Friday, September 22, 2006

Amazon EC2 and S3 SOAP API

For the SOAP/WSDL-types out there thinking of building mashups, you can use SOAPSonar Enterprise Edition from Crosscheck Networks for using and testing the EC2 and S3 WSDL APIs simultaneously. SOAPSonar handles X.509 Certificates and easily communicates with both S3 and EC2.

I used SOAPSonar for cleaning up my buckets that were populated with image files from EC2.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Floating through the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud

I have been at it again - OCD. My friend "lent" me his AWS account and I have been obsessively experimenting with Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud or EC2. You can provision a Linux instance in a few minutes by choosing from Amazon's default image menu -- which I see growing, or you can build your own private image by either modifying a default image or build a brand new image on your Linux machine.

I love the fact that I can organize a bunch on different images on Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) and provision a machine whenever I need to.

My QA team is responsible for testing our SOA/WebServices Gateway with a number of integration points such as Identity Server (LDAP, AD, SiteMinder, ClearTrust, TAM) for Web Service Authentication and Authorization, Database Servers (MySQL, Oracle, DB2, etc.) for Archiving and a number of App/Web Servers (Apache, WebLogic, WebSphere, etc.). And all of this across different versions.

Needless to say, our testing infrastructure is large, complex and expensive. It is going to save us a "crap" load of time & money by storing images on S3 and provisioning the "required" images when needed. I can hear the silence of all those sever fans in our labs now. The noise reduction itself is worth a premium.

And when my Field Engineers have to demonstrate how well our product (Forum Sentry) integrates with the IT assets in a corporate ecosystem, all they have to do is instantiate the clean, tuned, tested components imaged on S3. No more running around the day before trying to install WebSphere, or TAM. I will pay to see someone install some of these components on their demo laptops within a day.

Next steps -- using EC2 WSDL API along with the S3 WSDL API.

Stay tuned, my OCD stems from the thrill of being able to start 10 instance of MySQL with one command (ec2-run-instances).

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Amazon S3 - Penetrating Enterprise Backup Market

Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) is a virtual vault where one can store personal or corporate information. It is doing well with developers focused on building storage applications for personal use. I have a hard time backing up stuff and have had problems with my USB storage devices, so browser based applications like S3Fox seems really attractive.

I think S3 is great for enterprise backup. However, Amazon will have to figure out an SLA that gives enterprises the same comfort like the Iron Mountain folks give Fortune 500 companies. Fortune 500 companies readily turn in their back up tapes to Iron Mountain, but hesitate when you talk about data backup using S3.

Amazon should look into building a physical offering (software or appliance) that acts as a staging area and is deployed within the enterprise with an option of asynchronously uploading information to S3. The SLA boundary would then be around the appliance and the S3 service.

Or perhaps Amazon should partner with IBM and build a plug-in for their back up tapes that now include encryption.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Why is SOA Testing Crucial?

After spending over 7 years working with XML-based messaging, I am really pleased to see that large vendors such as SAP, IBM, Oracle, BEA and Microsoft all expose their interfaces via WSDLs. This makes is easy for IT assets such as application servers, Databases, ESBs, Proxy servers, and Enterprise Applications to seamlessly work within a Service Oriented Architecture.

I have been on the road lately visiting my customers and reviewing their SOA deployments. SOAP-based messaging is getting deployed everywhere. WSDLs are being exchanged between trading partners and integrating with other systems in now easier than ever. One customer in particular has over 40 WSDLs with dozens of operations per WSDL. Their architecture is elegant with a SOA Gateway from Forum Systems and a BPEL engine from Active Endpoints. However, their SOA testing models are rudimentary using pre-SOA tools such as Mercury Interactive's QTP.

The ease of integration in a distributed and heterogeneous infrastructure puts tremendous burdens on the SOA Tester. Within a SOA, operations are heavily dependent on other operations that may be hosted by a services provider such as Amazon AWS. A SOA Tester has to build complex regression suites that test base operations as well as operations dependent on base operations. Such regression suites can get complex and need specialized techniques that keep SOA interoperability, security and reliability in mind.

I am happy to see larger commercial and public entities using web services to develop modern SOA. Now I hope that as web service deployments mature, SOA Testing techniques are shared and formalized to give modern system-to-system integration the necessary reliability, scalability and interoperability.