Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Jayaram Krishnaswamy, Yeshim Deniz, Carmen Gonzalez, Roger Strukhoff, Louis Evans

Related Topics: Virtualization, Microservices Journal, Cloud Expo

Virtualization: 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
Public Cloud IaaS started it's 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 ado...
While DevOps most critically and famously fosters collaboration, communication, and integration through cultural change, culture is more of an output than an input. In order to actively drive cultural evolution, organizations must make substantial organizational and process changes, and adopt new technologies, to encourage a DevOps culture. Moderated by Andi Mann, panelists will discuss how to balance these three pillars of DevOps, where to focus attention (and resources), where organizations m...
ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure for IaaS, today announced the release of a Node.js SDK written against its recently launched REST API. This new JavaScript based library provides coverage for all existing ProfitBricks REST API functions. With additional libraries set to release this month, ProfitBricks continues to prove its dedication to the DevOps community and commitment to making cloud migrations and cloud management painless. Node.js is an open source, cross-pl...
In this session we look at creating interactive communications via the web by adding messaging, file transfer, and group communication (group chat and audio/video conferencing) into the web experience. We will also discuss potential applications of this technology in areas including B2B, B2C, P2P, and gaming. Peter is Technical Director at Acision. He graduated from The University of Edinburgh in 2000 with a BSc (Hons) in Computer Science. After graduation Peter worked on a PSTN switch dev...
Many of the well-known examples of DevOps success we read in blogs on the Internet paint an idyllic picture of DevOps productivity. A team was facing a stodgy, slow-moving operations department, teams weren’t delivering software on time. Those teams moved to DevOps, became proactive about infrastructure and deployment automation, and an overnight transition to productivity ensues. People are promoted, projects are successful, and developers and system administrators dance hand-in-hand in a final...
SYS-CON Events announced today the IoT Bootcamp – Jumpstart Your IoT Strategy, being held June 9–10, 2015, in conjunction with 16th Cloud Expo and Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Javits Center in New York City. This is your chance to jumpstart your IoT strategy. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but includes hands-on demos and walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of Do-It-Yourself IoT platforms including Arduino, Ras...
Health care systems across the globe are under enormous strain, as facilities reach capacity and costs continue to rise. M2M and the Internet of Things have the potential to transform the industry through connected health solutions that can make care more efficient while reducing costs. In fact, Vodafone's annual M2M Barometer Report forecasts M2M applications rising to 57 percent in health care and life sciences by 2016. Lively is one of Vodafone's health care partners, whose solutions enable o...
SYS-CON Events announced today the DevOps Foundation Certification Course, being held June ?, 2015, in conjunction with DevOps Summit and 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. This sixteen (16) hour course provides an introduction to DevOps – the cultural and professional movement that stresses communication, collaboration, integration and automation in order to improve the flow of work between software developers and IT operations professionals. Improved workflows will res...
Dave will share his insights on how Internet of Things for Enterprises are transforming and making more productive and efficient operations and maintenance (O&M) procedures in the cleantech industry and beyond. Speaker Bio: Dave Landa is chief operating officer of Cybozu Corp (kintone US). Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dave has been on the forefront of the Cloud revolution driving strategic business development on the executive teams of multiple leading Software as a Services (SaaS) ap...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vicom Computer Services, Inc., a provider of technology and service 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. They are located at booth #427. Vicom Computer Services, Inc. is a progressive leader in the technology industry for over 30 years. Headquartered in the NY Metropolitan area. Vicom provides products and services based on today’s requirements...
SOASTA, the leader in performance analytics, today reported record growth of the CloudTest community, exceeding 30,000 registered users of the CloudTest platform in Q1 2015. SOASTA also announced widespread adoption of its Web and mobile testing solutions, with more than 1,600 customers completing more than 285,000 tests using CloudTest during the quarter. This rapid growth shows that DevOps-driven digital businesses are embracing a more continuous approach to testing, and CloudTest is meeting t...
SYS-CON Media announced today that John Treadway’s blog has exceeded 475,000 page views. John Treadway, Vice President at Cloud Technology Partners, has surpassed 475,000 page views on the SYS-CON family of online magazines, which includes Cloud Computing Journal, Internet of Things Journal, Big Data Journal, Microservices Journal, and several others. His blog home page at SYS-CON can be found at JohnTreadway.SYS-CON.com.
ProfitBricks has launched its new DevOps Central and REST API, along with support for three multi-cloud libraries and a Python SDK. This, combined with its already existing SOAP API and its new RESTful API, moves ProfitBricks into a position to better serve the DevOps community and provide the ability to automate cloud infrastructure in a multi-cloud world. Following this momentum, ProfitBricks has also introduced several libraries that enable developers to use their favorite language to code ...
What exactly is a cognitive application? In her session at 16th Cloud Expo, Ashley Hathaway, Product Manager at IBM Watson, will look at the services being offered by the IBM Watson Developer Cloud and what that means for developers and Big Data. She'll explore how IBM Watson and its partnerships will continue to grow and help define what it means to be a cognitive service, as well as take a look at the offerings on Bluemix. She will also check out how Watson and the Alchemy API team up to off...
The IoT Bootcamp is coming to Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo on June 9-10 at the Javits Center in New York. Instructor. Registration is now available at http://iotbootcamp.sys-con.com/ Instructor Janakiram MSV previously taught the famously successful Multi-Cloud Bootcamp at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo in November in Santa Clara. Now he is expanding the focus to Janakiram is the founder and CTO of Get Cloud Ready Consulting, a niche Cloud Migration and Cloud Operations firm that recently got acquir...
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding bu...
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In 2015, 4.9 billion connected "things" will be in use. By 2020, Gartner forecasts this amount to be 25 billion, a 410 percent increase in just five years. How will businesses handle this rapid growth of data? Hadoop will continue to improve its technology to meet business demands, by enabling businesses to access/analyze data in real time, when and where they need it. Cloudera's Chief Technologist, Eli Collins, will discuss how Big Data is keeping up with today's data demands and how in t...
The best mobile applications are augmented by dedicated servers, the Internet and Cloud services. Mobile developers should focus on one thing: writing the next socially disruptive viral app. Thanks to the cloud, they can focus on the overall solution, not the underlying plumbing. From iOS to Android and Windows, developers can leverage cloud services to create a common cross-platform backend to persist user settings, app data, broadcast notifications, run jobs, etc. This session provide...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ciqada will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Ciqada™ makes it easy to connect your products to the Internet. By integrating key components - hardware, servers, dashboards, and mobile apps - into an easy-to-use, configurable system, your products can quickly and securely join the internet of things. With remote monitoring, control, and alert messaging capability, you will mee...