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Amazon, MS, Google Clouds Flop In Stress Tests

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the dark-clouds dept.

Google 154

Eponymous writes "A seven month study by academics at the University of New South Wales has found that the response times of cloud compute services of Amazon, Google and Microsoft can vary by a factor of twenty depending on the time of day services are accessed. One of the lead researchers behind the stress tests reports that Amazon's EC2, Google's AppLogic and Microsoft's Azure cloud services have limitations in terms of data processing windows, response times and a lack of monitoring and reporting tools."

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154 comments

First! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29131313)

Cloud free and lightning fast!

Quite interesting, actually (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29131363)

I assume that they are running Windows on their 'cloud' platform, yet the performance is obviously very poor and doesn't scale well - something that Linux users have been pointing out for years, much to the anger of the legions of Microsoft shills who post here (no doubt one will turn up and reply to this very thread!). So, its pretty clear from this report that Linux is winning in the 'cloud' space, I wonder if Windows 7 will do anything to change that?

Re:Quite interesting, actually (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29131403)

IMO the entire cloud thing is nothing more than a hype. Noone ever got asked if he wanted to have all apps running as webservices. Google, MS and others just race each other without really having a look whether the customers will buy. And i don't even want to think of the bad choice of standards they base their services on...

Re:Quite interesting, actually (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29132105)

Cloud computing is a DRM scheme. Plain and simple. The customers are the software developers or game developers (But, unfortunately, not the movie/music industries... maybe when they die people will learn?). The cloud offers the benefits of: decreased dependence on unreliable consumer devices and improved performance of some aspects of the software. The cons, as illustrated by this article, include scalability issues. The cloud can also offer benefits to users by safeguarding their data and advertisers/government agencies by selling the data to them. As the end users, we should be most worried about preserving competition so that the free market will defend our interests.

Re:Quite interesting, actually (2, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132529)

It just depends on the application. Webmail is an obvious success; why have every company re-creating this capability when everybody needs and wants the same thing? There is the issue of trust, but then, we do put our money in banks, so that is solvable.

Re:Quite interesting, actually (3, Interesting)

lenehey (920580) | more than 4 years ago | (#29133337)

I dunno. If someone steals my money, it can be replaced by the bank whose security system failed. If someone steals my secrets, there is no remedy.

Re:Quite interesting, actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29132659)

Who is "Noone" and why should he have been asked in the first place?

Re:Quite interesting, actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29132875)

Rofl, good troll, 100% bullshit, 100% hilarious. 10/10

Re:First! (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131797)

Somehow, when I read "cloud computing" I always think of that scene from "Luniz - I got 5 on it", where they pass out because of the smoke inside their car, but with a large geek in a basement. And veeeery sloooowly...

Maybe we should foster that association. ^^

Re:First! (1)

idlehanz (1262698) | more than 4 years ago | (#29133385)

You can refer to the Internet as the "cloud" if you want to, as in "cloud computing". But I reserve the right to slap you silly for doing it. Right after I finish upgrading my browser to web 2.0

Hey slashdot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29131317)

Us yourapeeins try to act superior to you stupid Americans because unlike you we stink of ass all the time and our teeth our rotten.

Re:Hey slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29132079)

You forgot about Eric Raymond and Richard Stall (as in bathroom) man

what the fuck is services engineering? (5, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131347)

Anna Liu, Associate Professor in services engineering at the UNSW School of Computer Science told iTnews she was excited by Cloud Computing as it could potentially enable organisations to "outsource a certain amount of their risks and costs and tap into new economies of scale."

Sounds more like she has a degree in buzzword engineering.

Re:what the fuck is services engineering? (3, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131421)

Anna Liu, Associate Professor in services engineering at the UNSW School of Computer Science told iTnews she was excited by Cloud Computing as it could potentially enable organisations to "outsource a certain amount of their risks and costs and tap into new economies of scale."

Sounds more like she has a degree in buzzword engineering.

