Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Pat Romanski, Zakia Bouachraoui, Elizabeth White, William Schmarzo, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Agile Computing, @CloudExpo

Agile Computing: Blog Feed Post

Vertical Scalability Cloud Computing Style

RightScale tells me that there is now another way to vertically scale in a cloud computing environment.

Vertical scalability used to require optimizations inside the application, at the code level. Cloud computing changes the nature of vertical scalability and, one hopes, will lead to a new model of scalability based on the capabilities of Infrastructure 2.0 and increasingly granular resource management capabilities.

RightScale recently offered up its own analysis of Amazon Usage Estimates and while the details they provide on Amazon usage from their vantage point is very interesting I found one of their related observations even more fascinating:

blockquote In earlier days the predominant method of scaling was by launching more servers, but we are now seeing a lot more scaling by replacing smaller servers by larger ones.

The reason I find this fascinating has to do with not so much where cloud computing is today, but where (we hope at least) it is going.

Most people are aware of the difference between vertical and horizontal scalability. Remember “Cloud Computing: Vertical Scalability is Still Your Problem” where we talked about the differences?

blockquote Horizontal scalability is the ability of an application to be scaled up to meet demand through replication and the distribution of requests across a pool or farm of servers. It's the traditional load balanced model, and it's an integral component of cloud computing environments. Vertical scalability is the ability of an application to scale under load; to maintain performance levels as the number of concurrent requests increases. While load balancing solutions can certainly assist in optimizing the environment in which an application needs to scale by reducing overhead that can negatively impact performance (such as TCP session management, SSL operations, and compression/caching functionality) it can't solve core problems that prevent vertical scalability.

While this is still correct the observation by RightScale tells me that there is now another way to vertically scale in a cloud computing environment. It’s a hack, in the traditional workaround geek-cool sense, but an ingenious one nonetheless.


WHAT’S THAT GONNA COST YA?


When an application hits the top boundaries of CPU and memory on any machine – whether virtual or physical – the traditional response to ensure scalability is to use load balancing solutions to horizontally scale the application, thus increasing concurrent user and TCP connection limits while hopefully addressing the degrading performance problems associated with high utilization.

ebay greed But what appears to be happening, at least in some cases,is that rather than horizontally scale by adding new instances is that people are simply “upgrading” the virtual machine and thus increasing the limitation on CPU and memory. It’s like buying bigger hardware, only it’s a lot easier and faster and doesn’t require nearly as much preparation before deployment. In essence people have found a way to vertically scale their application by simply provisioning more CPU and memory. Sort of.

This does not address the inherent performance degradation that occurs as higher utilization rates occur, and if you check Amazon’s pricing you’ll find that it’s quite a jump from a “small” to a “large” instance, regardless of operating system or whether it’s “standard” or “high-CPU” usage. In fact in both cases it’s 4x the cost to go from small to large/medium to extra-large, which makes sense given you 4x the EC2 compute units with each “upgrade”.

It seems, at least on the surface, that even with the costs of load balancing services from Amazon ($0.025/hour per Elastic Load balancer + $0.008/GB of data transferred through an Elastic Load Balancer) that it would be financially advantageous to simply launch a second instance and take advantage of load balancing, while also benefiting from the performance improvements typically associated with load balancing.

Now granted, the small servers are, by enterprise standards, pretty small and most organizations would never deploy an application into production running on a server with 1.7GB RAM and “the equivalent CPU capacity of a 1.0-1.2 GHz 2007 Opteron or 2007 Xeon processor.” I’m fairly certain my digital camera has more processing power than that, so what RightScale is seeing actually makes a great deal of sense to me. It might cost a bit more but it seems more apposite to provision higher performing instances despite the possibility of overprovisioning.

But I digress (yet again) and so now let’s get back to the point of this post which is not actually a comparison of vertical and horizontal scaling technology (although that’s interesting, too) but what this unique vertical scaling solution says about where the future of cloud computing (hopefully) lies.


WHERE COMPUTE RESOURCES, NOT VIRTUAL MACHINES, ARE PROVISIONED ON-DEMAND


Really, that’s it. That’s where cloud computing should be going and that’s where cloud computing hopefully is going. Someday you won’t need contextto launch a bigger instance because the environment will automatically, based on specified thresholds and business needs, allocate more CPU and/or memory on-demand to your “application”. How that happens isn’t important at the moment, but that it will happen and that it will take a combination of data derived from across the infrastructure is what is important and exciting. Because what RightScale is seeing is the first step toward someone deciding you shouldn’t have to launch a separate VM, you should just be able to grow the one you have until it can’t hold any more. Until you really are paying per clock-tick, per instructions executed and bytes in memory used instead of in chunks that may or may not be enough, or may be too much. Overpaying is not what cloud computing is supposed to be about either, but right now that very well may be the case.

But not in the future. No, in the future the infrastructure sees the requests, the users, the traffic patterns, and the performance of the application; it will process the needs of the application based on the context and capabilities of the infrastructure and the business needs and then determine when an application needs more compute resources. It will further be able to signal management systems or invoke the proper methods itself that will provision the resources needed to ensure the application scales. That same infrastructure should - and hopefully will - be able to determine at what point vertical scalability is no longer ensuring application performance meets business criteria (or has met some compute ceiling) and can then decide to provision resources using horizontal scaling techniques instead.

The intelligence to interpret the technical context and measure it against business needs. The ability to connect and integrate to gather and share that technical context. The flexibility to automatically determine whether horizontal or vertical scaling is necessary to meet those business criteria. That’s a dynamic infrastructure, that’s what we’re trying to enable via Infrastructure 2.0.

That’s the future of cloud computing. That’s where we’re going. And that’s why it’s so exciting to see the beginnings of it happening with virtual images; because it is just the beginning and people are starting to really flex the boundaries of cloud computing which will lead to even more innovation and change and shift into a higher gear so we can get where it is I hope we’re going a little bit faster.

Follow me on Twitter View Lori's profile on SlideShare friendfeed icon_facebook

AddThis Feed Button Bookmark and Share

Related blogs & articles:

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.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
To Really Work for Enterprises, MultiCloud Adoption Requires Far Better and Inclusive Cloud Monitoring and Cost Management … But How? Overwhelmingly, even as enterprises have adopted cloud computing and are expanding to multi-cloud computing, IT leaders remain concerned about how to monitor, manage and control costs across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. It’s clear that traditional IT monitoring and management approaches, designed after all for on-premises data centers, are falling short in ...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...