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Immutable Servers in a #Serverless World | @DevOpsSummit #AI #DevOps

The benefits of immutable infrastructure practices within serverless architectures

Snowflakes are beautiful, unique creations. But, let's keep them in nature. They don't belong in our server infrastructure. Snowflake servers, where every configuration is just a little different, can introduce unnecessary security vulnerabilities and complications. While common in IT infrastructure, in the DevOps realm, they are gradually becoming ancient history.

At the recent All Day DevOps conference, Erlend Oftedal (@webtonull), with Blank and head of the OWASP Norway chapter, discussed the benefits of immutable infrastructure practices within serverless architectures. Erland walked us through the positive effects on security as well as offered insight on potential problems.

Erlend outlined the progress from physical servers to immutable servers, discussing the benefits of each step and the concerns that lead to the next phase, ending with immutable servers - that is, they can't be changed. Once setup, they are set. Automated processes coupled with  immutability principles can eliminate snowflake servers.

Immutability isn't a new concept. Some classic examples include: live Linux CDs, Internet cafes, schools, libraries, hotel business centers, etc. To set up immutable servers, Erlend outlines these steps:

  1. Find a suitable base image
  2. Build a specific image for the application (Dependencies, Application, Secrets)
  3. Deploy image to server(s)
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 for new versions.

Of course, this immediately raises questions.

What about data? He notes that, because data inherently changes, data has to be stored externally.

How do you deploy changes? Well, you don't change the server. You take one out and put a new one in. What if that one fails? Rollback to the previous one.

How do you manage secrets? You can build secrets in, leverage cloud key management, or use third-party services.

How do we apply security patches? If truly immutable, you deploy a new server with the patch. However, you can have a semi-immutable server that allows for automatically installing patches but still doesn't allow for logins or manual changes.

Speaking of security, what are the security advantages? For starters, if an attacker is in your server, they will be thrown out when you change servers, although they may come back if the vulnerability isn't patched. It also allows for very specialized images by removing all unneeded packages.  With these specialized images, you can more easily  audit and monitor the system for unexpected file changes, logins, and connections.

Erlend discussed containers because they are a step closer to a serverless world. Containers isolate processes and all run on the same OS. Of course, you can make them immutable, but, whether they are or not, there are some key security best practices you'll want to consider:

  • Don't run as root inside container
  • Implement user namespaces so the root account within the container is separated from the root account outside the container
  • Utilize the least privileges necessary for capabilities and resources
  • Keep them up-to-date
  • Automate scanning using tools such as Sonatype Nexus, Twistlock, Clair, or Aqua.
  • Separate untrusted and trusted containers

Erlend also dove into serverless architecture. While there is debate over what exactly qualifies as serverless, there are 5 principles that Erlend highlighted:

  • Use a compute service to execute code on demand
  • Write single-purpose, stateless functions
  • Design push-based, event-driven pipelines
  • Create thicker, more powerful front ends
  • Embrace third-party services

Migrating to immutable, serverless infrastructure is a topic to be discussed well beyond this blog post and even Erlend's session. Whatever you do in the future, though, take his parting words to heart, "the cloud can solve many of your problems, but in the end you cannot transfer your responsibility for security."

Erlend's session was packed with information. If this piqued your interest, you should watch his complete session in his full All Day DevOps conference session (just 30 minutes). The other 56 presentations from the All Day DevOps Conference are also available online, free-of-charge here.

@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo taking place June 6-8, 2017, at Javits Center, New York City, and 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.

DevOps at Cloud Expo / @ThingsExpo 2017 New York 
(June 6-8, 2017, Javits Center, Manhattan)

DevOps at Cloud Expo / @ThingsExpo 2017 Silicon Valley
(October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA)

Download Show Prospectus ▸ Here

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 development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.

@DevOpsSummit will expand the DevOps community, enable a wide sharing of knowledge, and educate delegates and technology providers alike. Recent research has shown that DevOps dramatically reduces development time, the amount of enterprise IT professionals put out fires, and support time generally. Time spent on infrastructure development is significantly increased, and DevOps practitioners report more software releases and higher quality. Sponsors of @DevOpsSummit will benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities through:

  • Featured on-site presentation and ongoing on-demand webcast exposure to a captive audience of industry decision-makers.
  • Showcase exhibition during our new extended dedicated expo hours
  • Breakout Session Priority scheduling for Sponsors that have been guaranteed a 35-minute technical session
  • Online advertising in SYS-CON's i-Technology Publications
  • Capitalize on our Comprehensive Marketing efforts leading up to the show with print mailings, e-newsletters and extensive online media coverage.
  • Unprecedented PR Coverage: Editorial Coverage on DevOps Journal
  • Tweetup to over 75,000 plus followers
  • Press releases sent on major wire services to over 500 industry analysts.