From her homepage at UNSW [unsw.edu.au], it seems to be the creation and study of services but her focus seems to be on cloud computing with the "services" being concentrated on these subjects [smartservicescrc.com.au]. While a lot of her about page seems to be buzzwords and journal writing, I really wish they would release their "interoperable service software" and would be interested in seeing their final report for more specific metrics. Her blog doesn't say much about it [unsw.edu.au]. I'd give her the benefit of the doubt, she says in the article, "We saw a lot of hype and confusion, and decided to lead a team of researchers and actually get our hands dirty with this stuff." She also said:

Using Google AppEngine, none of your data processing tasks can last any longer than thirty seconds, or it throws an exception back at you. This is very consistent with the Google business model - they want to enable simple web applications to thrive on the Internet. AppEngine is there to enable the rapid development of simple web applications that don't include intense compute at the back end. - Anna Liu

Which I found interesting. Again, kind of hard to judge the merits behind this research without even a brief description of what the services were ... a singular value decomposition service? A return huge data sets from a database table service? A prime factorization service? A file intensive I/O service? I'm also curious as to what hoops one has to jump through to get those interoperable across all three systems ... after all Microsoft is just .NET, right? Is this rewriting something 3 times or making shared objects or what?

Re:what the fuck is services engineering? (2, Informative)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131961)

I'm also curious as to what hoops one has to jump through to get those interoperable across all three systems ... after all Microsoft is just .NET, right? Is this rewriting something 3 times or making shared objects or what?

Well, Microsoft's Azure is in .NET, and Google's AppEngine is Python, but Amazon's EC2 is basically a virtual machine (you load your image in from S3, can be Linux or Windows). I would assume you could just write a common object in Python, have a IronPython hook to Azure, a plain Python hook to AppEngine, and a hook to whatever method you use to host your service in EC2 (like mod_python or whatever, if you're using Apache). This is if you intended interoperability from the start, however. Otherwise you'd probably have to rewrite it at least once (since EC2 could run Python, or .NET/Mono).

Re:what the fuck is services engineering? (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132099)

Sorry, correction. Azure also supports other languages such as PHP, Ruby, and Python, according to their site.

Re:what the fuck is services engineering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29132535)

Is she hawt? Her name sounds link a chinger.

Re:what the fuck is services engineering? (0, Offtopic)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132759)

"get our hands dirty with this stuff"

I think you give the broad to much credit. Buzzwords throughout the article, but those really catch my eye. I see from real life experience a construction site. Bunch of ditzy broads and a couple old bastids who have never had a callous in thier life pick up a bunch of golden shovels for a "ground breaking ceremony". Oh, they look so rugged (in their own minds, at least), everyone gets their media exposure - Phhht. Disgusting creatures. If the author is getting her hands dirty with software, she probably grew up in a cave and missed out on education. Roasting a CD/DVD or floppy over an open fire doesn't do anyone any good.

Re:what the fuck is services engineering? (1)

iperkins (974060) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132341)

Sounds more like she has a degree in buzzword engineering.

Is that what they call marketing now?

Re:what the fuck is services engineering? (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132773)

Apparently everything is now some form of "engineering" if "services" is now an engineering discipline.

no kidding (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29131367)

you get what you pay for - news at 11.

I'll be sticking with own servers in a colo thanks.

Wave? (3, Interesting)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131369)

I wonder what the implications will be for Wave? Real-time updates across multiple servers present very similar challenges to cloud-computing. If the relevant protocols have the same problems then it raises doubts over the scalability of the Wave protocol.

Re:Wave? (3, Interesting)

Thomas Charron (1485) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131539)

The challenges for Wave don't rely on nearly the same challenges. Wave involves ONLY data transfer, not processing, storage, etc.. It's a protocol.

Making the comparison you've made is the same thing as saying HTTP is flawed becouse Joes Web Shack servers are slow.

Re:Wave? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29131727)

The challenges for Wave don't rely on nearly the same challenges. Wave involves ONLY data transfer, not processing, storage, etc.. It's a protocol.

Making the comparison you've made is the same thing as saying HTTP is flawed becouse Joes Web Shack servers are slow.

Doesn't wave create thumbnails for images posted in a conversation?
Sounds like processing and storage to me...

Re:Wave? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132607)

Doesn't wave create thumbnails for images posted in a conversation? Sounds like processing and storage to me...

Sounds totally pointless to me...

Re:Wave? (1)

sardaukar_siet (559610) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131821)

I wouldn't believe Google's ability to have real time typing notification in federated servers, or even in their own...

