Archive for February, 2011


If you are planning to operate a cloud, whether public or private, you’ll have to decide which operating system you want your cloud to run on. Your choices are Windows, Linux, or other. I’m not going to say that the “other” is automatically bad, but I am going to compare Windows and Linux. Which is better?

I think it depends. Both have their proponents. Linux fans seem to be more vocal than Windows fans, but the Windows fans are out there.

There is really one significant difference between the two. Linux is open source, though not always free. Windows, however, is proprietary and never free (unless you use a bootleg copy).

That’s a big distinction and it’s not all about economics. Don’t choose Linux just because you can snag a free copy. You can also purchase different version of Linux that offer you more resources and support than the free version. But that’s another blog post. What I’m going to stress upon you right now is that the free version isn’t better just because it’s free.

Here’s an example. Dynamic web pages are web pages that interact with the web server in a special way. Windows offers ASP, a proprietary web language that is quite capable of building dynamic web pages. You’ll never be able to use ASP with Linux, however, because it is proprietary. That’s how Microsoft made it. PHP, on the other hand, the Linux-based language that is often used for building dynamic web pages does have a version that you can use on Windows.

Let’s say you want the benefit of a Windows environment, but you don’t want the proprietary ASP, which you have to shell out money for. You can still use PHP on Windows. Ah! But if you want to use ASP or the ASP.NET framework, then you must use Windows. You have no choice.

In some sense, Linux is more flexible. It has its benefits. But in quite another sense, Windows is more flexible. So which do you choose? It really depends on your goals.

Cloud Hosting For Apps

Apps development has become a huge business. A few years ago, no one would have dreamed that stand alone web application development would be as big a business as it has become. But it has become a big business and that leads to another business development that cannot be dismissed: Cloud hosting for application development.

There are a few ways that cloud hosting thrives on apps development. First, there is development and testing. As you develop your apps, you’ll need a testing environment that is secure and that provides you with enough resources to keep your apps safe from the competition.

Another way that cloud hosting and apps development play together is in the usage department. Where will you host your apps as the end user is toying with them?

There are a lot of potential solutions to that last problem. A part of the solution has to do with the environment in which your apps are created. If you develop Ruby on Rails apps, for instance, you’ll have different needs than if your apps are built on PHP or JavaScript. So the programming environment is very important.

Another thing that is important is the purpose for your apps. Gaming apps have different needs than business development apps. They may be used at different times of the day, but they also require different resources. Your apps, for instance, might rely heavily on video graphics whereas business apps will more than likely need extensive use of forms and data.

Whatever the case, we have reached a point where cloud hosting and apps development have crossed paths. I believe this will only lead to further demand in both environments.

Windows Azure is Microsoft’s cloud solution. There are many benefits to using the Windows Azure solution, but here are six immediate benefits based on Windows Azure’s own characteristics.

  1. Wide Distribution – Instead of having just one big machine where all your data sits, your data is distributed over a large number of smaller machines. That’s really the essence of cloud computing.
  2. Scalability – In terms of performance, Windows Azure ensures your servers perform the same no matter how much data they are storing. Your chance of being Slashdotted is decreased tremendously to very slim.
  3. Replication – All data is replicated more than once. That equals greater performance, more scalability, and overall better service.
  4. Consistency – Writing code for Windows Azure is simple. When you update the projects you are working on, all future API calls will see those changes. Windows Azure updates immediately.
  5. Geodistribution – Imagine being in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina wiped out the city. If you had your data on one server in that location, then it was lost. Geodistribution allows you to distribute your data geographically. Having more than one copy prevents natural disasters from killing your business, but it also allows you to store your code close to the teams that need it.
  6. Loads Of Storage – You pay only for what you use, and you can always be assured that you’ll have more than you need.

Windows Azure makes cloud hosting easier and more manageable.

