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Current PaaS Patterns – Types of PaaS

23 Jan

There are many definititions of PaaS that I have run across, the most succinct of which is “A Service where Code is uploaded and executed”.  While succinct, this leaves a lot of “wiggle room” for what PaaS really is.  The secret is PaaS isn’t one thing, it is a broad array of things that can be used and mixed together.  What model ore TYPE of PaaS determines what capabilities and limitations the platform will have.

The Type 1 PaaS – Upload Your Environment

Type 1 PaaS Examples

This style of PaaS is an option from several different providers including Amazon EC2 and Microsoft Azure with the VM Role.  By imaging and then uploading an environment packaged as a VM, you are allowed to run legacy systems in Cloud environments

The Type 2 PaaS – Upload Your Compiled Application

Type 2 PaaS Examples

This PaaS is where an environment is already provided and you are uploading and executing an Application that was written/is supported by that PaaS environment. This could be a preconfigured Amazon EC2 VM, a RackSpace Cloud VM, Microsoft Azure Role, or any of the other dozens of Cloud providers.

The Type 3 PaaS – Upload Your Packaged Application

Type 3 PaaS Examples

PaaS here is presented as a container that is more restricted than a traditional environment and is more stringent on code.  This could be a Java WAR file for example that leverages a container such as Apache Tomcat, Amazon’s Elastic Beanstalk is a good example of this.  The solution could also just be a custom JVM such as the one that Google App Engine uses (where your App is a JAR).  Why is this different than a Type 2 PaaS?  It is a container in an environment, not just an OS environment like Linux or Windows.

The Type 4 PaaS – Upload Your Code

Type 4 PaaS Examples

This type of PaaS allows source code to be uploaded where the compilation happens in the PaaS itself.  By accepting the code as the uploaded payload a greater level of insight as to what the resource requirements are of the code can be gotten, which offers more versatility from the platform.  An example would be VMware’s Open PaaS (which is in Alpha currently).  Open PaaS accepts many different code types, looks at what the requirements are and adjusts the environment based on what the needs of the code are.  Other examples include Heroku and Engine Yard, both do Ruby on Rails. When the Ruby on Rails code is uploaded for example, then a MySQL server instance is created to support the application amongst other things that happen.  Nearly everything that is needed is allocated automatically on demand.

The Type 5 PaaS – Upload App/Platform Specific Code

Type 5 PaaS Example

PaaS here would only allow specific code which is designed to work as logic or an extension of the Platform is allowed.  While this is a highly restrictive form of PaaS, it can also be powerful and is a natural move for a Software as a Service provider looking to allow cutsomization.  Salesforce.com is a great example with their App Logic using Apex Code.  Apex Code allows a level of customization and extension to the Salesforce solution using their own blended Java/C# like syntax.

The future of PaaS is in leveraging many of these models to best meet design decisions and customer needs.  The biggest question will be what happens in the future when Enterprises want to adopt and adapt PaaS in their Data Centers.  While the economies of scale will always be with Public Cloud PaaS providers, there are benefits to having PaaS implementations inside the Enterprise.

In my next post I will talk about where PaaS could go.

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CLASH – CLoud Admin SHell

11 Jan

It has been several weeks since I have posted to this blog.  I would blame this on the holidays, but that would be inaccurate as it has been something far more insidious!

What is CLASH?
CLASH is a universal shell.  What is a universal shell?  First, by universal I mean that it is intended to run on all major desktop operating system platforms including:
Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7

Mac OSX Leopard, Mac OSX Snow Leopard
Ubuntu Linux, and most other flavors of Linux
——————————–
Now the shell portion is a bit different.  Since this is a CLoud Admin SHell, Cloud is an important part of idea.  In this initial prototype I went through many experiments in learning the nuances of JRuby <follow on post link here>, but have been able to get a reasonable working version of VIJava (the interface I’m using to get JRuby to work with VMware vCenter/vSphere).

Great, so what can I do with this prototype?

