Click here to close now.


SDN Journal Authors: Stefan Dietrich, Elizabeth White, Peter Silva, Pat Romanski, Don MacVittie

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo, @BigDataExpo, @DevOpsSummit

SDN Journal: Blog Feed Post

When Programmability Extends Beyond the Platform

A programmable platform should be more than just lipstick on a CLI

The term programmability is, like every other term associated with hype-driven trends, used to describe a wide range of capabilities. In general, when applied to "the network", programmability implies one of two things: an API through which a network element can be configured and managed and/or a scripting mechanism that enables direct interaction with the data path.

These two aspects of programmability provide integration between data center elements (control plane) as well as enabling extensibility through the creation of new services on the platform (data plane). But they don't speak to a third capability - the invocation of external services as a reaction to some data center event.

For example, a data center "event" might be the depletion of capacity in the face of high demand. Elasticity (the automatic scaling up and down of a service or application) demands action be taken. That action, ideally, is automated. The overall system should understand when capacity limits are about to be breached (both in the upward and downward direction) and be able to take the appropriate action - provision additional capacity or decommission capacity.

Most "network" elements are not capable of taking this action directly. Load balancing platforms for the most part are the first service to recognize a need to change capacity, but are rarely able to take action other than sharing that information with an external system. For most load balancing platforms that's because they lack the programmability necessary to do so. They may be programmatic at the control plane and even on the data plane, but they are not imbued with the ability to execute logic on an event-driven basis.

Platforms that are so imbued (and they do exist) are able to do so.

Let me illustrate...

The vCloud API Programming Guide has a robust set of interfaces through which a vAPP (which in VMware jargon describes a complete "application") can be managed. You can, through this API, power on (provision, launch, etc...) and shutdown (decommission, power off, etc...) a given vAPP. A programmable platform can leverage those APIs to enable rapid elasticity.

Interestingly, a scalable application consists of at least two things: a load balancing service and a pool of application resources. How far you can take that to implement actual elasticity depends entirely on the availability of APIs through which you can manage application instances (virtual machines) and the programmability of the platform upon which the load balancing service is deployed.

Assuming you have what you need, your environment looks something like this:


Health monitoring enables the service platform to know when there's a problem, that's critical for high-availability. The platform also understands the capacity limits of each virtual instance. Now, let's say demand is suddenly spiking (the source is irrelevant). Given the strategic location of the service platform, it is the first system in the data center able to recognize that capacity limits are about to be breached.

The question is, what does the service platform do about that?

Well, in most systems it's just going to share that information with an external orchestration/management platform. In most cases, in fact, it's going to share it passively; that is, the information won't reach the management platform until the management platform asks for it. It's a polling system, not a proactive push from the service platform.

That means that it's possible that capacity will be reached and users will start experiencing delays or even time-outs before the management platform even knows there's a problem.

In order to realize elasticity that actually ensures high-availability and responsiveness of applications, we need something more proactive. The service platform must participate either by pushing a capacity reached notification to the management platform or, if it's able to, simply instructing the management platform to provision the additional resources necessary to ensure capacity is expanded before limits are breached.


This requires that the service platform is not only programmable at the control and data path planes, but also at the configuration layer. It must be able to not only recognize a breach of thresholds but then act on that breach. In this case, acting means initiating a process that will result in the provisioning of additional resources required to ensure continued availability and performance. As demand wanes, another threshold can trigger a reverse process in which an instance is decommissioned*.

Now, you can certainly design your data center in myriad ways to deal with elasticity and availability. If you've got the right service platform - one that's programmable in more than just the traditional two-pronged approach - then you've got another option available to you. An option that's more proactive and leverages what is an existing strategic point of control in your network architecture.

* Provisioning is easier and less complex than decommissioning, as the latter requires careful attention to existing connections and essentially means the load balancing service must manage the process of stopping new connections while maintaining existing ones until users complete their session (quiescence).

Read the original blog entry...

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.

@CloudExpo Stories
In recent years, at least 40% of companies using cloud applications have experienced data loss. One of the best prevention against cloud data loss is backing up your cloud data. In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Sam McIntyre, Partner Enablement Specialist at eFolder, presented how organizations can use eFolder Cloudfinder to automate backups of cloud application data. He also demonstrated how easy it is to search and restore cloud application data using Cloudfinder.
In his General Session at DevOps Summit, Asaf Yigal, Co-Founder & VP of Product at, explored the value of Kibana 4 for log analysis and provided a hands-on tutorial on how to set up Kibana 4 and get the most out of Apache log files. He examined three use cases: IT operations, business intelligence, and security and compliance. Asaf Yigal is co-founder and VP of Product at log analytics software company In the past, he was co-founder of social-trading platform Currensee, which...
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi’s VP Business Development and Engineering, explored the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving t...
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 @ThingsExpo conference chair Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040), June 7-9, 2016 in New York City, for three days of intense 'Internet of Things' discussion and focus, including Big Data's indespensable role in IoT, Smart Grids and Industrial Internet of Things, Wearables and Consumer IoT, as well as (new) IoT's use in Vertical Markets.
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.
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...
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
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.
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...
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...
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new da...
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and t...
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
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 facin...
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...
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now ...
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
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, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated 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, faster user e...