bad into situations. Now the fact that a manager would be told that he or she needs to keep these issues in mind and that the entire company is going to be benchmarked on these issues can potentially make a difference.

Joint ventures still an issue

One serious wrinkle: U.S. companies routinely do joint ventures with local companies, whose actions they don’t control. Case in point: the Skype-TOM JV, which it turned out was archiving and providing to the government a massive database of censored messages, apparently without Skype’s knowledge.

Notably, Skype owner eBay was not involved in the GNI and responded to the announcement coolly: eBay would “like to learn more about it and hear more of the details.”

In the case of joint ventures, the Internet giants promise to take good faith, reasonable steps to “achieve the best result in the circumstances.”

Credit: Jonathan Boeke

Journalist Shi Tao was sentenced to 10 years in prison after Yahoo China provided his personal information to the Chinese government.