Friday, August 19, 2011

PAAS is not Mainstream yet

In a previous post titled Hyped Cloud Technologies Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) tied in the fourth place in a ReadWrite Cloud survey of Hyped Cloud Technologies.


Yesterday, I read a Forrester Research Note about PaaS, which may explain why it is rated as one of the most Hyped Cloud Technologies.   
Simply, PaaS is immature technology. 


Immature technologies related to in the spotlight topic such as Cloud Computing, are natural hype candidates.    


PaaS and IaaS
PaaS and IaaS are related concepts: both provide technology for development and deployment of applications in the Cloud.


IaaS solutions such as Amazon EC2 or Amazon S3 provide basic platform for Application Development and Application Deployment. It is only infrastructure.


Unlike IaaS, PaaS provides a complete Application Platform which includes Development Tools (e.g    Integrated Development Environment), Runtime Environment and Management tools. 


Developing Applications in IaaS environment is a lot more difficult task than developing them in a PaaS environment.  IaaS inferiority derived from the necessity to develop Applications Platform components which are missing in IaaS environments and hopefully are available in PaaS environmnets. 


Forrester Research explains the difficulty of developing in IaaS in the following words: " You have to worry about the details of Virtual machines, storage blocks, execution threads and network connections". 
However, people often use IaaS because it is a mature technology and PaaS is not mature yet.


PaaS Immaturity indicators 
The Forrester Wave(TM):Platform as a Service For App Dev and Delivery Professionals, Q2 2011 written by Forrester Analysts John R. Rymmer and Stephan Ried Ph.D with Mike Gilpin, Andrew Magarie and Alissa Anderson name SalesForce.com and Microsoft as Leaders and Cordys, Longjump, Wavemaker and Google as Strong Performer. Tibco Software is the only vendor listed as Contender.


Only two Leaders is an indicator of immaturity.


The small number of vendors listed is another immaturity sign.


The list of vendors which were not listed is another immaturity indicator: 
IBM, Red Hat (Jboss) and VMware were not listed because they enter the PaaS market in spring 2011. 
Oracle and SAP did not enter the PaaS market yet.


Last but not least, most of PaaS vendors listed are small companies who are not market leaders in other markets. The result is, according to Forrester Research, that Microsoft's Windows Azure, Google App Engine and Salesforce.com's Force.com are the only products which get significant attention and adoption. Many potential customers neglect PaaS and use Amazon's IaaS products or wait.    
        

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hyped Cloud Technologies

What are the most Hyped Cloud Technologies? This was the question asked in a survey of ReadWrite Cloud readers. 

As no details about the sample characteristics are disclosed the results couls be misleading.
The results could be biased due to some of the following factors:


1. the number of people surveyed is unknown and could be too small for supporting any conclusion.


2. The sample could be biased. Do not forget that the site is sponsored by Intel and VMware and therefore you may find relatively more customers of these companies.


3. No sample characteristics were defined, so the people answering the survey questions voluntarily may not represent the whole population.

The Results
The most hyped Cloud technologies were in decending order:
1. NOSQL
2. Software as a Service (SaaS)
3. Private Clouds
4-5. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
4-5. Platform as a Service (PaaS)


Least Hyped technologies were Infrastructure Apps and API and Data as a Service.


According to ReadWrite, the findings about NOSQL, Private Clouds and Platform as a Service, were as expected and the surprising findings are the relatively high hype rating of SaaS and Infrastructure as a Service.  


My Take
I do not know if it is possible to conclude anything from the survey's findings, due to possible biases and possible small smaple size mentioned in previous section.

Even if it is possible, nobody should confuse between hyped technology and technology which is not yet matured. 


I am sure that Software as a Service is a mature technology (read for example a previous post: SaaS is Going Mainstream). SalesForce.com technologies and Google Apps are not the only successful SaaS technologies. However, advertising products which has nothing to do with a new technology or concept, as if it is an implenebtation of successful new trends and concepts occurs frequenty.  


This  phenomenon generates a lot of hype. 
It takes time until the technology is implemented in most enterprises and/or consumers and then hyping is more difficult.


I remember similar hyping pattern related to other concepts such as SOA and Object Oriented
Instead of a lot of hype about SOA three years ago you can find now a lot of enterprises and service providers looking for SOA Architects. 


