|By Lori MacVittie||
|October 16, 2009 09:00 AM EDT||
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:
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 typically 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.
load balancing,load balancer,application delivery,infrastructure 2.0,
dynamic infrastructure,integration,APIs,SOA,web services,acceleration,
Related blogs & articles:
- Cloud computing is not Burger King. You can’t have it your way. Yet.
- Ken’s Blog: Amazon ELB – Capturing Client IP Address
- Is Your Cloud Sticky? It should be.
- Using "X-Forwarded-For" in Apache or PHP
- Paradox: When Cloud Is Both the Wrong and the Right Solution
- Amazon Compliance Confession About Customers, Not Itself
- Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) Makes Internal Cloud bursting Reality
- Your Cloud is Not a Precious Snowflake (But it Could Be)
- Infrastructure 2.0 Is the Beginning of the Story, Not the End
- The Revolution Continues: Let Them Eat Cloud
Puppet Labs is pleased to share the findings from our 2015 State of DevOps Survey. We have deepened our understanding of how DevOps enables IT performance and organizational performance, based on responses from more than 20,000 technical professionals we’ve surveyed over the past four years. The 2015 State of DevOps Report reveals high-performing IT organizations deploy 30x more frequently with 200x shorter lead times. They have 60x fewer failures and recover 168x faster
Sep. 3, 2015 03:15 PM EDT
The 3rd International WebRTC Summit, to be held Nov. 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 15th International Cloud Expo, 6th International Big Data Expo, 3rd International DevOps Summit and 2nd Internet of @ThingsExpo. WebRTC (Web-based Real-Time Com...
Sep. 3, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,599
SYS-CON Events announced today that DataClear Inc. 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. The DataClear ‘BlackBox’ is the only solution that moves your PC, browsing and data out of the United States and away from prying (and spying) eyes. Its solution automatically builds you a clean, on-demand, virus free, new virtual cloud based PC outside of the United States, and wipes it clean...
Sep. 3, 2015 02:45 PM EDT Reads: 475
In 2014, the market witnessed a massive migration to the cloud as enterprises finally overcame their fears of the cloud’s viability, security, etc. Over the past 18 months, AWS, Google and Microsoft have waged an ongoing battle through a wave of price cuts and new features. For IT executives, sorting through all the noise to make the best cloud investment decisions has become daunting. Enterprises can and are moving away from a "one size fits all" cloud approach. The new competitive field has ...
Sep. 3, 2015 02:45 PM EDT Reads: 169
As more and more data is generated from a variety of connected devices, the need to get insights from this data and predict future behavior and trends is increasingly essential for businesses. Real-time stream processing is needed in a variety of different industries such as Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Automobile, Finance, Online Retail, Smart Grids, and Healthcare. Azure Stream Analytics is a fully managed distributed stream computation service that provides low latency, scalable processing of ...
Sep. 3, 2015 02:45 PM EDT Reads: 382
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 IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo, November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and e...
Sep. 3, 2015 02:30 PM EDT
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.
Sep. 3, 2015 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 961
With the proliferation of connected devices underpinning new Internet of Things systems, Brandon Schulz, Director of Luxoft IoT – Retail, will be looking at the transformation of the retail customer experience in brick and mortar stores in his session at @ThingsExpo. Questions he will address include: Will beacons drop to the wayside like QR codes, or be a proximity-based profit driver? How will the customer experience change in stores of all types when everything can be instrumented and a...
Sep. 3, 2015 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 509
Introducing Containers & Microservices Bootcamp at @CloudExpo Silicon Valley | #Containers #Microservices
SYS-CON Events announced today the Containers & Microservices Bootcamp, being held November 3-4, 2015, in conjunction with 17th Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, and @DevOpsSummit at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. This is your chance to get started with the latest technology in the industry. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Containers and Microservices Bootcamp, led by Janakiram MSV, a Microsoft Regional Director, will include presentations as well as hands-on...