Re:Wave? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132173)

Jabber has typing notifications. Google Talk manages to support it... (and yes, it works across servers of course)

Re:Wave? (1)

sardaukar_siet (559610) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132343)

Do you know what I'm talking about? Did you see the Wave demo video? It's *real time typing* - not just a notification like "dude is typing...", it's ACTUAL typing showing on your screen as it happens. Pardon me for not believing it will scale across federated servers or even Google's own ones.

Re:Wave? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132587)

It's you who uses established term (typing notification) for something completely different (since this is Slashdot, you could say "unix talk-like")

And generally - pardon me for not basing my expectations on some belief. You could otoh remember that, say, such things are technically doable, Jabber is already not a light protocol/has a lot of "chatter"/many services other than pure IM use it successfully & Google has quite some pipes/serverfarm/demonstrated similar capabilities (Gmail is quite network chatter-heavy, Google Search suggest, Google Voice; heck, Google pushes VoIP and video through XMPP, also via their servers)

Re:Wave? (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 4 years ago | (#29133267)

Do you know what I'm talking about? Did you see the Wave demo video? It's *real time typing* - not just a notification like "dude is typing...", it's ACTUAL typing showing on your screen as it happens.

You mean, like in the old school Unix talk program from 20 years or more ago?

Real time as you write has never been much of a problem, but doing it with more than one person at a time is a bear in terms of user interfaces. Whole message-oriented chatrooms work better for many-to-many live discussion, and even they can get confusing.

Cloud Computing? Why? (5, Insightful)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131371)

I still don't get it. Terabyte drives cost as much as my bi-weekly beer budget, and less every day. Computing power is off of Moore's Law, but is still increasing with multicore and multiprocessors. My computer doesn't have to be hooked up to the interweb to work, nor does it require a subscription to some website to keep rolling. If I want access to the web, I can get it, but that's only a few times a day when I need it.

So, what exactly does "cloud computing" bring to the table for me?

Not much as far as I can see, other than a new crop of buzzwords.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (3, Interesting)

pietromenna (1118063) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131407)

Actually, have you tried playing out with Google App engine? It brings to the table a host server for your Django application at very low cost. It also allows you to integrate your application with google user managment. Why to use? Well, for me, it is for low cost hosting for Django Applications, but for business it can be really interesting as there is somebody taking care of the infrastructure while they only need to care about the application itself.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (1, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131465)

Well, for me, it is for low cost hosting for Django Applications, but for business it can be really interesting as there is somebody taking care of the infrastructure while they only need to care about the application itself.

So what exactly is supposed to be new about that? There have been companies providing exactly such services as that for decades.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (2, Informative)

Laxitive (10360) | more than 4 years ago | (#29133175)

Really? I see traffic rising on my site. I have 6 servers up and running. I need 6 new servers to come up within the next 10 minutes to service my estimated needs for the next hour.

...half hour passes

Wow, access rate is going up faster than expected. I need 6 more servers.

...half hour passes

Phew. That was over. I just need 6 in total now. Why am I paying for 18? I'd like to take those down, please.

So, tell me.. who has been providing this service for decades?

-Laxitive

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (3, Informative)

FooBarWidget (556006) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131437)

Cloud computing has the benefit that when you need to expand your server park's capacity, you don't have to wait for several weeks for the hardware vendor to deliver the hardware. Instead you outsource that job to the cloud vendor. You can more quickly respond to both increase and decrease in traffic. During peak hours you can spawn a few more servers and at night you can shut down a few without having to worry about the physical hardware and their associated maintenance burden.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131461)

CDW usually takes 1-3 days to deliver a server. they ship the same day if you email the PO by 3pm.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (2, Interesting)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131501)

What about installation and software setup? How does 1-3 days beat launching a node in 5-15 minutes?

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131547)

How does 1-3 days beat launching a node in 5-15 minutes?

Because for any sufficient volume of processing you're going to be spending many times more using these cloud services than running your own server.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (1)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131589)

Because for any sufficient volume of processing you're going to be spending many times more using these cloud services than running your own server

And running your own server means keeping an admin guy on staff. It's no more stupid than throwing your box into a colo and having it managed by colo admins or purchasing a virt from a webhost. If you're running a small business, its stupid to host your own these days. A large business has the benefit of economies of scale--small businesses do not.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (1)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131779)

It's pretty obvious that cloud computing doesn't really work that well (as the article shows), so what difference does it make how much less it costs?

