Putting The Cloud Into An Eyedropper

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When you think of “the cloud”, what comes to mind? For some, it’s racks and racks of commodity hardware. Others may consider the benefits of dynamic scalability or worldwide availability.

There’s another side to the cloud on my mind, which is that many, and likely most, of the applications that enterprises use to run their business were not architected for cloud infrastructures. For example, SCM tools like Subversion, Perforce, and others eye an uneasy life in the cloud. Ten or more years ago, IT environments often centered around bare metal deploys of “big iron” servers. Lights flashed and cables snaked around massive refrigerated server farms.

Fast forward to today’s young high and not-so-high tech firms. On my first day at WANdisco, I found myself standing in the kitchen, wondering where the server room was. Turns out, I was looking at it: a few small boxes tacked up on the wall near the paper towels. Of course! Today’s companies have outsourced many previously in-house applications to cloud based services such as Gmail, Google Docs, Salesforce.com, WorkDay, and many more.

Legacy applications, often used to the high processor speeds, large amounts of RAM, and RamSans of traditional vertically scaled environments, are often fish-out-of-water in a typical horizontally-scaling, public cloud environments such as Amazon EC2.

The solution moving forward has to be grueling, ground-up rewrites of these applications for the multi-machine, multi-master environment of today’s cloud.

Or does it?

While learning about WANdisco’s patented replication technology and implementation called DConE, it occurred to me that it brings many of the benefits of the cloud to existing applications. DConE has effectively condensed many of the benefits of the cloud into a virtual eyedropper, where it can easily be dripped onto almost any existing database application.

For example, it converts a centralized, vanilla Subversion repository into a multi-machine, multi-master, robust replication group with no single point of failure. It adds scalability by easily configuring read-only nodes. HADR (High Availability Disaster Recovery) is built in: if a node loses connectivity, the others transparently take over the load. In many cases, users will not even be aware of a problem. When the previously isolated node comes back on line, it silently catches up with the others.

Importantly, DConE can easily and quickly be integrated with new applications. It’s not the cloud as most think of it, but could it be considered a form of virtualization that delivers some of the promise of the cloud to essential applications?

What applications are you dependent on that could benefit from cloudlike capabilities of HADR, global multi-site, and horizontal scalability? We’d love to hear about them.