|By Lori MacVittie||
|November 2, 2014 05:00 AM EST||
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.
SYS-CON Media announced today that Sematext launched a popular blog feed on DevOps Journal with over 6,000 story reads over the weekend. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. DevOps Journal brings valuable information to DevOps professionals who are transforming the way enterprise IT is done. Sematext is a globally distributed organization that builds innovative Cloud and On Premises solutions for performance monitoring, alerting and anomaly detection (SPM), log management and analytics (Logsene), and search analytics (SSA). We al...
Dec. 22, 2014 10:00 PM EST Reads: 1,668
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 evaluati...
Dec. 22, 2014 09:30 PM EST Reads: 696
ScriptRock makes GuardRail, a DevOps-ready platform for configuration monitoring. Realizing we were spending way too much time digging up, cataloguing, and tracking machine configurations, we began writing our own scripts and tools to handle what is normally an enormous chore. Then we took the concept a step further, giving it a beautiful interface and making it simple enough for our bosses to understand. We named it GuardRail after its function - to allow businesses to move fast and stay safe. GuardRail scans and tracks much more than just servers in a datacenter. It works with networ...
Dec. 22, 2014 08:30 PM EST Reads: 1,804
SYS-CON Media announced today that Skytap blog on "DevOps Journal" exceeded 84,000 story reads. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. DevOps Journal brings valuable information to DevOps professionals who are transforming the way enterprise IT is done. Noel Wurst is the managing content editor at Skytap. Skytap provides SaaS-based dev/test environments to the enterprise. Skytap solution removes the inefficiencies and constraints that companies have within their software development lifecycle. As a result, customers release better softwa...
Dec. 22, 2014 08:30 PM EST Reads: 1,045
SYS-CON Events announced today Isomorphic Software, the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications, will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Isomorphic Software is the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications. We develop, market, and support the SmartClient & Smart GWT HTML5/Ajax platform, combining the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software with the simplicity and reach of the open web.
Dec. 22, 2014 06:00 PM EST Reads: 2,172
Leysin American School is an exclusive, private boarding school located in Leysin, Switzerland. Leysin selected an OpenStack-powered, private cloud as a service to manage multiple applications and provide development environments for students across the institution. Seeking to meet rigid data sovereignty and data integrity requirements while offering flexible, on-demand cloud resources to users, Leysin identified OpenStack as the clear choice to round out the school's cloud strategy. Additionally, the school sought a partner to provide OpenStack infrastructure deployment and operations expert...
Dec. 22, 2014 11:15 AM EST Reads: 2,847
In high-production environments where release cycles are measured in hours or minutes — not days or weeks — there's little room for mistakes and no room for confusion. Everyone has to understand what's happening, in real time, and have the means to do whatever is necessary to keep applications up and running optimally. DevOps is a high-stakes world, but done well, it delivers the agility and performance to significantly impact business competitiveness.
Dec. 21, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,642
"Our premise is Docker is not enough. That's not a bad thing - we actually love Docker. At ActiveState all our products are based on open source technology and Docker is an up-and-coming piece of open source technology," explained Bart Copeland, President & CEO of ActiveState Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 21, 2014 06:00 PM EST Reads: 2,814
Our expectations for buying all sorts of consumer goods has gone through a radical transformation we now take for granted. Why should we not expect this same level of service from IT businesses? We accept the status quo for how software delivery exists today but would reject it without hesitation if it were applied to pretty much any other online consumer experience. Take pizza delivery as an example. Fifteen years ago ordering a pizza meant trying to choose an item from a grease-stained menu somebody shoved under your door. You'd make a phone call and end up speaking to somebody who sounded ...
Dec. 21, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 3,145
SYS-CON Media announced today that Aruna Ravichandran, VP of Marketing, Application Performance Management and DevOps at CA Technologies, has joined DevOps Journal’s authors. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. DevOps Journal brings valuable information to DevOps professionals who are transforming the way enterprise IT is done. Aruna's inaugural article "Four Essential Cultural Hacks for DevOps Newbies" discusses how to demonstrate the value of DevOps behaviors, tools and processes. She states: "DevOps is not only hot it's the approa...
Dec. 21, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 2,420
The move in recent years to cloud computing services and architectures has added significant pace to the application development and deployment environment. When enterprise IT can spin up large computing instances in just minutes, developers can also design and deploy in small time frames that were unimaginable a few years ago. The consequent move toward lean, agile, and fast development leads to the need for the development and operations sides to work very closely together. Thus, DevOps becomes essential for any ambitious enterprise today.
Dec. 21, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 2,877
ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...
