Click here to close now.




















Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Don MacVittie, Mike Kavis, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Jim Taylor

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, Microservices Expo, @CloudExpo

Containers Expo Blog: Blog Feed Post

Amazon Elastic Load Balancing Only Simple On the Outside

Amazon’s ELB is an exciting mix of well-executed infrastructure 2.0 and the proper application of SOA, but it takes a lot

The notion of Elastic Load Balancing, as recently brought to public attention by Amazon’s offering of the capability, is nothing new. The basic concept is pure Infrastructure 2.0 and the functionality offered via the API has long been available on several application delivery controllers for many years. In fact, looking through the options for Amazon’s offering leaves me feeling a bit, oh, 1999. As if load balancing hasn’t evolved far beyond the very limited subset of capabilities exposed by Amazon’s API.

That said, that’s just the view from the outside.

Though Amazon’s ELB might be rudimentary in what it exposes to the public it is certainly anything but primitive in its use of SOA and as a prime example of the power of Infrastructure 2.0. In fact, with the exception of GoGrid’s integrated load balancing capabilities, provisioned and managed via a web-based interface, there aren’t many good, public examples of Infrastructure 2.0 in action. Not only has Amazon leveraged Infrastructure 2.0 concepts with its implementation but it has further taken advantage of SOA in the way it was meant to be used.

NOTE: What follows is just my personal analysis, I don’t have any especial knowledge about what really lies beneath Amazon’s external interfaces. The diagram is a visual interpretation of what I’ve deduced seems likely in terms of the interactions with ELB given my experience with application delivery and the information available from Amazon and should be read with that in mind.

 


WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?


When I say Amazon has utilized SOA in a way that it was meant to be used I mean that their ELB “API” isn’t just a collection of Web Services, or POWS, wrapped around some other API. It’s actually a well-thought out and designed set of interfaces that describe tasks associated with load balancing and not individual product calls. For example, if you take a look at the ELB WSDL you can see a set of operations that describe tasks, not management or configuration options, such as:

 

  • CreateLoadBalancer
  • DeleteLoadBalancer
  • RegisterInstancesWithLoadBalancer
  • DeregisterInstancesFromLoadBalancer

To understand why these are so significant and most certainly represent tasks and not individual operations you have to understand how a load balancer is imagetypically configured, and how the individual configuration components fit together. Saying “DeleteLoadBalancer” is a lot easier than what really has to occur under the covers. Believe me, it’s not as easy as a single API call to any load balancing solution. There’s a lot of relationships inherent in a load balancing configuration between the virtual server/IP address and the (pools|farms|clusters) and individual nodes, a.k.a. instance in Amazon-speak. Yet if you take a look at the parameters required to “register instances” with the load balancer, you’ll see only a list of instance ids and a load balancer name. All must be configured, but the APIs make this process appear almost magical.

The terminology used here indicates (to me at least) an abstraction which means these operations are not communicating directly with a physical (or even virtual) device but rather are being sent to a management or orchestration system that in turn relays the appropriate API calls to the underlying load balancing infrastructure.

The abstraction here appears to be pure SOA and it is, if you don’t mind my saying, a beautiful thing. Amazon has abstracted the actual physical implementation of not only the management or orchestration system, but also decoupled (as is proper) the physical infrastructure implementation from the services being provided. There is a clear separation of service from implementation, which allows for Amazon to be using product X or Y, hardware or software, virtual or concrete, and even one or more vendor solutions at the same time without the service consumer being aware of what that implementation may be.

The current offering appears to be pure layer 4 load balancing which is a good place to start, but lacks the robustness of a full layer 7 capable solution and eventually Amazon will need to address some of the challenges associated with load balancing stateful applications for its customers; challenges that are typically addressed by the use of persistence, cookies, and URI rewriting type functionality. Some of this type of functionality appears built-in, but is not well-documented by Amazon.

For example, the forwarding of client-IP addresses is a common challenge with load-balanced applications, and is often solved by using the HTTP custom header: X-Forwarded-For. Ken Weiner addresses this is a blog post, indicating Amazon is indeed using common conventions to retain the client IP address and forward it to the instances being load balanced. It may be the case that more layer 7 specific functionality is exposed than it appears, but is simply not as well documented. If the underlying implementation is capable – and it appears to be given the way ELB addresses client IP address preservation - it is a pretty good bet that Amazon will be able to address other challenges with relative ease given the foundation they’ve already built.