If you are programming on a Windows-based server, you might be wondering what tools do you have at your disposal. Well, you actually have quite a few. Here are eight tools that you can use to be a better Windows-based programmer:

  1. ASP.NET – Seriously, ASP is the most dynamic Windows-based programming language, and .NET is Windows’ most ubiquitous application framework. Together, they make a great combination.
  2. Visual Basic – Much of what you’ll do in a Windows environment is based on Visual Basic. It’s a good language to learn.
  3. Windows Azure – Programming in the cloud? Windows Azure is Windows’ cloud platform.
  4. Visual Studio – An integrated development environment (IDE) with GUI controls that makes web development so much easier.
  5. Visual Web Developer – Another IDE from Microsoft that makes building websites on the ASP.NET framework easier and more fun.
  6. JScript – Similar to JavaScript, a powerful tool for helping programmers develop more powerful web server applications.
  7. AJAX AJAX stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. It’s a package of technologies that allows programmers and web developers to build more dynamic, interactive web pages.
  8. C++ – A very popular programming language with a lot of flexibility.

These tools are very useful for Windows-based programming. You don’t have to learn them all, but if you want to be a Windows-based programmer, then you would do yourself and your clients a service by learning as many of these as possible.

Why Program Using ASP.NET?

ASP.NET has its proponents and its detractors. Some people like it. Some people don’t. But there are some valid reasons for using ASP.NET for building a website. Before you decide to use ASP.NET, or not to, consider these main talking points.

  • Your Unix Options – If you’re building your website on a Unix box, what are your options? HTML is not dynamic so if you use it, you’re stuck. Perl is difficult to learn. C and C++ are difficult to learn. VisualBasic is easier, but it’s not perfect. ASP.NET is your best option.
  • ASP.NET Is Free – You can’t compete with free.
  • Easy To Learn – ASP.NET is easy to learn. It is simple and doesn’t require a lot of complex code.
  • Database Connectivity – If you want to go dynamic, then you need database connectivity. ASP.NET provides it.
  • Dynamic Websites – If you want dynamic websites on a Unix server, the best choice is ASP.NET. It is secure and provides form support that is simple and so much easier than Perl.
  • Sell Your Inventory – Do you have inventory to sell? If so, then ASP.NET is your best choice for your Unix server. The support you get with ASP.NET makes it easy to build an e-commerce website with inventory.

You don’t have to abandon your Unix server. You can program your website using ASP.NET.

How To Make Charts With ASP.NET

If you are just learning ASP.NET, then you might be wondering how best to create charts that make sense and that are useful to the end user. Well, there are tutorials online that can help you with your ASP.NET chart challenges. Here is a short list of ASP.NET tutorials you might find helpful.

  • Exploded Pie Charts in ASP.NET 4.0
  • Advanced Charts with Multiple Series’
  • ASP.NET Updating Chart Controls in Real Time
  • Creating 3D Charts in ASP.NET 4.0
  • Creating a basic Chart Control in ASP.NET 4.0
  • Creating a Line Graph in ASP.NET 3.5 C# with MS Chart

You’ll find these ASP.NET tutorials at Dot Net Tutorials, a website devoted to all kinds of Web tutorials.

Dot Net Tutorials also has many other tutorials that are worth taking. You’ll find tutorials on a wide variety of topics to include error handling, database programming, AJAX, Internet browsers, Visual Web Developer, user interface issues, website navigation, graphics, and whole lot more. All of them are just as useful and easy to follow as the ASP.NET tutorials on charts.

Here’s a sample tutorial on charts using ASP.NET:

Overview

1. Create The Chart and Setup The Datapoints

2. Add Button Controls to our form

3. Write the button Controls’ Code

And for the more detailed tutorial you can visit Dot Net Tutorials, where you’ll find plenty more Web tutorials on topics every Web developer should know.

Since the 1960s, businesses have grown accustomed to owning their own computers. It’s been a major part of enterprise businesses for a very long time. It’s been a major factor in how small businesses operate since the 1980s, and for some it’s been since the 1970s. Not owning the computing systems in place is a change for most businesses, but it’s not a change that won’t be in your favor.

So what are you going to do then? You can’t operate without computers. They are an essential force in your operation. Have you heard of the cloud?