For more information on sponsorship, exhibit, and keynote opportunities, contact Carmen Gonzalez by email at events (at) sys-con.com, or by phone 201 802-3021.

The World's Largest "Cloud Digital Transformation" Event

@CloudExpo / @ThingsExpo 2017 New York 
(June 6-8, 2017, Javits Center, Manhattan)

@CloudExpo / @ThingsExpo 2017 Silicon Valley
(Oct. 31 - Nov. 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA)

Full Conference Registration Gold Pass and Exhibit Hall ▸ Here

Register For @CloudExpo ▸ Here via EventBrite

Register For @ThingsExpo ▸ Here via EventBrite

Register For @DevOpsSummit ▸ Here via EventBrite

Sponsorship Opportunities

Sponsors of Cloud Expo @ThingsExpo will benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities through:

  • Featured on-site presentation and ongoing on-demand webcast exposure to a captive audience of industry decision-makers
  • Showcase exhibition during our new extended dedicated expo hours
  • Breakout Session Priority scheduling for Sponsors that have been guaranteed a 35 minute technical session
  • Online targeted advertising in SYS-CON's i-Technology Publications
  • Capitalize on our Comprehensive Marketing efforts leading up to the show with print mailings, e-newsletters and extensive online media coverage
  • Unprecedented Marketing Coverage: Editorial Coverage on ITweetup to over 100,000 plus followers, press releases sent on major wire services to over 500 industry analysts

For more information on sponsorship, exhibit, and keynote opportunities, contact Carmen Gonzalez (@GonzalezCarmen) today by email at events (at) sys-con.com, or by phone 201 802-3021.

Secrets of Sponsors and Exhibitors ▸ Here
Secrets of Cloud Expo Speakers ▸ Here

All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.

With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo@ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.

Track 1. FinTech
Track 2. Enterprise Cloud | Digital Transformation
Track 3. DevOps, Containers & Microservices 
Track 4. Big Data | Analytics
Track 5. Industrial IoT
Track 6. IoT Dev & Deploy | Mobility
Track 7. APIs | Cloud Security
Track 8. AI | ML | DL | Cognitive Computing

Delegates to Cloud Expo @ThingsExpo will be able to attend 8 simultaneous, information-packed education tracks.

There are over 120 breakout sessions in all, with Keynotes, General Sessions, and Power Panels adding to three days of incredibly rich presentations and content.

Join Cloud Expo @ThingsExpo conference chair Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040), June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA for three days of intense Enterprise Cloud and 'Digital Transformation' discussion and focus, including Big Data's indispensable role in IoT, Smart Grids and (IIoT) Industrial Internet of Things, Wearables and Consumer IoT, as well as (new) Digital Transformation in Vertical Markets.

Financial Technology - or FinTech - Is Now Part of the @CloudExpo Program!

Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo @ThingsExpo June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech, which will incorporate machine learning, artificial intelligence, deep learning, and blockchain into one track.

Financial enterprises in New York City, London, Singapore, and other world financial capitals are embracing a new generation of smart, automated FinTech that eliminates many cumbersome, slow, and expensive intermediate processes from their businesses.

FinTech brings efficiency as well as the ability to deliver new services and a much improved customer experience throughout the global financial services industry. FinTech is a natural fit with cloud computing, as new services are quickly developed, deployed, and scaled on public, private, and hybrid clouds.

More than US$20 billion in venture capital is being invested in FinTech this year. @CloudExpo is pleased to bring you the latest FinTech developments as an integral part of our program, starting at the 20th International Cloud Expo June 6-8, 2017 in New York City and October 31 - November 2, 2017 in Silicon Valley.

@CloudExpo is accepting submissions for this new track, so please visit www.CloudComputingExpo.com for the latest information.

Speaking Opportunities

The upcoming 20th International @CloudExpo@ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA announces that its Call For Papers for speaking opportunities is open.

