Sunday, August 29, 2010

Use of multiple cloud environments with MS BI solution without changing architecture

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In my earlier post, I said that one of the critical feature for selecting a cloud vendor for use with your existing BI solution, is to check the feasibility whether this requires an architecture change and if yes, what is the magnitude of the required change. The complexity in this case is much elevated when an enterprise has contracted with more than one cloud vendor. Actually it's a wise policy to have more than one cloud vendor and replicate your data across these cloud environments. In case your primary cloud vendor is down for some reason, you can always use your secondary cloud as a contingency server.

Here we are talking about using cloud as a file server and not as a computing server. From a design point of view, one can think of this architecture where we would be using cloud as a SAN (Storage Access Network). There are many interesting use of this design, whereby without changing the regular architecture, BI applications can take advantage of cloud. For ex., say that your ETL solution powered by SSIS requires to create huge staging at various stages of ETL processing and say this staging is in the form of some files like RAW Files, Excel files or Flat files. on various cloud environments. Or consider a scenario where a central repository of master data feed is created in the form of some files on various cloud environments which would be read by centralized or federated reporting applications. In such scenarios, client and/or server machines needs to be able to access cloud storage without a major architecture shift. For this requirement an intelligent cloud gateway is required which would select the appropriate cloud environment and also enable easy access these cloud storage environments.

One such product of this flavor is
Gladinet Cloud Desktop. This tool has very interesting features to act as a shell for various cloud environments. If you want to cloud enable your client machines or servers, this tool can act as a very intelligent gateway for managing your cloud. The USP of this tool is that it adds the required cloud storage environments as a local virtual directory on the machine of which it's installed, and the software takes care of maintaining a cache between the cloud environment and local storage. By using the APIs of this product or by programmatic control, this product can be used to manage your cloud based storage without changing the architecture design of your existing solution. Though there are great complexities involved and I do not claim that this is perfectly suited for the design in consideration, but the capabilities that this product brings to the table for managing cloud based environment is very unique and can be utilized in many scenarios.

In summary, if your BI solution involves dealing with multiple cloud environments, I feel that this product can be very effective in such scenarios. Other services provided by Gladient worth checking out are Gladinet CloudAFS and Gladinet Cloud Backup which provides live backup of SQL Server to the cloud. I do not have enough balance in my pocket to pay the bills for various cloud environments as well as this product to develop a POC. But in case if you do or your enterprise is looking out to develop a POC for any solution that involves multiple cloud environments, then this product is worth giving a shot. I would like to hear back on this from those who were able to digest this idea that I have attempted to present in this post.

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