Cloud hosting is the new way of running a business in the 21st century. Save yourself the operating and maintenance costs associated with purchasing large systems, maintaining them over time, and paying for the facilities to house them. Instead, you can pay only for the computing systems you actually use as you need them.

With scalability options, you can take on additional computing resources with little notice and scale back when you no longer need those resources.

With computing costs on the rise across the board, IT professionals are looking at different options for running their departments. Cloud hosting seems to be the most viable options for most businesses today.

2 Places To Get AJAX Tutorials

Free AJAX tutorials are not easy to come by. But I know two websites online where you can retrieve expert tutorials on AJAX and learn more than you’ll learn from a book you have to shell out $24.95 for. Here are two AJAX tutorials websites to visit often and learn one of the best online web languages in use today.

  • AJAXTutorials.com – I like this website. More than just a funky tutorial website, AJAXTutorials.com is a veritable resource of AJAX knowledge. There is a quick start guide to ASP.NET, a section for AJAX tutorials, a separate section for AJAX resources, AJAX Control Toolkit tutorials, and great tutorials on JavaScript. Go through this website and you’ll be an expert in AJAX in no time.
  • AJAX Atoms – At AJAX Atoms you’ll get expert tutorials on AJAX plus great resources. But there is also a downloads section where you can download awesome AJAX resources, and you can watch professional videos that demonstrate AJAX principles right before your eyes.

If you are looking for an expert resource on AJAX, then I recommend both of these professional and expert websites that deal almost exclusively in AJAX. They have the best resources and the best tutorials on the Net.

A couple of years ago, if you wanted to set up cloud hosting for your small business or enterprise, then you were limited in the number of service providers you could choose from. In fact, you had to go to a special hosting company and receive your cloud hosting plan from a company that specialized in cloud hosting. Traditional Web hosting companies didn’t offer that service.

Today, I’m seeing more and more traditional Web hosting companies offering cloud services. But should you use them?

I think that traditional Web hosting companies offering cloud hosting services is evidence that cloud hosting has moved into the mainstream. However, I would not encourage you to use the traditional hosts for cloud hosting services. There are a number of reasons.

  • First, the fact that the traditional Web host offers the service doesn’t mean it’s a valuable service. It doesn’t mean it isn’t, either. Ask lots of questions and compare their plans to the plans of cloud hosting companies.
  • Find out if the traditional Web host is using the same servers for its traditional plans as it is for its cloud hosting plans. Just because they call it cloud hosting doesn’t make it cloud hosting.
  • Are they using virtual servers or dedicated servers? Ask the question.
  • Traditional Web hosts may have their cloud servers in the same datacenter as their traditional cheap hosting servers. You’ll never get the same level of service that you would get from a cloud hosting specialist.

There are a ton of questions you should ask of any host before you decide to use their services. This is especially true of cloud hosting, and doubly true of traditional Web hosts offering cloud hosting services.

5 Levels Of Cloud Hosting

There are different levels of cloud hosting. Not all are created equal, and if you want to preserve your company’s IT department while benefiting from the cloud, there are some solutions that won’t work for you while others are more suited to that arrangement. Here are 5 levels of cloud hosting that you should be aware of.

  1. Dedicated Server – A dedicated server is just what is sounds like. You have a single dedicated server that is yours. You don’t share it. You own it.
  2. Managed Server – A managed server is a server that you own, but that is managed by someone else. That typically means the server is at a remote location whereas a dedicated server can be on-site. This may also be called co-hosting.
  3. Virtual Server – A virtual server is a partial server that acts as a server on its own. The cloud host partitions the server and loads each independent part with its own software. You can have a part of a server that acts as a full server.
  4. Datacenter – You can have your own fleet of servers, called a datacenter. This can be on-site or remote.
  5. As-A-Service Models – These exist in a fee-based model that allow you to contract for specific needs. The most common service models are Software-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service, and Infrastructure-as-a-Service. You lease or purchase only those features you want and need as you want and need them.

Which level of cloud hosting is right for you depends on your computing needs. I recommend undertaking a feasibility study within your company to first determine your needs, then the costs to meet them.