Anna Liu

Through the Software Architect's Lenses

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Our Publication on ‘Automatic Undo for Cloud Management’ accepted at HotDep 2012

Posted by annaliu on August 1st, 2012 · Work

Together with Ingo Weber, Hiroshi Wada, Alan Fekete, and Len Bass, we will be presenting our latest research work at the 8th Workshop on Hot Topics in System Dependability (collocated with OSDI – 10th USENIX Operating Systems Design and Implementation) 2012. This work is a core component of our wider program of research in ‘Dependable Cloud Computing’ at National ICT Australia.

The source of inspiration for this paper was drawn from our work at Yuruware, particularly via the Yuruware Bolt product.

Here is the paper abstract -

Automatic Undo for Cloud Management via AI Planning
Ingo Weber, Hiroshi Wada, Alan Fekete, Anna Liu, Len Bass
The facility to undo a collection of changes, reverting to a previous acceptable state, is widely recognised as valuable support for dependability. In this paper, we consider the particular needs of the user of cloud computing resources, who wishes to manage the resources available to them, for example by installing and configuring virtual machine instances. The restricted management interface provided to the outside by a computational cloud prevents the usual rollback techniques: there is no command to save a complex state or configuration, and each action may have non-obvious constraints and side-effects. We propose an approach which is based on an abstract model of the effects of each available operation. Using this model, those forward operations that are truly irrevocable are replaced by alternatives (such as “pseudo-delete”), and an AI planning technique automatically creates an inverse workflow to take the system back to the desired earlier state, using the available operations. We demonstrate the feasibility and scalability of the approach.
Hope to see you at HotDep 2012 in Hollywood, till then, you can download a copy of this paper from our NICTA Research Publication website.
We will also make the tool available for you to download and use shortly, we’d love your feedback - stay tuned.

Yuruware Presentation at OpenStack Spring 2012

Posted by annaliu on April 4th, 2012 · Uncategorized

We are very excited that we are finally unveiling what the Yuruware team has been up to at the upcoming OpenStack Spring conference 2012.
This is what we’ll be talking about:

Building a Disaster Recovery Solution Using OpenStack

Thursday April 19, 2012 3:50pm – 4:30pm @ Breakout BBayview Level, Hyatt Regency Hotel

One of the greatest benefit of having a common platform such as OpenStack is the ability to easily implement disaster recovery solutions across different clouds in different regions. In this presentation, we will present our experience in building the Yuruware System Mover technology, that enables an easy, configurable, self service, disaster recovery solution.

We will firstly walk through the alternative architectural scenarios, of how system replication, continuous snapshots, failover and failback, across geographic regions could be achieved, and the corresponding performance and consistency trade-offs. We then present some optimisation techniques that alleviates the challenges in engineering a total system replication – this include getting over the latency problem of moving large chunks of data across regions; automation of systems operations, and intelligently producing ‘reversible operations’ that can be applied in failback scenarios. We illustrate how one can easily replicate an application on the AWS EC2 cloud over to the Rackspace cloud, and dynamically failover in the event of a disaster.”

Hope to see you there in beautiful San Francisco!

Evaluating Data Consistency Properties in Commercial Cloud Storage – Consumers’ Perspective

Posted by annaliu on December 6th, 2010 · Work

Hiroshi and the team here at NICTA are very excited about our work on “Evaluating data consistency properties in commercial cloud storage – consumers’ perspective” being accepted at CiDR 2011! Stay tuned camera ready paper will be available shortly…

A Buzzy CloudCamp Canberra and our new NICTA CEO!

Posted by annaliu on October 14th, 2010 · Work

Wow – it was a great cloudcamp in Canberra – big thanks to Dave and Ben for making this happen again, and NICTA a proud venue sponsor.

Good to see some familiar faces, and even more fantastic to see some great innovation in cloud computing from right here in Australia – the youthful enthusiasm and passion for technology is clearly evident from some of our local IaaS innovators – Joseph and Sheng from OrionVM - great to see the results from years of academic research making its way into your product through the form of OpenNebula, and fantastic SaaS innovation from Connect2Field, your lightning talk definitely captured the imagination of the predominantly Government enterprise audience in Canberra – on how to better enable next gen field workforce!  

