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Agile Computing Authors: Liz McMillan, Victoria Livschitz, Pat Romanski, Ian Khan, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: @ThingsExpo, Java IoT, Mobile IoT, Linux Containers, Agile Computing, @DevOpsSummit

@ThingsExpo: Article

Using @Docker For a Complex #IoT Application | @ThingsExpo #DevOps #M2M

The goal of any DevOps solution is to optimize multiple processes in an organization

View Aaater Suleman's @ThingsExpo sesion here

The goal of any DevOps solution is to optimize multiple processes in an organization. And success does not necessarily require that in executing the strategy everything needs to be automated to produce an effective plan. Yet, it is important that processes are put in place to handle a necessary list of items.

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Flux7 is a consulting group with a focus on helping organizations build, maintain and optimize DevOps processes. The group has a wide view across DevOps challenges and benefits, including:

  • The distinct challenge of a skills shortage in this area and how organizations are coping to meet demands with limited resources.
  • The technical requirements: From stacks to scripts, and what works.
  • The practical and political challenges: Beyond the stacks and the human element is a critical success factor in DevOps.

Recently at Flux7, we developed an end-to-end Internet of Things project that received sensor data to provide reports to service-provider end users. Our client asked us to support multiple service providers for his new business venture. We knew that rearchitecting the application to incorporate major changes would prove to be both time-consuming and expensive for our client. It also would have required a far more complicated, rigid and difficult-to-maintain codebase.

We had been exploring the potential of using Docker to set up Flux7's internal development environments, and, based on our findings, believed we could use it in order to avoid a major application rewrite. So, we decided to use Docker containers to provide quick, easy, and inexpensive multi-tenancy by creating isolated environments for running app tier multiple instances for each provider.

What is Docker?
Docker provides a user-friendly layer on top of Linux Containers (LXCs). LXCs provide operating-system-level virtualization by limiting a process's resources. In addition to using the chroot command to change accessible directories for a given process, Docker effectively provides isolation of one group of processes from other files and system processes without the expense of running another operating system.

In the Beginning
The "single provider" version of our app had three components:

  1. Cassandra for data persistence, which we later use for generating each gateway's report.
  2. A Twisted TCP server listening at PORT 6000 for data ingestion from a provider's multiple gateways.
  3. A Flask app at PORT 80 serving as the admin panel for setting customizations and for viewing reports.

In the past, we'd used the following to launch the single-provider version of the app:

12: nohup python & # For firing up the TCP server.nohup python & # For firing up the admin panel

view hosted with ❤ by GitHub

Both code bases were hard coded inside the Cassandra KEYSPACE.

Our New Approach
While Docker is an intriguing emerging technology, it's still in the early stages of development. As might be expected, it has issues remaining to be resolved. The biggest for us was that, at this point, Docker can't support multiple Cassandra instances running on a single machine. Consequently, we couldn't use Cassandra to provide multi-tenancy. Another issue for us was that hosting multiple database instances on a single machine can quickly cause resource shortages. We addressed that by implementing the solution in a fairly traditional way for making an application multi-tenant. We used KEYSPACE as the namespace for each provider in the data store. We also made corresponding code changes to both the data ingestion and web servers by adding the keyspace parameter to the DB accesses. We passed the Cassandra KEYSPACE (the provider ID) to each app instance on the command line, which makes it possible to use custom skins and other features in the future. Thus, we were able to create a separate namespace for each provider in the data store without making changes to the column family schema.

The beauty of our approach was that, by using Docker to provide multi-tenancy, the only code changes needed to make the app multi-tenant were those described above. Had we not used Docker in this way, we'd have had to make major code changes bordering on a total application rewrite.

How We Did It

Docker diagram 1.jpg

First, we created a Docker container for the new software version by correctly setting up all of the environments and dependencies. Next, we started a Cassandra container. Even though we weren't running multiple instances of Cassandra, we wanted to make use of Docker's security, administrative and easy configuration features. You can download our Cassandra file from our GitHub here.We used a locally running container serving at PORT 9160 BY using this command:


docker run -d -p 9160:9160 -name db flux7/cassandra

view rawCassandra Container hosted with ❤ by GitHub

We then created a keyspace "provider1" using pycassaShell.

We fired up our two code bases on two separate containers like this:


docker run -name remote_server_1 -link db:cassandra -p 6001:6000 flux7/labs python software/ provider1docker run -name flask_app_1 -link db:cassandra -p 8081:80 flux7/labs python software/ provider1

view rawCode base launch in container hosted with ❤ by GitHub

Voila! We had a provider1 instance running in no time.