Dec. 21, 2014 06:15 AM EST Reads: 3,367
“We help people build clusters, in the classical sense of the cluster. We help people put a full stack on top of every single one of those machines. We do the full bare metal install," explained Greg Bruno, Vice President of Engineering and co-founder of StackIQ, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 19, 2014 11:45 PM EST Reads: 2,207
“DevOps is really about the business. The business is under pressure today, competitively in the marketplace to respond to the expectations of the customer. The business is driving IT and the problem is that IT isn't responding fast enough," explained Mark Levy, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Serena Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 18, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 2,142
“The year of the cloud – we have no idea when it's really happening but we think it's happening now. For those technology providers like Zentera that are helping enterprises move to the cloud - it's been fun to watch," noted Mike Loftus, VP Product Management and Marketing at Zentera Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 17, 2014 09:00 PM EST Reads: 1,596
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
Dec. 17, 2014 06:30 PM EST Reads: 2,355
"Application monitoring and intelligence can smooth the path in a DevOps environment. In a DevOps environment you see constant change. If you are trying to monitor things in a constantly changing environment, you're going to spend a lot of your job fixing your monitoring," explained Todd Rader, Solutions Architect at AppDynamics, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 17, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 2,854
AppDynamics, the application intelligence leader for software-defined businesses, announced the general availability of the AppDynamics Fall '14 Release. Serving the combined needs of IT and business teams across the enterprise, the latest release provides a comprehensive view across all aspects of digital performance in ultra large scale deployments. AppDynamics delivers Application Intelligence by building out advanced capabilities across the key areas of analytics, unified monitoring and DevOps. The Fall '14 Release of the AppDynamics Application Intelligence platform introduces: powe...
Dec. 17, 2014 01:30 PM EST Reads: 1,411
In addition, Tesora adds the popular enterprise distribution from Mirantis to the Tesora OpenStack Database Certification Program ensuring compatibility with both NoSQL and SQL database management systems on Trove and eliminating the headache of enterprises having to test integration on their own. "We're providing Mirantis customers with the most production-ready OpenStack Trove implementation, saving the work and time necessary to ensure compatibility," said Ken Rugg, CEO of Tesora. "Working with Mirantis, we are realizing the potential of different technologies coming together as part of ...
Dec. 17, 2014 12:30 PM EST Reads: 1,448
Docker containerization is gaining rapid popularity with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) developers because of clear benefits such as simplified and continuous app delivery. Enterprise developers also want to leverage Docker for easy provisioning and efficient testing, but IT has unique needs that Docker does not solve out-of-the-box, such as security and access control, supporting heterogeneous infrastructure, apps and app stacks, backup and recovery, visibility and monitoring, and integration. However, if enterprise IT does not provide Docker, their developers will get Docker via public service...
Dec. 17, 2014 12:15 PM EST Reads: 1,302
“This win means a great deal to us because it is decided by the readers – the people who understand how use of our technology enables new insights that drive the business,” said Matt Davies, senior director, EMEA marketing, Splunk. “Splunk Enterprise enables organizations to improve service levels, reduce operations costs, mitigate security risks, enhance DevOps collaboration, create new product and service offerings and obtain deeper insight into customer behavior. Being named Best Business Application underlines the value Operational Intelligence delivers to our customers.”
Dec. 17, 2014 11:45 AM EST Reads: 1,192
"SOASTA built the concept of cloud testing in 2008. It's grown from rather meager beginnings to where now we are provisioning hundreds of thousands of servers on a daily basis on behalf of customers around the world to test their applications," explained Tom Lounibos, CEO of SOASTA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 17, 2014 11:30 AM EST Reads: 1,991
"We're providing Mirantis customers with the most production-ready OpenStack Trove implementation, saving the work and time necessary to ensure compatibility," said Ken Rugg, CEO of Tesora. "Working with Mirantis, we are realizing the potential of different technologies coming together as part of the OpenStack ecosystem, and giving enterprises the most complete and reliable OpenStack Trove available today." "We are seeing great interest in OpenStack as an enterprise private cloud platform, and database as a service with Trove is important to the project," said Boris Renski, chief marketing ...
Dec. 17, 2014 10:15 AM EST Reads: 1,029
SYS-CON Events announced today that Creative Business Solutions will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Creative Business Solutions is the top stocking authorized HP Renew Distributor in the U.S. Based out of Long Island, NY, Creative Business Solutions offers a one-stop shop for a diverse range of products including Proliant, Blade and Industry Standard Servers, Networking, Server Options and Care Packs. As a trusted supplier, CBS guarantees quality controlled stock levels thanks to an Auto...
Dec. 16, 2014 09:30 PM EST Reads: 1,885
“We are strong believers in the DevOps movement and our staff has been doing DevOps for large enterprise environments for a number of years. The solution that we build is intended to allow DevOps teams to do security at the speed of DevOps," explained Justin Lundy, Founder & CTO of Evident.io, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 16, 2014 06:00 PM EST Reads: 1,717