I feel heartened to see the next generation innovators coming through with so much energy and passion, and hopeful that we are creating the right incubation environment through our education system/University environments and research labs such as NICTA for enabling and empowering a fresh and vibrant software industry in Australia.

With the appointment of our new NICTA CEO – Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte, I am very excited about further strengthening our industry engagement, and bringing through the next generation of innovators for Australia!

Showstoppers of Cloud Computing – and how to overcome them

Posted by annaliu on September 27th, 2010 · Uncategorized

Herbjorn just posted this nice blog on the top 3 showstoppers of cloud computing – and an unexpected one.


Now - there are additional ways of gaining trust – testing the water via carrying out cloud platform evaluations; doing a proof of concept of deploying a slice of an existing business application, and see what you learn in dimensions around performance, security, licensing, maintainability etc ; gaining better control in terms of forecasting how much cloud resource you will need, and how much it will cost; and of course, as Herbjorn mentioned, rigorous contractual conversations with your favourite cloud vendor.

I would also expand on the ‘challenge of CapEx – to – OpEx’, to also include enterprise organisations that already has multi-year outsourcing arrangements… the adoption of cloud represents a radical shift in an enterprise’s IT process, particularly in the management, governance and service delivery aspects, not to mention the expected changes in people’s roles and responsibility. 

The big prize will go to the innovative System Integrators that work out a way to continual provide enterprise strength IT services, while incorporating effective and efficient wrapper support services over some attractive public IaaS offerings…

Architecting Cloud Applications Tutorial at APSEC 2010

Posted by annaliu on September 27th, 2010 · Uncategorized

Many thanks to everyone that has expressed interest in our presentations at the SOACloud Symposium in Berlin.

For those of you that cannot make it all the way to Berlin, I intend to share a lot of the experiences right here at home – Sydney, 17th Asia Pacific Software Engineering Conference on 30th Nov. Hope to see you there!

Presentation #2 at SOA Cloud Symposium

Posted by annaliu on August 19th, 2010 · Uncategorized

Together with Hiroshi and Kevin, we’ll be presenting more of our evaluation findings at the SOA Cloud Symposium on Oct 6, hope to see you in Berlin!

Title: 10 things you didn’t know about cloud platforms: Azure, GAE and Amazon EC2/SimpleDB

Abstract:  Everyone knows about eventual consistency properties of the cloud, but do you know how long it will take for a piece of data to become consistent/fresh? Despite the aim of providing infinite scalability, is there any hard limits on some of the leading cloud platform services? We know cloud platforms aims to provide auto-scaling, but is it really all magic?

We at the University of NSW and National ICT Australia (NICTA) have been evaluating Cloud platforms over the last 18 months. In this session, we will share with the audience some of these (often surprising) evaluation findings, that should be of interest to application architects and developers looking at designing and building solutions using the cloud.

Cloudcamp in Canberra

Posted by annaliu on August 16th, 2010 · Uncategorized

It’s happening in Canberra in October – onya Ben and Kristoffer!

and NICTA is already a venue sponsor!

Hopefully round up lots of interesting discussion on Government Cloud this time round…

SOA and Cloud Symposium

Posted by annaliu on August 13th, 2010 · Uncategorized

will be presenting in the “Real World Cloud Computing Track” on 5th Oct on our recent project experiences in evaluating and using cloud, and sharing with the world some unique challenges and opportunities Australians have with Cloud Computing. Latest agenda at

I am really looking forward to connecting with my international colleagues in this experience sharing event.

Australian Architecture Forum 2009 Keynote Slides and Recording

Posted by annaliu on September 4th, 2009 · Uncategorized

Thanks to the AAF 2009 organisers, my keynote presentation “Architecting Cloud Applications – The Essential Checklist” is now available on the event website. Enjoy!

Note to the recent Sydney Cloud-Campers – this is the master deck from which you got the 5 min lightning talk session the other evening.

The team here is also busily working on getting the corresponding paper publications out there, incorporating lessons learnt, experiences, and details of the experimental setups etc, so stay tuned.