|By Jonathan Hoppe||
|July 22, 2010 09:15 AM EDT||
It would be an understatement to say that this past decade belongs to the Internet. Starting primarily as a research tool, the Internet has now infiltrated every aspect of life - there is very little today that users do not, or cannot, do online. Moreover, new ways to leverage the Internet to personal and professional advantage arise every day.
Evidently, all this progress has had an insidious side-effect - user expectations regarding website performance have sky-rocketed over the years. People expect websites, video and audio to load faster than ever before; otherwise, they lose interest and go to other websites. In fact, research firms have ample findings to support this correlation. A 2009 ResearchLink survey found that 26 percent of respondents would move to a competitor's website if a vendor's website failed to perform, resulting in immediate revenue loss of 26 percent and a future loss of 15 percent. Forrester Research also found that 36 percent of unique visitors to a website will leave it if it fails to load within the first three seconds. Three seconds - that's not a lot of time. Yet, user expectations are warranted, seeing how much progress content delivery technology has made in the past few years. Couple these user demands with an architecture that is not fit to deliver the kind of performance they expect, and what we have on our hands is a big problem for companies whose business thrives on web content and e-commerce.
But as always, the IT people of a decade ago conferred and found a solution. Content Delivery Network (CDN) companies invested a lot of time and money into a solution that is still being used today. The solution was to store content as close to the end user as possible, a technique known as edge caching. It allows users to access cached versions of the web or applications for faster, easier access. In addition to edge caching, some of the more sophisticated CDNs have gone one step further and developed unique algorithms and massive distributed networks that would help them proactively identify trouble spots over the public Internet, and reroute content around them. While this additional technique allows websites to deliver asymmetrical traffic a little more efficiently, applications like streaming video and audio, and even software downloads, are still cached at the edge of the network despite this routing technique.
Clearly, this technique is effective for content up to a certain size, but it is not enough to meet the high throughput demands of today's growing business reliance on data and larger residential Internet connections over great distances. Edge caching is best suited for static content, and not the dynamic, rich content we see today, since static content doesn't change very often and can easily be stored on low-cost disks in a multitude of locations around the Internet. Even if it does change fairly frequently, it is easy to script these updates to ensure that copies sitting at the edge are up-to-date. But the reality is that today, in 2010, static content forms an increasingly smaller percentage of all the content that requires transfer. The need of the hour is to be able to transfer dynamic content with the speed and ease - and it is yet unfulfilled. CDNs and their edge-caching capabilities are not nearly as successful with dynamic content since, by its very nature, it cannot simply be thrown on to the edge of a network due to inherent size and constituency. The character of dynamic content dictates that while it may be live at this moment, it may not exist two seconds from now. What's more, content that falls under this category includes most of what we use today: VoIP, FTP, live video and so on.
The question then remains: How do content providers ensure that end users (both business and consumers) experience the same ease of access they did a decade ago, but with the dynamic content they want to transfer today?
Enter the CDN's newer, more sophisticated cousin - cloud acceleration - which does what CDNs do, but faster and more able to deal with dynamic content. Cloud acceleration is best suited for dynamic content because it does not rely on edge caching - in fact, it works best without edge caching. In addition, it is more cost-effective as users are not paying for a decade's worth of infrastructure designed and built-out to enhance edge-caching capabilities. And last, but not least, it can fight common Internet problems, not only by working (routing) around them, but by actually fixing the core problem associated with long distance networks altogether. There's definitely something to be said for a solution that addresses the real issue, performs better, costs less and results in happy website visitors and increased revenues.
But how does cloud acceleration work its magic in the first place?
For starters, as previously mentioned, cloud acceleration doesn't rely on edge caching. Instead, it optimizes the entire delivery path, over the network managed by the service provider. Content is therefore delivered directly from origin servers to the end user, at the same level of performance as if they were in the same building. How is that better? For one, the most significant and important portion of the delivery path is surprisingly not the public Internet, but rather a high-performance, private, 100 percent optical network designed for speed. The cloud acceleration service provider is in full control of traffic and congestion on the network, and therefore controls Quality of Service (QoS). Of course, that also adds an element of security to the entire journey undertaken by the data. But most important, in this context, is the fact that cloud acceleration providers no longer have to rely on third-party Internet providers to work around common Internet problems such as latency, jitter and packet loss using algorithmic rerouting calculations common to CDNs. They are now in the position to actually fix them.
For more clarity, let's revisit how CDNs function. We can logically break it down into three distinct "miles" that cover the path between the content origin and the end user requesting it. The first mile is the distance between the origin server and a backbone - e.g., a T1, DSx, OCx or Ethernet connection to the Internet. The middle mile is the backbone that traverses the majority of the distance over one or more interconnected carrier backbones. Finally the last mile is the end-user's connection, such as a DSL, cable, wireless or other connection.
