Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Aruna Ravichandran, Elizabeth White, Carmen Gonzalez, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Cloud Security, @BigDataExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

Can the Cloud Do ‘In Perpetuity’?

One thing, of course, that most public cloud providers are good at is offering a platform upon which others can build

Cloud computing is great, right? As a way to get something up and running quickly, affordably, and with a minimum of fuss, it can rarely be beaten.

But some of the most compelling attributes of the public cloud are best suited to ephemeral or (relatively!) short-term use cases. You can spin up a cloud server in minutes. You can scale a cloud-based application to cope with the peaks and troughs of demand. You can control all of this through a web console, with no more than a credit card and a laptop. Silicon Valley, SoMa, Silicon Alley, Silicon Roundabout, Silicon Allee, Silicon Wadi, Silicon Forest, Silicon Welly, and the Silicon Bog (only one of those was made up, I think) are full to bursting with bright young things building exciting new products (and silly photo sharing sites) powered only by the cloud and expensive coffee.

3166391937_f273e4e212_zAnd then you have government, private, and commercial Archives, with an over-riding imperative to keep stuff for a very, very long time. These Archives clearly can (and do) use cloud computing in the same ways as everyone else. They use clouds to cost-effectively transform data from one format to another, they use clouds to stream large and popular media files to the public, and they use clouds in all sorts of other ways to make innumerable workflows and processes easier, cheaper, or more robust. For those use cases, even the biggest, grandest, and most important of archives is actually pretty much like any other user. Cloud’s as useful to them as it is to the rest of us, and that’s great.

Does it make sense, though, for Archives to entrust any of their long-term preservation role to the cloud? I’m not sure (yet), but The National Archives (TNA) here in the UK wants to find out. They’ve commissioned a study from a small consultancy, Charles Beagrie, and I’m subcontracted to provide a bit of cloud knowledge to the team.

Out of the box, you’d have to question the sense of an archive entrusting anything to the public cloud for purposes of long-term preservation. That’s not really what Amazon’s Simple Storage Service or Rackspace’s Cloud Files or any of the other cloud-based filestores are for. Their Service Level Agreements and their technical underpinnings are all about cost-effectively storing lots of stuff and losing as little as possible. If a file is lost or damaged, the service provider might pay out a few service credits, and/or the customer might restore from a backup, and everyone continues on their way. Archivists, we were reminded at one of the project’s focus groups, have this peculiar expectation that the systems they use to preserve their primary materials won’t lose anything at all. A couple of service credits don’t really help when you just lost, truncated, or changed a few words in the digital equivalent of the Magna Carta or the Domesday Book or the Book of Kells or the Declaration of Arbroath. And, just to be totally clear, losing a digital copy of the Declaration of Arbroath would be ok. The National Archives of Scotland still has the vellum (I presume their copy was written on vellum?) in a climate-controlled vault. They probably also have a CD or two of backups for the digital images. Things become a bit more serious when the content is ‘born digital,’ and the file you’re preserving is the thing itself and not just an image of some physical artefact.

Even with archival-ish services like Glacier, which Amazon says

is designed to provide average annual durability of 99.999999999% for an archive. The service redundantly stores data in multiple facilities and on multiple devices within each facility. To increase durability, Amazon Glacier synchronously stores your data across multiple facilities before returning SUCCESS on uploading archives. Unlike traditional systems that can require laborious data verification and manual repair, Glacier performs regular, systematic data integrity checks and is built to be automatically self-healing,

(my emphasis)

the big public cloud providers aren’t really in the business of supporting the extreme needs of an Archive. Archives demand a whole extra level of error checking, resilience, redundancy and integrity, and it would be cost-prohibitive for AWS and their competitors to do all that across their sprawling data centres when most customers are actually perfectly happy with “redundantly stores data in multiple facilities” and “automatically self-healing.”

Interestingly, Seagate sees value in offering a Glacier competitor capable of storing data “intact for decades” and offering access instantly rather than in a matter of hours as Glacier does. As it’s based in Utah I doubt that European government archives would touch it, but it will be interesting to see whether their North American cousins show any interest…

One thing, of course, that most public cloud providers are good at is offering a platform upon which others can build. Archivists, like others, have begun to layer rules, policies, procedures and processes on top of the bare-bones cloud infrastructure offerings, to build something a little more robust and dependable. Services like DuraCloud take AWS and Rackspace (currently only in their US data centres, but that could change), and add things like proactive error checking and even more backups to deliver something that an archivist might be prepared to trust.

There’s a use case here, and there are plenty of (mostly university) archives in the States putting DuraCloud and similar cloud-powered tools to work as part of their preservation strategy.

But I can’t help wondering if some great big enterprise data management solution, with multiply redundant disks, multiply redundant backups and a whole heap of watertight, ironclad, fault tolerant, and ridiculously over-specified policies might be a better (albeit eye-wateringly expensive) way to preserve the truly irreplaceable? Either that, or archives and archivists need to explicitly embrace a more pragmatic approach to what they’re attempting with these systems.

