Monday, February 28, 2011

Cloud Computing Center

What is going on in my group? Currently, I am helping five MSc students working on their dissertations and the first doctoral student is joining the team. In addition I giving classes in Web Application design and I am running several other projects, such as eClub, Eucalyptus private cloud etc.
Let me introduce my students and their projects. Josef Sin prepares a system for running a workload-planning algorithm on AWS. He is designing a simple web application in RoR, which will make it easy for researches to run large tasks on EC2. The app user interface will allow the administrator to manage access rights, computational quotas, upload the execution code, data and download results.
Tomas Barina and Patrik Lenart work on NoSQL databases. Patrik is looking at Cassandra and Hadoop and Tomas at MongoDB, Couchdb and Riak. Both are using the databases to store emails handling terabytes of data. The databases and email processing (qmail) will run on a cluster of 10 servers with sufficient size of disc space.
With Vojta Novak we try to develop a web application using gData API. We are looking at ways how to cluster users contacts on a Google Apps domain. The simplest clustering may be based on company affiliation. First, we will use tags, next email addresses. But there are many other possibilities to cluster contacts, emails, documents, calendars etc.
Michal Zima works in the field of business processes. The focus is again on SaaS approach. Currently, we are analyzing existing web applications.
Finally, Filip is in. As of tomorrow, he is my first doctoral student. He is starting to work on Rapid Application Tools for web design. See my previous blogs.
We've all heard the phrase "grow or die. We have to grow not only bigger but smarter too. Therefor watch this blog. I'll be looking for students interested in a doctoral position in the field of cloud computing. Especially, I am looking for candidates interested in cloud infrastructure, large DBs, security etc. In the nearest future I will post a doctoral position description.
To conclude, I have started several projects in the Cloud Computing while building traction, getting more people to an „active mode“. To keep the momentum and motivate the students we need to create for us a new home. We are starting the Cloud Computing Center.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

eClub first landmark

Radovan Janecek, VP, Software Engineering at CA Technologies presented the Systinet case study yesterday. Great presentation! We had about 40 folks for the show. We spent the time before 6:00pm discussing projects. First teams are being formed. We have also reached the first landmark. Our eClub home page crossed the 1000 page views threshold.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

RAD tools

In the last blog I have praised the Fakturoid application for creating invoices on cloud. In the mean time I found that one of my students works for a startup company Their web is in English and that's great they have global focus. The web is really minimalistic even in the number of web pages, but they have an active blog (Czech). Probably, their major business is web hosting, see the webpage - very nice name (zoo). What is the relation to Fakturoid? They have a very similar application BillApp. Based on the blog description, it has been created as a byproduct. What is interesting? It is written also in Ruby on Rails. The XML or JSON REST API, thanks to RoR, is ready.
With this blog I'd like to point out an emerging trend in the Czech Rep, popularity of RoR. The 37signals and their philosophy for creating web apps and running startup is gaining great popularity. Many of the small startups are adopting their approach. Many are also using other 37signals products, for example bootcamp to organize development.
There are other rapid web application development tools competitors, such as Spring Roo or Grails. Check it out. For Java edicts Roo provides very quick way for starting a CRUD application. It provides basic scaffolding similarly as RoR. What more it is easy to use GWT as a front end and deploy it on Google (AppEngine).
The conclusion is that all these RAD tools provide an excellent starting point for developing custom CRUD applications for SMB in a systematic way in MVC model with REST API. Consider help-desks, CRM, timesheets, business trip recording, project management etc. In the simplest form there are two parts to these apps: administration and list of items. To develop these to perfection takes a lot of efforts and time, but with RAD tools to get the skeleton is a snap. Give it a try.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Last week I have met Jan Korbel and Lukáš Konarovský the authors of the famous Fakturoid application. They are big fans of Ruby on Rails, and they have a sense for clean and simple web design. They took advantage of their skills and designed a nifty application. I like the minimalistic graphical design with green buttons, btw. - my favorite color. I like the layout, very simple and easy to go around. Most of all, I like the Faktoruoid architecture. It is an example of the cloud approach. Cloud has many advantages. No need to download and install any files, there is no upfront investment, you just register. Your data is stored in the cloud you can access it from any place, any time and any device with a browser. You pay for the usage as you go, once you are bored and want to upgrade you just stop paying and start to use something different. Ruby on Rails is easy and quick for development and provides a clean REST API separating the server and client.
Yes, the data is in the cloud, somewhere on the Internet. Yes, you may ask a question how vulnerable is the data, what is the procedure to backup the data on my machine, what is the SLA, meaning what is the guarantied up time, RPO, RTO, what will happened if Fakturoid disappears etc. and these are valid questions. The same set of questions applies to many cloud apps today and I am not going to answer them. I think, we just need to strike a balance between the value of the data and the benefits of the application. Different users with different needs will answer differently. I am a believer of cloud and I suppose, cloud will evolve and provide solutions for many different requirements. As of today, I wish Fakturoid all the best, I like it. Let’s hope we see more of these. I’ll keep you updated ….

