Agile Computing Authors: Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Elizabeth White, Kevin Benedict, Jim Kaskade

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Mobile IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Agile Computing

@CloudExpo: Article

MBaaS, Cloud Computing and Architectures for Enterprise Mobility

What your mother never told you

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.

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. 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.

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. There are quite a few services that offer a ping service to check availability. If you are using Appcelerator Cloud Services then there is a great tool called Relic available on their Market Place.

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 Browse the Mobile Solution Directory 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.

More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict is an opinionated Senior Analyst at Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work, SAP Mentor Alumnus, speaker, writer, and mobile and digital strategies expert. He is a popular keynote speaker, and in the past three years he has shared his insights into mobile and digital strategies with companies in 17 different countries. He has over 30 years of experience working with enterprise applications, and he is a veteran mobile industry executive. He wrote the Forward to SAP Press' bestselling book on enterprise mobility titled Mobilizing Your Enterprise with SAP, and he has written over 3,000 articles.

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Roundee / LinearHub will exhibit at the WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LinearHub provides Roundee Service, a smart platform for enterprise video conferencing with enhanced features such as automatic recording and transcription service. Slack users can integrate Roundee to their team via Slack’s App Directory, and '/roundee' command lets your video conference ...
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, will draw together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established ...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
Established in 1998, Calsoft is a leading software product engineering Services Company specializing in Storage, Networking, Virtualization and Cloud business verticals. Calsoft provides End-to-End Product Development, Quality Assurance Sustenance, Solution Engineering and Professional Services expertise to assist customers in achieving their product development and business goals. The company's deep domain knowledge of Storage, Virtualization, Networking and Cloud verticals helps in delivering ...
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
“Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CloudBerry Backup is a leading cross-platform cloud backup and disaster recovery solution integrated with major public cloud services, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Embotics, the cloud automation company, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Embotics is the cloud automation company for IT organizations and service providers that need to improve provisioning or enable self-service capabilities. With a relentless focus on delivering a premier user experience and unmatched customer support, Embotics is the fas...
In the next five to ten years, millions, if not billions of things will become smarter. This smartness goes beyond connected things in our homes like the fridge, thermostat and fancy lighting, and into heavily regulated industries including aerospace, pharmaceutical/medical devices and energy. “Smartness” will embed itself within individual products that are part of our daily lives. We will engage with smart products - learning from them, informing them, and communicating with them. Smart produc...
As ridesharing competitors and enhanced services increase, notable changes are occurring in the transportation model. Despite the cost-effective means and flexibility of ridesharing, both drivers and users will need to be aware of the connected environment and how it will impact the ridesharing experience. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Timothy Evavold, Executive Director Automotive at Covisint, will discuss key challenges and solutions to powering a ride sharing and/or multimodal model in the a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Coalfire will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Coalfire is the trusted leader in cybersecurity risk management and compliance services. Coalfire integrates advisory and technical assessments and recommendations to the corporate directors, executives, boards, and IT organizations for global brands and organizations in the technology, cloud, health...
A completely new computing platform is on the horizon. They’re called Microservers by some, ARM Servers by others, and sometimes even ARM-based Servers. No matter what you call them, Microservers will have a huge impact on the data center and on server computing in general. Although few people are familiar with Microservers today, their impact will be felt very soon. This is a new category of computing platform that is available today and is predicted to have triple-digit growth rates for some ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Transparent Cloud Computing (T-Cloud) Consortium will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The Transparent Cloud Computing Consortium (T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data proces...
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
Major trends and emerging technologies – from virtual reality and IoT, to Big Data and algorithms – are helping organizations innovate in the digital era. However, to create real business value, IT must think beyond the ‘what’ of digital transformation to the ‘how’ to harness emerging trends, innovation and disruption. Architecture is the key that underpins and ties all these efforts together. In the digital age, it’s important to invest in architecture, extend the enterprise footprint to the cl...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MathFreeOn will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MathFreeOn is Software as a Service (SaaS) used in Engineering and Math education. Write scripts and solve math problems online. MathFreeOn provides online courses for beginners or amateurs who have difficulties in writing scripts. In accordance with various mathematical topics, there are more tha...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential Internet of Things Brand by Onalytica in the ‘The Internet of Things Landscape 2015: Top 100 Individuals and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed Twitter conversations around the #IoT debate to uncover the most influential brands and individuals driving the conversation. Onalytica captured data from 56,224 users. The PageRank based methodology they use to extract influencers on a particular topic (tweets mentioning #InternetofThings or #IoT in this ...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential M2M Brand by Onalytica in the ‘Machine to Machine: Top 100 Influencers and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed the online debate on M2M by looking at over 85,000 tweets to provide the most influential individuals and brands that drive the discussion. According to Onalytica the "analysis showed a very engaged community with a lot of interactive tweets. The M2M discussion seems to be more fragmented and driven by some of the major brands present in the...
In the next forty months – just over three years – businesses will undergo extraordinary changes. The exponential growth of digitization and machine learning will see a step function change in how businesses create value, satisfy customers, and outperform their competition. In the next forty months companies will take the actions that will see them get to the next level of the game called Capitalism. Or they won’t – game over. The winners of today and tomorrow think differently, follow different...
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and ...