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The advent of the cloud has brought a wave of changes in IT from the way we provision servers to the applications we use. At MuleSoft Google Apps provides email and office productivity services, Salesforce provide us with sales, support and product tracking, Marketo provides our marketing automation services and Atlassian gives us issue tracking and development productivity tools. All of these applications are hosted by our services providers, so what does our trusty sys admin do? Well, we will always need application infrastructure right…

A couple of years ago building an application meant building the infrastructure to support the application. Typically this entailed installing a database, an app server and often a messaging server and email server. All tedious preamble for actually building an application. Now you have free access to these infrastructure pieces on the web – yay cloud!


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As NoSQL providers gain widespread adoption some are now offering hosted versions making it super easy to add storage capabilities to your weekend application. Typically NoSQL datastores are easy to set up, but now there are a few free hosted solutions, making it even easier to get started.

MongoHQ – fully featured document- based storage.  no fuss.

CouchOne – Hosted CouchDB.  Couch is pretty interesting as it has a mobile storage offering too.


The daddy of cloud infrastructure services, AWS have offered S3 for a few years, complete with zoning for more efficient data access, but there are others gaining popularity.

Cloud Files – from Rackspace, this service seems to be a very similar offering to Amazon S3.

Cloud Storage – from GoGrid offers mountable storage with a REST API.

Cloud Layer Storage – from SoftLayer offers simple storage for a variety of of clients and CDN support.

Also, there are options like DropBox and which are more consumer focused but have REST/SOAP APIs also.


This category is set to get interesting this year. Amazon led the charge here with SQS (Simple Queue Service) . While SQS falls short for anyone coming with enterprise messaging expectations it is ok for casual messaging. Now there are more interesting options.

PubNub – super simple and super fast, PubNub is becoming the messaging service of choice for gaming, thanks to it’s impressive high throughput and low latency. It has huge potential outside of gaming too.

Amazon SNS – Amazon Simple Notification Service is a pub sub messaging system that compliments the AWS SQS service. Amazon SNS seems aimed at casual notifications that can be published over different channels such as email or HTTP.


Postmark – is a really easy way to create virtual SMTP servers that have a simple REST API. The advantages of this may not seem obvious since you can set up a Gmail account and send mail till your hearts content. But postmark offers a REST API (anyone that has used JavaMail will appreciate this) as well as an SMTP interface and the service provides delivery monitoring (good for transactional processing) reverse DNS, whitelisting and more.

With all this infrastructure available to developers with a few clicks, I wonder what our system administrators will spend their time on?

*I have definitely missed some providers here.  Please add anything you think I should have covered in the comments.

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