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Yahoo adds SmugMug support!

January 16, 2009 21 comments
Yahoo! in cloud OR Hadoop? (Яху в облаках)

Yahoo! in cloud OR Hadoop? (Яху в облаках) by Alexander & Natalie

tl;dr: Yahoo adds SmugMug support to Profiles. Windows Live coming. Lots of other services, too.

Wow, what a pleasant surprise! Woke up this morning to this story on TechCrunch about 20 new services they’d added to Yahoo Profiles (here’s mine). Lo and behold, SmugMug is one of them! In fact, in Yahoo’s blog post about the new features, SmugMug was the one mentioned for photos. Cool!

As far as I know, we haven’t talked to Yahoo about this at all – which is part of what makes this so great. Microsoft was supposed to have rolled something like this out to Windows Live profiles awhile ago, but I still haven’t seen it drop. We’re very excited about that, too, but the two company’s approaches were very different: Microsoft came over, chatted with us about the product, then had us sign a contract to participate. That was months ago, and I have no idea when it’s actually coming. Yahoo, on the other hand, seems to have just built it and shipped it.

I can see the arguments for both approaches: Microsoft is probably being extra careful about privacy, and working through their internal rules and regulations about re-using user generated content. Yahoo, on the other hand, is scrambling to catch up now as the underdog. I assume Yahoo realized that SmugMug already has strong privacy controls around our feeds and simply hit the gas – full speed ahead.

Either way, what’s especially heartening is the number of sites, services, and pieces of software that now support SmugMug. At The Crunchies last week, we weren’t nominated (we won for Best Design last year), but it still felt like we were winning – many of the winners use or integrate with us: Google Reader, Windows Live Mesh, Cooliris, lots of companies using Amazon Web Services, lots of apps on the iPhone 3G, and FriendFeed. Very cool.

(And all of that despite what we *know* is terrible and/or nonexistent documentation around our feeds. Yes, we’ll work on that.)

On Why Auto-Scaling in the Cloud Rocks

December 9, 2008 70 comments
SkyNet Lives - EC2 at SmugMug

In high school, I had a great programmable calculator. I’d program it to solve complicated math and science problems “automatically” for me. Most of my teachers got upset if they found out, but I’ll always remember one especially enlightened teacher who didn’t. He said something to the effect of “Hey, if you managed to write software to solve the equation, you must thoroughly understand the problem. Way to go!”.

George Reese wrote up a blog post over at O’Reilly the other day called On Why I Don’t Like Auto-Scaling in the Cloud. His main argument seems to be that auto-scaling is bad and reflects poor capacity planning. In the comments, he specifically calls SmugMug out, saying we’re “using auto-scaling as a crutch for poor or non-existent capacity planning”.

George is like one of those math teachers who doesn’t “get it”. I was tempted not to write this post because he gets it so wrong, I’d hate to spread that meme. SkyNet auto-scales well. No humans at SmugMug are monitoring it and it just hums along, doing its job. Why is it so efficient? Because I understand the equation. I know what metrics drive our capacity planning and I programmed SkyNet to take these into account. It checks an awful lot of data points every minute or so – this isn’t simply “oh, we have idle CPU, let’s kill some instances.” (I would argue that, depending on the application, simple auto-scaling based on CPU usage or similar data point can be very effective, too, though).

SkyNet has been in production for over a year with only two incidents of note and SmugMug has more than doubled in size and capacity during that time without adding any new operations people. How on earth is this a bad thing?

Huge EC2 release: Load Balancing & Auto-Scaling!

October 27, 2008 7 comments
June 5th, 2008 near Maryville, Missouri

June 5th, 2008 near Maryville, Missouri by Shane Kirk

In case you didn’t see it, Amazon had a huge EC2 announcement the other day that included:

  • EC2 is now out of beta.
  • EC2 has a SLA!
  • Windows is now availabled on EC2
  • SQL Server is now available on EC2

But the really cool bits, if you ask me, are the announcements about the next wave of related services:

  • Monitoring
  • Load Balancing
  • Auto-Scaling
  • A web-based management console

As frequent readers of my blog and/or conference talks will know, this means one of the last important building blocks to creating fully cloud-hosted applications *at scale* is nearly ready for primetime.

For those keeping score at home, my personal checklist shows that the only thing now missing is a truly scalable, truly bottomless database-like data store. Neither Elastic Block Storage (EBS) nor SimpleDB really solve the entire scope of the problem, though they’re great building blocks that do solve big pieces (or everything, at smaller scale). I’m positive that someone (Amazon or other) will solve this problem and I can start moving more stuff “to the Cloud”.

I can’t wait.

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