Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Gerardo A Dada, Elizabeth White, Roger Strukhoff, XebiaLabs Blog

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Containers Expo Blog, IoT User Interface, @BigDataExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

Is Cloud Built to Fail or Built to Scale?

The difference matters. A lot.

There's been a growing focus on scalability as the Internet of Things has continued its rapid growth. Perhaps due in part to large online failures during periodic or individual events, perhaps due in part to simple growth, the reason is less important than the reality that scalability is a critical technological driver for a variety of new technologies - cloud and SDN being the most often referenced.

But while we've been focusing on scalability we may have been overlooking the related and no less important availability factor. These two "itys" are related, as scalability is one way to achieve availability when dealing with growth, rapid or otherwise. But availability also means being sensitive to failure.

Cloud, in general, is designed for scalability. It is specifically architected to provide elasticity - which is scalability both in and out. Cloud is designed to enable resource growth and contraction to match demand.

In this way, cloud addresses one aspect of availability: capacity. But it does not always address the other aspect - failure. Cloud is built to scale, not necessarily fail.

The Many Faces of Availability

Availability and scale are both achieved primarily through the same mechanisms in both data centers and cloud environments (and SDN network fabrics, for that matter): load balancing. At the network layer we've seen techniques like link aggregation (trunking, teaming, bundling) to both manage both scale and fail. Multiple network links are bound together, usually using an established network protocol, and traffic is distributed via load balancing across those links.

Similarly, the same techniques are used at the application layers (layers 4-7) to provide the same measure of scalability and resilience to failure at the server and application layer. Multiple resources are bound together, usually using a concept known as a virtual server (or virtual IP address) in a load balancing service and then requests are distributed via load balancing across those resources.

In this way, scalability is achieved. As demand grows, resources are transparently added to increase capacity. Similarly, as demand contracts, resources can be transparently decommissioned to decrease capacity. Voila! Elasticity.

But failure, the other and lesser mentioned aspect impacting availability, is not so easily managed.

The Impact of Failure

In the case of the network, the failure of a single link in an aggregated bundle (or trunk) is handled by simply ignoring the failed link. All traffic is distributed across the remaining links, every packet is pushed, and availability is maintained. Except when it isn't because of oversubscription or congestion that results in excessive latencies that cause delays ultimately resulting in poor application performance. While in the purest sense of the word "available" the application is still accessible, most businesses today consider unresponsive or poorly performing applications to be "unavailable", especially when those applications are revenue generating.

At the application layers, failure is even more detrimental to availability. Oversubscription of an application due to failure of resources often results in true downtime; errors or timeouts that prevent the end-user from accessing the application at all. Worse, users that were active may suddenly find they have "lost" their connection as well as any work they may have been doing before the resource was lost.

Load balancing architectures compensate, of course, by directing those users to other application instances. Cloud environments imbued with auto-scaling capabilities may be able to redress the failure by provisioning a new instance to take its place and thus maintain the proper levels of capacity. But that does not mitigate the loss of productivity and access experienced due to the original failure. It addresses scalability, not availability.

That's because when a failure occurs in most cloud environments, all active sessions to the failed application instance are simply discarded. The users must start anew. The cloud infrastructure fabric will certainly redirect them to a new instance and start a new session (and in this way it will "handle" failure), but this is disruptive to the user; it is noticeable. And noticeable degradations of performance or availability are a no-no for most business stakeholders.

Beware the Long Term

It's not necessarily the immediate reaction that should be of concern, but the long term impact. Everyone cites the data presented by Microsoft, Google, and Shopzilla at Velocity 2009 with respect to the impact of seconds of delay on revenue (spoiler: it's not good) but they tend to ignore the long term impact - the behavioral impact - of such delays and disruption on the end user [emphasis mine]:

Their data showed that slow sites get fewer search queries per user, less revenue per visitor, fewer clicks, fewer searches, and lower search engine rankings. They found that in some cases even after site performance was improved users continued to interact as if it was slow. Bad experiences have a lasting influence on customer behavior.

-- More on how web performance impacts revenue…

Did you catch that? Bad experiences (of which disruption is certainly one, I don't think we need to argue about that, do we?) have a lasting influence on customer behavior.

