Welcome!

Big Data Journal Authors: Liz McMillan, Kevin Benedict, Andreas Grabner, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: DevOps Journal, SOA & WOA, Web 2.0, Cloud Expo, Security, Big Data Journal, SDN Journal

DevOps Journal: Article

Continuous Infrastructure

How IT Went from the Back of the Class to the Front of the Board Room

Businesses have IT because apps deliver value to their customers. This can be direct value - a user-facing app. Or it can be indirect - an internal app for managing sales, marketing, or even HR transactions. Either way, the idea is that the app will make the business more efficient and responsive.

The purpose of IT used to be to develop, purchase and operate these apps. But today, every team in the business is writing apps, and every part of the business depends on the apps that they run. These apps have gotten bigger. They have become more complex. There are more apps everywhere, and they are more mission critical than before.

In fact, we are long past the point where any modern application is a single piece of software. Most apps these days run on top of a collection of common services - such as web servers, database servers, queue servers - even the storage space and network connections are increasingly consumed as-a-service, by apps.

So the purpose of IT has been transformed from being an operator of apps, to an operator of services to power them. What's different about being a provider of IT services, rather than an operator of applications?

  1. It's about scale.
  2. It's about efficiency.
  3. It's about speed.

Explaining the difference between scale-up, and scale-out, is beyond the scope of this article. But I encourage you to read Maged Michael's excellent summary of the topic[1]. Whether we're scaling the number of users, the amount of data, or the complexity of calculations required (or even if you're scaling all three) - the era of scale-up is drawing to a close.

So if we can't scale UP, we have to scale OUT - which means building multi-server distributed systems. These are notoriously tricky. (In fact, Google famously considers their expertise in this to be a key competitive advantage.) So when we've invested the work in developing a system for delivering a particular service, we're likely to try and get as many different apps to share that service as possible. This is the same type of thinking that encouraged object-oriented programming and object reuse - if we're all sharing the same system, we can invest more in making it as reliable and efficient as possible. I like to call this the "Warren Buffet" approach to enterprise architecture - put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch that damn basket!

So we can see that, as our businesses have become more and more dependent on IT apps, those apps have in turn become more and more dependent on scalable, efficient services. And as applications have gotten both larger and more complex, IT has had to focus more on the services that can power these applications - rather than just the applications themselves.

Now, technology doesn't necessarily make life better. Nor does it reduce the number of mistakes we make. But it *does* help us go faster, which means we can make mistakes at a faster and faster rate. And this is what it's done in business, too - IT has sped everything up.

The pursuit of speed in IT has been transforming everything about how we develop software over the past ten years. It started with our project management methodologies, switching from traditional SDLC approaches to Agile ones such as Scrum or Kan-Ban. As we sped development up, we needed to integrate and test our systems earlier, and the Continuous Integration ecosystem was born, with tools such as Jenkins and Build Bot at the heart of it. Eventually, the need for speed broke through from development and testing, into the production operations environments, and the DevOps movement was born. We're starting to see a raft of tools and technologies to support Continuous Deployment now - the most mature form of DevOps.

The final step in this metamorphosis is a revolution in the delivery of the underlying infrastructure services - the push to API-driven, or software-defined, ...well, everything. Only when Continuous Infrastructure supports the Continuous Deployment of Continuously Integrated and Continuously Prioritized apps and features, will our work be complete.

For more of my thoughts on apps and services, open source software and how to manage your IT infrastructure like 400-head of Holsteins, check out my blog at http://www.pistoncloud.com/blog.

1. http://www.cecs.uci.edu/~papers/ipdps07/pdfs/SMTPS-201-paper-1.pdf

More Stories By Joshua McKenty

Prior to co-founding Piston Cloud Computing, Joshua McKenty was the Technical Architect of NASA's Nebula Cloud Computing Platform and the OpenStack compute components. As a board member of the OpenStack Foundation, Joshua plays an instrumental role in the OpenStack community. Joshua has over two decades of experience in entrepreneurship, management and software engineering and architecture. He was the team lead for the development of the Netscape Browser (vs. 8) as well as AOL's IE AIM toolbar, and a senior engineer at Flock.com. He also led the successful first release of OpenQuake, an open source software application allowing users to compute seismic hazard, seismic risk and the socio-economic impact of earthquakes. In his spare time, Joshua has crafted a handmade violin and banjo, fathered two children, and invented his own juggling trick, the McKenty Madness.

