Click here to close now.


Microservices Expo Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Pete Waterhouse, Elizabeth White, Esmeralda Swartz

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Mobile IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Agile Computing

@CloudExpo: Article

MBaaS, Cloud Computing and Architectures for Enterprise Mobility

What your mother never told you

My friend and Cognizant colleague, the ever opinionated Peter Rogers, shares more of his insights into the world of IoT (Internet of Things), enterprise mobility, geekdom and how they really works under-the-covers.  By "they" I mean technology, not geeks.

I believe the trends away from mainframes to the Cloud will have a large impact on enterprise mobility architecture. If we believe that going forward, enterprise mobility architectures will be closely tied to the Cloud, then we need to take a serious look at architectural design.  I have written about MBaaS (Mobile Back End as a Service) which is a new form of Cloud offering, but today I want share my opinions on best practices.

I have been working on an MBaaS project recently, and we ran into some interesting challenges when it came to submitting the App to the Apple App Store. In the middle of the night there was some server maintenance going on which was obviously considered out of hours in the UK. The point I reminded everyone was that Apple Valley is actually GMT-7, and so what is considered out of hours in the UK is not the case where Apple does their testing.

We then got onto some interesting questions:

  • "Do we have availability monitoring?"
  • "How do you get the Node service working again if it falls over?"
  • "Do we have High Availability (HA) and Disaster Recovery (DR)?"

This led to me take a deep look at the architecture of building Cloud native applications on top of Amazon Web Services (AWS). MBaaS does abstract a lot of the underlying details away from you, but at the end of the day if the underlying Cloud provider is Amazon EC2 (which is a very common option) then maybe it is worth understanding exactly how AWS works. Abstraction is a great concept for simplification but it is always better if you start off with a core understanding before you start such a process. Furthermore, it used to be the case that most server side development was performed by specialists in server side development but the popularity of Node has meant that client-side JavaScript developers are now faced with developing server side applications that run on the Cloud for the first time.

One of the best articles that I found underpinning architectural design for Cloud native applications on AWS was written back in 2011 (but is still referenced today) and genuinely changed my architectural philosophy on the matter.

In a nutshell, Amazon Web Services uses a UDP-cloud model because it doesn't guarantee reliability at the infrastructure level.

This is a very interesting concept so I want to take the rest of the Blog to explain it, starting with a quick reminder of TCP and UDP.

  • TCP is a reliable connection oriented protocol with segment sequencing and acknowledgments
  • UDP is an unreliable connectionless protocol with no sequencing or acknowledgments

During a few large AWS outages then a number of Bloggers (such as George Reese) outlined the differences between the "design for fail" model and the "traditional" model. The traditional model, among other things, has high-availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) characteristics built right into the infrastructure and these features are typically application-agnostic. An alternative view of "design for fail" and "traditional" is therefore TCP-clouds and UDP-clouds.

  • A TCP Cloud has the application in the consumer space and the HA / DR policies and Cloud Compute in the provider space.
  • A UDP Cloud has the application and the HA/DR policies in the consumer space and only the Cloud Compute in the provider space.

This is obviously a vast oversimplification and AWS offers far more than just cloud computing, but the key components in this equation are the ones to focus on. AWS doesn't have high availability built into the EC2 service, instead they suggest to deploy in multiple "Availability Zones" simply to avoid concurrent failures. In other words, if you deploy your application in a given "Availability Zone," there is nothing that will "fail it over" to another "Availability Zone."

Some of AWS customers, therefore, developed tools to test the resiliency of their applications such as a Chaos Monkey tool. These are software programs that are designed to break things randomly. In a TCP-cloud it would be the cloud provider to run traditional tests to make sure the infrastructure could self-recover. In a UDP-cloud it is the developer that must run a Chaos Monkey in order to test if the application could self-recover since it's been designed for fail.

A different view on this is cattle and pets.

vSphere servers are likened to pets:

  • They are given names (such as
  • Uniquely hand raised and cared for
  • Nursed back to health when sick

OpenStack servers are likened to cattle:

  • They get random identification numbers (
  • They are almost identical to each other
  • They are cared for as a group
  • They and basically just replaced when ill

The conclusion being that "Future application architectures should use Cattle, but Pets with strong configuration management are viable and still needed".  If you haven't made the connection yet, then Cattle are UDP Clouds and Pets are the TCP Clouds.

I have always classed MBaaS as somewhere between Cloud PaaS and Cloud SaaS to my colleagues but I have been quite wrong in this regard. I want to update that definition to the following:

"MBaaS is the combination of Cloud SaaS and EITHER Cloud PaaS or Cloud IaaS, which depends on both the underlying Cloud provider and the supporting service model".