It's important, therefore, to understand the limitations of the environment in which you are deploying an application - particularly one that is customer-facing. Understanding that cloud is built to scale - not fail - is a key piece of knowledge you need to make decisions regarding which applications and workloads are fit for migration to the cloud, and which may be a fit if they are re-architected to address such failure themselves.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud taking place June 6-8, 2017, at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long developm...
Today’s IT environments are increasingly heterogeneous, with Linux, Java, Oracle and MySQL considered nearly as common as traditional Windows environments. In many cases, these platforms have been integrated into an organization’s Windows-based IT department by way of an acquisition of a company that leverages one of those platforms. In other cases, the applications may have been part of the IT department for years, but managed by a separate department or singular administrator. Still, whether...
Get deep visibility into the performance of your databases and expert advice for performance optimization and tuning. You can't get application performance without database performance. Give everyone on the team a comprehensive view of how every aspect of the system affects performance across SQL database operations, host server and OS, virtualization resources and storage I/O. Quickly find bottlenecks and troubleshoot complex problems.
As we enter the final week before the 19th International Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo in Santa Clara, CA, it's time for me to reflect on six big topics that will be important during the show. Hybrid Cloud: This general-purpose term seems to provide a comfort zone for many enterprise IT managers. It sounds reassuring to be able to work with one of the major public-cloud providers like AWS or Microsoft Azure while still maintaining an on-site presence.
I’m a huge fan of open source DevOps tools. I’m also a huge fan of scaling open source tools for the enterprise. But having talked with my fair share of companies over the years, one important thing I’ve learned is that you can’t scale your release process using open source tools alone. They simply require too much scripting and maintenance when used that way. Scripting may be fine for smaller organizations, but it’s not ok in an enterprise environment that includes many independent teams and to...
Between 2005 and 2020, data volumes will grow by a factor of 300 – enough data to stack CDs from the earth to the moon 162 times. This has come to be known as the ‘big data’ phenomenon. Unfortunately, traditional approaches to handling, storing and analyzing data aren’t adequate at this scale: they’re too costly, slow and physically cumbersome to keep up. Fortunately, in response a new breed of technology has emerged that is cheaper, faster and more scalable. Yet, in meeting these new needs they...
More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes how...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2017 New York. The 20th Cloud Expo and 7th @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Internet to enable us all to im...
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
Monitoring of Docker environments is challenging. Why? Because each container typically runs a single process, has its own environment, utilizes virtual networks, or has various methods of managing storage. Traditional monitoring solutions take metrics from each server and applications they run. These servers and applications running on them are typically very static, with very long uptimes. Docker deployments are different: a set of containers may run many applications, all sharing the resource...
Logs are continuous digital records of events generated by all components of your software stack – and they’re everywhere – your networks, servers, applications, containers and cloud infrastructure just to name a few. The data logs provide are like an X-ray for your IT infrastructure. Without logs, this lack of visibility creates operational challenges for managing modern applications that drive today’s digital businesses.
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
@DevOpsSummit taking place June 6-8, 2017 at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York Call for Papers is now open.
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
"Dice has been around for the last 20 years. We have been helping tech professionals find new jobs and career opportunities," explained Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Rapid innovation, changing business landscapes, and new IT demands force businesses to make changes quickly. In the eyes of many, containers are at the brink of becoming a pervasive technology in enterprise IT to accelerate application delivery. In this presentation, attendees learned about the: The transformation of IT to a DevOps, microservices, and container-based architecture What are containers and how DevOps practices can operate in a container-based environment A demonstration of how ...
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann returns to 'DevOps at Cloud Expo 2017' as Conference Chair The @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. "DevOps is set to be one of the most profound disruptions to hit IT in decades," said Andi Mann. "It is a natural extension of cloud computing, and I have seen both firsthand and in independent research the fantastic results DevOps delivers. So I am excited to help the great t...
Without lifecycle traceability and visibility across the tool chain, stakeholders from Planning-to-Ops have limited insight and answers to who, what, when, why and how across the DevOps lifecycle. This impacts the ability to deliver high quality software at the needed velocity to drive positive business outcomes. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Phil Hombledal, Solution Architect at CollabNet, discussed how customers are able to achieve a level of transparency that e...