Thursday, February 17, 2011

eClub first meeting

we have met for the first time in the eClub last night. I have described what is the motivation, how we will meet and what are the benefits. Our sponsor Ondrej Bartos from Credo Ventures followed with a short contribution and good jokes. The whole meeting was recorded. Check out eClub web site, as soon as the video processing is finished we will publish it. While on the eClub web make a registration, please. We can better inform you about all the benefits. The start was solid and I am looking for the next meeting presented by Radovan Janecek today CA VP. With Roman Stanek they started and sold Systinet, great story. All of you who have not made it to the first meeting you are welcome to meet us next Wednesday. Try to compete for the best prototype proposal and win the trip to Silicon Valley incubator.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

eClub lectures

Here is the plan for the first six lectures in the eclub:

16.2. Jan Sedivy, CVUT FEL - What is eClub, what will you learn, what can you get
23.2. Radovan Janecek, VP, Software Engineering at CA Technologies. Sistinet case study, from one man startup to exit.
2.3. Petr Koubsky, IT Market Analyst, Supply isn't demand, project isn't product - how to turn an innocent passer-by into user and user into customer.
9.3. Ondrej Bartos, Credo Ventures - How to build a successful start up. How to win the competition for the best entrepreneurial idea, who and how are we going to select the winners.
16.3. Lucie Havlickova, Pesronal Development CZ, s.r.o. How to do a presentation
23.3. Projects presentation - first round (Max 10Min), Lucie Havlíčková consulting

Sunday, February 13, 2011


I am preparing a lecture about Cloud Computing and I came across an interesting video about the Google APIs architecture, it is almost one year old - Google IO 10, but worth to see. The video is describing the advantages and also the problems of REST. Google suggests the partial data operations and multiple read write formats. Next section is describing how REST gets awkward; when you need for example to rotate a picture in Picasa server. You need to request the data, process the data and send it back, resulting in two transfers. The traffic can be reduced by augmenting REST with custom verbs. Google will support in parallel the REST and JSON RPC styles in parallel giving the designer the choice. The video is also describing Google approach to make the APIs libraries up to date using dynamic discovery. A sample coding session is presented at the end. Very interesting stuff inspiring to many discussions, check it out.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Eucalyptus private cloud at CVUT

Summer semester starts on Monday, therefore our cloud experiments will move to nights. Thanks to Tomas and Dan the Eucalyptus private cloud software is installed and running in the class room 132. The grub dual boot software allows luanching Windows after computers power on and waking them up over etherwake and reboot cloud sw at 8:00PM. Eucalyptus runs on a special version of Debian. The Cloud controller and Walrus (storage service) are running on a larger server virtualized under VMware with access to RAID storage. The basic system works, we can launch EMI’s (Eucaliptus Machine Image), this is Eucalyptus equivalent of AWS AMI. We can stop them, we can do the very basic house keeping. The idea is to use the computers to run heavy-duty number crunching for the Computer Machine Perception group. We need to write a small application to push the computational tasks to a queue during the day and let them run at night. The next step is write a small control web app to make this easy. We work on a similar problem in AWS (josin). Who has some know-how with these apps? We need testers ...

First eClub press references

The eClub is starting announcements appeared on the local (Czech) developers portals. Root, vyvojar, devlogy.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Do you use Chrome?

Do you work on Mac? Do you know Dropbox? Check out a Textmate like lightweight programmer's text editor right inside of Chrome. It saves files directly to Dropbox, so if you have the Dropbox sync software installed, the changes will appear locally

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Status report - eClub

our sponsor Credo Ventures is throwing the first price to our eClub competition. They will award one of the top three teams with a stay in an incubator in Silicon Valley, great! The CVUT Media Lab experts helped me to successfully set the web domain and mapped the Google apps on it to start our portal. This will be the center point of information for all who will join the club. We will publish the presentations, we plan to take video recordings, we will run there a discussion group, you will get there information about the next presenter etc. Stay tuned, I will inform you as soon as we kick it off.