UKUUG home


(the UK's Unix & Open Systems User Group)






Book Discounts

Other Discounts

Mailing lists






Cloud Application Architectures

George Reese
Published by O'Reilly Media
ISBN: 978-0-596-15636-7
204 pages
£ 22.99
Published: April 2009
reviewed by Raza Rizvi
   in the September 2009 issue (pdf), (html)

An oddly readable book.

Why odd? Well it is part conceptual reference but is at the same time clearly based on the author's practical experience of his own adoption of cloud services. Well not cloud services, more a cloud service because it is firmly based on Amazon's EC2 and S3, but not so much that it can't speak to the wider management and take-up of other services (and some balance is provided towards the end of the book). It speaks to the reader who needs a technical background and is probably responsible for the strategic direction that led to the decision to go to the cloud, but includes more than a good handful of administrative guidance with a helpful scattering of programmatic snippets. So a jolly good mixed up 'storyline' but engaging nonetheless.

Obviously chapter 1 of course introduces the reader to what cloud computing means and how it compares to traditional server deployments. There is a good explanation of the Amazon EC2 (Elastic Cloud Compute) and S3 (Simple Storage Service) which is expanded as we move into chapter 2 covering the mechanics of how the service is made up and addressed. There are clear warnings where one feels the author was bitten badly and I couldn't help but feel that the clear way he outlines these sets the practical and down-to-earth nature for the rest of the book. It isn't meant to be a reference book for the Amazon services but a summary of the practical experience gained in the author's deployment over the last few years.

Chapter 3 firmly sets out how you might calculate your costs for the take up of cloud services not just in financial terms but in reliability and availability against a more standard deployment. It is sensible to see it not just as a means of saving money at any cost. Assuming you are convinced it is the right thing to do for your project, chapters 4, 5, and 6 deal with the topics likely to be foremost in your mind — data management, security, and data recovery/backup. You are trusting someone else with your data whilst still trying to maintain your obligations to your regulators, customers, and stakeholders and the author (with both US and EU examples) knows what the overall issues are that you will want to question. He makes it clear that in many instances the problems you will face as the same as running applications in a hosted data centre (how do you get all that data from over there to over here…?) but he also explains what is so different in trying to secure your data in a cloud where you have no discrete physical access points to protect. I thought his approach and clarity was particularly good once you understand the additional issues.

The meat of the book rounds off with some good advice on scaling your deployment. If you thought that you didn't have to worry about this just because you had shifted everything into the cloud, the 15 pages, or so, explain what you still have to be concerned about.

The book rounds off with an EC2 command reference (it isn't clear why the S3 commands were not similarly gathered for ease of reference or at least a pointer to Amazon's own documentation provided), and then two small descriptions of alternate cloud architectures using GoGrid and Rackspace (from those vendors).

At times I thought the page layout a little scattered with text, code fragments, in-copy explanations, footnotes, diagrams, and command-line snippets. The process of editing should have made this less taxing on the eye and should have picked up errors like the two missing figures (but they are on the errata page online).

Overall then, and notwithstanding my quibble about the text layout at times, this is a useful book for those technically minded decision makers who want more than just marketing material to help them focus their thought on how (and why) they should deploy services outside of the traditional physical data centre. Because it was written from practical experience, I felt that the author was truthfully balanced rather than just evangelistic.

Back to reviews list

Tel: 01763 273 475
Fax: 01763 273 255
Web: Webmaster
Queries: Ask Here
Join UKUUG Today!

UKUUG Secretariat
More information

Page last modified 08 Sep 2009
Copyright © 1995-2011 UKUUG Ltd.