We found Docker-py extremely useful for automating all of these processes and used:


# Yes. We love Python!def start_provider(provider_id, gateway_port, admin_port ):docker_client = docker.Client(base_url='unix://var/run/docker.sock'
timeout=100) # start a docker container for consuming gateway data at gateway_portstart_command = 'python software/ ' + provider_idremote_server = docker_client.create_container('flux7/labs', # docker image
command=start_command, # start command contains the keyspace parameter, keyspace is the provider_id
name='remote_server_' + provider_id, # name the container, name is provider_id ports=[(6000, 'tcp'),]) # open port for binding, listens at 6000docker_client.start(remote_server,
port_bindings={6000: ('', gateway_port)},
links={'db': 'cassandra'}) # start a docker container for serving admin panel at admin_portstart_command = 'python software/ ' + provider_idremote_server = docker_client.create_container('flux7/labs', # docker image
command=start_command, # start command contains the keyspace parameter, keyspace is the provider_id
name='admin_panel_' + provider_id, # name the container, name is provider_id
ports=[(80, 'tcp'),]) # open port for binding, listens at 6000docker_client.start(remote_server,
port_bindings={80: ('',admin_port)},
links={'db': 'cassandra'})

view hosted with ❤ by GitHub

To complete the solution, we added a small logic to allocate the port for newly added providers and to create Cassandra keyspaces for each one.

In the end, we quickly brought up a multi-tenant solution for our client with the key "Run each provider's app in a contained space." We couldn't use virtual machines to provide that functionality because a VM requires too many resources and too much dedicated memory. In fact, Google is now switching away from using VMs and has become one of the largest contributors to Linux containers, the technology that forms the basis of Docker. We could have used multiple instances, but then we'd have significantly over allocated the resources. Changing the app also would have added unnecessary complexity, expense and implementation time.

At the project's conclusion, our client was extremely pleased that we'd developed a solution that met his exact requirements, while also saving him money. And we were pleased that we'd created a solution that can be applied to future customers' needs.

Conference Schedule Announced

Are you ready to put your data in the cloud?

What is the future of security in the cloud?

Does Docker quickly advance the development of an IoT application?

What are the implications of Moore's Law on Hadoop deployments?

Get all these questions and hundreds more like them answered at the 15th Cloud Expo, November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, in Santa Clara, CA. The Cloud Expo / Big Data Expo / @ThingsExpo / DevOps Summit programs are now available for you to inspect and investigate in advance.

Our upcoming November 4-6 event in Santa Clara, California will present a total of 10 simultaneous tracks by an all-star faculty, over three days, plus a two-day "Cloud Computing Bootcamp" presented by Janakiram MSV, an Analyst with the Gigaom Research analyst network, where he covers the Cloud Services landscape.

Cloud and Big Data topics and tracks include: Enterprise Cloud Adoption, APM & Cloud Computing | Hot Topics, Cloud APIs & Business, Cloud Security | Mobility, Big Data | Analytics.

@ThingsExpo content tripled from a single track in New York to three simultaneous tracks: Consumer IoT, Enterprise IoT, IoT Developer | WebRTC Convergence.

DevOps Summit also doubled from a single track in New York to two simultaneous tracks: "Dev" Developer Focus and "Ops" Operations Focus.

Schedule for Cloud Expo / Big Data Expo / @ThingsExpoHere

Schedule for DevOps SummitHere

Now that we have published the full conference schedule, please check back for daily updates as we finalize new session abstracts by working with our distinguished faculty members. For your questions please contact us at events (at) Last but not least we will announce our keynotes on the hottest subjects to be delivered by world-class speakers!

The largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world has announced "sponsorship opportunities" and "call for papers."

The 1st International Internet of @ThingsExpo was launched this June at the Javits Center in New York City with over 6,000 delegates in attendance. The 2nd International Internet of @ThingsExpo will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California, with an estimated 7,000 plus delegates attending over three days.

@ThingsExpo is co-located with 15th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading IoT industry players in the world. In 2014, more than 200 companies will be present on the @ThingsExpo show floor, including global players and the hottest new technology pioneers.

