Archive for April, 2013

I recently completed a project for a major wireless carrier and have a few days to spend on research and self-study before my next consulting assignment.

For previous projects, I had used to quickly provision development and testing servers, but I hadn’t had the opportunity to create and deploy applications into one of the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings.  However, Rackspace is just an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) provider and does not provide the application development “ecosystem” to allow a developer to simply build a deploy an app without having to first configure frameworks, databases, messaging solutions, networks and storage first.

Having followed the VMWare/CloudFoundry/Pivotal developments closely over the last few months, I thought I would start with CloudFoundry and then do something similar with the Google App Engine.


  • Signup was simple.  I chose to install both the SpringSource Tool Suite (STS) as well as the MicroCloudFoundry server instance that supports complete standalone development and deployment without having a connection to the public cloud.
  • I registered my “app ID” and received the URL for my site.
  • Following one of the available tutorials, I quickly created a Grails- and MySQL-based web app and deployed it to the public cloud.  The app wasn’t much more than a hello world to start with, but following the tutorial, I quickly added functionality to display a list.
  • The next steap was to create a separate project for a RESTful API that could be consumed by the web app.  That also went fairly smoothly minus the occasional typo and pretty soon, I had a second project deployed to the public cloud that would return a JSON document in response to a  URL query (RESTful API call)
  • The final step was to rewire the web app to get its list of things from the RESTful API rather than a static list and redeploy it.  Using the Sencha javascript library to provide for a mobile web UI experience, my app was, if not quite native, at least mobile-centric and accessible from my iPhone.
  • For a future enhancement, I’d like to use PhoneGap to render native mobile apps for iOS and Android
  • Getting Started Link:  here
  • Tutorial Link: here

GoogleAppEngine (AppSpot):

  • My tutorial for GoogleAppEngine was much more simplistic, but still was sufficient to demonstrate deploying a new app to the public clould.
  • I downloaded the MacOS version of the AppEngine API and configured Eclipse to use it for Google AppEngine projects.
  • Using Eclipse, I modified a provided starting application called GuestBook and deployed it to Google’s cloud.  The application was accessible using a URL of
  • GoogleAppEngine provides a dashboard showing numerous statistics for application usage
  • Language support was limited to Python, GO and Java and supposedly the Java support is scaled back.
  • Getting Started Link:

I also looked briefly at the Oracle Cloud PaaS, but only got as far as configuring some of the predefined “apps” in the database service.  I’ll take a crack at deploying a custom-developed app as time permits.

In summary, both  CloudFoundry and Google’s AppEngine allowed me to quickly develop a simple app that leveraged the capabilities of the PaaS provider.  CloudFoundry’s choices of available technologies seemed more familiar to me as an enterprise-class application architect, but both would certainly get the job done.

Google provided a nice set of metrics for monitoring application use and performance out of the box, while this was only available in CloudFoundry’s MicroCloudFoundry component.

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The Internet of Things (IOT) is a computing concept that refers to a massively interconnected future state in which everyday objects will be connected to the internet and to each other.  Even with today’s early stage machine-to-machine (M2M) endeavors involving smart electricity meters or vehicle telematics, we are a long way from this future IOT state.  Even in the most modern of homes, today’s refrigerators and dishwashers don’t talk to one another or to their owner’s smart phones to remind them to pick up milk or dishwasher detergent.


However, IOT, got a pretty big boost today with GE’s $105 million investment in Pivotal.  You see, GE makes lots of things that are already instrumented with sensors that collect massive amounts of data as they operate.  A surprising amount of today’s Pivotal launch event was devoted to discussing use cases involving GE-made products such as airplane engines and wind turbines.  The main point seemed to be that doing useful things with the massive amounts of data gathered by these things (or at least the sensors attached to these things) requires a radically different software and application architecture.  Pivotal and its upcoming PivotalOne offering will attempt to provide an application development platform that can not only ingest these massive data quantities (using GemFire) but can also wring meaning and useful business intelligence from them in order to enable realtime responses.

One interesting example cited was that, on average, a single Boeing 777 produces over 30TB of sensor data on a single transatlantic flight!  A large wireless carrier I know of processes over 4 billion billable events per day and those are just summary records of the activity that is really happening in the network when consumers use data, send texts or make calls.

So, 113-year old GE appears to be making a bet on the upstart Pivotal in part to focus on building a series of product offerings to help its customers leverage the massive data quantities that GE’s things generate.  GE not only wants to make money from selling the things and the sensors monitoring the things, but also on the intelligence that can be derived using Pivotal’s software architectures from the data that the things generate.



Note:  Image source:

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Just like Spring here in Colorado this year, it seems like the official public launch of the new Pivotal initiative would never get here!  Now, why, you say, would normal people live in a place where spring-like weather is still nowhere to be found on April 24th?  Or maybe a better question, is why I’m actually tracking the launch of Paul Maritz’s latest endeavor so closely?

As to the first, we love living here in Colorado despite the occasional delayed Spring the 300 days of sunshine and gorgeous surroundings are in addition to the great business climate and fantastic people.

Regarding Pivotal, I suppose its launch has caught my attention because of my current focus on helping companies modernize apps and databases for cloud or burst-to-cloud deployments and because Gemfire happens to be part of the suite of products moving from VMWare / SpringSource into Pivotal.

Paul Maritz at the Pivotal Launch

Paul Maritz at the Pivotal Launch

One new bit of news this morning prior to the launch itself was that GE was going to pour $105 million into the new company, taking a 10% ownership stake.  ”With GE aboard, EMC will own 62 percent; VMware 28 percent and GE 10 percent, according to a Pivotal spokesperson.”   Its not yet clear how the GE investment will play out, but having another big name added to the ownership stake will certainly add to the confidence that Pivotal hopes its new customers will draw from a child of EMC and VMWare.

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