Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Steve Latham, William Schmarzo, Liz McMillan, Rishi Bhargava

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

Load Balancing in a Cloud

How should auto-scaling work, and why doesn’t it?

Although “rapid elasticity” is part of NIST’s definition of cloud computing, it may be interesting to note that many cloud computing environments don’t include this capability at all – or charge you extra for it. Many providers offer the means by which you can configure a load balancing service and manually add or remove instances, but there may not be a way to automate that process. If it’s manual, it’s certain “rapid” in the sense that’s it’s probably faster than you can do it (because you’d have to acquire hardware and deploy the application, as opposed to simply hitting a button and “cloning” the environment ‘out there’) but it’s not necessarily as fast as it could be (because it’s manual) nor is it automated. There’s a number of reasons for that – but we’ll get to that later. First, let’s look at how auto-scaling is supposed to work, at least theoretically.

image

1. Some external entity that is monitoring capacity for “Application A” triggers an event that indicates a new instance is required to maintain availability. This external entity could be an APM solution, the cloud management console, or a custom developed application. How it determines capacity limitations is variable and might be based solely on VM status (via VMware APIs), data received from the load balancer, or a combination thereof.

2. A new instance is launched. This is accomplished via the cloud management console or an external API as part of a larger workflow/orchestration.

3. The external entity grabs the IP address of the newly launched instance and instructs the load balancer to add it to the pool for resources for “Application A.” This is accomplished via the standards-based API which presents the configuration and management control plane of the load balancer to external consumers as services.

4. The load balancer adds the new application instance to the appropriate pool and as soon as it has confirmation that the instance is available and responding to requests, begins to direct traffic to the instance.

This process is easily reversed upon termination of an instance. Note: there are other infrastructure components that are involved in this process that must also be notified on launch and decommission, but for this discussion we’re just looking at the load balancing piece as it’s critical to the concept of auto-scaling.

The important thing to note here is that the process for adding – and subsequently using – the new application instance to the load balancer should be automatic. Once the instance is  launched, all that remains is to inform the load balancer that a new instance is available. The load balancer should take care of the rest, and it should do so transparently. That means no interruption of service, no reboot, no reload the configuration, nothing. Similarly the termination and removal of the application instance from the pool of resources should be as seamless and non-disruptive. It does not matter whether the load balancing solution is hardware or a VNA (Virtual Network Appliance) as long as it has an API through which available resources can be added and removed on-demand.

This process is relatively straightforward and can even be accomplished without the “external entity” by directly integrating the application with the load balancing service. By hooking the appropriate setup and tear-down routines in imagethe application, the load balancer can be automatically instructed to perform the appropriate actions whenever an instance of that application is launched or terminated.

1. Application is initialized and instructs load balancer to add it to the appropriate resource pool.

2. Load balancer adds the application instance to the right pool of resources and begins directing traffic to it as configured.

3. Application is terminating, instructs load balancer to remove it from the available resource pool.

4. Load balancer removes the application instance from pool of resources.

This requires tighter coupling of the load balancer with the application, however, which may be less than ideal unless you are very tied to your load balancing solution. The advantage of this solution is that regardless of whether the application is “physical” or “virtual”, the same process occurs, which lets you mix and match and be a lot more flexible in your architecture.


WHY is THIS so HARD THEN?

It’s not, if the load balancer has an API. Herein lies the problem: building out an automated, dynamic infrastructure requires the ability to communicate, to collaborate, to integrate network and application network infrastructure with the data center management system. That means some sort of API is required. Oh, you could do it with a little SSH and a local script, but that’s not nearly as efficient or flexible as using an API that’s designed to be leveraged for integration and automation in the first place.

While just about every hardware load balancer (and their virtualized equivalents) is enabled with a standards-based control plane, most web-server-turned-rudimentary-load-balancers  are not enabled with an API that allows this level of integration. That means hacking the system with scripts that inject or remove configurations, forcing reloading of the configuration (or worse, stopping and starting the system) and most likely interrupting service. Not only does it mean hacking the system but the scripts must somehow pull from customer-specific meta-data information in order to properly configure the load balancing solution.

 

 

So in order to achieve this in a way that maintains availability and is easy to use and essentially a multi-tenant solution needs the services of an API. When it comes to integration there are few options and the most flexible method is to use a standards-based API to manage a solution that supports the notion of multi-tenant configuration natively. The problem is, of course, that most of the API-enabled (and therefore easy to integrate and automate) load balancers cost money. It requires an investment, up front, and many folks just aren’t willing to do that. Except they are doing that; they’re just trading capital expenses for longer-term development of scripts and research that approximate (but never quite reach the reliability) of an API that’s been specifically developed, tested, and deployed for the purpose of integrating with external management systems and scripts. What’s worse is that eventually most of these solutions developed on sweat and scripts will end up turning to a more sophisticated, proven API-based solution anyway because of the inherent challenges associated with scalability of the solution itself. That results in a financially inefficient way to go about building a dynamic infrastructure that supports rapid, elastic scalability.

