Open Source Cloud Authors: Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Zakia Bouachraoui

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Open Source Cloud, Containers Expo Blog

@CloudExpo: Article

So You Want to Use Open Source Cloud for Your Web Application

There’s a learning curve with the cloud

What Is Cloud?
Before embarking on using open source cloud technology for your web property, a basic understanding of cloud, as it's used in the industry, is essential. While there might be exceptions, here are the definitions.

A software application delivered on the web instead of installing standalone software on a particular OS requiring some environment qualifies as Software as a Service. This makes applications available anywhere on a browser in any OS, device, and also makes latest updates available asynchronously, e.g., email on the web, banking on the web.

A web application requires software in turn to be built like the environment, application server, and web server and the configuration of these should be adequate for the applications deployed on this platform. For a Java-based application, one may require a JBoss server to deploy code. With Platform as a Service, instead of trying to manage the JBoss server deployment and configuration, it can be made available as a service and integrated right within your IDE, e.g., openshift.redhat.com, cloudfoundry.org.

These applications need to be hosted on hardware for serving client requests. IaaS makes available virtualized and non-virtualized servers and network on demand with a certain capacity that can scale up or down. Instead of trying to manage a hosted server or a data center, IT can focus on reducing their costs and increasing server utilization, e.g., openstack.org, cloudstack.org.

Figure 1

Why Should I Consider Cloud?
Cloud computing is becoming increasingly important to consider and difficult to ignore as part of your IT strategy. If you're still reading this article, you are either thinking or in the process of moving to the cloud for your infrastructure or platform, and are interested in leveraging any open source options available.

Gartner predicts $180B being spent on cloud by 2015. About 50% of this is expected to be on open source cloud technology. There are many providers with commercial and open source offerings, and more startups are emerging constantly in the space.

The technology available varies from provider to provider, as well as the ability to get all needs satisfied from one or more vendors.

If you look at a traditional datacenter without any virtualization or IaaS, only 15% of server capacity is utilized in the industry per analysts. Using IaaS can bring this utilization up to considerable levels, translating into considerable cost savings.

If you look at a traditional coding and deployment model, developers have to think not only about code, but the configuration and maintenance of the platform hosting the code. Using PaaS, developers simply code while the underlying platform takes care of deployments, configurations, policies and more.

These are all sound reasons to consider using cloud computing for your next enterprise web property.

Now I'll walk through a scenario that qualifies for leveraging open source cloud products to launch a web application.

Scenario Problem
Company A has web properties related to Hollywood, astrology, sports and news. It has a massive user base across the world. It has its own datacenter with servers, storage, routers, switches, firewalls, and load balancers that has evolved over time as the properties have demanded scale. This is shown in Figure 2A.

Figure 2a

It has hosted web and application software and servers for Java and PHP, two primary languages developers use in company A to code. It also involves services such as Big Data, CDN, streaming and file storage and sharing. This is shown in Figure 3A.

Figure 3a

Any new web application launch for company A could mean procuring hardware, installing software, configuring software and hardware, coding, deployment and the launch.

As explained before, the cycle is large for company A and involves several touch points like Ops, IT and Engineering. Each additional scale event may need to go through the same cycle.

With the help of an external consultant, Company A has analyzed that making their infrastructure available as a service, and then on top of it providing Platform as a Service for code in Java, PHP, etc., can provide them with agility and cost savings.

Scenario Solution
Let's see how problem of company A gets resolved using open source cloud technologies with IaaS and PaaS.

The cloud solution for company A would be a software package that allows them to create and manage all hardware infrastructure as a service, and a software package that can manage all platform components as a service. The software package for IaaS will enable key services as whoen in Figure 2B.

Figure 2b

The software package for PaaS will enable key services as shown in Figure 3B.

Figure 3b

Note that both IaaS and PaaS are fundamentally different challenges. If you are looking for a public cloud deployment, then PaaS would be more relevant on the public cloud of choice, since the public cloud must have already made IaaS available through the use of another software package enabling just that.

For this private cloud scenario, for company A, there are a number of open source software options available. I'm going to briefly cover one each for the services I've looked at and how you can learn it. I have no particular preference or bias. You should do your own research for what works best for your needs.

OpenStack for IaaS
OpenStack is an IaaS enabler software with a vibrant community of developers from many organizations; it's a joint effort started originally by Rackspace and NASA. It is made available as components that address different aspects of IaaS:

  • Nova - for compute VMs with a certain CPU and RAM
  • Swift - for providing object storage
  • Glance - for images to install on compute VMs
  • Quantum - for network and security management
  • Horizon/API - for managing all services via web based dashboard or API

For those new to OpenStack, I recommend trying it on a trail computer first or on a playground like TryStack.