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (1)

Uksi (68751) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131813)

Cloud computing must work terribly, which explains why services like Amazon EC2 are totally going out of business, making no money and have no customers.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (1)

JWW (79176) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132415)

I think EC2 was wrongly included in this study. Its a different breed of animal that "services on the web" like the google and microsoft stuff.

In my experience, its also pretty reliable and extremely useful.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29131531)

oh yeah, because if you are a huge service provider, say 500 cloud server, and you have a spike of traffic (at least 50%) they give you 250 servers already replicated and working in one day, using the replication fairy?

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (1)

ukyoCE (106879) | more than 4 years ago | (#29133159)

they give you 250 servers already replicated and working in one day, using the replication fairy?

Yes, they do - that's why they're special. Maybe you're using some new definition of cloud that isn't what I'm thinking of, but they do this by making you engineer your software as basically read-only. Any outputs go to another (equally scaleable) output service.

They aren't sitting there replicating a full OS install to a dedicated server. They're running the same read-only software image and executing it from an extra 250 virtual servers.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (2, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131825)

During peak hours you can spawn a few more servers and at night you can shut down a few without having to worry about the physical hardware and their associated maintenance burden.

Right, but what does it cost, because guess what, just about everybody else wants more servers at peak hours and wants to shut down a few at night. What does the "cloud" service provider do with all of those servers when nobody wants them? How do they cover their maintenance costs for the time when their servers are idle?
That's right, by charging more for them when you want to use them. The big problem with the cloud concept is that it assumes that the need for servers is spread out evenly across the day and the year. The fact of the matter is that it isn't, most businesses need/want more servers at the same time.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (2, Insightful)

gtbritishskull (1435843) | more than 4 years ago | (#29133011)

The fact of the matter is that it isn't, most businesses need/want more servers at the same time.

Do you have a citation for that? I would think that there would be a lot of different services which need servers at different times. Most business services would peak during the day, but I would think most consumer based services (entertainment, shopping) would peak in the evening. And then you have to consider that there are other countries in the world and their day is different than yours. So, their peak times would probably be different. I am not saying that cloud computing is the way to go, but there are definitely the potential for a much better server utilization with it. And, the result will probably be that there will be time based pricing, with peak times costing more. But, it will still be more cost effective because they will still be making money on the non-peak times when individual servers would normally be idle. Also, services that would normally run at peak time, but don't need to, would be able to take advantage of the cheaper non-peak times. This is how a market works. Scarcity of resources results in efficiency. And the overall cost of the system decreases.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29131443)

If you live off-the-net, which you seem to be, then cloud is not for you. If you were highly mobile, working from multiple locations (or on the fly), the cloud would make sense.

The cloud is not for every. But just because you dont see the value in it, doesnt mean it's just a buzzword.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (2, Funny)

fluffernutter (1411889) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131603)

If you were highly mobile, working from multiple locations (or on the fly), the cloud would make sense.

I thought that was what laptops were for??

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (4, Insightful)

moon3 (1530265) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131495)

Cloud = "Hosting for the noobs"

The provider is managing everything for you automatically, the Cloud service takes care of pretty much everything including security so it is manageable even for non-technical dudes.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (1)

wbren (682133) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132619)

Saying cloud computing is "hosting for noobs" is like saying automatic transmissions are "transmissions for noobs." Sure, automatic transmissions are inherently less efficient than manual transmissions, but they save you from having to worry about shifting gears. Similarly, cloud computing might not perform as well as traditional hosting solutions, but they save you the hassle and expense of scaling up and down with demand. It's a trade-off, like everything else in life...

