|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
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
Nov. 29, 2015 08:45 AM EST Reads: 205
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now ...
Nov. 29, 2015 08:00 AM EST Reads: 261
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
Nov. 29, 2015 06:00 AM EST Reads: 551
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Nov. 29, 2015 06:00 AM EST Reads: 372
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem"...
Nov. 29, 2015 05:00 AM EST Reads: 459
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound...
Nov. 29, 2015 04:30 AM EST Reads: 483
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, San...
Nov. 29, 2015 03:00 AM EST Reads: 595
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user e...
Nov. 29, 2015 02:45 AM EST Reads: 422
In today's enterprise, digital transformation represents organizational change even more so than technology change, as customer preferences and behavior drive end-to-end transformation across lines of business as well as IT. To capitalize on the ubiquitous disruption driving this transformation, companies must be able to innovate at an increasingly rapid pace. Traditional approaches for driving innovation are now woefully inadequate for keeping up with the breadth of disruption and change facin...
Nov. 29, 2015 02:30 AM EST Reads: 500
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
Nov. 29, 2015 01:00 AM EST Reads: 436
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical...
Nov. 28, 2015 08:00 PM EST Reads: 435
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
Nov. 28, 2015 01:00 PM EST Reads: 479
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
Nov. 28, 2015 12:00 PM EST Reads: 342
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty ...
Nov. 28, 2015 12:00 PM EST Reads: 556
In his General Session at DevOps Summit, Asaf Yigal, Co-Founder & VP of Product at Logz.io, explored the value of Kibana 4 for log analysis and provided a hands-on tutorial on how to set up Kibana 4 and get the most out of Apache log files. He examined three use cases: IT operations, business intelligence, and security and compliance. Asaf Yigal is co-founder and VP of Product at log analytics software company Logz.io. In the past, he was co-founder of social-trading platform Currensee, which...
Nov. 28, 2015 12:00 PM EST Reads: 235
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Su...
Nov. 28, 2015 11:45 AM EST Reads: 410
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningf...
Nov. 28, 2015 11:15 AM EST Reads: 417
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
Nov. 28, 2015 11:00 AM EST Reads: 517
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
Nov. 28, 2015 10:30 AM EST Reads: 319
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new da...
Nov. 28, 2015 10:15 AM EST Reads: 264