That’s agility; that’s Infrastructure 2.0 and SOA. Can you tell I’m excited about this? I thought you might.

This gives Amazon some pretty powerful options as it could switch out physical implementations with relative ease, as it so desires/needs, with virtually (sorry) no interruption to consumer services. Coupling this nearly perfect application of SOA with Infrastructure 2.0 results in an agility that is often mentioned as a benefit but rarely actually seen in the wild.

 


THIS IS INFRASTRUCTURE 2.0 IN ACTION


This is a great example of the power of Infrastructure 2.0. Not only is the infrastructure automated and remotely configured by the consumer, but it is integrated with other Amazon services such as CloudWatch (monitoring/management) and Auto Scaling. The level of sophistication under the hood of this architecture is cleverly hidden by the simplicity and elegance of the overlying SOA-based control plane which encompasses all aspects of the infrastructure necessary to deliver the application and ensure availability.

 

Several people have been trying to figure out what, exactly, is providing the load balancing under the covers for Amazon. Is it a virtual appliance version of an existing application delivery controller? Is it a hardware implementation? Is it a proprietary, custom-built solution from Amazon’s own developers? The reality is that you could insert just about any Infrastructure 2.0 capable application delivery controller or load balancer into the “?” spot on the diagram above and achieve the same results as Amazon. Provided, of course, you were willing to put the same amount of effort into the design and integration as has obviously been put into ELB.

While it would certainly be interesting to know for sure, the answer to that question is overridden in my mind by a bigger one: what other capabilities does the physical implementation have and will they, too, surface in yet another service offering from Amazon? If the solution has other features and functionality, might they, too, be exposed over time in what will slowly become the Cloud Menu from which customers can build a robust infrastructure comprising more than just simple application delivery? Might it grow to provide security, acceleration, and other application delivery-related services, too?

If the underlying solution is Infrastructure 2.0 capable – and it certainly appears to be - then the feasibility of such service offerings is more likely than not.

Follow me on TwitterView Lori's profile on SlideShare friendfeedicon_facebook AddThis Feed Button Bookmark and Share

Related blogs & articles:

