SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Carmen Gonzalez, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski

Blog Feed Post

MBaaS, Cloud Computing and Architectures for Enterprise Mobility - What Your Mother Never Told You

Cognizant Mobility Expert
Peter Rogers
My friend and Cognizant colleague, the ever opinionated Peter Rogers, shares more of his insights into the world of IoT (Internet of Things), enterprise mobility, geekdom and how they really works under-the-covers.  By "they" I mean technology, not geeks.
____

I believe the trends away from mainframes to the Cloud will have a large impact on enterprise mobility architecture. If we believe that going forward, enterprise mobility architectures will be closely tied to the Cloud, then we need to take a serious look at architectural design.  I have written about MBaaS (Mobile Back End as a Service) which is a new form of Cloud offering, but today I want share my opinions on best practices.

I have been working on an MBaaS project recently, and we ran into some interesting challenges when it came to submitting the App to the Apple App Store. In the middle of the night there was some server maintenance going on which was obviously considered out of hours in the UK. The point I reminded everyone was that Apple Valley is actually GMT-7, and so what is considered out of hours in the UK is not the case where Apple does their testing.

We then got onto some interesting questions:

  • “Do we have availability monitoring?”
  • “How do you get the Node service working again if it falls over?”
  • “Do we have High Availability (HA) and Disaster Recovery (DR)?” 

This led to me take a deep look at the architecture of building Cloud native applications on top of Amazon Web Services (AWS). MBaaS does abstract a lot of the underlying details away from you, but at the end of the day if the underlying Cloud provider is Amazon EC2 (which is a very common option) then maybe it is worth understanding exactly how AWS works. Abstraction is a great concept for simplification but it is always better if you start off with a core understanding before you start such a process. Furthermore, it used to be the case that most server side development was performed by specialists in server side development but the popularity of Node has meant that client-side JavaScript developers are now faced with developing server side applications that run on the Cloud for the first time.

One of the best articles that I found underpinning architectural design for Cloud native applications on AWS was written back in 2011 (but is still referenced today) and genuinely changed my architectural philosophy on the matter  (http://it20.info/2011/04/tcp-clouds-udp-clouds-design-for-fail-and-aws/).

In a nutshell, Amazon Web Services uses a UDP-cloud model because it doesn’t guarantee reliability at the infrastructure level.

This is a very interesting concept so I want to take the rest of the Blog to explain it, starting with a quick reminder of TCP and UDP.

  • TCP is a reliable connection oriented protocol with segment sequencing and acknowledgments
  • UDP is an unreliable connectionless protocol with no sequencing or acknowledgments

During a few large AWS outages then a number of Bloggers (such as George Reese) outlined the differences between the “design for fail” model and the “traditional” model. The traditional model, among other things, has high-availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) characteristics built right into the infrastructure and these features are typically application-agnostic. An alternative view of “design for fail” and “traditional” is therefore TCP-clouds and UDP-clouds.

  •  A TCP Cloud has the application in the consumer space and the HA / DR policies and Cloud Compute in the provider space.
  • A UDP Cloud has the application and the HA/DR policies in the consumer space and only the Cloud Compute in the provider space. 

This is obviously a vast oversimplification and AWS offers far more than just cloud computing, but the key components in this equation are the ones to focus on. AWS doesn’t have high availability built into the EC2 service, instead they suggest to deploy in multiple "Availability Zones" simply to avoid concurrent failures. In other words, if you deploy your application in a given "Availability Zone," there is nothing that will “fail it over” to another "Availability Zone."

Some of AWS customers, therefore, developed tools to test the resiliency of their applications such as a Chaos Monkey tool (http://readwrite.com/2010/12/20/chaos-monkey-how-netflix-uses). These are software programs that are designed to break things randomly. In a TCP-cloud it would be the cloud provider to run traditional tests to make sure the infrastructure could self-recover. In a UDP-cloud it is the developer that must run a Chaos Monkey in order to test if the application could self-recover since it’s been designed for fail.

A different view on this is cattle and pets (http://thinkacloud.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/is-openstack-and-vmware-like-cattle-and-pets/).

vSphere servers are likened to pets:

·         They are given names (such as pussinboots.cern.ch)
·         Uniquely hand raised and cared for
·         Nursed back to health when sick

OpenStack servers are likened to cattle:

·         They get random identification numbers (vm0042.cern.ch)
·         They are almost identical to each other
·         They are cared for as a group
·         They and basically just replaced when ill

The conclusion being that “Future application architectures should use Cattle, but Pets with strong configuration management are viable and still needed”.  If you haven’t made the connection yet, then Cattle are UDP Clouds and Pets are the TCP Clouds.