-You can try it out on any of the platforms listed above!
-If you are on a Windows System, you can either edit the clash.bat file and put in your server’s IP or name along with a username and password to connect
-If you are on Mac or Linux, you can simply type ./clash –Server 127.0.0.1 –Username administrator –Password password to connect 

-The following are the working commands:
> Get-VM SomeVMName
Above gets the VM object and prints out the Guest Operating System type

> $result
This command prints the name of the VM object
> $result $
This displays the methods available to the VM object
> $result $.get
This shows only the methods with “get” in them
> $result $.set
This shows only the methods with “set” in them
> $result $.find something
This shows only them methods that contain “something” in them
> $result method
This will execute the method against the object (i.e. $result getName will display the name property of the VM object from Get-VM)
> disconnect
This will cleanly disconnect from the vCenter / vSphere server
> Start-VM SomeVMName
This command is flakey at the moment, this will be fixed when the next prototype is released in a few weeks
> Stop-VM SomeVMName
This is in the same state as Start-VM
> Get-VM SomeVMName > $result getName
This allows a limited form of piping in clash by using the > as an operator (you must have whitespace on both sides of the > symbol.

Where is this headed?
After many experiments, it will be broken out into a flexible system that allows many different options and cool capabilities against not only vCenter and vSphere, but most Cloud platforms as well.  Currently planned platforms include:
-Amazon EC2 and S3
-Rackspace
-(Looking for the next provider for this list)

Other interfaces to the shell (for both input and output) will include a Web interface, I’m looking for thoughts on other types of interfaces desired.

How will this work?
Below is my latest planned diagram for how I hope/think things should work:

Where can I get the Prototype?
You can get the code from GitHub here
You can download the entire package here

Installation Directions (AGAIN, this is a PROTOTYPE, it does NOT follow best practices)
1.) Make sure that you have Java 1.5 or Above Installed
Download Java from Here

2.) Install JRuby 1.5.6
Download JRuby from Here
3.) Follow the JRuby Setup Instructions Here
4.) Download the CLASH prototype/alpha-1 from GitHub (See Above Links)
Unzip/Tar it to c:\clash or /clash directory in ROOT
5.) Start clash by going to c:\clash\bin\ or /clash/bin
On Windows edit clash.bat to contain the correct IP Address, Username, and Password
then run clash.bat
On Mac and Linux type ./clash –Server 127.0.0.1 –Username administrator –Password password
Make sure to select the IP or Name of a valid vCenter / vSphere Server
6.) Play with clash
A Request:
Please supply feedback to me through comments to this post or communicate directly with me through Twitter – my handle is @mccrory
I’m looking for ideas/things that you would like to see clash do, better commands, capabilities, features, etc.

Cloud Escape Velocity – Switching Cloud Providers

18 Dec

The term Escape Velocity is the speed needed to “break free” from a gravitational field without further propulsion according to Wikipedia.org.  Data Gravity as explained in THIS previous post is what attracts and builds more Data, Applications, and Services on Clouds.  Data Gravity also is what creates a high level of Escape Velocity to move to another Cloud.

Some background on why this post is timely:

A few days ago Amazon announced a new AWS service for importing VMware disk images (VMDKs) into EC2.  VMware already offered a method for converting EC2 instances through their Converter tool into Workstation VMs and with a 2nd pass conversion into ESX VMs.  While all of this sounds wonderful and it does have value, it brings to light an entirely different issue.  Only Stateful / Fully encapsulated applications can be moved around in this way.

Examples of sources of Cloud Gravity (App, Service, and Data Gravity Combined) on your specific Application.

If someone selects a Cloud provider and writes an application leveraging anything more than a handful of VMs, Data Gravity will make it virtually impossible to move to a new/different Cloud provider.  Don’t believe it?

See the Diagrams Below:

Here is a diagram of an app that has a Low Escape Velocity because of Lower Cloud Gravity:

Cloud Escape Velocity with Low Gravity

Below is a diagram of an app that has a High Escape Velocity because of High Cloud Gravity:

Cloud Escape Velocity with High Gravity

Some potential dependencies include:

Database with a specific API

Web Worker which serves as a web interface and uses internal Authentication (Your user logins are here!)

Application code that uses the Database and Web Workers specific APIs and/or depends on Low Latency and High Throughput access to them.

Here are a few additional things to think about:

– The longer (more time) an Application stays in a specific Cloud the more difficult it is to move.  Why?  Data Gravity increases due to more Mass (data being stored).  Imagine accumulating 100’s of GBs of Data, how easy will it be to shuffle/transfer that much data around?