That means if you have an underlying Cloud provider of AWS, and your MBaaS vendor isn't giving you additional support in HA/DR, availability monitoring or Chaos Monkey tools, then you are basically sitting on a Cloud IaaS which is acting as a UDP Cloud. That is an important thing to be aware of in terms of what you need to bring to the party, and is the potential danger of not really understanding the underlying Cloud model that you are working with.

When we finally move away from mainframes and fully embrace the Cloud then we need to look at how we architect Cloud native applications. That means considering that your Node service tier could fall over and looking at tools like Node-Forever and PM2 ( Node-Forever is a popular option to bring Node services back to life again (Keep Alive) and also supports CoffeeScript. PM2 adds the following: log aggregation; API; terminal monitoring (including CPU usage and memory consumption by cluster); native clustering; and JSON configuration.

There are also plenty of ways to monitor availability of the Cloud instance. You could subscribe to a twitter feed of your particular Cloud. There are quite a few services that offer a ping service to check availability. If you are using Appcelerator Cloud Services then there is a great tool called Relic available on their Market Place.

In terms of HA then you need to look into deploying a High Availability Proxy. HAProxy (High Availability Proxy) is an open source load balancer which can load balance any TCP service. It is particularly suited for HTTP load balancing as it supports session persistence and layer 7 processing. I am not sure how many Cloud developers actually use Chaos Monkey tools to test DR but the option is certainly there. Certainly you should be designing your applications to be stateless as much as possible and looking into NoSQL databases.

I hope this article has helped you to understand that you cannot just assume your MBaaS vendor is providing a full Cloud PaaS and all of this stuff just comes out of the box. I hope you will also consider designing your Cloud services with a general consideration of the underlying infrastructure. You should have this discussion early on in the project and work out which tools you need to be providing and which enterprise architectural principles need to be applied.

Of course there is nothing to stop you having two or three different underlying Cloud providers or just having the mission critical features running on a private local Cloud. It is an important point to remember though, Amazon EC2 and other Cloud providers can go down for 48 hours. It is very rare but it is not unheard of in the history of the Cloud.

"Design for failure and you won't ever be surprised"

I would like to thank Massimo and Douglas Lin for their exceptional Blogs that I have referenced throughout this article.