Submit your speaking proposal today! ▸ Here

Our Top 100 Sponsors and the Leading "Digital Transformation" Companies

(ISC)2, 24Notion (Bronze Sponsor), 910Telecom, Accelertite (Gold Sponsor), Addteq, Adobe (Bronze Sponsor), Aeroybyte, Alert Logic, Anexia, AppNeta, Avere Systems, BMC Software (Silver Sponsor), Bsquare Corporation (Silver Sponsor), BZ Media (Media Sponsor), Catchpoint Systems (Silver Sponsor), CDS Global Cloud, Cemware, Chetu Inc., China Unicom, Cloud Raxak, CloudBerry (Media Sponsor), Cloudbric, Coalfire Systems, CollabNet, Inc. (Silver Sponsor), Column Technologies, Commvault (Bronze Sponsor), Connect2.me, ContentMX (Bronze Sponsor), CrowdReviews (Media Sponsor) CyberTrend (Media Sponsor), DataCenterDynamics (Media Sponsor), Delaplex, DICE (Bronze Sponsor), EastBanc Technologies, eCube Systems, Embotics, Enzu Inc., Ericsson (Gold Sponsor), FalconStor, Formation Data Systems, Fusion, Hanu Software, HGST, Inc. (Bronze Sponsor), Hitrons Solutions, IBM BlueBox, IBM Bluemix, IBM Cloud (Platinum Sponsor), IBM Cloud Data Services/Cloudant (Platinum Sponsor), IBM DevOps (Platinum Sponsor), iDevices, Industrial Internet of Things Consortium (Association Sponsor), Impinger Technologies, Interface Masters, Intel (Keynote Sponsor), Interoute (Bronze Sponsor), IQP Corporation, Isomorphic Software, Japan IoT Consortium, Kintone Corporation (Bronze Sponsor), LeaseWeb USA, LinearHub, MangoApps, MathFreeOn, Men & Mice, MobiDev, New Relic, Inc. (Bronze Sponsor), New York Times, Niagara Networks, Numerex, NVIDIA Corporation (AI Session Sponsor), Object Management Group (Association Sponsor), On The Avenue Marketing, Oracle MySQL, Peak10, Inc., Penta Security, Plasma Corporation, Pulzze Systems, Pythian (Bronze Sponsor), Cosmos, RackN, ReadyTalk (Silver Sponsor), Roma Software, Roundee.io, Secure Channels Inc., SD Times (Media Sponsor), SoftLayer (Platinum Sponsor), SoftNet Solutions, Solinea Inc., SpeedyCloud, SSLGURU LLC, StarNet, Stratoscale, Streamliner, SuperAdmins, TechTarget (Media Sponsor), TelecomReseller (Media Sponsor), Tintri (Welcome Reception Sponsor), TMCnet (Media Sponsor), Transparent Cloud Computing Consortium, Veeam, Venafi, Violin Memory, VAI Software, Zerto

About SYS-CON Media & Events
SYS-CON Media (www.sys-con.com) has since 1994 been connecting technology companies and customers through a comprehensive content stream - featuring over forty focused subject areas, from Cloud Computing to Web Security - interwoven with market-leading full-scale conferences produced by SYS-CON Events. The company's internationally recognized brands include among others Cloud Expo® (@CloudExpo), Big Data Expo® (@BigDataExpo), DevOps Summit (@DevOpsSummit), @ThingsExpo® (@ThingsExpo), Containers Expo (@ContainersExpo) and Microservices Expo (@MicroservicesE).

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More Stories By Derek Weeks

In 2015, Derek Weeks led the largest and most comprehensive analysis of software supply chain practices to date across 160,000 development organizations. He is a huge advocate of applying proven supply chain management principles into DevOps practices to improve efficiencies, reduce costs, and sustain long-lasting competitive advantages.

As a 20+ year veteran of the software industry, he has advised leading businesses on IT performance improvement practices covering continuous delivery, business process management, systems and network operations, service management, capacity planning and storage management. As the VP and DevOps Advocate for Sonatype, he is passionate about changing the way people think about software supply chains and improving public safety through improved software integrity. Follow him here @weekstweets, find me here www.linkedin.com/in/derekeweeks, and read me here http://blog.sonatype.com/author/weeks/.

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