I have always classed MBaaS as somewhere between Cloud PaaS and Cloud SaaS to my colleagues but I have been quite wrong in this regard. I want to update that definition to the following:

MBaaS is the combination of Cloud SaaS and EITHER Cloud PaaS or Cloud IaaS, which depends on both the underlying Cloud provider and the supporting service model”.

That means if you have an underlying Cloud provider of AWS, and your MBaaS vendor isn't giving you additional support in HA/DR, availability monitoring or Chaos Monkey tools, then you are basically sitting on a Cloud IaaS which is acting as a UDP Cloud. That is an important thing to be aware of in terms of what you need to bring to the party, and is the potential danger of not really understanding the underlying Cloud model that you are working with.

When we finally move away from mainframes and fully embrace the Cloud then we need to look at how we architect Cloud native applications. That means considering that your Node service tier could fall over and looking at tools like Node-Forever and PM2 (http://devo.ps/blog/2013/06/26/goodbye-node-forever-hello-pm2.html). Node-Forever is a popular option to bring Node services back to life again (Keep Alive) and also supports CoffeeScript. PM2 adds the following: log aggregation; API; terminal monitoring (including CPU usage and memory consumption by cluster); native clustering; and JSON configuration.

There are also plenty of ways to monitor availability of the Cloud instance. You could subscribe to a twitter feed of your particular Cloud (http://status.aws.amazon.com/). There are quite a few services that offer a ping service to check availability (https://www.statuscake.com/paid-website-monitoring/). If you are using Appcelerator Cloud Services then there is a great tool called Relic available on their Market Place (https://marketplace.appcelerator.com/apps/1140?restoreSearch=true#!features/Availability_Monitoring).

In terms of HA then you need to look into deploying a High Availability Proxy. HAProxy (High Availability Proxy) is an open source load balancer which can load balance any TCP service. It is particularly suited for HTTP load balancing as it supports session persistence and layer 7 processing. I am not sure how many Cloud developers actually use Chaos Monkey tools to test DR but the option is certainly there. Certainly you should be designing your applications to be stateless as much as possible and looking into NoSQL databases.

I hope this article has helped you to understand that you cannot just assume your MBaaS vendor is providing a full Cloud PaaS and all of this stuff just comes out of the box. I hope you will also consider designing your Cloud services with a general consideration of the underlying infrastructure. You should have this discussion early on in the project and work out which tools you need to be providing and which enterprise architectural principles need to be applied.

Of course there is nothing to stop you having two or three different underlying Cloud providers or just having the mission critical features running on a private local Cloud. It is an important point to remember though, Amazon EC2 and other Cloud providers can go down for 48 hours. It is very rare but it is not unheard of in the history of the Cloud.

”Design for failure and you won't ever be surprised”

I would like to thank Massimo and Douglas Lin for their exceptional Blogs that I have referenced throughout this article.
*************************************************************
Kevin Benedict
Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation Cognizant
View my profile on LinkedIn
Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility
Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict serves as the Senior Vice President, Solutions Strategy, at Regalix, a Silicon Valley based company, focused on bringing the best strategies, digital technologies, processes and people together to deliver improved customer experiences, journeys and success through the combination of intelligent solutions, analytics, automation and services. He is a popular writer, speaker and futurist, and in the past 8 years he has taught workshops for large enterprises and government agencies in 18 different countries. He has over 32 years of experience working with strategic enterprise IT solutions and business processes, and he is also a veteran executive working with both solution and services companies. He has written dozens of technology and strategy reports, over a thousand articles, interviewed hundreds of technology experts, and produced videos on the future of digital technologies and their impact on industries.