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
There are many considerations when moving applications from on-premise to cloud. It is critical to understand the benefits and also challenges of this migration. A successful migration will result in lower Total Cost of Ownership, yet offer the same or higher level of robustness. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Michael Meiner, an Engineering Director at Oracle, Corporation, analyzed a range of cloud offerings (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) and discussed the benefits/challenges of migrating to each offe...
Mobile, social, Big Data, and cloud have fundamentally changed the way we live. “Anytime, anywhere” access to data and information is no longer a luxury; it’s a requirement, in both our personal and professional lives. For IT organizations, this means pressure has never been greater to deliver meaningful services to the business and customers.
Container technology is sending shock waves through the world of cloud computing. Heralded as the 'next big thing,' containers provide software owners a consistent way to package their software and dependencies while infrastructure operators benefit from a standard way to deploy and run them. Containers present new challenges for tracking usage due to their dynamic nature. They can also be deployed to bare metal, virtual machines and various cloud platforms. How do software owners track the usag...
"We've just seen a huge influx of new partners coming into our ecosystem, and partners building unique offerings on top of our API set," explained Seth Bostock, Chief Executive Officer at IndependenceIT, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Digital Transformation is the ultimate goal of cloud computing and related initiatives. The phrase is certainly not a precise one, and as subject to hand-waving and distortion as any high-falutin' terminology in the world of information technology. Yet it is an excellent choice of words to describe what enterprise IT—and by extension, organizations in general—should be working to achieve. Digital Transformation means: handling all the data types being found and created in the organizat...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Chuck Piluso presented a study of cloud adoption trends and the power and flexibility of IBM Power and Pureflex cloud solutions. Prior to Secure Infrastructure and Services, Mr. Piluso founded North American Telecommunication Corporation, a facilities-based Competitive Local Exchange Carrier licensed by the Public Service Commission in 10 states, serving as the company's chairman and president from 1997 to 2000. Between 1990 and 1997, Mr. Piluso served as chairman & founder of International Te...
The Software Defined Data Center (SDDC), which enables organizations to seamlessly run in a hybrid cloud model (public + private cloud), is here to stay. IDC estimates that the software-defined networking market will be valued at $3.7 billion by 2016. Security is a key component and benefit of the SDDC, and offers an opportunity to build security 'from the ground up' and weave it into the environment from day one. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Reuven Harrison, CTO and Co-Founder of Tufin,...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a software development company, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software development company with representative offices in Atlanta (US), Sheffield (UK) and Würzburg (Germany); and development centers in Ukraine. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business managers to a full-scale mobi...
With SaaS use rampant across organizations, how can IT departments track company data and maintain security? More and more departments are commissioning their own solutions and bypassing IT. A cloud environment is amorphous and powerful, allowing you to set up solutions for all of your user needs: document sharing and collaboration, mobile access, e-mail, even industry-specific applications. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Shawn Mills, President and a founder of Green House Data, discussed h...
One of the hottest areas in cloud right now is DRaaS and related offerings. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Dale Levesque, Disaster Recovery Product Manager with Windstream's Cloud and Data Center Marketing team, will discuss the benefits of the cloud model, which far outweigh the traditional approach, and how enterprises need to ensure that their needs are properly being met.
In their session at 17th Cloud Expo, Hal Schwartz, CEO of Secure Infrastructure & Services (SIAS), and Chuck Paolillo, CTO of Secure Infrastructure & Services (SIAS), provide a study of cloud adoption trends and the power and flexibility of IBM Power and Pureflex cloud solutions. In his role as CEO of Secure Infrastructure & Services (SIAS), Hal Schwartz provides leadership and direction for the company.
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Arch...
Malicious agents are moving faster than the speed of business. Even more worrisome, most companies are relying on legacy approaches to security that are no longer capable of meeting current threats. In the modern cloud, threat diversity is rapidly expanding, necessitating more sophisticated security protocols than those used in the past or in desktop environments. Yet companies are falling for cloud security myths that were truths at one time but have evolved out of existence.
Public Cloud IaaS started its life in the developer and startup communities and has grown rapidly to a $20B+ industry, but it still pales in comparison to how much is spent worldwide on IT: $3.6 trillion. In fact, there are 8.6 million data centers worldwide, the reality is many small and medium sized business have server closets and colocation footprints filled with servers and storage gear. While on-premise environment virtualization may have peaked at 75%, the Public Cloud has lagged in adop...
The time is ripe for high speed resilient software defined storage solutions with unlimited scalability. ISS has been working with the leading open source projects and developed a commercial high performance solution that is able to grow forever without performance limitations. In his session at Cloud Expo, Alex Gorbachev, President of Intelligent Systems Services Inc., shared foundation principles of Ceph architecture, as well as the design to deliver this storage to traditional SAN storage co...
MuleSoft has announced the findings of its 2015 Connectivity Benchmark Report on the adoption and business impact of APIs. The findings suggest traditional businesses are quickly evolving into "composable enterprises" built out of hundreds of connected software services, applications and devices. Most are embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) and microservices technologies like Docker. A majority are integrating wearables, like smart watches, and more than half plan to generate revenue with ...
The Cloud industry has moved from being more than just being able to provide infrastructure and management services on the Cloud. Enter a new era of Cloud computing where monetization’s services through the Cloud are an essential piece of strategy to feed your organizations bottom-line, your revenue and Profitability. In their session at 16th Cloud Expo, Ermanno Bonifazi, CEO & Founder of Solgenia, and Ian Khan, Global Strategic Positioning & Brand Manager at Solgenia, discussed how to easily o...
The speed of software changes in growing and large scale rapid-paced DevOps environments presents a challenge for continuous testing. Many organizations struggle to get this right. Practices that work for small scale continuous testing may not be sufficient as the requirements grow. In his session at DevOps Summit, Marc Hornbeek, Sr. Solutions Architect of DevOps continuous test solutions at Spirent Communications, explained the best practices of continuous testing at high scale, which is rele...