Cloud Expo Breaking News
Simply defined the SDDC promises that you’ll be able to treat “all” of your IT infrastructure as if it’s completely malleable. That there are no restrictions to how you can use and assign everything from border controls to VM size as long as you stay within the technical capabilities of the devices. The promise is great, but the reality is still a dream for the majority of enterprises. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, EVP, Data Center Tech, at SUPERNAP, will cover where and how a business might benefit from SDDC and also why they should or shouldn’t attempt to adopt today.
MapDB is an Apache-licensed open source database specifically designed for Java developers. The library uses the standard Java Collections API, making it totally natural for Java developers to use and adopt, while scaling database size from GBs to TBs. MapDB is very fast and supports an agile approach to data, allowing developers to construct flexible schemas to exactly match application needs and tune performance, durability and caching for specific requirements.
APIs came about to help companies create and manage their digital ecosystem, enabling them not only to reach more customers through more devices, but also create a large supporting ecosystem of developers and partners. While Facebook, Twitter and Netflix were the early adopters of APIs, large enterprises have been quick to embrace the concept of APIs and have been leveraging APIs as a connective tissue that powers all interactions between their customers, partners and employees. As enterprises embrace APIs, some very specific Enterprise API Adoption patterns and best practices have started emerging. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Sachin Agarwal, VP of Product Marketing and Strategy at SOA Software, will talk about the most common enterprise API patterns and will discuss how enterprises can successfully launch an API program.
The social media expansion has shown just how people are eager to share their experiences with the rest of the world. Cloud technology is the perfect platform to satisfy this need given its great flexibility and readiness. At Cynny, we aim to revolutionize how people share and organize their digital life through a brand new cloud service, starting from infrastructure to the users’ interface. A revolution that began from inventing and designing our very own infrastructure: we have created the first server network powered solely by ARM CPU. The microservers have “organism-like” features, differentiating them from any of the current technologies. Benefits include low consumption of energy, making Cynny the ecologically friendly alternative for storage as well as cheaper infrastructure, lower running costs, etc.
Next-Gen Cloud. Whatever you call it, there’s a higher calling for cloud computing that requires providers to change their spots and move from a commodity mindset to a premium one. Businesses can no longer maintain the status quo that today’s service providers offer. Yes, the continuity, speed, mobility, data access and connectivity are staples of the cloud and always will be. But cloud providers that plan to not only exist tomorrow – but to lead – know that security must be the top priority for the cloud and are delivering it now. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Kurt Hagerman, Chief Information Security Officer at FireHost, will detail why and how you can have both infrastructure performance and enterprise-grade security – and what tomorrow's cloud provider will look like.
Today, developers and business units are leading the charge to cloud computing. The primary driver: faster access to computing resources by using the cloud's automated infrastructure provisioning. However, fast access to infrastructure exposes the next friction point: creating, delivering, and operating applications much faster. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Bernard Golden, VP of Strategy at ActiveState, will discuss why solving the next friction point is critical for true cloud computing success and how developers and business units can leverage service catalogs, frameworks, and DevOps to achieve the true goal of IT: delivering increased business value through applications.
Web conferencing in a public cloud has the same risks as any other cloud service. If you have ever had concerns over the types of data being shared in your employees’ web conferences, such as IP, financials or customer data, then it’s time to look at web conferencing in a private cloud. In her session at 14th Cloud Expo, Courtney Behrens, Senior Marketing Manager at Brother International, will discuss how issues that had previously been out of your control, like performance, advanced administration and compliance, can now be put back behind your firewall.
More and more enterprises today are doing business by opening up their data and applications through APIs. Though forward-thinking and strategic, exposing APIs also increases the surface area for potential attack by hackers. To benefit from APIs while staying secure, enterprises and security architects need to continue to develop a deep understanding about API security and how it differs from traditional web application security or mobile application security. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Sachin Agarwal, VP of Product Marketing and Strategy at SOA Software, will walk you through the various aspects of how an API could be potentially exploited. He will discuss the necessary best practices to secure your data and enterprise applications while continue continuing to support your business’s digital initiatives.