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (1)

gtbritishskull (1435843) | more than 4 years ago | (#29133087)

Are you saying that is a bad thing??? You seem to make an argument for cloud computing, but you also use a derogatory term (noob). I think it is an amazing feature that companies using cloud computing can use their employees for doing more company-specific tasks (like managing the services) rather than doing generic IT work that any nerd-monkey could do.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (4, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131511)

Essentially, it allows you to treat any net-connected computer as a dumb terminal with web services acting as your actual computer.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (1)

Thomas Charron (1485) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131515)

Server clouds. When you access the web with your computer, you're accessing these sorts of servers already. Specifically, applications run in parallel in dozens of locations, potentially across the globe. Toss in anycasting, and the guy in Boston ends up connecting to a server in boston, and a guy in San Fransisco connects to one in LA, but they're both connecting to the same server as far as their concerned.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (2, Insightful)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131523)

For the most part, I agree. I can certainly see the benefit in using remote processing capabilities (I really hate buzzwords) for things like smartphones, as it enables the user to tap into a far greater amount of processing power than could be crammed into a little handheld. For the home, however, I have a hard time imagining that it is more feasible to do your computing through the network rather than doing it locally. What about things like audio editors and games, that require latencies in the low milliseconds to be usable? Maybe we can provide that sort of speed in the future, but common sense tells me that these sorts of things will always run better off of a local machine. The processing power and hard drive space needs to be payed for one way or another, and I for one would rather pay more up front and own my hardware, rather than rent access.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29131673)

+ Nothing to install
+ Updates to apps done for you
+ No local machines to buy/upgrade/patch/power
+ Economy of scale for app provider

- Network needs to be available 100%
- Centralised data privacy concerns
- App is as reliable as service provider.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (2, Insightful)

jarocho (1617799) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131831)

At this stage, you the individual don't benefit tremendously from cloud computing. But your company, at *almost* any head count, might be able to leverage what's also known as utility computing today. Depending on what it does or doesn't want to bother hosting internally.

Hosted Microsoft Exchange [microsoft.com] is a concrete example of a cloud (cloud-like) service that's been gaining ground for a while now.

Wired had a read-worthy piece on Azure's principal architect Ray Ozzie last year, Ray Ozzie Wants to Push Microsoft Back Into Startup Mode [wired.com]. Hyperbole aside, anyone who's directly interfacing with Microsoft sales people and engineers these days will tell you, Azure is a big part of Microsoft's next money grab.

However, it's amusing that the definition of "cloud computing" continues to mean different things to different vendors, as evidenced by Amazon, Google and Microsoft offering fairly distinct and non-overlapping services. Until they come into direct competition with one another, I think this is going to continue to be seen as a novelty by many CTOs and IT decision-makers.

Is cloud computing the future? I don't know, but I think it's safe to say it's *a* future. Even if it isn't yours. :)

Why is this rated "insightful"? (1)

davide marney (231845) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132001)

My computer doesn't have to be hooked up to the interweb to work...

Since you are not a candidate for Internet-connected, virtualized, on-demand scalable computing resources (aka "cloud computing"), you are not attracted to cloud computing's value proposition.

For those of us who need these things, vendors such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are building services we definitely want to buy. Amazon's simple storage service, for example, had 40 billion objects [datacenterknowledge.com] in its repository as of February, 2009.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29132011)

It depends on your application. My application is a genetic algorithm. I want lots and lots of computers some of the time, and no computers some of the time. So, it's perfect for me.

I was recently at a Hadoop user's group. There were lots of people with applications that needed lots of compute time some of the time, and really don't need very much at all some of the time. There was a talk by a guy from Data Wrangling [datawrangling.com] where he's pulling in lots of data every night and doing some runs. He really should not be paying for computers during the day when he's not using them, and EC2 allows him to just use what he wants.

If you have a web site and are using a computers 24/7, then go with a hosted solution. If you have highly critical applications or sensitive data, then use internal servers. But, there are lots of users and applications where cloud computing works great.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (1)

FriendlyPrimate (461389) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132055)

To your typical user, cloud computing is not very interesting. However, it's very interesting for business users. One of the big things that cloud computing gives you is instant access to preconfigured virtual machines. For example, what IBM is doing with cloud computing is offering virtual machines where their enterprise software is already installed and configured. Some of that software requires lots of prerequisite software to be installed (e.g. DB2, WebSphere Application Server, etc...). Installing, configuring, and tuning that software can be quite labor intensive and prone to mistakes. Hardware might be cheap, but labor still isn't. By offering virtual machines in the cloud, businesses can avoid all of that up-front cost. If they want to try out an IBM product, IBM can give them a trial virtual machine to work with for a limited amount of time. If they like it, then they can purchase the software and put it on a real machine. Or if they plan on using it for a limited amount of time, they may decide it's cheaper to 'rent' the virtual machine.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (4, Insightful)

segedunum (883035) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132059)