‘Design for failure’ is a core tenet of cloud-powered systems. What’s the archival equivalent? ‘Lose nothing, ever’ just won’t cut it.

Disclaimer: Charles Beagrie is a client. TNA is a client of theirs. This post is not part of the project. Any opinions expressed here are my own, a work in progress… and subject to change!

Image of The National Archives by Flickr user ‘electropod’

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Paul Miller

Paul Miller works at the interface between the worlds of Cloud Computing and the Semantic Web, providing the insights that enable you to exploit the next wave as we approach the World Wide Database.

He blogs at www.cloudofdata.com.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
As the race for the presidency heats up, IT leaders would do well to recall the famous catchphrase from Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 campaign against George H. W. Bush: “It’s the economy, stupid.” That catchphrase is important, because IT economics are important. Especially when it comes to cloud. Application performance management (APM) for the cloud may turn out to be as much about those economics as it is about customer experience.
When you focus on a journey from up-close, you look at your own technical and cultural history and how you changed it for the benefit of the customer. This was our starting point: too many integration issues, 13 SWP days and very long cycles. It was evident that in this fast-paced industry we could no longer afford this reality. We needed something that would take us beyond reducing the development lifecycles, CI and Agile methodologies. We made a fundamental difference, even changed our culture...
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 ...
@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.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dataloop.IO, an innovator in cloud IT-monitoring whose products help organizations save time and money, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Dataloop.IO is an emerging software company on the cutting edge of major IT-infrastructure trends including cloud computing and microservices. The company, founded in the UK but now based in San Fran...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and E...
Thanks to Docker, it becomes very easy to leverage containers to build, ship, and run any Linux application on any kind of infrastructure. Docker is particularly helpful for microservice architectures because their successful implementation relies on a fast, efficient deployment mechanism – which is precisely one of the features of Docker. Microservice architectures are therefore becoming more popular, and are increasingly seen as an interesting option even for smaller projects, instead of being...
Hardware virtualization and cloud computing allowed us to increase resource utilization and increase our flexibility to respond to business demand. Docker Containers are the next quantum leap - Are they?! Databases always represented an additional set of challenges unique to running workloads requiring a maximum of I/O, network, CPU resources combined with data locality.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, 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. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
2016 has been an amazing year for Docker and the container industry. We had 3 major releases of Docker engine this year , and tremendous increase in usage. The community has been following along and contributing amazing Docker resources to help you learn and get hands-on experience. Here’s some of the top read and viewed content for the year. Of course releases are always really popular, particularly when they fit requests we had from the community.
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint Systems, Inc., a provider of innovative web and infrastructure monitoring solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit at 18th Cloud Expo New York, which will take place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into customer-critical services to help consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed ...
Here’s a novel, but controversial statement, “it’s time for the CEO, COO, CIO to start to take joint responsibility for application platform decisions.” For too many years now technical meritocracy has led the decision-making for the business with regard to platform selection. This includes, but is not limited to, servers, operating systems, virtualization, cloud and application platforms. In many of these cases the decision has not worked in favor of the business with regard to agility and cost...
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud enviro...
Containers have changed the mind of IT in DevOps. They enable developers to work with dev, test, stage and production environments identically. Containers provide the right abstraction for microservices and many cloud platforms have integrated them into deployment pipelines. DevOps and containers together help companies achieve their business goals faster and more effectively. In his session at DevOps Summit, Ruslan Synytsky, CEO and Co-founder of Jelastic, reviewed the current landscape of Dev...
DevOps tends to focus on the relationship between Dev and Ops, putting an emphasis on the ops and application infrastructure. But that’s changing with microservices architectures. In her session at DevOps Summit, Lori MacVittie, Evangelist for F5 Networks, will focus on how microservices are changing the underlying architectures needed to scale, secure and deliver applications based on highly distributed (micro) services and why that means an expansion into “the network” for DevOps.
"Plutora provides release and testing environment capabilities to the enterprise," explained Dalibor Siroky, Director and Co-founder of Plutora, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Adding public cloud resources to an existing application can be a daunting process. The tools that you currently use to manage the software and hardware outside the cloud aren’t always the best tools to efficiently grow into the cloud. All of the major configuration management tools have cloud orchestration plugins that can be leveraged, but there are also cloud-native tools that can dramatically improve the efficiency of managing your application lifecycle. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, ...
In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Robert Doyle, lead architect at eCube Systems, will examine the issues and need for an agile infrastructure and show the advantages of capturing developer knowledge in an exportable file for migration into production. He will introduce the use of NXTmonitor, a next-generation DevOps tool that captures application environments, dependencies and start/stop procedures in a portable configuration file with an easy-to-use GUI. In addition to captur...
Docker containers have brought great opportunities to shorten the deployment process through continuous integration and the delivery of applications and microservices. This applies equally to enterprise data centers as well as the cloud. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Jari Kolehmainen, founder and CTO of Kontena, will discuss solutions and benefits of a deeply integrated deployment pipeline using technologies such as container management platforms, Docker containers, and the drone.io Cl tool...