NOSQL is newer concept than SaaS, therefore rating it as one of the most hyped Cloud Technologies is natural.


Never the less, there are NOSQL success stories.
 I recently read how Wix found that the best way to implement NOSQL dor their product was implementing a single large MYSQL table. This interesting Case Study demonstrates both NOSQL immaturity and ease of Hyping (by others not by Wix).


Private Cloud Technology is a different story.
There are still arguments if it is a technology at all or just another incarnation of Utility Computing or hyping of Public Clouds success.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Wikimania 2011 : Are Internet Sources Reliable?



Image source: Wikimedia


On August 4-6 I participated in Wikimania 2011 in Haifa! The participants were Wikipedian from many countries, including Wikipedia's founder Jimmy Wales and all of Wikimedia Foundation directors, except one.
The organizing team headed by Tomer Ashur, Wikimedia Israel's chairman and Deror Lin, Wikimania General Manager, achievements were exceptionally good both in the administrative aspects and the professional aspects. 


Wikipedia is evolving and changing. It is not exactly the same community it was when I described it in one of my Web 2.0 for Dummies posts in 2008. However, the challenges described few years ago in my post titled: Wikipedia: The Good the Bad and the Ugly did not vanish. 


Wikipedia case
The evolution and challenges of Wikipedia and Wikipedia's Community are very similar to challenges facing other Web 2.0 projects and communnities, including Social Networking Services. However, there are also unique aspects as well.  


Not all Internet Sources were created Equal
There is growing tendency in Wikipedia to ask for Sources supporting facts or so called facts, mentioned in Wikipedia articles. 


If no supporting sources are cited a big box stating that sources are missing is inserted under the article's title. The rational is to avoid of wrong information inserted deliberately or by mistake.


There are cultural differences between different languages in Wikipedia. The English Wikipedia is the most demanding supporting evidences (Sources). 


I doubt if relying on Web Sources is good enough. 
The reason for my doubts is based on a well known fact about Web Sources: The variability of the Reliability of the immense information in the Web is high. Some sources are trustful others are just nonsense.


So what is the Value Proposal of five or ten or fifteen sources if none of them is Reliable?


What is the Added Value of a Reliable but very superficial sources, such as some of the articles visible in some of the Electronic Newspapers ?  


The real problem is that in any Web related task the user has to sort them and assign to each source a level of Reliability. It is not an easy task. 
Many people are not able to perform this task properly if the subject matter is not included in their expertise.  


This observation is valid for Wikipedian as well as for non-Wikipedian. 


To illustrate this issue I wrote a new article in the Hebrew Wikipedia on an important Information Technology technical subject.


I was able to write a good article without using any source.


How was it possible?
My professional experience includes actual selections and implementations of technical products addressing this subject.


In order to do my job I read technical material and participated in Vendors' Presentations. I also read Analysts' Research Notes.
However, that was few years ago and I had no access to White Papers and Research Notes I read.


Finally, I decided to add only one Web based source. It was an article written in the English language by a University Professor considered as a leading expert or Guru in this area. 
Few years ago I read an impressive book he wrote on the same subject.


I also read the article on the same subject in the English Wikipedia. It includes about ten sources. However, none of them was a valid source (as Wikipedia articles are a collaborative work it may be now a higher quality article including valid sources).


I read all sources cited in the English Wikipedia and decided that none of them is good enough for citation.    


The Bottom Line: Not the best article based on multiple non-trusted sources in the English Wikipedia, edited by somone with no expertise in the subject and no ability to assess sources Reliability.
A lot better article in the Hebrew Wikipedia based on expertise and experience and a single trusted source.


Is there a better way?
I am sure that it is possible to partially formalize an algorithm for assigning Reliability score to Web sources.


In my opinion, it is also possible to automate the algorithm by dedicated software.
Automation will probably be partial automation and the heuristic algorithm will surely not be 100% precise.


Rating of Academic sources is possible and rating of Search Results by PageRank algorithm and other algorithms is also possible. So why not automating a similar task such as rating of sources for Wikipedia articles (and may be generalizing it to other contexts requiring relying on Web Sources)? 


I guess that in addition implementing a Bayesian Probability algorithm for improving the rating of sources could be deployed as well.      






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