People who ask this have generally never hosted anything major before. The attraction is that it decouples your applications and server instances from real hardware and even from the specific virtualisation platform you would otherwise be sitting on. This means that a hardware failure will certainly not affect you in the same way and neither will a failure in a comparable virtualisation platform. It's on a completely different scale, and certainly with Amazon you can spread yourself across different geographic locations. I've seen many Xen VPS platforms have to be rebooted periodically for things like kernel updates and if you're dealing with real hardware then you start getting into failover and drdb, which is far too much of a pain for most development companies to worry about. You just want to host your applications somewhere. Trust me. You start worrying about this stuff very quickly otherwise.

Additionally, what makes it a 'cloud' and not just a vanilla virtualisation platform is that your storage itself is then decoupled from your machine instances themselves, as well as the hardware, in an easy way without having to faff about with clustered storage set ups yourself or through a hosting company. This makes your machine instances easily disposable and allows for pretty easy recreation of production environments as a failover or for testing and development.

Essentially, that's what's attractive about it in layman's terms. It makes it far cheaper and far less hassle to get hardware and storage redundancy when you start having to worry about it, but large companies are not going to be outsourcing their critical stuff off site with it. That's just insane. It's just a pity the whole thing has become filled full of shit by people who don't know what they're talking about like that Services Engineering nutcase in the article who is probably being paid way too much money. The article doesn't even tell you what limitations they found in any detail.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (4, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132115)

I'm developing a JRuby app for Google App Engine. I'm doing it because as a lone developer, I don't have to worry about anything but my code. I will never have to wake up to troubleshoot a network problem, OS issue, Apache oddity. I won't have to hire networking, DBA, or systems administration staff. And if my app hits off big, I won't have to re-engineer anything to make it scale. It will scale automatically.

I've played the role of network engineer, DBA, and sysadmin in the past. Now I can focus on my application.

That said, appengine is certainly not for all sorts of apps. It only supports a subset of SQL (no joins), I'm sure it won't meet the requirements for payment card processing or anything like that, and my APIs are limited. But for a good chunk of web apps, developing for the google cloud has huge advantages.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132183)

Scalable computing is the answer. In theory, if you write a cloud app, it can serve from 1 to a million users without you having to lift a finger to make it happen. If more users hit your app, the "cloud" dedicates more instances to serving them. Amazon, Google, MS or whomever take care of it all. Of course in practice it probably doesn't scale that seamlessly and you have to pay the host based on CPU / disk / database /whatever consumption but you get the idea.

As for why you might choose cloud over your own solution, the answer probably depends on what you're trying to do. Paying for bandwidth, administration, storage etc. isn't cheap and if demand bounces all over the place then you're either going to end up paying too much or not enough.

Re:Cloud Computing? Why? (1)

blueskies (525815) | more than 4 years ago | (#29133021)

The ability to use $10 million dollars worth of hardware for a month without spending $10 million dollars?

Let alone the fact that since, like you say hardware prices are constantly going down, you don't eat the 30% depreciation a year. Also, what good does your terabyte drive do you when it dies?

If you aren't looking for rapid scalability, saving money on huge capital investment, large amounts of CPU and data, then the Cloud might not be for you. It's stupid in the same way that buying millions of dollars of NetApp or EMC hardware is if you are only going to run a blog off of it.

"Cloud" be bollox, dude. (1, Interesting)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131397)

Yeah, I'm going to allow my computing and data storage to be dependent on large numbers of strangers, some of them hostile to me. No thank you. The Internet is handy for looking things up on and sending messages to people. Low-importance collective activity like SETI? Fine. But it is dangerously vulnerable for critical operations. I hope the people in charge of things like national electrical infrastructure are aware of that...

Re:"Cloud" be bollox, dude. (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131435)

Why would a cloud computing service provider such as Microsoft, Google, or Amazon be hostile to you? Cloud computing is not the same as SETI or Folding@Home, it's run in professional data centres.

Re:"Cloud" be bollox, dude. (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131857)

Maybe because your "Cloud" running at Amazon/Google/Microsoft competes with one of their other online services?

Re:"Cloud" be bollox, dude. (2, Informative)

Thomas Charron (1485) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131489)

Small suggest, next time, read the article before you comment. Your comment has *0*% bearing on what this is talking about.

