|By Lori MacVittie||
|March 13, 2013 09:00 AM EDT||
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.
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.
In today's enterprise, digital transformation represents organizational change even more so than technology change, as customer preferences and behavior drive end-to-end transformation across lines of business as well as IT. To capitalize on the ubiquitous disruption driving this transformation, companies must be able to innovate at an increasingly rapid pace. Traditional approaches for driving innovation are now woefully inadequate for keeping up with the breadth of disruption and change facin...
Dec. 1, 2015 03:30 AM EST Reads: 525
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
Dec. 1, 2015 03:00 AM EST Reads: 465
You may have heard about the pets vs. cattle discussion – a reference to the way application servers are deployed in the cloud native world. If an application server goes down it can simply be dropped from the mix and a new server added in its place. The practice so far has mostly been applied to application deployments. Management software on the other hand is treated in a very special manner. Dedicated resources are set aside to run the management software components and several alerting syst...
Dec. 1, 2015 02:00 AM EST Reads: 249
Most of the IoT Gateway scenarios involve collecting data from machines/processing and pushing data upstream to cloud for further analytics. The gateway hardware varies from Raspberry Pi to Industrial PCs. The document states the process of allowing deploying polyglot data pipelining software with the clear notion of supporting immutability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Shashank Jain, a development architect for SAP Labs, discussed the objective, which is to automate the IoT deployment proces...
Dec. 1, 2015 01:15 AM EST Reads: 116
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ab...
Dec. 1, 2015 01:00 AM EST Reads: 434
Naturally, new and exciting technologies and trends like software defined networking, the Internet of Things and the cloud tend to get the lion’s share of attention these days, including when it comes to security. However, it’s important to never forget that at the center of it all is still the enterprise network. And as evidenced by the ever-expanding landslide of data breaches that could have been prevented or at least their impact lessened by better practicing network security basics, it’s ...
Dec. 1, 2015 12:45 AM EST Reads: 297
This morning on #c9d9 we spoke with two industry veterans and published authors - James DeLuccia and Jonathan McAllister - on how to bake-in security and compliance into your DevOps processes, and how DevOps and automation can essentially help you pass your next audit.
Dec. 1, 2015 12:30 AM EST Reads: 111
Put the word continuous in front of many things and we help define DevOps: continuous delivery, continuous testing, continuous assessment, and there is more. The next BriefingsDirect DevOps thought leadership discussion explores the concept of continuous processes around the development and deployment of applications and systems. Put the word continuous in front of many things and we help define DevOps: continuous delivery, continuous testing, continuous assessment, and there is more.
Dec. 1, 2015 12:30 AM EST Reads: 192
It's been a busy time for tech's ongoing infatuation with containers. Amazon just announced EC2 Container Registry to simply container management. The new Azure container service taps into Microsoft's partnership with Docker and Mesosphere. You know when there's a standard for containers on the table there's money on the table, too. Everyone is talking containers because they reduce a ton of development-related challenges and make it much easier to move across production and testing environm...
Nov. 30, 2015 10:00 PM EST Reads: 655
In his General Session at DevOps Summit, Asaf Yigal, Co-Founder & VP of Product at Logz.io, explored the value of Kibana 4 for log analysis and provided a hands-on tutorial on how to set up Kibana 4 and get the most out of Apache log files. He examined three use cases: IT operations, business intelligence, and security and compliance. Asaf Yigal is co-founder and VP of Product at log analytics software company Logz.io. In the past, he was co-founder of social-trading platform Currensee, which...
Nov. 30, 2015 10:00 PM EST Reads: 284
The annual holiday shopping season, which started on Thanksgiving weekend and runs through the end of December, is undoubtedly the most crucial time of the year for many eCommerce websites, with sales from this period having a dramatic effect on the year-end bottom line. Web performance – or, the overall speed and availability of a website or mobile site – is an issue year-round, but it takes on increased importance during the holidays. Ironically, it is at this time of year that networks and i...
Nov. 30, 2015 09:45 PM EST Reads: 141
Hiring the wrong candidate can cost a company hundreds of thousands of dollars, and result in lost profit and productivity during the search for a replacement. In fact, the Harvard Business Review has found that as much as 80 percent of turnover is caused by bad hiring decisions. But when your organization has implemented DevOps, the job is about more than just technical chops. It’s also about core behaviors: how they work with others, how they make decisions, and how those decisions translate t...
Nov. 30, 2015 08:45 PM EST Reads: 218
People want to get going with DevOps or Continuous Delivery, but need a place to start. Others are already on their way, but need some validation of their choices. A few months ago, I published the first volume of DevOps and Continuous Delivery reference architectures which has now been viewed over 50,000 times on SlideShare (it's free to download...no registration required). Three things helped people in the deck: (1) the reference architectures, (2) links to the sources for each architectur...
Nov. 30, 2015 07:30 PM EST Reads: 273
Countless business models have spawned from the IaaS industry – resell Web hosting, blogs, public cloud, and on and on. With the overwhelming amount of tools available to us, it's sometimes easy to overlook that many of them are just new skins of resources we've had for a long time. In his general session at 17th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, an IBM Company, broke down what we have to work with, discussed the benefits and pitfalls and how we can best use them ...
Nov. 30, 2015 03:45 PM EST Reads: 105
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
Nov. 30, 2015 03:00 PM EST Reads: 494
One of the most important tenets of digital transformation is that it’s customer-driven. In fact, the only reason technology is involved at all is because today’s customers demand technology-based interactions with the companies they do business with. It’s no surprise, therefore, that we at Intellyx agree with Patrick Maes, CTO, ANZ Bank, when he said, “the fundamental element in digital transformation is extreme customer centricity.” So true – but note the insightful twist that Maes adde...
Nov. 30, 2015 02:00 PM EST Reads: 466
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
Nov. 30, 2015 02:00 PM EST Reads: 371
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningf...
Nov. 30, 2015 01:45 PM EST Reads: 438
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Su...
Nov. 30, 2015 01:45 PM EST Reads: 436
Nov. 30, 2015 01:30 PM EST Reads: 256