Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Pat Romanski, Stefan Bernbo, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, TJ Randall

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.

http://www.stackdriver.com/devops-focus-matt-trescot-studyblue/

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.

@CloudExpo Stories
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busin...
According to Forrester Research, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey by 2020. To avoid demise, organizations must rapidly create new sources of value in their end-to-end customer experiences. True digital predators also must break down information and process silos and extend digital transformation initiatives to empower employees with the digital resources needed to win, serve, and retain customers.
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. He cited examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He also highlighted how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable ...
SaaS companies can greatly expand revenue potential by pushing beyond their own borders. The challenge is how to do this without degrading service quality. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Adam Rogers, Managing Director at Anexia, discussed how IaaS providers with a global presence and both virtual and dedicated infrastructure can help companies expand their service footprint with low “go-to-market” costs.
Get deep visibility into the performance of your databases and expert advice for performance optimization and tuning. You can't get application performance without database performance. Give everyone on the team a comprehensive view of how every aspect of the system affects performance across SQL database operations, host server and OS, virtualization resources and storage I/O. Quickly find bottlenecks and troubleshoot complex problems.
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"We are the public cloud providers. We are currently providing 50% of the resources they need for doing e-commerce business in China and we are hosting about 60% of mobile gaming in China," explained Yi Zheng, CPO and VP of Engineering at CDS Global Cloud, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Predictive analytics tools monitor, report, and troubleshoot in order to make proactive decisions about the health, performance, and utilization of storage. Most enterprises combine cloud and on-premise storage, resulting in blended environments of physical, virtual, cloud, and other platforms, which justifies more sophisticated storage analytics. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Peter McCallum, Vice President of Datacenter Solutions at FalconStor, discussed using predictive analytics to mon...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and sh...
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Onalytica. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effici...
In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Claude Remillard, Principal Program Manager in Developer Division at Microsoft, contrasted how his team used config as code and immutable patterns for continuous delivery of microservices and apps to the cloud. He showed how the immutable patterns helps developers do away with most of the complexity of config as code-enabling scenarios such as rollback, zero downtime upgrades with far greater simplicity. He also demoed building immutable pipelines in the cloud ...
@DevOpsSummit taking place June 6-8, 2017 at Javits Center, New York City, 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. @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York Call for Papers is now open.
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
All clouds are not equal. To succeed in a DevOps context, organizations should plan to develop/deploy apps across a choice of on-premise and public clouds simultaneously depending on the business needs. This is where the concept of the Lean Cloud comes in - resting on the idea that you often need to relocate your app modules over their life cycles for both innovation and operational efficiency in the cloud. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at19th Cloud Expo, Valentin (Val) Bercovici, CTO of Soli...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Regulatory requirements exist to promote the controlled sharing of information, while protecting the privacy and/or security of the information. Regulations for each type of information have their own set of rules, policies, and guidelines. Cloud Service Providers (CSP) are faced with increasing demand for services at decreasing prices. Demonstrating and maintaining compliance with regulations is a nontrivial task and doing so against numerous sets of regulatory requirements can be daunting task...
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, drew together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established compa...