I'm Shocked! SHOCKED! (1)

jabjoe (1042100) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131401)

Well, not that shocked....

Re:I'm Shocked! SHOCKED! (2, Insightful)

xplinuxmac (1109523) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131481)

Of course this is not surprising if you assume most of its users are in same timezone and do their work between 9-17. Clouds only work if the work of its clients is distributed over time, you can then aggregate dedicated resources for tasks. A cloud can not (never) properly deal with socalled peak load without making sufficient investments into hardware. Peak load occurs when everybody start using the system at the same time for intensive processing or data transactions. This is more likely to occur if your users are in the same timezone. So if your are looking for a 'good' cloud I suggest also looking at the user list. If the users are sufficiently distributed over different time zones it might scale better (this is of course not the only criteria for a good cloud). I myself prefer 'Thunder clouds' :)

Re:I'm Shocked! SHOCKED! (4, Insightful)

jabjoe (1042100) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131663)

I can't help thinking this is just thin-client + mainframe again, and just like every other time the model has come around, it's being pushed as the future.

Re:I'm Shocked! SHOCKED! (1)

Mad Leper (670146) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132169)

Indeed, the thin-client + mainframe solution is the perpetual zombie of enterprise IT, just when you think youve beaten the damn thing to death it rises from the grave yet again to eat the brains of the living

o NO! (2, Funny)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131419)

I foresee a unplanned and totally random 'Software Audit' at the University of New South Wales in the near future!!!

No Tools? (4, Insightful)

Thomas Charron (1485) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131471)

Google AppEngine has data reporting to a ridiculous level. This article doesn't even publish any REAL data.

I really HATE commercicles, small articles which make a claim, and then say, 'stay tuned!'.

Someone fire the author. The last paragraph reads:

"Liu will present the findings and offer developers advice on how to build robust applications to withstand the cloud's limitations at the Australian Architecture Forum in Sydney on Monday, August 24."

Wow, I at least they admit that this article has no REAL data in it, and THAT data will be released on Monday.

Re:No Tools? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29131543)

Not to mention the article calls it Google AppLogic. Hah!! The rest of the article must be very credible if they can't even get the name right!

Apple has its response time issues, too (2, Informative)

grolaw (670747) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131551)

I only have 5 Apple .mac/.me accounts and even Apple knows that the rollout was so flawed that they gave us extra time on our contracts for the deficiencies.

Apple is getting better, but ISPs are choking upload speeds (even my business account that I pay $200/Mo for 6 megabits up and down) shows far slower data rates up over down to/from Apple.

AppLogic? (3, Interesting)

Roguelazer (606927) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131561)

Buh? As far as I can tell, Google doesn't have a platform called "AppLogic". Perhaps they were referring to App Engine [google.com]? And it's not even the editors' fault this time -- TFA has the terms wrong too. That really inspires confidence...

Re:AppLogic? (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132165)

Yeah, I'm wondering if the article was generated by some sort of AI in an attempt to take the human costs out of blogging. Google's cloud product is, in fact, called App Engine.

if i ran slashdot (2, Interesting)

nimbius (983462) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131687)

it would be an offense punishable by ban if when referring to the cloud, members didnt roll their eyes and make fart noises.


cloud is becoming less and less of a "news for nerds" thing because its surrounded by nothing but business jargon instead of tech talk. outsource your risks?? I still manage the same servers, in the same datacenter, with the same network but for some reason its been abstracted to "cloud" computing. you aren't outsourcing any new. theres still a guy you call at 5 AM when the mysql servers arent replicating properly, or the amanda job is hung.

a PRIME example, this article has NO NUMBERS!! no quantifiers or methods by which they tested the aformentioned services. they only say things were bad when one group of university students half a world away tested them. the university doesnt even mention the study!

and at seven months of presumably unauthorized stress testing, i wouldnt be surprised if google and amazon network engineers met over a few pints of beer and decided your asinine experiment deserved a bit of traffic shaping.

Re:if i ran slashdot (1)

aicrules (819392) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132837)

and at seven months of presumably unauthorized stress testing, i wouldnt be surprised if google and amazon network engineers met over a few pints of beer and decided your asinine experiment deserved a bit of traffic shaping.