Kevin Benedict Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation Cognizant View my profile on LinkedIn Learn about mobile strategies at Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict Browse the Mobile Solution Directory Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict is the Senior Analyst for Digital Transformation at Cognizant, a writer, speaker and SAP Mentor Alumnus. Follow him on Twitter @krbenedict. He is a popular speaker around the world on the topic of digital transformation and enterprise mobility. He maintains a busy schedule researching, writing and speaking at events in North America, Asia and Europe. He has over 25 years of experience working in the enterprise IT solutions industry.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
“All our customers are looking at the cloud ecosystem as an important part of their overall product strategy. Some see it evolve as a multi-cloud / hybrid cloud strategy, while others are embracing all forms of cloud offerings like PaaS, IaaS and SaaS in their solutions,” noted Suhas Joshi, Vice President – Technology, at Harbinger Group, in this exclusive Q&A with Cloud Expo Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff.
Docker is hot. However, as Docker container use spreads into more mature production pipelines, there can be issues about control of Docker images to ensure they are production-ready. Is a promotion-based model appropriate to control and track the flow of Docker images from development to production? In his session at DevOps Summit, Fred Simon, Co-founder and Chief Architect of JFrog, will demonstrate how to implement a promotion model for Docker images using a binary repository, and then show h...
Clearly the way forward is to move to cloud be it bare metal, VMs or containers. One aspect of the current public clouds that is slowing this cloud migration is cloud lock-in. Every cloud vendor is trying to make it very difficult to move out once a customer has chosen their cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Naveen Nimmu, CEO of Clouber, Inc., will advocate that making the inter-cloud migration as simple as changing airlines would help the entire industry to quickly adopt the cloud wit...
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...
Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE once said - “If the rate of change on the outside is happening faster than the rate of change on the inside, the end is in sight.” This rings truer than ever – especially because business success is inextricably associated with those organizations who’ve got really good at delivering high-quality software innovations – innovations that disrupt existing markets and carve out new ones. Like the businesses they’ve helped digitally transform, DevOps teams and Conti...
DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo 2014 Silicon Valley was a terrific event for us. The Qubell booth was crowded on all three days. We ran demos every 30 minutes with folks lining up to get a seat and usually standing around. It was great to meet and talk to over 500 people! My keynote was well received and so was Stan's joint presentation with RingCentral on Devops for BigData. I also participated in two Power Panels – ‘Women in Technology’ and ‘Why DevOps Is Even More Important than You Think,’ both ...
This week, the team assembled in NYC for @Cloud Expo 2015 and @ThingsExpo 2015. For the past four years, this has been a must-attend event for MetraTech. We were happy to once again join industry visionaries, colleagues, customers and even competitors to share and explore the ways in which the Internet of Things (IoT) will impact our industry. Over the course of the show, we discussed the types of challenges we will collectively need to solve to capitalize on the opportunity IoT presents.
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud Data Services, will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo® and DevOps Summit 2015 Silicon Valley, which will take place November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Alert Logic provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid IT infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for cust...
Application availability is not just the measure of “being up”. Many apps can claim that status. Technically they are running and responding to requests, but at a rate which users would certainly interpret as being down. That’s because excessive load times can (and will be) interpreted as “not available.” That’s why it’s important to view ensuring application availability as requiring attention to all its composite parts: scalability, performance, and security.
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
All we need to do is have our teams self-organize, and behold! Emergent design and/or architecture springs up out of the nothingness! If only it were that easy, right? I follow in the footsteps of so many people who have long wondered at the meanings of such simple words, as though they were dogma from on high. Emerge? Self-organizing? Profound, to be sure. But what do we really make of this sentence?
DevOps is speeding towards the IT world like a freight train and the hype around it is deafening. There is no reason to be afraid of this change as it is the natural reaction to the agile movement that revolutionized development just a few years ago. By definition, DevOps is the natural alignment of IT performance to business profitability. The relevance of this has yet to be quantified but it has been suggested that the route to the CEO’s chair will come from the IT leaders that successfully ma...
Somebody call the buzzword police: we have a serious case of microservices-washing in progress. The term “microservices-washing” is derived from “whitewashing,” meaning to hide some inconvenient truth with bluster and nonsense. We saw plenty of cloudwashing a few years ago, as vendors and enterprises alike pretended what they were doing was cloud, even though it wasn’t. Today, the hype around microservices has led to the same kind of obfuscation, as vendors and enterprise technologists alike ar...
I’ve been thinking a bit about microservices (μServices) recently. My immediate reaction is to think: “Isn’t this just yet another new term for the same stuff, Web Services->SOA->APIs->Microservices?” Followed shortly by the thought, “well yes it is, but there are some important differences/distinguishing factors.” Microservices is an evolutionary paradigm born out of the need for simplicity (i.e., get away from the ESB) and alignment with agile (think DevOps) and scalable (think Containerizati...
The cloud has reached mainstream IT. Those 18.7 million data centers out there (server closets to corporate data centers to colocation deployments) are moving to the cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Achim Weiss, CEO & co-founder of ProfitBricks, will share how two companies – one in the U.S. and one in Germany – are achieving their goals with cloud infrastructure. More than a case study, he will share the details of how they prioritized their cloud computing infrastructure deployments ...
Mobile has become standard in the enterprise with smartphones and tablets common in the workplace. Anywhere, anytime access to company systems is expected and systems must work flawlessly on these devices! This demand is requiring that corporate IT departments figure out the best mobile strategy to follow. This eBook looks at how to kick start your mobile application strategy.
Even though you are running an agile development process, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your performance testing is being conducted in a truly agile way. Saving performance testing for a “final sprint” before release still treats it like a waterfall development step, with all the cost and risk that comes with that. In this post, we will show you how to make load testing happen early and often by putting SLAs on the agile task board.
Today, we are in the middle of a paradigm shift as we move from managing applications on VMs and containers to embracing everything that the cloud and XaaS (Everything as a Service) has to offer. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Kevin Hoffman, Advisory Solutions Architect at Pivotal Cloud Foundry, will provide an overview of 12-factor apps and migrating enterprise apps to the cloud. Kevin Hoffman is an Advisory Solutions Architect for Pivotal Cloud Foundry, and has spent the past 20 years b...
Go ahead. Name a cloud environment that doesn't include load balancing as the key enabler of elastic scalability. I've got coffee... so it's good, take your time... Exactly. Load balancing - whether implemented as traditional high availability pairs or clustering - provides the means by which applications (and infrastructure, in many cases) scale horizontally. It is load balancing that is at the heart of elastic scalability models, and that provides a means to ensure availability and even imp...