Giving control of your data to the cloud

I’ve been doing some research and evaluation of more cloud computing. Specifically my focus has been on data store, and considering how to augment an existing operation using a popular database such as MySQL.

I’ve been looking first at Google App Engine and now I have my SimpleDB Beta today will be looking here next.

Some observations I’ve struggled with are:

  • No Native CLI, say for basic data setup. You can do some programmatic input for SELECT statements in a Query object in a SQL like syntax called GQL, but you can’t do DML
  • No simple data viewer. In production you would not do this, but I’m in evaluation and still looking at functionality, verification of results etc. A phpmyadmin clone is what I’m seeking for example. I suspect this would have been a good Google Summer of Code project.
  • Python only. While this was great for me to need to spend a 1/2 day to learn about Python syntax, it was just another small starting hurdle. If your organization doesn’t do or use Python, this is another skill or resource needed.

But the biggest concern and hurdle I’m understanding from my traditional principles is loss of control. Loss of control for monitoring and instrumentation, performance, availability and backup and recovery.

Recent issues in performance and unavailability have highlighted that App Engine is not suitable for mission critical web sites, not as your primary focus. I see huge benefits in augmenting access to information, perhaps more historical for example, a well define API within your application could easily support options to consider cloud storage as a secondary storage and primary retrieval of less important data.

My focus when revisiting here will be looking at means of object translate between tables and the Data Store and maybe an API for data transfer etc.

I suspect that when I get to evaluating EC2/S3 more I will have much more support by being able to leverage existing tools and techniques.


  1. says

    It’s easy to overestimate the importance of the “control” issue. I don’t think anybody is going to run automated teller machine processing out of the cloud any time soon. Run-of-the-mill applications like small/medium business accounting packages are a different matter. Cloud environments like Amazon have periodic failures, but many corporate IT departments have far more. Also, the nice thing about cloud failures is that fixing them is somebody else’s problem.