I think this has the highest likelihood of being the culprit. Perhaps not google and amazon doing the traffic shaping, perhaps not even their own ISP doing it purposely. But it's not a news flash that doing anything over the internet can have wildly different latency and bandwidth results throughout the day, let alone over a seven month period.

Good place to start (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131745)

Yes, there are issues, and those companies are being driven by free market demand for their cloud products to continue to improve them. They have the resources and the will to make the clouds better and better over time. Would you be able to keep up if you decided to establish your own data center for your own needs? I don't think so.

Re:Good place to start (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132697)

And if "time of day" creates biggest issues, that's actually fairly good news, to some degree (when pipes with the outside world are good, for starters...), for those from some small country in totally different timezone?...

Really. I don't believe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29131905)

WOW. a study that shows that clouds are just as difficult to manage as enterprises. what a bloody surprise. its not like we havent been having the same problems since the dawn the distributed computing platform when the Mainframe model got completley whacked. and I've been hearing all sorts of things form executives recently about how we should move to cloud and how they been promised it'll be so much better and so much cheaper.

Incompetent testing, stupid article (1)

dostick (69711) | more than 4 years ago | (#29131929)

From the article:


The response times collated in Sydney were tested against measurement instruments loaded onto the cloud platform to isolate whether delays were attributable to the service itself or the latency involved with accessing US-based data centres from Australia.
 
.....

We all know that all of Australia share limited pipe to outside world.
Of course it will clog during the business peak hours! It's like reviewing the sports car by driving in traffic jams around city and then writing an article that sports cars are slow!

Re:Incompetent testing, stupid article (2, Insightful)

Beezlebub33 (1220368) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132103)

In addition, there is absolutely no data presented in the article. When you say that there were problems, you should quantify the problems. How long was the response time. The article says

Response times on the service also varied by a factor of twenty depending on the time of day the services were accessed, she said.

Ok, so give me a friggin' number! Did it go from 1 min to 20 minutes? Or from 1 sec to 20 sec. Or 1 hr to 20 hrs? When did you experience these response times? Give me a graph showing the response time as function of time of day and day of week.

I am learning to hate articles that give you a little bit of information and leave out the important data. If Ms. Liu hasn't released the data, then the article should not have been written. Or she should provide it on her web page. Or provide a link to some journal where it's being published. This whole thing stinks of spin and MS FUD.

Re:Incompetent testing, stupid article (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132121)

But that's one whole (incredibly obvious) problem with "cloud computing" and the like. As soon as you outsource to a remote site (especially one that is in some way shared) then you're at the whim of other traffic and can be slowed down at any moment.

Why is this news?

Re:Incompetent testing, stupid article (1)

hey (83763) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132333)

Yeah, this info might be useful for Australians.
It suggests there should be some (more) cloud servers in Oz.

Talking of handling load conditions ... (1)

Mostly a lurker (634878) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132089)

... I have yet to see any application based on any large "cloud" based service have response times as bad as their site right now. A 20x slowdown would under load would be orders of magnitude better than they are achieving. Hmmm ... could one of the reasons some companies prefer to outsource applications be that there is extra capacity to handle peak load conditions?

Age Before Beauty (2, Informative)

stuffduff (681819) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132423)

I'm not surprised that these 'Johnny-come-latelys' are having issues. M (Mumps) has had an integrated schemaless database for forty years now and has the tool chain to go with it. The language and the data structure are seamlessly integrated, a concept that was all but wiped out by the relational database movement of the 70's. It's a shame to see this emphasis on schemaless databases is so totally ignorant of both its prior history and the lessons that Mumps has to offer. Ignorance is bliss...

Re:Age Before Beauty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29132593)

the issue is that mumps is that it is a fuckin' awful [thedailywtf.com] language that no sane person would want to use ever.

Re:Age Before Beauty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29132969)

ROFL. You're a fucking idiot for mentioning MUMPS.

Carefull.. (-1, Troll)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 4 years ago | (#29132637)

The guy that did the story is an ex M$ employee that ventured out to start his own business, surely nothing that M$ could not
spend a little on for him to write up bad reviews for everyone except M$....!

Ad-free print version (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29132907)

http://www.itnews.com.au/Tools/Print.aspx?CIID=153451

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