– The more provider APIs and Services that you depend on the harder it is to move.  Why?  Because there are only two paths that can be taken in a move.  The first is to find another provider that has the exact same set of APIs and Services (this will limit your choices).  The second is to change or rewrite your application to take advantage of the new Cloud provider’s APIs and/or Services.

– Different providers have different charges for the consumption of the same resources.  Your current provider gives free usage of queues for applications. The provider you are looking to go to charges after the first X number of messages on the queue.  Now what do you do?  You will either pay more when you move, rewrite your application to fit the new provider’s model, or pick another provider that has free queue usage.

– Different QoS guarantees from Cloud provider to Cloud provider.  Some Cloud providers offer SLAs with reimbursements for outages, others only offer best effort.  Some providers offer tiered Services, others only offer a single tier.  What happens if you want to move and you can’t get the minimum level of QoS that you need?

This is NOT an attempt to dissuade anyone from using Public Clouds (they are incredibly valuable and powerful), but I would like more people to go in eyes wide open.

Data Gravity – in the Clouds

7 Dec

Today Salesforce.com announced Database.com at Dreamforce.  I realized that many could be wondering why they decided to do this and more so, why now?

The answer is Data Gravity.

Consider Data as if it were a Planet or other object with sufficient mass.  As Data accumulates (builds mass) there is a greater likelihood that additional Services and Applications will be attracted to this data. This is the same effect Gravity has on objects around a planet.  As the mass or density increases, so does the strength of gravitational pull.  As things get closer to the mass, they accelerate toward the mass at an increasingly faster velocity.  Relating this analogy to Data is what is pictured below.

Data Gravity

Services and Applications can have their own Gravity, but Data is the most massive and dense, therefore it has the most gravity.  Data if large enough can be virtually impossible to move.
What accelerates Services and Applications to each other and to Data (the Gravity)?
Latency and Throughput, which act as the accelerators in continuing a stronger and stronger reliance or pull on each other.  This is the very reason that VMforce is so important to Salesforce’s long term strategy.  The diagram below shows the accelerant effect of Latency and Throughput, the assumption is that the closer you are (i.e. in the same facility) the higher the Throughput and lower the Latency to the Data and the more reliant those Applications and Services will become on Low Latency and High Throughput.
Note:  Latency and Throughput apply equally to both Applications and Services
How does this all relate back to Database.com?  If Salesforce.com can build a new Data Mass that is general purpose, but still close in locality to its other Data Masses and App/Service Properties, it will be able to grow its business and customer base that much more quickly.  It also enables VMforce to store data outside of the construct of ForceDB (Salesforce’s core database) enabling knew Adjacent Services with persistence.
The analogy holds with the comparison of your weight being different on one planet vs. another planet to that of services and applications (compute) having different weights depending on Data Gravity and what Data Mass(es) they are associated with.
Here is a 3D video depicting what I diagrammed at the beginning of the post in 2D.

 

More on Data Gravity soon (There is a formula in this somewhere)

Public Cloud Comparison and Calculator v2

5 Dec

After some time away from the Public Cloud Compute Comparison that I did a couple of months ago (which got X hits), I decided to update it based on feedback and new ideas.  What follows is a brief walkthrough with instructions on how to use the Calculator.

Before I go any further, a brief disclaimer:  I do not warrant the accuracy of this Comparison and Calculator, it may have errors and omissions (all unintentional if they exist).  I also take no responsibility if your bill turns out to be something very different than what the Calculator shows.  And finally, I’m employed by Dell, which has relationships with Microsoft, Joyent, and Amazon, and possibly the others and I’m just not aware.

First, let’s cover the updated Compute Comparison:

I’ve updated the Compute with Terremark as an additional provider, I would be interested in adding others if people are interested simply add a request by commenting at the bottom of this post.  Also added, is the ability to Calculate/Estimate your costs by using the add Quantities fields.  To use the Quantities, add the number of each type of Compute instance as you like and get a rough idea of what the cost will be.  Please note that there are assumptions, however for the most part I have annotated in the spreadsheet what those assumptions are.  Once you are happy with your compute instances, you can go down to the bottom and move to the new Cloud Storage Comparison and Calculator.

