Interoperability in the Cloud

One of the nice things about cloud computing is that it allows for choice.

That is, I am free to choose from any and all available technologies at any time. Yes, vendor lock-in is a concern, but I am not really that concerned about it! Here’s why: In the cloud, there are almost always multiple ways to make something work. A bold assertion perhaps, but here is what I mean.

Let’s say you come from a Windows programming background. Let’s say you want to deploy a simple contact management application to the Cloud. Cool. The Azure Platform has you covered. You could easily create and deploy your app to Azure. Probably you need some kind of persistent storage and, being a relational database kind of person, you choose SQL Azure.

So, here is that app: http://mycontacts.cloudapp.net/ (you may see a certificate warning you can ignore — I assure you the site is safe!)

Now let’s say you really like the relational database that SQL Azure offers, but, for some reason, you don’t want to host your application on Windows Azure. Why not? Well, for one thing, it may be too expensive, at least for what you want to do right now. How can we reduce the startup cost? Sure, if this application goes viral you may need to scale it … but for now what? Maybe you could choose to deploy to an EC2 t1.micro Instance, monitor it, and see what happens.

So, here is that app: http://50.18.104.190/MyContacts/

If some readers recognize this application as one created with Visual Studio LightSwitch they are correct! The same app has been seamlessly deployed both to Azure and EC2 right from within Visual Studio. They both hit the same backend database on SQL Azure.

Here are the Economics:

Option:

Azure Small

Azure Extra Small

EC2 t1.micro

Hourly Cost

$0.12

$0.05

$0.03

Monthly Cost

$86.40

$36.00

$21.60

SQL Azure Monthly Cost

$9.99

$9.99

$9.99

Total:

$96.39

$45.99

$31.59

There are differences, of course. Azure is a PaaS whereas EC2 is IaaS. If you are unclear on the difference please refer to this excellent post by my colleague Chris Czarnecki.

The point is developers (and organizations) have choice in the cloud. Choice is a good thing. In the future perhaps I will port the front end to Java and host it on Google App Engine, but that is a topic for another time!

Go ahead … add yourself to my contacts. Let’s see how this thing scales!

Kevin

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