This story was written by Keith Dawson for UBM DeusM’s community Web site Develop in the Cloud, sponsored by AT&T. It is archived here for informational purposes only because the Develop in the Cloud site is no more. This material is Copyright 2012 by UBM DeusM.

Friday Four: Google Fiber & Savvis's Cloud

Turning responsive design inside out, a new kid on the cloud, and more.

This week: rethinking responsive design, pixelphobia, and the chances of Google's Kansas City fiber experiment branching out.


Savvis throws its hat into the cloud
To mix a metaphor. The managed hosting provider is readying a cloud service to compete directly with the likes of Amazon AWS and Google's cloud offerings. Last week the company launched Symphony Cloud storage, its equivalent to Amazon's S3; this week it introduced the beta of the Savvis Direct compute service.

CenturyLink, parent company of Savvis, is the third-largest long-haul carrier in the US. CenturyLink adds its networking know-how to Savvis's data-center expertise in a cloud offering with some unique features. Added security is one advantage: current CenturyLink telecom customers can set up access to their public cloud over private lines. Disaster recovery is another. InformationWeek describes Savvis's data replication story this way:

Customers can set up workloads and store the data they produce in Symphony Storage at their compute site, then replicate it to another cloud location. The second location might be across town -- Savvis operates redundant data centers at its cloud locations -- or it might be across the country. It has cloud centers in Santa Clara, Calif.; Sterling, Va.; Toronto, Canada; Slough, UK; and Singapore.

What's it all going to cost? Savvis had planned on price parity with Amazon and Google -- but that was before a price war broke out on November 29. Now they'll have to think it over. "Savvis is bringing added value to storage with its features and it may not follow Amazon and Google as far as they are willing to go down the price reduction path," InformationWeek reports.

The company claims that 30 percent of the Fortune 100 is already on its customer list.


Rethinking responsive design
Les James walks us through the exercise of emptying our mind of what we think we know about responsive design, and filling it again from a content-first perspective.

Wouldn't it be nice to specify a responsive design in terms of how many columns of text will fit, instead of in screen pixel measurements?

The essential tool that enables responsive design, the CSS media query, forces us to think in terms of screen size. And what does that have to do with anything? James uses the CSS extender and preprocessor Sass to recast the media query in terms of fixed-sized (not fluid) columns of content.

Mix in a little simple JavaScript magic to select from a range of image sizes, and the result is a responsive site specified in a simpler and more intuitive way than you may have thought possible.

The fear of pixels
The ever-thought-provoking James Hague, whom we have met before as he instigated conversation about aging out of programming and the religion of OO, has a new post challenging the age-old Unix wisdom of "small tools combined together." In particular, Hague wonders why so much of programming tutelage and introductory instruction revolves around text, when graphics capabilities have been ubiquitous for 20 years. He is arguing for a visual approach to programming, in particular to UI development, and points to the somewhat dormant REBOL language as an exemplar.

Could Google Fiber go wide?
We discussed Google Fiber's opening in Kansas City last month. The service is off to an excellent start, with early users reporting sustained download and upload speeds north of half a gigabit per second. Netflix issued the first number of what promises to be monthly report cards on the performance of US ISPs' ability to deliver downloaded movies; and Google Fiber debuts in the number one spot on the list.

Google has hinted that Kansas City may not be the last metro area its fiber will reach. As bandwidth-starved Netizens across the US jump up and down and wave their hands and cry "Me! Me!," Boy Genius Report brings the discussion back down to earth. It appears that if Google wanted to wire the whole country with their fiber, the price tag would be a cool $140 billion.

The Friday Four gives a hat tip each week to Ron Miller, whose collection of five links for developers and IT pros runs weekly on

Related links