Simply put, CDNs that rely on caching frequently request objects at the edge of the network and are designed to avoid all three of these "miles" as much as possible. Because we know that an increase in distance always results in increased latency and often greater packet loss, it's best to place as many global object copies close to end users as possible. Well-designed caching CDNs do this fairly well by placing object caching servers within the network of the last mile provider. Other caching CDNs that do not have the luxury of placing servers within the network of the last mile provider will place them at key Internet peering points. While not as close to the end user, this is still a fairly effective approach to avoiding problems altogether.
The more sophisticated CDNs that also attempt to choose alternate Internet paths still suffer because they inherently rely on the Internet to get from point A to point B. Since they don't own the network, and therefore have no ultimate control over any "mile" of the route, they are at the mercy of the Internet. Providers that do own a network attempt to inject QoS by using multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), but are ultimately still at the mercy of the effects of latency, jitter and packet loss over longer distances.
With the CDN protocol established, how does a cloud acceleration service provider do things differently? First, it is important to understand that the overall objective is still similar to traditional CDNs: minimize the amount of public Internet utilized for moving content from the origin to the end user. The more Internet travel that can be avoided, the better the result in terms of end-user web performance. The goal of acceleration, however, is to accomplish this without caching at the edge, because optimally future dynamic content will not be cached. In fact, much of what we view today as dynamic content requires a persistent connection between the origin and the end user, which is achieved through the following three steps:
Step one involves opening a connection to the origin server over the first mile so the data stream can be brought onto the accelerated network as quickly as possible for the optimization process to begin. Installing an optional origin appliance starts the optimization process right at the origin datacenter, which gets the optimization going even sooner. The cloud acceleration service provider should have multiple origin capture nodes around the world, or at least close to the origin of its customer base. This, coupled with routing algorithms, will pull content onto the network as close to the origin as possible.
Step two involves hauling the content over the highly engineered private network. Because this middle mile is the longest portion of the trip, it is where the bulk of the data stream optimization happens. In addition to running a fully meshed MPLS-TE network at that origin capture node, infrastructure similar to a WAN optimizer will then open a tunnel across the service provider's entire private backbone to an identical device at the edge node near the end user. These devices constantly talk to each other, optimizing flow to ensure maximum throughput with window scaling, selective acknowledgement, round-trip measurement and congestion control. Packet-level forward error correction is an important feature to reconstitute lost packets at the edge node, avoiding delays that come with multiple-round-trip retransmission. Packets are also resequenced at the edge node using packet order correction to avoid retransmissions that occur when packets arrive out of order. Byte-level data deduplication eliminates retransmission of identical bytes that could otherwise be created at the edge, and multiplexing is utilized to minimize unnecessary chatter and further compress data as it traverses the tunnel.
Step three involves taking advantage of direct peering to eyeball networks, or the last mile, so the content can be dropped back on the Internet just before it reaches the end user. Because you can't expect users to install software applications or hardware appliances in their homes or on their devices, placing nodes close to the end user is critical to the maximum success of the process. Generally, if you can place the node from 5 to 10 ms from the end user, the experience will still feel like a LAN. Furthermore, the benefit of placing content inside the eyeball or last mile network ensures that delivery of content will not be affected by congestion at the ISP's Internet drain during peak usage, which is a common problem.
Through these three steps, cloud acceleration essentially does the same thing for dynamic content that a CDN does for static content - places it right in the user's lap. With a continuous open data stream equivalent to that of a super highway, it is now possible to optimize VoIP, live video, interactive e-media file transfer applications like FTP, CIFS, and NFS, and any new technologies and content that rely on rapid Internet performance in the future.
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...
Jul. 31, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 158
[slides] A New Architecture for the Internet of Things By @JKirklan | @ThingsExpo @RedHatNews #IoT #M2M #InternetOfThings
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 his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Arch...
Jul. 30, 2015 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,395
Malicious agents are moving faster than the speed of business. Even more worrisome, most companies are relying on legacy approaches to security that are no longer capable of meeting current threats. In the modern cloud, threat diversity is rapidly expanding, necessitating more sophisticated security protocols than those used in the past or in desktop environments. Yet companies are falling for cloud security myths that were truths at one time but have evolved out of existence.
Jul. 30, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,801
Take the Long View with Digital Transformation By @IoT2040 | @ThingsExpo #IoT #M2M #API #Microservices #InternetOfThings
Digital Transformation is the ultimate goal of cloud computing and related initiatives. The phrase is certainly not a precise one, and as subject to hand-waving and distortion as any high-falutin' terminology in the world of information technology. Yet it is an excellent choice of words to describe what enterprise IT—and by extension, organizations in general—should be working to achieve. Digital Transformation means: handling all the data types being found and created in the organizat...
