Snowflake SQL & Big Data

Snowflake SQL & Big Data

Yesterday, I attended Snowflake's World Summit yesterday. My experience of working for US companies has taught me some cynicism about the naming of such events, but both the CTO and business founder are both French and ex-Oracle employees. They have obviously caught a mind share, the meeting was heaving and very heavily overbooked. I attended the plenary sessions, which consisted of a reference story and during the break spoke to one of their pre-sales engineers who was very helpful. This article looks at the architecture, examines its scalability design, the hardware solutions underpinning the solution and comments on the accuracy of Stonebraker's predictions. For more, use the "Read More" button ...

Safe Harbour

Last month the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled the US Safe Harbour treaty to be insufficient for European data protection law purposes. How important this is, is subject to debate. One of the principles of European Data Protection law is that personal and confidential data must be “adequately protected”. The CJEU has stated that the US Safe Harbour agreement offers insufficient and uncertain protection to European personal data. …

Is I.T. a utility?

Is I.T. a utility?

The power companies are starting to enable homes to act as power sources as well as consumers. People can sell back any surplus. In the UK, about ⅓ of the power generated is lost during the distribution. The UK consumed[1] 647 Terawatts (1012) in 2013. This implies that 219 Terawatts are generated and lost p.a. with a market value[2] of £20bn. The loss is dependent on the distance travelled and so one policy response would be to build community micro- or meso-generators. On the whole older power stations are  …

Have the US killed their cloud business?

As the proof that Governments are spying on social media users is found, we should all take measures to make it hard. I am sure that they’ll try and outlaw encryption next, but they might have a problem with that since it’ll kill e-commerce. Talking of killing e-commerce, a number of commentators, including David Kirkpatrick posting at linkedin are asking if this will cause Europeans and their Governments to withdraw from the US cloud providers.

The Swedish Government, for instance have already decided to abandon Google’s web services. …

Stable doors and missing horses, tightening up on personal I.T. security

One conclusion I have come to after the weekend since the securocrats, like the copyright monopolists seem to never give up is that we need to equip ourselves properly. I plan to train myself to use ixquick’s search engine, and open a jabber account. ixquick do not require a login, and thus can’t tie an IP address to an identity and they do not log what is done. They are planning a secure mail service. They are a Dutch company, with a US subsidiary. I wonder where the computers are? Is this over the top, or will Firefox private windows be enough? …

Follow the sun, the moon, the action and money

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a webinar with Cloudsoft, a suggested partner for Citihub in order to evaluate their offering and market positioning. They are seeking to solve the application mobility problem in Cloud Computing and have named their product solution Monterey. I had read their white paper, which they publish on their web site, via a resources page, which you need to login to.

They have a the idea that using their middleware, an infrastructure manager can on a policy basis optimise the deployment of an application for performance, cost, data, or liquidity, which they summarise as

Follow the sun, follow the moon, follow the action and follow the money

In order to offer this scale of applications mobility, they can and do offer wide area mobility; their design goal is clearly intercontinental. They position their product as middleware, although they have a platform in California, which they also describe as a reference architecture.

Their sales entry point is the applications developers. To use Monterey, you must have source code engineering rights and capability, and it works best with an application with a highly partitioned architecture, and possibly limited state. They have a Java API and the application must be architected to exist as multi-nodes, although it’s possible that a multi-node set of 1 might work . The Java IDE used is Eclipse. They have a C language pragma, and others such as C# are planned. Monterey is a truly distributed architecture, so it consumes cycles and memory on all potential application hosts. The partitioned architecture minimises the need for both shared disk and bandwidth consumption. It sees the potential hosts as either hypervisor VMs, such as Xen & VMware or bare metal resources, although since the mobile applications are java objects, there needs to by a JVM; they move the application, not the JVM, nor the OS instance nor the VM.

Their EZ Brokerage demo is awesome, they showed the effect of a follow the action and follow the sun policy rules and demonstrated their interface. I asked them for a Video so others can share its awesomeness.

The reference architecture uses Citrix Xensource, Intel and SuperMicro. They are also using Arista Networks and strongly recommend the use of 10GE network and layer 7 switching, although they and their partner switch vendors, Solarflare seek to position themselves as offering something better and cleverer. It’s another example of the re-coming of the conflated system and switch. If varying the components in the platform architecture, then one will need to ensure that it meets the requirements, especially the required network functionality and speed. One of the differentiators that Cloudsoft have is their appetite and success in selling to the financial services industry’s low latency solutions builders.

I am unclear as to how many of their customers use Monterey to implement co-tenancy.

I think it is a brilliant niche positioning. It’s an important problem to solve, they’re focusing on solving it well, and so meet one of Tim Bray’s Laws, “the big winners solve one problem well”. …

Free Wifi in London

Boris Johnson has promised to wifi enable London , speaking at Google Zeitgeist and proposes using lampposts and bus stops.

Fantastic! Some correspondents are suggesting there might be some DE Act constraints, but we’ll see.

The article above also links to this video,

demonstrating the undoubted subtlety of Boris, his mastery of rules and laws and his approach to international relations.


Slightly amended in 2013, certaintly there was no London wide WIFI by the Olympics last year, and little sign of any progress. DFL 12 Aug 2013 …

Scalable Computing

The “Scalable Computing” section of the Digital Systems Knowledge Transfer Network has published an “article, called “Cloud – why now?” by me, Dave Levy. It is a brief article looking at some of  the thoughts I developed over the last year about why organisations are developing new architectural models for IT delivery and how they’ll do it. It looks at the computer science, the economics and the way in which scale is self fulfilling. The scale of the problem, of which there are three dimensions, (data, complexity & connectivity) inspires scalable IT, which itself enables the scale of the solution, and enables higher levels of scale. …

Cloud why now?

I wrote and published a paper, called Cloud why now? on the Knowledge Transfer Network site. How new is Cloud Computing? It is a clear evolution if two trends in IT architecture that have had an immense and limited success. The successful trend is distributed computing and the less successful one utility computing. What is driving this evolution and why now? This article has a quick look at the trends that have brought this to this point and looks at the fact that like most economic revolutions, it’s a confluence of both socio/economics and science. The article concludes by looking at the paradox of data, to see how it is both a driver of change, and an inhibitor. …

Why did Amazon take so long to deliver SQL in the Cloud

The storage market has been complexifying, (Is that a word Ed.) over the last few years; I have for a while considered the databases to be just another software abstraction layer between the hardware and the application i.e. completely equivalent to a file system. Also more recently it is clear  that the highly scalable solutions builders have moved beyond relational databases. I conclude, today’s application designers and storage consumers are no longer always prepared to accept the compromises  buying an RDBMS requires, it’s about Storage not SQL. …