Figure 4

OpenShift Origin for PaaS
OpenShift origin provides the ability to code, deploy, test and run apps in Java and PHP for company A. It also provides more languages besides Java and PHP. It's an offering from RedHat.

OpenShift origin can be made to run on top of OpenStack-enabled IaaS. An installable image is available that can be installed on OpenStack. As of this writing, RedHat's site says they're working on putting together a wiki specifically for this purpose.

OpenShift origin works on the concept of cartridges that are pluggable for each language or framework that a developer might want to code in.

To create an application, a developer needs to create an OpenShift application, code it, and then deploy the same. This could be done via an IDE like Eclipse, which can be configured to work with OpenShift origin.

For those new to OpenShift origin, I recommend trying it on a trial computer first or on a playground like OpenShift's hosted cloud PaaS.

Figure 5

Useful Software That Can Be Used Within or Outside the Cloud
Company A also uses services like CDN, which warrants for covering open source software for those needs also. These can be made to work as part of the cloud or standalone.

PowerDNS for DNS
This can serve as an authoritative server for DNS management and also handle global load balancing.

Donated by Yahoo to the Apache Foundation, ATS (Apache Traffic Server) is a fast and scalable http caching proxy server.

ATS can work as a standalone offering outside the cloud, or could be installed on compute VMs in OpenStack. Swift container could then be configured to store cacheable and compressible objects such as images that could then be served by ATS. The rest of the traffic could be configured to go to origin web server VMs.

GStreamer for Streaming
GStreamer enables encoding and streaming for open streaming formats like ogg and webm. GStreamer could be installed on compute VMs in OpenStack, just like ATS, or work on standalone offerings outside the cloud. Swift container could store video and audio files that need to be streamed with GStreamer.

OwnCloud for Cloud Storage
OwnCloud enables out-of-the-box storage and retrieval of objects on the cloud, such asmusic and files. It can run on top of OpenStack. OwnCloud provides a basic turnkey solution for object storage, sharing and retrieval and is under development to provide more capabilities, as of the writing of this article.

There's a learning curve with the cloud, and I strongly recommend trying it out on a test setup to understand what works and what needs to be further developed. Different providers have reached different levels of maturity. For someone new to cloud computing, I would also recommend looking at AWS. While AWS is paid, it is the pioneer in this space and provides a number of resources to read to try and understand cloud computing.

Also note that as a web application scales, you may need to use more than one cloud provider (e.g., use compute from provider X while storage from provider Y, load balance between a public and private cloud). Since each provider comes with their own set of APIs and functionality, it can become another IT nightmare to maintain multiple systems. Here's where cross-cloud providers like Apache DeltaCloud can help.

More Stories By Puneet Sangal

Puneet Sangal has been in the Internet technology space for 14 years. He occasionally writes on Internet technology at http://www.inmovi.net/ He can be reached at [email protected]

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
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
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...
The challenges of aggregating data from consumer-oriented devices, such as wearable technologies and smart thermostats, are fairly well-understood. However, there are a new set of challenges for IoT devices that generate megabytes or gigabytes of data per second. Certainly, the infrastructure will have to change, as those volumes of data will likely overwhelm the available bandwidth for aggregating the data into a central repository. Ochandarena discusses a whole new way to think about your next...
CloudEXPO | DevOpsSUMMIT | DXWorldEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
All in Mobile is a place where we continually maximize their impact by fostering understanding, empathy, insights, creativity and joy. They believe that a truly useful and desirable mobile app doesn't need the brightest idea or the most advanced technology. A great product begins with understanding people. It's easy to think that customers will love your app, but can you justify it? They make sure your final app is something that users truly want and need. The only way to do this is by ...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Big Data Federation to Exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO, colocated with DevOpsSUMMIT and DXWorldEXPO, November 12-13, 2018 in New York City. Big Data Federation, Inc. develops and applies artificial intelligence to predict financial and economic events that matter. The company uncovers patterns and precise drivers of performance and outcomes with the aid of machine-learning algorithms, big data, and fundamental analysis. Their products are deployed...
Cell networks have the advantage of long-range communications, reaching an estimated 90% of the world. But cell networks such as 2G, 3G and LTE consume lots of power and were designed for connecting people. They are not optimized for low- or battery-powered devices or for IoT applications with infrequently transmitted data. Cell IoT modules that support narrow-band IoT and 4G cell networks will enable cell connectivity, device management, and app enablement for low-power wide-area network IoT. B...
The hierarchical architecture that distributes "compute" within the network specially at the edge can enable new services by harnessing emerging technologies. But Edge-Compute comes at increased cost that needs to be managed and potentially augmented by creative architecture solutions as there will always a catching-up with the capacity demands. Processing power in smartphones has enhanced YoY and there is increasingly spare compute capacity that can be potentially pooled. Uber has successfully ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...