So many organizations faced with the choice of investing in a more robust, flexible solution when they’ve already sunk a lot of time, effort, and money into their existing “free” solution, simply continue to hack and paste and shove a square peg into a round hole, which means auto-scaling never works quite as expected and advanced features come at a snail’s pace because of the difficulty in scripting and integration.

It doesn’t have to be so hard, but you do have to view load balancing for what it is: a key component of the cloud computing strategy, and give it the focus it deserves, even if that means it’ll cost you more up front because in the end it’ll cost you far less than the alternative.

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 session at Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, an entertainment executive/TV producer turned serial entrepreneur, will present a success story of an entrepreneur who has both suffered through and benefited from offshore development across multiple businesses: The smart choice, or how to select the right offshore development partner Warning signs, or how to minimize chances of making the wrong choice Collaboration, or how to establish the most effective work processes Budget control, or how to max...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Infranics will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Since 2000, Infranics has developed SysMaster Suite, which is required for the stable and efficient management of ICT infrastructure. The ICT management solution developed and provided by Infranics continues to add intelligence to the ICT infrastructure through the IMC (Infra Management Cycle) based on mathemat...
@DevOpsSummit has been named the ‘Top DevOps Influencer' by iTrend. iTrend processes millions of conversations, tweets, interactions, news articles, press releases, blog posts - and extract meaning form them and analyzes mobile and desktop software platforms used to communicate, various metadata (such as geo location), and automation tools. In overall placement, @DevOpsSummit ranked as the number one ‘DevOps Influencer' followed by @CloudExpo at third, and @MicroservicesE at 24th.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Auditwerx will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Auditwerx specializes in SOC 1, SOC 2, and SOC 3 attestation services throughout the U.S. and Canada. As a division of Carr, Riggs & Ingram (CRI), one of the top 20 largest CPA firms nationally, you can expect the resources, skills, and experience of a much larger firm combined with the accessibility and attent...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
MongoDB Atlas leverages VPC peering for AWS, a service that allows multiple VPC networks to interact. This includes VPCs that belong to other AWS account holders. By performing cross account VPC peering, users ensure networks that host and communicate their data are secure. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Jay Gordon, a Developer Advocate at MongoDB, will explain how to properly architect your VPC using existing AWS tools and then peer with your MongoDB Atlas cluster. He'll discuss the secur...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and management into a ...
Imagine having the ability to leverage all of your current technology and to be able to compose it into one resource pool. Now imagine, as your business grows, not having to deploy a complete new appliance to scale your infrastructure. Also imagine a true multi-cloud capability that allows live migration without any modification between cloud environments regardless of whether that cloud is your private cloud or your public AWS, Azure or Google instance. Now think of a world that is not locked i...
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
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" ...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, CTO of Embotics, will discuss how automation can provide the dynamic management required to cost-effectively deliver microservices and container solutions at scale. He will discuss how flexible automation is the key to effectively bridging and seamlessly coordinating both IT and developer needs for component orchestration across disparate clouds – an increasingly important requirement at today’s multi-cloud enterprise.
The essence of cloud computing is that all consumable IT resources are delivered as services. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Yung Chou, Technology Evangelist at Microsoft, demonstrated the concepts and implementations of two important cloud computing deliveries: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). He discussed from business and technical viewpoints what exactly they are, why we care, how they are different and in what ways, and the strategies for IT to transi...
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 e...
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor - all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
Niagara Networks exhibited at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which took place at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, in November 2016. Niagara Networks offers the highest port-density systems, and the most complete Next-Generation Network Visibility systems including Network Packet Brokers, Bypass Switches, and Network TAPs.
Extreme Computing is the ability to leverage highly performant infrastructure and software to accelerate Big Data, machine learning, HPC, and Enterprise applications. High IOPS Storage, low-latency networks, in-memory databases, GPUs and other parallel accelerators are being used to achieve faster results and help businesses make better decisions. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at NVIDIA, focused on some of the unique ways extreme computing is...
My team embarked on building a data lake for our sales and marketing data to better understand customer journeys. This required building a hybrid data pipeline to connect our cloud CRM with the new Hadoop Data Lake. One challenge is that IT was not in a position to provide support until we proved value and marketing did not have the experience, so we embarked on the journey ourselves within the product marketing team for our line of business within Progress. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Sum...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
"We host and fully manage cloud data services, whether we store, the data, move the data, or run analytics on the data," stated Kamal Shannak, Senior Development Manager, Cloud Data Services, IBM, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Interoute has announced the integration of its Global Cloud Infrastructure platform with Rancher Labs’ container management platform, Rancher. This approach enables enterprises to accelerate their digital transformation and infrastructure investments. Matthew Finnie, Interoute CTO commented “Enterprises developing and building apps in the cloud and those on a path to Digital Transformation need Digital ICT Infrastructure that allows them to build, test and deploy faster than ever before. The int...