The revolution that happened in the server universe over the past 15 years has resulted in an eco-system that is more open, more democratically innovative and produced better results in technically challenging dimensions like scale. The underpinnings of the revolution were common hardware, standards based APIs (ex. POSIX) and a strict adherence to layering and isolation between applications, daemons and kernel drivers/modules which allowed multiple types of development happen in parallel without hindering others. Put simply, today's server model is built on a consistent x86 platform with few surprises in its core components. A kernel abstracts away the platform, so that applications and daemons are decoupled from the hardware. In contrast, networking equipment is still stuck in the mainframe era. Today, networking equipment is a single appliance, including hardware, OS, applications and user interface come as a monolithic entity from a single vendor. Switching between different vendor'...
Cloud backup and recovery services are critical to safeguarding an organization’s data and ensuring business continuity when technical failures and outages occur. With so many choices, how do you find the right provider for your specific needs? In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Daniel Jacobson, Technology Manager at BUMI, will outline the key factors including backup configurations, proactive monitoring, data restoration, disaster recovery drills, security, compliance and data center resources. Aside from the technical considerations, the secret sauce in identifying the best vendor is the level of focus, expertise and specialization of their engineering team and support group, and how they monitor your day-to-day backups, provide recommendations, and guide you through restores when necessary.
Cloud scalability and performance should be at the heart of every successful Internet venture. The infrastructure needs to be resilient, flexible, and fast – it’s best not to get caught thinking about architecture until the middle of an emergency, when it's too late. In his interactive, no-holds-barred session at 14th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Development Community Advocate for SoftLayer, will dive into how to design and build-out the right cloud infrastructure.
You use an agile process; your goal is to make your organization more agile. What about your data infrastructure? The truth is, today’s databases are anything but agile – they are effectively static repositories that are cumbersome to work with, difficult to change, and cannot keep pace with application demands. Performance suffers as a result, and it takes far longer than it should to deliver on new features and capabilities needed to make your organization competitive. As your application and business needs change, data repositories and structures get outmoded rapidly, resulting in increased work for application developers and slow performance for end users. Further, as data sizes grow into the Big Data realm, this problem is exacerbated and becomes even more difficult to address. A seemingly simple schema change can take hours (or more) to perform, and as requirements evolve the disconnect between existing data structures and actual needs diverge.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SherWeb, a long-time leading provider of cloud services and Microsoft's 2013 World Hosting Partner of the Year, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 14th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. A worldwide hosted services leader ranking in the prestigious North American Deloitte Technology Fast 500TM, and Microsoft's 2013 World Hosting Partner of the Year, SherWeb provides competitive cloud solutions to businesses and partners around the world. Founded in 1998, SherWeb is a privately owned company headquartered in Quebec, Canada. Its service portfolio includes Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Dynamics CRM and more.
The world of cloud and application development is not just for the hardened developer these days. In their session at 14th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Development Community Advocate for SoftLayer, and Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, will pull back the curtain of the architecture of a fun demo application purpose-built for the cloud. They will focus on demonstrating how they leveraged compute, storage, messaging, and other cloud elements hosted at SoftLayer to lower the effort and difficulty of putting together a useful application. This will be an active demonstration and review of simple command-line tools and resources, so don’t be afraid if you are not a seasoned developer.
SYS-CON Events announced today that BUMI, a premium managed service provider specializing in data backup and recovery, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 14th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. Manhattan-based BUMI (Backup My Info!) is a premium managed service provider specializing in data backup and recovery. Founded in 2002, the company’s Here, There and Everywhere data backup and recovery solutions are utilized by more than 500 businesses. BUMI clients include professional service organizations such as banking, financial, insurance, accounting, hedge funds and law firms. The company is known for its relentless passion for customer service and support, and has won numerous awards, including Customer Service Provider of the Year and 10 Best Companies to Work For.