Latest Stories
Financial enterprises in New York City, London, Singapore, and other world financial capitals are embracing a new generation of smart, automated FinTech that eliminates many cumbersome, slow, and expensive intermediate processes from their businesses. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 23rd CloudEXPO, June 24-26, 2019 at Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA will find fresh new content in full new FinTech & Enterprise Blockchain track.
92% of enterprises are using the public cloud today. As a result, simply being in the cloud is no longer enough to remain competitive. The benefit of reduced costs has normalized while the market forces are demanding more innovation at faster release cycles. Enter Cloud Native! Cloud Native enables a microservices driven architecture. The shift from monolithic to microservices yields a lot of benefits - but if not done right - can quickly outweigh the benefits. The effort required in monitoring,...
As the digitization of business accelerates the move of critical applications and content to the cloud, the network has never been as critical to business success. Consuming everything ‘as-a-service' requires new levels of network automation, agility and security. Discover how Enterprises can take advantage of Digital Platforms, directly connecting to an extensive ecosystem of digital partners and flex their service at the click of a button.
Blockchain has shifted from hype to reality across many industries including Financial Services, Supply Chain, Retail, Healthcare and Government. While traditional tech and crypto organizations are generally male dominated, women have embraced blockchain technology from its inception. This is no more evident than at companies where women occupy many of the blockchain roles and leadership positions. Join this panel to hear three women in blockchain share their experience and their POV on the futu...
Cloud Storage 2.0 has brought many innovations, including the availability of cloud storage services that are less expensive and much faster than previous generations of cloud storage. Cloud Storage 2.0 has also delivered new and faster methods for migrating your premises storage environment to the cloud and the concept of multi-cloud. This session will provide technical details on Cloud Storage 2.0 and the methods used to efficiently migrate from premises-to-cloud storage. This session will als...
Concerns about security, downtime and latency, budgets, and general unfamiliarity with cloud technologies continue to create hesitation for many organizations that truly need to be developing a cloud strategy. Hybrid cloud solutions are helping to elevate those concerns by enabling the combination or orchestration of two or more platforms, including on-premise infrastructure, private clouds and/or third-party, public cloud services. This gives organizations more comfort to begin their digital tr...
In very short order, the term "Blockchain" has lost an incredible amount of meaning. With too many jumping on the bandwagon, the market is inundated with projects and use cases that miss the real potential of the technology. We have to begin removing Blockchain from the conversation and ground ourselves in the motivating principles of the technology itself; whether it is consumer privacy, data ownership, trust or even participation in the global economy, the world is faced with serious problems ...
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It's clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Th...
For enterprises to maintain business competitiveness in the digital economy, IT modernization is required. And cloud, with its on-demand, elastic and scalable principles has resoundingly been identified as the infrastructure model capable of supporting fast-changing business requirements that enterprises are challenged with, as a result of our increasingly connected world. In fact, Gartner states that by 2022, 28% of enterprise IT spending will have shifted to cloud. But enterprises still must d...
Cloud-Native thinking and Serverless Computing are now the norm in financial services, manufacturing, telco, healthcare, transportation, energy, media, entertainment, retail and other consumer industries, as well as the public sector. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that pro...
The level of trust we have with individuals, businesses, and technology affects our lives daily. This is important to remember when discussing new technologies. For example, our level of trust is a critical factor when evaluating a new technology as a potential solution for providing business value. Given the importance of trust, imagine one's reaction upon hearing that blockchain is a "trustless trust" system. On the surface, that does sound like an oxymoron. This paper discusses how "trustless...
Public clouds dominate IT conversations but the next phase of cloud evolutions are "multi" hybrid cloud environments. The winners in the cloud services industry will be those organizations that understand how to leverage these technologies as complete service solutions for specific customer verticals. In turn, both business and IT actors throughout the enterprise will need to increase their engagement with multi-cloud deployments today while planning a technology strategy that will constitute a ...
Data center, on-premise, public-cloud, private-cloud, multi-cloud, hybrid-cloud, IoT, AI, edge, SaaS, PaaS... it's an availability, security, performance and integration nightmare even for the best of the best IT experts. Organizations realize the tremendous benefits of everything the digital transformation has to offer. Cloud adoption rates are increasing significantly, and IT budgets are morphing to follow suit. But distributing applications and infrastructure around increases risk, introdu...
Moving to Azure is the path to digital transformation, but not every journey is effective. Organizations that start with a cohesive, well-planned migration strategy can avoid common mistakes and stay a step ahead of the competition. Learn from Atmosera CEO, Jon Thomsen about the opportunities and challenges found in three pivotal phases of the journey to the cloud: Evaluation and Architecting, Migration and Management, and Optimization & Innovation. In each phase, there are distinct insights tha...
Most modern computer languages embed a lot of metadata in their application. We show how this goldmine of data from a runtime environment like production or staging can be used to increase profits. Adi conceptualized the Crosscode platform after spending over 25 years working for large enterprise companies like HP, Cisco, IBM, UHG and personally experiencing the challenges that prevent companies from quickly making changes to their technology, due to the complexity of their enterprise. An accomp...