Cloud Compute Comparison and Calculator

Next, The Cloud Storage Comparison and Calculator:

It was quite an ordeal getting the tiered storage pricing models to work correctly as formulas, but it is all in there.  The Cloud Storage Comparison and Calculator attempts to cover the other side of the Cloud equation, by taking into account the following:

Monthly Persisten Storage Requirements

Data Transfer (In and Out of the Storage Cloud)

API Calls (In and Out bound requests)

Redundancy Costs

By entering some estimates across the top and choosing a quantity (this would usually be 1, which acts as a trigger to calculate Monthly Cost) you can easily get an idea of what your storage cost would be.

Cloud Storage Comparison and Calculator

And finally we have the Cost Summary Page.  This page combines the Total Monthly Cost from the Compute and Storage sheets into one place.

Cloud Comparison Summary Monthly Total Costs

To switch from the Cloud page to the Storage page and from the Storage page to the Summary page (or worksheet if you want to be precise), go to the bottom of the page an select (as shown below)

Tabs and Sheets

In the next post I will cover different results that came out as I used the Calculator.

An Administrator’s view of Open PaaS and VMforce

23 Nov

After posting about How Development works on Open PaaS and VMforce, I felt it was time to provide an equivalent view from an Administrator’s perspective. Before going deep, I thought I would provide a comparison of what things look like between the Developer’s view of things vs. the Administrator’s.

Comparison of Developer vs. Admin View


Please note that this is derived information and in some cases speculative (but I bet I’m close)
Starting at the top:

  • The URL and Mapping matches a DNS entry with an External IP (Host), a Path, and a Port to Access the Application
  • The Application contains an App Instance matching the Virtual Machine with a Workload (Potentially multiple Workloads)
  • The Internal IP operates off of the assumption that the VM is either multi-homed or has a NAT based interface with an Inside and Outside Address
  • The Service Instance matches a VM with a specific Running Service inside. This could be a shared Service instance or a Multi-User/Tenant Service Instance (There isn’t enough info. from what I have found to know which)
  • The Service Catalog is the equivalent of a Template/Gold Image based VM (in the describe model)
  • There are several different ways VMware could choose to implement isolation and multi-tenancy.

The diagram below gives an Administrator’s view of Open PaaS and its implementation inside of VMforce. The current implemented resource model shows a quota system as the chosen way of limiting/controlling consumption of resources in the Open PaaS Cloud.

Administrator's View of Open PaaS / VMforce

The Account is the line between where the Administrator turns over the resources to the Developer. This seems like it would create an environment like the wild west, but this is a deceptively simple view. The Architects and Administrators both have the ability to constrain the system before any code is pushed into it. This is achieved by decisions on what types of code can supported in the system, potentially constraining allowed frameworks, available services, the ability to create services, and allocated resources. Quota based allocated resources include number of CPU cores, Memory, and Disk space.

From what I have been able to find so far, there is a focus on isolation by Account using a quota system.
The strongest isolation model would be to assign each workload its own VM, this however would consume far more resources than isolation at a process level (a typical trade-off). Implementing isolation at a process level would work well but you wouldn’t want all Workloads (App Instances) for a single Application running in a single VM, because if the VM fails so does your Application. As more is revealed, I will provide more indepth information on how isolation and distribution is done.

There is also an unknown as to if and how a load-balancing mechanism is implemented. I haven’t come across how/if this is implemented, perhaps this is done in the Mapping (via. DNS/round robin?). This is purely speculative.

AppCloud appears to be VMware Open PaaS Cloud backend name

20 Nov

As I continue to go through VMC related code, I have come across a few code entries talking about AppCloud.  At first I thought this might be a reference to EngineYard’s AppCloud solution. This brought to mind the rumors I mentioned in previous posts, but after further digging and reading the following code and code comments:

AppCloud Gist

Code references to AppCloud


I am fairly convinced that AppCloud is referring to the Open PaaS Cloud Controller (and possibly some of the other components collectively), not EngineYard’s AppCloud. The big question in my mind is when will the first version of “AppCloud” be launched/shipped/released.