Click here to close now.


@CloudExpo Authors: Anders Wallgren, Automic Blog, Dana Gardner, Liz McMillan, Greg O'Connor

Related Topics: @CloudExpo

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

Amazon Makes the Cloud Sticky

Stateless applications may be the long term answer to scalability of applications in the cloud

Stateless applications may be the long term answer to scalability of applications in the cloud, but until then, we need a solution like sticky sessions (persistence)

Amazon recently introduced “stickiness” to its ELB (Elastic Load Balancing) offering. I’ve written a bit about “stickiness”, a.k.a. what we’ve called persistence for oh, nearly ten years now, before so I won’t reiterate again but to say, “it’s about time.” A description of why sticky sessions is necessary was offered in the AWS blog announcing the new feature:

blockquote Up until now each Load balancer had the freedom to forward each incoming HTTP or TCP request to any of the EC2 instances under its purview. This resulted in a reasonably even load on each instance, but it also meant that each instance would have to retrieve, manipulate, and store session data for each request without any possible benefit from locality of reference.

-- New Elastic Load Balancing Feature: Sticky Sessions

What the author is really trying to say is that without “sticky sessions” ELB breaks applications because it does not honor state. Remember that most web applications today rely upon state (session) to store quite a bit of application and user specific data that’s necessary for the application to behave properly. When a load balancer distributes requests across instances without consideration for where that state (session) is stored, the application behavior can become erratic and unpredictable. Hence the need for “stickiness”.


In addition to web applications relying heavily on state, so too do the APIs used to integrate them with each other and with other Web 2.0 applications like Twitter and Facebook and <insert favorite app here>. So called “REST” APIs today aren’t really REST. We know that. They’re RESTful but they aren’t truly REST according to the definition laid down primarily because they aren’t stateless. It turns out state and application development is not just a concern of application architects and developers these days, but of infrastructure vendors, pundits, analysts, and anyone interested in the evolution of cloud computing and a truly distributed, portable model of application deployment and delivery.

State is, to sum up the viewpoint, a sticking point.

blockquote_thumb1 As I see it there are two major types of workloads that a organisation is going to want to run on an external Cloud. The new breed which are built for the new Cloud model. These will scale out, be light weight, stateless and fit perfectly with a consumption based model. Run a few small VM's, with low RAM and CPU consumption, as demand increases the application dynamically scales itself out to meet demand, whether that be user generated or application generated, such as a month end processing run. -- Rodney Haywood: The Granularity of On-Demand Cloud - Today vs Tomorrow

Stateless. It was something we heard sprinkled throughout conversations at CloudConnect, as well. The best “workload” to run in a cloud is a “stateless” web application. Developers have to change the way they develop applications – they must go stateless. Portability requires (read: would be easier to implement) if applications were stateless.

That’s easy to say but a lot more difficult to implement.


The first greatest and most useful hack involving the web was enabling state for HTTP. Prior to the advent of sessions and state, the web was pretty much like interacting with a technicolor mainframe application. Folks even referred to “pages” as “screens”, in reference to the way in which one statically walked through big iron applications in a very linear and image uncompromising fashion. Made a mistake? Not acceptable. “Back” and “previous” were foreign concepts. You had to effectively start over and change the existing transaction, which had likely already been committed to the database (assuming there was one). Sessions provided the ability to allow for mistakes and to allow better navigation options within an application. That’s because the transaction wasn’t committed to the database until the user was ready. Data entered in “step 1” could be modified after “step 4” with little effort on the part of the developer. AJAX has made this even easier, as it makes editing data after the fact (or during the process) able to directly transact with the database on a very granular, i.e. field or column, level basis.

Now, if developers chose to do so, they could certainly employ the ability of web and application servers to leverage a shared session database to remove this sometimes onerous requirement. This would certainly free the infrastructure from needing to worry about persisting connections and make scalable architectures simpler to implement, but it would not make the application stateless. We’d just be moving where the “state” is stored from the web/application server to a database. But that, REST purists would argue, is still not a “stateless” application programming model, which most decidedly states that all “session” data (i.e. state) should be stored on the client. Not in cookies, either, but in the client – as in enclosed in forms or query parameters or in JavaScript object models. From a performance perspective this is not optimal, either, as a “shared” session architecture necessarily requires a heavier load on the data store in which the session is stored. For every request the “state” must be retrieved, which in a cloud computing environment may incur bandwidth utilization and session database instance/row/<insert billing model here> charges.

Storing all state on the client would have an impact on just about the entire infrastructure stack and would also likely negatively impact many mobile applications, an increasingly popular client model that should not be ignored in decisions regarding the amount of data being exchanged between client and server.

Thus it is that “stateless” applications are unlikely to become the norm for some time (if ever). State is a necessary “evil”, though it’s “evilness” is certainly, like beauty, in the eye of the developer. Assuming that stateful applications remain the norm in the cloud means that load balancing services in those clouds must necessarily support the notion of persistence (stickiness) to ensure applications don’t break upon deployment. This also results in making it easier for organizations to migrate non-native “cloud” applications to EC2, because there’s no requirement that the application be rewritten in order to run properly (taking into consideration state/session) in a scalable environment.

Thus, Amazon introducing “sticky sessions” to ELB is a Very Good Thing.

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
In his General Session at DevOps Summit, Asaf Yigal, Co-Founder & VP of Product at, 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 In the past, he was co-founder of social-trading platform Currensee, which...
The revocation of Safe Harbor has radically affected data sovereignty strategy in the cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Jeff Miller, Product Management at Cavirin Systems, discussed how to assess these changes across your own cloud strategy, and how you can mitigate risks previously covered under the agreement.
Countless business models have spawned from the IaaS industry – resell Web hosting, blogs, public cloud, and on and on. With the overwhelming amount of tools available to us, it's sometimes easy to overlook that many of them are just new skins of resources we've had for a long time. In his general session at 17th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, an IBM Company, broke down what we have to work with, discussed the benefits and pitfalls and how we can best use them ...
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.
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...
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.
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...
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...
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).
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).
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...
In recent years, at least 40% of companies using cloud applications have experienced data loss. One of the best prevention against cloud data loss is backing up your cloud data. In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Sam McIntyre, Partner Enablement Specialist at eFolder, presented how organizations can use eFolder Cloudfinder to automate backups of cloud application data. He also demonstrated how easy it is to search and restore cloud application data using Cloudfinder.
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and t...
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 ...
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 ...
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"...
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.
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...
As organizations shift towards IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing & protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. CommVault can ensure protection & E-Discovery of your data - whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise.
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...