Microservices Expo Authors: Christopher Keene, Elizabeth White, Roger Strukhoff, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: @DevOpsSummit, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, SDN Journal

@DevOpsSummit: Article

Cloud's Provisioning Problem | @DevOpsSummit #IoT #DevOps #BigData

Cloud and software-defined architectures have brought to the fore the critical nature of load balancing

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.

(Un)Predictable Provisioning
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. operational axiom 2a

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

state-of-apm-issuesIn 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.

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
Thomas Bitman of Gartner wrote a blog post last year about why OpenStack projects fail. In that article, he outlined three particular metrics which together cause 60% of OpenStack projects to fall short of expectations: Wrong people (31% of failures): a successful cloud needs commitment both from the operations team as well as from "anchor" tenants. Wrong processes (19% of failures): a successful cloud automates across silos in the software development lifecycle, not just within silos.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
Cloud Expo 2016 New York at the Javits Center New York was characterized by increased attendance and a new focus on operations. These were both encouraging signs for all involved in Cloud Computing and all that it touches. As Conference Chair, I work with the Cloud Expo team to structure three keynotes, numerous general sessions, and more than 150 breakout sessions along 10 tracks. Our job is to balance the state of enterprise IT today with the trends that will be commonplace tomorrow. Mobile...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
A company’s collection of online systems is like a delicate ecosystem – all components must integrate with and complement each other, and one single malfunction in any of them can bring the entire system to a screeching halt. That’s why, when monitoring and analyzing the health of your online systems, you need a broad arsenal of different tools for your different needs. In addition to a wide-angle lens that provides a snapshot of the overall health of your system, you must also have precise, ...
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, 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 opportuni...
As the world moves toward more DevOps and Microservices, application deployment to the cloud ought to become a lot simpler. The Microservices architecture, which is the basis of many new age distributed systems such as OpenStack, NetFlix and so on, is at the heart of Cloud Foundry - a complete developer-oriented Platform as a Service (PaaS) that is IaaS agnostic and supports vCloud, OpenStack and AWS. Serverless computing is revolutionizing computing. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Raghav...

Let's just nip the conflation of these terms in the bud, shall we?

"MIcro" is big these days. Both microservices and microsegmentation are having and will continue to have an impact on data center architecture, but not necessarily for the same reasons. There's a growing trend in which folks - particularly those with a network background - conflate the two and use them to mean the same thing.

They are not.

One is about the application. The other, the network. T...

If you are within a stones throw of the DevOps marketplace you have undoubtably noticed the growing trend in Microservices. Whether you have been staying up to date with the latest articles and blogs or you just read the definition for the first time, these 5 Microservices Resources You Need In Your Life will guide you through the ins and outs of Microservices in today’s world.
Sharding has become a popular means of achieving scalability in application architectures in which read/write data separation is not only possible, but desirable to achieve new heights of concurrency. The premise is that by splitting up read and write duties, it is possible to get better overall performance at the cost of a slight delay in consistency. That is, it takes a bit of time to replicate changes initiated by a "write" to the read-only master database. It's eventually consistent, and it'...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Isomorphic Software will exhibit at DevOps Summit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Isomorphic Software provides the SmartClient HTML5/AJAX platform, the most advanced technology for building rich, cutting-edge enterprise web applications for desktop and mobile. SmartClient combines the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software with the simp...
With so much going on in this space you could be forgiven for thinking you were always working with yesterday’s technologies. So much change, so quickly. What do you do if you have to build a solution from the ground up that is expected to live in the field for at least 5-10 years? This is the challenge we faced when we looked to refresh our existing 10-year-old custom hardware stack to measure the fullness of trash cans and compactors.
The emerging Internet of Everything creates tremendous new opportunities for customer engagement and business model innovation. However, enterprises must overcome a number of critical challenges to bring these new solutions to market. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Martin, CTO/CIO at nfrastructure, outlined these key challenges and recommended approaches for overcoming them to achieve speed and agility in the design, development and implementation of Internet of Everything solutions wi...
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...
There's a lot of things we do to improve the performance of web and mobile applications. We use caching. We use compression. We offload security (SSL and TLS) to a proxy with greater compute capacity. We apply image optimization and minification to content. We do all that because performance is king. Failure to perform can be, for many businesses, equivalent to an outage with increased abandonment rates and angry customers taking to the Internet to express their extreme displeasure.
Monitoring of Docker environments is challenging. Why? Because each container typically runs a single process, has its own environment, utilizes virtual networks, or has various methods of managing storage. Traditional monitoring solutions take metrics from each server and applications they run. These servers and applications running on them are typically very static, with very long uptimes. Docker deployments are different: a set of containers may run many applications, all sharing the resource...
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
To leverage Continuous Delivery, enterprises must consider impacts that span functional silos, as well as applications that touch older, slower moving components. Managing the many dependencies can cause slowdowns. See how to achieve continuous delivery in the enterprise.
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Am...