|By Lori MacVittie||
|September 29, 2015 06:00 AM EDT||
What DevOps Can Do About Cloud's Predictable Provisioning Problem
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 improve performance of applications.
But simple load balancing alone isn't enough. Too many environments and architectures are wont to toss a simple, network-based solution at the problem and call it a day. But rudimentary load balancing techniques that rely solely on a set of metrics are doomed to fail eventually. That's because a simple number like "connection count" does not provide enough context to make an intelligent load balancing decision. An application instance may currently have only 100 connections while another has 500, but if the capacity of the former is only 200 while the capacity of the other is 5000, a decision based on "least connections" is not the right one.
Application-aware networking tells us that load balancing decisions - even rudimentary ones - should be made based on a variety of variables such as application load, response time, and capacity. That means a modern load balancing service capable of not just tracking these metrics but gathering them from the application instances under management.
In data centers, it is best practice to deploy application instances on similarly capable hardware. This is because doing so provides predictable capacity and performance that can be used to better scale an application and ensure compliance with service level expectations.
When moving to a cloud environment - whether public or private - this practice can be lost. In the public cloud, that's because you have no control over the underlying hardware capabilities - you can only specific the compute capabilities of an instance. In a private cloud, you have more control over this but may not have provisioning systems intelligent enough to provide the visibility you need to make a provisioning decision in real time.
That can lead to problems. Consider this nugget from a recent blog post:
One thing that I’ve learned is that you can end up on a variety of different hardware but they don’t always act the same. Stackdriver has been a great help with this. For example, if we’re firing up 6 web servers, Stackdriver can help us see that 5 are cruising along at 20% CPU, while one is at 50% CPU. It allows us to see and address that anomaly.
Let's assume, for a moment, this is true. Because it can be. Anyone who's ever dealt with hardware servers knows it's true - hardware, though matched in terms of basic capacity, can wind up performing differently. That's due to a number of things including the natural degradation of capacity over time due to "wear and tear" as well as the possibility of misconfiguration or the presence of some other artifact or code that may be eating up cycles.
In any case, the reason is not as important as the fact that this happens. It's important because we know operational axiom #2: as load increases, performance decreases. It also follows that as load increases, capacity decreases because, well, capacity and load go hand in hand.
Thus, in a cloud environment the aforementioned situation presents a problem: one of the "servers" is at a disadvantage and is not going to perform as well as the other five. Not only that, but its capacity as understood (and likely configured manually) by the load balancing is now inaccurate. The load balancing service believes all six servers have a capacity of X connections, but the reality is that a higher CPU utilization rate can reduce that.
A simple load balancing service is not going to adjust because it doesn't have the visibility or intelligence to make that connection. Whether the service is configured to use round robin (almost never a good idea) or a least connections (can be an acceptable choice if all other factors are predictable) algorithm, service levels are going to degrade unless the service is aware enough to recognize the discordance occurring.
Thus, we end up with a situation in which predictable performance and availability are, well, not necessarily predictable. Which introduces operational risk that must, somehow be countered.
Correcting for Unpredictable Provisioning
In enterprise-class data centers, application aware networking services are able to factor in not just connection counts and response times, but server load and a variety of other variables that can offset the unpredictability of provisioning processes. As noted earlier, application-aware load balancing services have the visibility and programmability necessary to monitor and measure the status of application instances and servers for a variety of metrics including CPU utilization (load).
What's perhaps even more interesting is that programmability enables extensibility of gathering and monitoring those statistics. If the application instance can present a variable which you deem critical for making load balancing decisions, programmability of the load balancing service makes it possible to incorporate that variable into its algorithm (or create a completely new one, if that's what it takes).
All these factors combine to answer the question, "Why does the network need to be dynamic?" or "Why do we need SD<insert preferred "N" or "DC" here>?"
Dynamic implies an ability to react in the face of unanticipated (unpredictable) situations. Unpredictable provisioning that can result in inconsistent capacity and performance has to be countered somewhere, and that somewhere is going to be upstream of the application instances exhibiting erratic behavior. Upstream is usually (and almost always in any of today's scalable architectures) an ADC or load balancing service.
That load balancing service must be application-aware and programmable if it's going to execute on its mission of maintaining performance and availability of applications in the face of the potentially unpredictable provisioning processes of cloud computing environments.
DevOps: More than just deployment
DevOps practitioners must become adept at not only understanding the complex relationships between performance and availability and capacity and load, but how to turn those business and operational expectations into reality by taking advantage of both application and network infrastructure capabilities.
DevOps isn't, after all, just about scripting and automation. Those are tools that enable devops practitioners to do something, and that something is more than just deploying apps - it's delivering them, too.
• • •
Excerpt from the State of APM Infographic courtesy of Germain Software, LLC.
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...
Dec. 1, 2015 04:00 PM EST Reads: 499
Cloud computing is unquestionably one of the driving forces of DevOps, as the automation of operations transforms enterprise software development. DevOps, however, is more than a technology trend, as it represents a move toward silo-busting, self-organizing horizontal teams that drive business velocity. At the same time, enterprise Digital Transformation represents an upheaval across the enterprise, as customer preferences and behavior drive enterprise technology decisions. This transformation ...
Dec. 1, 2015 03:45 PM EST
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...
Dec. 1, 2015 03:00 PM EST Reads: 475
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.
Dec. 1, 2015 03:00 PM EST Reads: 385
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 03:00 PM EST Reads: 145
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...
Dec. 1, 2015 02:45 PM EST Reads: 447
Dec. 1, 2015 02:30 PM EST Reads: 270
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...
Dec. 1, 2015 02:15 PM EST Reads: 451
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint, a global leader in monitoring, and testing the performance of online applications, has been named "Silver Sponsor" of DevOps Summit New York, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016 at the Javits Center in New York City. Catchpoint radically transforms the way businesses manage, monitor, and test the performance of online applications. Truly understand and improve user experience with clear visibility into complex, distributed online systems.Founde...
Dec. 1, 2015 12:15 PM EST
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...
Dec. 1, 2015 11:15 AM EST Reads: 166
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 ...
Dec. 1, 2015 10:45 AM EST Reads: 136
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
Dec. 1, 2015 10:00 AM EST Reads: 579
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...
Dec. 1, 2015 10:00 AM EST Reads: 659
DevOps is an organizational and cultural rethink of how software-driven organizations can become organizations at velocity – agile enough to innovate and fast enough to deal with any change that comes their way. Information technology is a central enabler of DevOps, but today’s better-faster-cheaper technology is not the whole story, as tools are only as good as the people wielding them. The more fundamental story here is the organizational and cultural transformation necessary to take full adv...
Dec. 1, 2015 10:00 AM EST Reads: 102
ThoughtWorks has issued the latest Technology Radar, an assessment of trends significantly impacting software development and business strategy. The Technology Radar sets out the current changes in software development - things in motion to pay attention to based upon ThoughtWorks' day-to-day work and experience solving their clients' toughest challenges. "With the threat landscape still evolving, our latest edition of Technology Radar continues to focus on security and innovative approaches,...
Dec. 1, 2015 09:45 AM EST
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"...
Dec. 1, 2015 09:00 AM EST Reads: 485
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound...
Dec. 1, 2015 06:30 AM EST Reads: 515
As organizations shift towards IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing & protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. CommVault can ensure protection & E-Discovery of your data - whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise.
Dec. 1, 2015 06:00 AM EST Reads: 275
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNu...
Dec. 1, 2015 05:00 AM EST Reads: 362
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, San...
Dec. 1, 2015 05:00 AM EST Reads: 623