Sponsorship and Exhibit Opportunities for @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley and New York Are Now Available
Sponsors and exhibitors of Internet of @ThingsExpo will benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities through:

  • Featured on-site presentation and ongoing on-demand webcast exposure to a captive audience of industry decision-makers.
  • Showcase exhibition during our new extended dedicated expo hours
  • Breakout Session Priority scheduling for sponsors that have been guaranteed a 35-minute technical session
  • Online advertising in SYS-CON's i-Technology publications
  • Capitalize on our comprehensive marketing efforts leading up to the show with print mailings, e-newsletters and extensive online media coverage.
  • Unprecedented PR Coverage: Editorial coverage on, Tweets to our 75,000 plus followers, press releases sent on major wire services to over 500 combined analysts and press members who attended Internet of @ThingsExpo - making it the best-covered "Internet of Things" conference in the world

For more information on sponsorship, exhibit, and keynote opportunities contact Carmen Gonzalez by email at events (at), or by phone 201 802-3021. Book both events for additional savings!

@ThingsExpo Silicon Valley (November 4-6, 2014, Santa Clara, CA)
@ThingsExpo New York (June 9-11, 2015, New York, NY)

Secure Your VIP Pass to Attend @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley
Internet of @ThingsExpo announced today a limited time free "Expo Plus" registration option. The onsite registration price of $600 will be set to 'free' for delegates who register during September.

To take advantage of this opportunity, attendees can use the coupon code "IoTSeptember" and secure their "@ThingsExpo Plus" registration to attend all keynotes and general sessions, as well as a limited number of technical sessions each day of the show, in addition to full access to the expo floor and the @ThingsExpo hackathon.

The registration page is located at the @ThingsExpo site here.

@ThingsExpo New York 2015 'Call for Papers' Now Open
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York announces that its 'Call for Papers' is now open. The event will feature a world class, all-star faculty with the hottest IoT topics covered in three distinct tracks.

Track 1 - Consumer IoT and Wearables: Smart Appliances, Wearables, Smart Cars, Smartphones 2.0, Smart Travel, Personal Fitness, Health Care, Personalized Marketing, Customized Shopping, Personal Finance, The Digital Divide, Mobile Cash & Markets, Games & the IoT, The Future of Education, Virtual Reality

Track 2 - Enterprise IoT: The Business Case for IoT, Smart Grids, Smart Cities, Smart Transportation, The Smart Home, M2M, Authentication/Security, Wiring the IoT, The Internet of Everything, Digital Transformation of Enterprise IT, Agriculture, Transportation, Manufacturing, Local & State Government, Federal Government

Track 3 - Developer IoT: WebRTC, Eclipse Foundation, Cloud Foundry, Docker & Linux Containers, Node-Red, Open Source Hardware, Leveraging SOA, Multi-Cloud IoT, Evolving Standards, WebSockets, Security & Privacy Protocols, GPS & Proximity Services, Bluetooth/RFID/etc., XMPP, Nest Labs

@ThingsExpo billboard is viewed by more than 1.3 million motorists per week on Highway 101, in the heart of Silicon Valley

Help plant your flag in the fast-expanding business opportunity that is the Internet of Things: Submit your speaking proposal today here!

Download @ThingsExpo Newsletter Today Here

Chris Matthieu Named @ThingsExpo Tech Chair

Internet of @ThingsExpo named Chris Matthieu tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2014 Silicon Valley.

Chris Matthieu has two decades of telecom and web experience. He launched his Teleku cloud communications-as-a-service platform at eComm in 2010, which was acquired by Voxeo. Next he built an open source Node.JS PaaS called Nodester, which was acquired by AppFog. His latest startups include Twelephone. Leveraging HTML5 and WebRTC, Twelephone's BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is to become the next generation telecom company running in the Web browser. Chris is currently co-founder and CTO of Octoblu.



About SYS-CON Media & Events
SYS-CON Media ( has since 1994 been connecting technology companies and customers through a comprehensive content stream - featuring over forty focused subject areas, from Cloud Computing to Web Security - interwoven with market-leading full-scale conferences produced by SYS-CON Events. The company's internationally recognized brands include among others Cloud Expo® ( / @CloudExpo), Big Data Expo ( / @BigDataExpo), DevOps Summit ( / @DevOpsSummit), Internet of @ThingsExpo ( / @ThingsExpo) and Cloud Computing Bootcamp (

Cloud Expo®, Big Data Expo® and @ThingsExpo® are registered trademarks of Cloud Expo, Inc., a SYS-CON Events company.

More Stories By Aater Suleman

Aater Suleman, CEO & Co-Founder at Flux7, is an industry veteran in performance optimization on servers and distributed systems. He earned his PhD at the University of Texas at Austin, where he also currently teaches computer systems design and architecture. His current interests are in optimizing DevOps and reducing cloud costs.

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