Jul. 30, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,089
[slides] Workloads and Public Cloud at @CloudExpo By @utollwi | @ProfitBricksUSA #DevOps #Containers #Microservices
Public Cloud IaaS started its 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 adop...
Jul. 30, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,203
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Jul. 30, 2015 03:45 PM EDT Reads: 448
The time is ripe for high speed resilient software defined storage solutions with unlimited scalability. ISS has been working with the leading open source projects and developed a commercial high performance solution that is able to grow forever without performance limitations. In his session at Cloud Expo, Alex Gorbachev, President of Intelligent Systems Services Inc., shared foundation principles of Ceph architecture, as well as the design to deliver this storage to traditional SAN storage co...
Jul. 30, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,740
The Software Defined Data Center (SDDC), which enables organizations to seamlessly run in a hybrid cloud model (public + private cloud), is here to stay. IDC estimates that the software-defined networking market will be valued at $3.7 billion by 2016. Security is a key component and benefit of the SDDC, and offers an opportunity to build security 'from the ground up' and weave it into the environment from day one. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Reuven Harrison, CTO and Co-Founder of Tufin,...
Jul. 30, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 488
MuleSoft has announced the findings of its 2015 Connectivity Benchmark Report on the adoption and business impact of APIs. The findings suggest traditional businesses are quickly evolving into "composable enterprises" built out of hundreds of connected software services, applications and devices. Most are embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) and microservices technologies like Docker. A majority are integrating wearables, like smart watches, and more than half plan to generate revenue with ...
Jul. 30, 2015 02:30 PM EDT
The Cloud industry has moved from being more than just being able to provide infrastructure and management services on the Cloud. Enter a new era of Cloud computing where monetization’s services through the Cloud are an essential piece of strategy to feed your organizations bottom-line, your revenue and Profitability. In their session at 16th Cloud Expo, Ermanno Bonifazi, CEO & Founder of Solgenia, and Ian Khan, Global Strategic Positioning & Brand Manager at Solgenia, discussed how to easily o...
Jul. 30, 2015 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 379
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.
Jul. 30, 2015 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 268
In their session at 17th Cloud Expo, Hal Schwartz, CEO of Secure Infrastructure & Services (SIAS), and Chuck Paolillo, CTO of Secure Infrastructure & Services (SIAS), provide a study of cloud adoption trends and the power and flexibility of IBM Power and Pureflex cloud solutions. In his role as CEO of Secure Infrastructure & Services (SIAS), Hal Schwartz provides leadership and direction for the company.
Jul. 30, 2015 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 103
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 Opening Keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, S...
Jul. 30, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,053
The speed of software changes in growing and large scale rapid-paced DevOps environments presents a challenge for continuous testing. Many organizations struggle to get this right. Practices that work for small scale continuous testing may not be sufficient as the requirements grow. In his session at DevOps Summit, Marc Hornbeek, Sr. Solutions Architect of DevOps continuous test solutions at Spirent Communications, explained the best practices of continuous testing at high scale, which is rele...
Jul. 30, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,386
"Alert Logic is a managed security service provider that basically deploys technologies, but we support those technologies with the people and process behind it," stated Stephen Coty, Chief Security Evangelist at Alert Logic, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 30, 2015 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 348
[video] An Interview with @ProfitBricksUSA CEO @AchimWeiss | @CloudExpo #DevOps #Docker #Containers #Microservices
"ProfitBricks was founded in 2010 and we are the painless cloud - and we are also the Infrastructure as a Service 2.0 company," noted Achim Weiss, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of ProfitBricks, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 30, 2015 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,123
"We specialize in testing. DevOps is all about continuous delivery and accelerating the delivery pipeline and there is no continuous delivery without testing," noted Marc Hornbeek, Sr. Solutions Architect at Spirent Communications, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 30, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 383
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a software development company, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software development company with representative offices in Atlanta (US), Sheffield (UK) and Würzburg (Germany); and development centers in Ukraine. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business managers to a full-scale mobi...
Jul. 30, 2015 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 263
In his keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Rodney Rogers, CEO of Virtustream, discussed the evolution of the company from inception to its recent acquisition by EMC – including personal insights, lessons learned (and some WTF moments) along the way. Learn how Virtustream’s unique approach of combining the economics and elasticity of the consumer cloud model with proper performance, application automation and security into a platform became a breakout success with enterprise customers and a natural fit f...
Jul. 30, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,158
Chuck Piluso presented a study of cloud adoption trends and the power and flexibility of IBM Power and Pureflex cloud solutions. Prior to Secure Infrastructure and Services, Mr. Piluso founded North American Telecommunication Corporation, a facilities-based Competitive Local Exchange Carrier licensed by the Public Service Commission in 10 states, serving as the company's chairman and president from 1997 to 2000. Between 1990 and 1997, Mr. Piluso served as chairman & founder of International Te...
Jul. 30, 2015 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 361