Talk: Architecting for the Cloud at Boston Code Camp #19

On Saturday March 9, 2013, I teamed up with Joan Wortman on a talk at the 19th (!) Boston Code Camp. Some of the patterns I discuss require some different thinking about application architecture, including aspects that impact the user experience (UX). I teamed up with Joan Wortman (who is a UX expert) to better include some context around how to deal with some of these UX challenges as they intersect with architecture.

I also hope to see many of the attendees at future Boston Azure meetings (held at same location as the Boston Code Camp – NERD in Cambridge, MA). Also feel free to post follow-up questions to this post or email me (codingoutloud on gmail) or ask me on twitter where I am @codingoutloud.

Here are a couple of questions that came up in the talk:

  1. How much does the cloud cost? As I mentioned, this is a question that deserves some discussion since it is not as simple as looking at the pricing calculator (which can be found here). Sometimes it will be less costly, sometimes more costly. (I did point out there is a free tier for Windows Azure Web Sites.) One major factor is the cost of resources (which is trending down over time). Another major factor is the impact of reducing resource usage when it is not needed; for example, consider a Line of Business application which is used only during business hours in North America and can be turned off completely (accruing no VM usage charges) during non-business hours/weekends/holidays; as another example consider that you don’t need to own resource for the “spike” at the Superbowl (like Shazam scenario described by Joan) since you can “give it all back” (stop paying) once the rush is over. There are also other considerations when you get into DR and HA and geo-distribution. (I wrote about RPO and RTO terms in the context Engineering for DR in the Cloud recently.) And still another factor is understanding what you are paying for — don’t forget the Iceberg idea — so do not compare pricing with those of traditional hosting (unless that’s what you really want) since hosting is not cloud computing!
  2. Why can I only access 32 messages at a time from the Windows Azure Storage Queue? This is the same limit when we talk about “peeking” (looking at what’s on the queue without removing it) and retrieving messages for exclusive access. I don’t know why this particular limit was chosen (why not 20? why not 100?) so could only speculate on that. The bottom line is that all messages can be accessed – sometimes requiring more than one call. I wish I had time to probe into the application scenario that would benefit from grabbing so many messages at once, but due to time constraints did not do that. I will answer the question further if I get a follow-up question.
  3. Where can I find the mail app that Joan mentioned? The Mailbox app is for iOS and can be found in your app store or directly on iTunes here: (and there’s a lot of press – such as this story here).
  4. OTHER QUESTIONS? Send ’em along!

Hope to see you at Boston Azure:


Much of the material for the talk also appears in my book:

Cloud Architecture Patterns book


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