Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Cloud Best Practices Network, Jyoti Bansal, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski

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 pussinboots.cern.ch)
  • Uniquely hand raised and cared for
  • Nursed back to health when sick

OpenStack servers are likened to cattle:

  • They get random identification numbers (vm0042.cern.ch)
  • 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 (http://devo.ps/blog/2013/06/26/goodbye-node-forever-hello-pm2.html). 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 MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com 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 an opinionated Senior Analyst at Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work, SAP Mentor Alumnus, speaker, writer, and mobile and digital strategies expert. He is a popular keynote speaker, and in the past three years he has shared his insights into mobile and digital strategies with companies in 17 different countries. He has over 30 years of experience working with enterprise applications, and he is a veteran mobile industry executive. He wrote the Forward to SAP Press' bestselling book on enterprise mobility titled Mobilizing Your Enterprise with SAP, and he has written over 3,000 articles.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
The rise of containers and microservices has skyrocketed the rate at which new applications are moved into production environments today. While developers have been deploying containers to speed up the development processes for some time, there still remain challenges with running microservices efficiently. Most existing IT monitoring tools don’t actually maintain visibility into the containers that make up microservices. As those container applications move into production, some IT operations t...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
For organizations that have amassed large sums of software complexity, taking a microservices approach is the first step toward DevOps and continuous improvement / development. Integrating system-level analysis with microservices makes it easier to change and add functionality to applications at any time without the increase of risk. Before you start big transformation projects or a cloud migration, make sure these changes won’t take down your entire organization.
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm. In his Day 3 Keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, will explore t...
Software development is a moving target. You have to keep your eye on trends in the tech space that haven’t even happened yet just to stay current. Consider what’s happened with augmented reality (AR) in this year alone. If you said you were working on an AR app in 2015, you might have gotten a lot of blank stares or jokes about Google Glass. Then Pokémon GO happened. Like AR, the trends listed below have been building steam for some time, but they’ll be taking off in surprising new directions b...
Everyone wants to use containers, but monitoring containers is hard. New ephemeral architecture introduces new challenges in how monitoring tools need to monitor and visualize containers, so your team can make sense of everything. In his session at @DevOpsSummit, David Gildeh, co-founder and CEO of Outlyer, will go through the challenges and show there is light at the end of the tunnel if you use the right tools and understand what you need to be monitoring to successfully use containers in your...
What if you could build a web application that could support true web-scale traffic without having to ever provision or manage a single server? Sounds magical, and it is! In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Munns, Senior Developer Advocate for Serverless Applications at Amazon Web Services, will show how to build a serverless website that scales automatically using services like AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway, and Amazon S3. We will review several frameworks that can help you build serverle...
@DevOpsSummit has been named the ‘Top DevOps Influencer' by iTrend. iTrend processes millions of conversations, tweets, interactions, news articles, press releases, blog posts - and extract meaning form them and analyzes mobile and desktop software platforms used to communicate, various metadata (such as geo location), and automation tools. In overall placement, @DevOpsSummit ranked as the number one ‘DevOps Influencer' followed by @CloudExpo at third, and @MicroservicesE at 24th.
The IT industry is undergoing a significant evolution to keep up with cloud application demand. We see this happening as a mindset shift, from traditional IT teams to more well-rounded, cloud-focused job roles. The IT industry has become so cloud-minded that Gartner predicts that by 2020, this cloud shift will impact more than $1 trillion of global IT spending. This shift, however, has left some IT professionals feeling a little anxious about what lies ahead. The good news is that cloud computin...
The essence of cloud computing is that all consumable IT resources are delivered as services. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Yung Chou, Technology Evangelist at Microsoft, demonstrated the concepts and implementations of two important cloud computing deliveries: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). He discussed from business and technical viewpoints what exactly they are, why we care, how they are different and in what ways, and the strategies for IT to transi...
After more than five years of DevOps, definitions are evolving, boundaries are expanding, ‘unicorns’ are no longer rare, enterprises are on board, and pundits are moving on. Can we now look at an evolution of DevOps? Should we? Is the foundation of DevOps ‘done’, or is there still too much left to do? What is mature, and what is still missing? What does the next 5 years of DevOps look like? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by DevOps Summit Conference Chair Andi Mann, panelists l...
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 abi...
Thanks to Docker and the DevOps revolution, microservices have emerged as the new way to build and deploy applications — and there are plenty of great reasons to embrace the microservices trend. If you are going to adopt microservices, you also have to understand that microservice architectures have many moving parts. When it comes to incident management, this presents an important difference between microservices and monolithic architectures. More moving parts mean more complexity to monitor an...
All organizations that did not originate this moment have a pre-existing culture as well as legacy technology and processes that can be more or less amenable to DevOps implementation. That organizational culture is influenced by the personalities and management styles of Executive Management, the wider culture in which the organization is situated, and the personalities of key team members at all levels of the organization. This culture and entrenched interests usually throw a wrench in the work...
Microservices (μServices) are a fascinating evolution of the Distributed Object Computing (DOC) paradigm. Initial design of DOC attempted to solve the problem of simplifying developing complex distributed applications by applying object-oriented design principles to disparate components operating across networked infrastructure. In this model, DOC “hid” the complexity of making this work from the developer regardless of the deployment architecture through the use of complex frameworks, such as C...
TechTarget storage websites are the best online information resource for news, tips and expert advice for the storage, backup and disaster recovery markets. By creating abundant, high-quality editorial content across more than 140 highly targeted technology-specific websites, TechTarget attracts and nurtures communities of technology buyers researching their companies' information technology needs. By understanding these buyers' content consumption behaviors, TechTarget creates the purchase inte...
We've all had that feeling before: The feeling that you're missing something that everyone else is in on. For today's IT leaders, that feeling might come up when you hear talk about cloud brokers. Meanwhile, you head back into your office and deal with your ever-growing shadow IT problem. But the cloud-broker whispers and your shadow IT issues are linked. If you're wondering "what the heck is a cloud broker?" we've got you covered.
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 facing...
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" ...