Sep. 3, 2015 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 413
Containers are not new, but renewed commitments to performance, flexibility, and agility have propelled them to the top of the agenda today. By working without the need for virtualization and its overhead, containers are seen as the perfect way to deploy apps and services across multiple clouds. Containers can handle anything from file types to operating systems and services, including microservices. What are microservices? Unlike what the name implies, microservices are not necessarily small,...
Sep. 3, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 132
Moving an existing on-premise infrastructure into the cloud can be a complex and daunting proposition. It is critical to understand the benefits as well as the challenges associated with either a full or hybrid approach. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Richard Weiss, Principal Consultant at Pythian, will present a roadmap that can be leveraged by any organization to plan, analyze, evaluate and execute on a cloud migration solution. He will review the five major cloud transformation phases a...
Sep. 3, 2015 01:45 PM EDT
Amazon and Google have built software-defined data centers (SDDCs) that deliver massively scalable services with great efficiency. Yet, building SDDCs has proven to be a near impossibility for ‘normal’ companies without hyper-scale resources. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, David Cauthron, founder and chief executive officer of Nimboxx, will discuss the evolution of virtualization (hardware, application, memory, storage) and how commodity / open source hyper converged infrastructure (HCI) so...
Sep. 3, 2015 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 139
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies leverage disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advance...
Sep. 3, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 367
In today's digital world, change is the one constant. Disruptive innovations like cloud, mobility, social media, and the Internet of Things have reshaped the market and set new standards in customer expectations. To remain competitive, businesses must tap the potential of emerging technologies and markets through the rapid release of new products and services. However, the rigid and siloed structures of traditional IT platforms and processes are slowing them down – resulting in lengthy delivery ...
Sep. 3, 2015 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 635
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lee Williams, a producer of the first smartphones and tablets, will talk about how he is now applying his experience in mobile technology to the design and development of the next generation of Environmental and Sustainability Services at ETwater. He will explain how M2M controllers work through wirelessly connected remote controls; and specifically delve into a retrofit option that reverse-engineers control codes of existing conventional controller systems so the...
Sep. 3, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 250
The web app is agile. The REST API is agile. The testing and planning are agile. But alas, data infrastructures certainly are not. Once an application matures, changing the shape or indexing scheme of data often forces at best a top down planning exercise and at worst includes schema changes that force downtime. The time has come for a new approach that fundamentally advances the agility of distributed data infrastructures. Come learn about a new solution to the problems faced by software organ...
Sep. 3, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 135
U.S. companies are desperately trying to recruit and hire skilled software engineers and developers, but there is simply not enough quality talent to go around. Tiempo Development is a nearshore software development company. Our headquarters are in AZ, but we are a pioneer and leader in outsourcing to Mexico, based on our three software development centers there. We have a proven process and we are experts at providing our customers with powerful solutions. We transform ideas into reality.
Sep. 3, 2015 10:45 AM EDT Reads: 572
Advances in technology and ubiquitous connectivity have made the utilization of a dispersed workforce more common. Whether that remote team is located across the street or country, management styles/ approaches will have to be adjusted to accommodate this new dynamic. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Sagi Brody, Chief Technology Officer at Webair Internet Development Inc., will focus on the challenges of managing remote teams, providing real-world examples that demonstrate what works and what...
Sep. 3, 2015 10:15 AM EDT Reads: 123
Any Ops team trying to support a company in today’s cloud-connected world knows that a new way of thinking is required – one just as dramatic than the shift from Ops to DevOps. The diversity of modern operations requires teams to focus their impact on breadth vs. depth. In his session at DevOps Summit, Adam Serediuk, Director of Operations at xMatters, Inc., will discuss the strategic requirements of evolving from Ops to DevOps, and why modern Operations has begun leveraging the “NoOps” approa...
Sep. 3, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 453
SYS-CON Events announced today that Micron Technology, Inc., a global leader in advanced semiconductor systems, 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. Micron’s broad portfolio of high-performance memory technologies – including DRAM, NAND and NOR Flash – is the basis for solid state drives, modules, multichip packages and other system solutions. Backed by more than 35 years of tech...
Sep. 3, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 281