Click here to close now.

Welcome!

CloudExpo® Blog Authors: Ian Goldsmith, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, JP Morgenthal

Related Topics: CloudExpo® Blog, @MicroservicesE Blog

CloudExpo® Blog: 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
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective ...
Collecting data in the field and configuring multitudes of unique devices is a time-consuming, labor-intensive process that can stretch IT resources. Horan & Bird [H&B], Australia’s fifth-largest Solar Panel Installer, wanted to automate sensor data collection and monitoring from its solar panels and integrate the data with its business and marketing systems. After data was collected and structured, two major areas needed to be addressed: improving developer workflows and extending access to a b...
When an enterprise builds a hybrid IaaS cloud connecting its data center to one or more public clouds, security is often a major topic along with the other challenges involved. Security is closely intertwined with the networking choices made for the hybrid cloud. Traditional networking approaches for building a hybrid cloud try to kludge together the enterprise infrastructure with the public cloud. Consequently this approach requires risky, deep "surgery" including changes to firewalls, subnets...
Move from reactive to proactive cloud management in a heterogeneous cloud infrastructure. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Manoj Khabe, Innovative Solution-Focused Transformation Leader at Vicom Computer Services, Inc., will show how to replace a help desk-centric approach with an ITIL-based service model and service-centric CMDB that’s tightly integrated with an event and incident management platform. Learn how to expand the scope of operations management to service management. He will al...
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC 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. BMC delivers software solutions that help IT transform digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive business advantage. BMC has worked with thousands of leading companies to create and deliver powerful IT management services. From mainframe to cloud to mobile, BMC pairs high-speed digital innovation with robust...
2015 predictions circa 1970: houses anticipate our needs and adapt, city infrastructure is citizen and situation aware, office buildings identify and preprocess you. Today smart buildings have no such collective conscience, no shared set of fundamental services to identify, predict and synchronize around us. LiveSpace and M2Mi are changing that. LiveSpace Smart Environment devices deliver over the M2Mi IoT Platform real time presence, awareness and intent analytics as a service to local connecte...
High-performing enterprise Software Quality Assurance (SQA) teams validate systems that are ready for use - getting most actively involved as components integrate and form complete systems. These teams catch and report on defects, making sure the customer gets the best software possible. SQA teams have leveraged automation and virtualization to execute more thorough testing in less time - bringing Dev and Ops together, ensuring production readiness. Does the emergence of DevOps mean the end of E...
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 companies without hyper-scale resources. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, David Cauthron, CTO and Founder of NIMBOXX, highlighted how a mid-sized manufacturer of global industrial equipment bridged the gap from virtualization to software-defined services, streamlining operations and costs while connect...
Container technology is sending shock waves through the world of cloud computing. Heralded as the 'next big thing,' containers provide software owners a consistent way to package their software and dependencies while infrastructure operators benefit from a standard way to deploy and run them. Containers present new challenges for tracking usage due to their dynamic nature. They can also be deployed to bare metal, virtual machines and various cloud platforms. How do software owners track the usag...
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, ...
paradigm shifts in networking, to cloud and licensure, and all the Internet of Things in between. In 2014 automation was the name of the game. In his session at DevOps Summit, Matthew Joyce, a Sales Engineer at Big Switch, will discuss why in 2015 it’s complexity reduction. Matthew Joyce, a sales engineer at Big Switch, is helping push networking into the 21st century. He is also a hacker at NYC Resistor. Previously he worked at NASA Ames Research Center with the Nebula Project (where OpenSta...
The term culture has had a polarizing effect among DevOps supporters. Some propose that culture change is critical for success with DevOps, but are remiss to define culture. Some talk about a DevOps culture but then reference activities that could lead to culture change and there are those that talk about culture change as a set of behaviors that need to be adopted by those in IT. There is no question that businesses successful in adopting a DevOps mindset have seen departmental culture change, ...
Discussions about cloud computing are evolving into discussions about enterprise IT in general. As enterprises increasingly migrate toward their own unique clouds, new issues such as the use of containers and microservices emerge to keep things interesting. In this Power Panel at 16th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will address the state of cloud computing today, and what enterprise IT professionals need to know about how the latest topics and trends affec...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In this session, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the ...
While there are hundreds of public and private cloud hosting providers to choose from, not all clouds are created equal. If you’re seeking to host enterprise-level mission-critical applications, where Cloud Security is a primary concern, WHOA.com is setting new standards for cloud hosting, and has established itself as a major contender in the marketplace. We are constantly seeking ways to innovate and leverage state-of-the-art technologies. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Mike Rivera, Seni...
EMC Corporation on Tuesday announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire privately held Virtustream. When the transaction closes, Virtustream will form EMC’s new managed cloud services business. The acquisition represents a transformational element of EMC’s strategy to help customers move all applications to cloud-based IT environments. With the addition of Virtustream, EMC completes the industry’s most comprehensive hybrid cloud portfolio to support all applications, all workl...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series dat...
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann returns to DevOps Summit 2015 as Conference Chair. The 4th International DevOps Summit will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. "DevOps is set to be one of the most profound disruptions to hit IT in decades," said Andi Mann. "It is a natural extension of cloud computing, and I have seen both firsthand and in independent research the fantastic results DevOps delivers. So I am excited to help the great team at ...
Enterprises are fast realizing the importance of integrating SaaS/Cloud applications, API and on-premises data and processes, to unleash hidden value. This webinar explores how managers can use a Microservice-centric approach to aggressively tackle the unexpected new integration challenges posed by proliferation of cloud, mobile, social and big data projects. Industry analyst and SOA expert Jason Bloomberg will strip away the hype from microservices, and clearly identify their advantages and d...
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, June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enter...