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Can fog computing be the next solution to cloud resource allocation and management for mobility-aware applications?

With the advancement of IoT, the number of smart and connected devices is increasing. These geographically distributed devices produce and consume a huge amount of heterogeneous and dynamic data...

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With the advancement of IoT, the number of smart and connected devices is increasing. These geographically distributed devices produce and consume a huge amount of heterogeneous and dynamic data known as ‘Big Data’ at the network edge that is close to the end users. Therefore, a new requirement of data management and computing capacity at the network edge has been evolved with respect to user mobility and diverse requirements of applications. Since the traditional cloud data-centers are not capable of handling such extensive data as well as user mobility, it has become indispensable to rethink about the resource allocation and management in the cloud infrastructure. In this case, distributed computing models such as fog computing, mobile clouds and vehicular networks come into play.

 

The article, ‘Mobility-aware application scheduling in fog computing’ by Luiz F. Bittencourt et al., discusses the advantageous aspects of fog computing in the context of faster data processing and computing at the edges of the network for the applications dependent on users’ geographical location. It gives an overview of the hierarchical fog computing infrastructure and illustrates the possible development of user access point called ‘cloudlets’ with the utilization of computation and storage facility. Applications can be classified into different categories based on the user mobility and Quality of Service (QoS) requirements of the applications. These classes can influence the design of scheduling strategies for fog computing infrastructure.

 

The article depicts that by putting application classes and fog computing scheduling policies together while considering user mobility can reduce network delay which makes the applications perform better. To find out more detailed information, please follow the link,

https://www.computer.org/cms/Computer.org/magazines/whats-new/2017/07/mcd2017020026.pdf.

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Cloud Foundry a compelling option
FEB 12, 2016 00:09 AM
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Overview

There is a lot of buzz about Cloud Foundry and we have seen a lot of momentum and developer community support driving towards building the next generation microservices based cloud applications on this PAAS offering. This article tries to evaluate and present a point of view on some of the key aspects to consider while making a selection of your cloud platform.

Introduction

Cloud Foundry was created in 2011 and is an Open Source cloud computing PAAS platform owned by Pivotal. In 2014 Pivotal Cloud Foundry generated USD 40 million making it the largest first year sales ever for an open source product.

As Cloud Foundry states it is built on two core principals

  1. The platform is responsible for scheduling its own application processes on Linux Containers with completely managed ALM – logging, networking, monitoring etc.
  2. The platform is responsible for application availability (HA) with no manual intervention
    • App instances balanced over AZ’s
    • Failed app instances recovered
    • Failed system process recovered
    • Failed VMs recovered

Lets take a brief look at the core components in Cloud Foundry v2

Image Reference: https://docs.cloudfoundry.org/concepts/architecture/

  • Router
    • All external system app traffic router
  • User Account and Authentication (UAA) and Login server
    • OAuth2 token-issuing server – allows authentication on behalf of the resource owner
  • Droplet Execution Engine (DEA)
    • BuildPacks – responsible for identifying app type , itself dependencies , language – auto download of app dependencies
    • DropLet – Packaged unit of execution stored in blob store
    • Warden – Container runtime resource for droplet
    • DEA – selects build packs, stage the app for deployment, and manage app instance lifecycle.
    • App instance = droplet + warden container
  • Cloud Controller
    • Manages entire app life cycle – from user request , DEA pool selection , deployment tracking
  • Service Brokers
    • External dependencies like database, queues, 3rdparty services that can be provisioned , bound to app instances ( For example IBM BlueMix provides large catalog of services – Watson, Integration ,Security , analytics and SAP HANA Service Broker provides access to its in-memory database services )

  • User Provided Service Instances
    • Provides the ability to bind and use services not available within the Cloud Foundry Market place. For example: External logging, un-supported databases, and other cloud services.
    • Reference (Cloud Foundry documentation)
  • Health Manager
    • Health status of apps
  • NATS
    • Underlying messaging system
  • Metrics and Log Aggregator
    • App log aggregation and runtime stats

With the new Diego based next generation of container management the overall solution becomes even more compelling with support added for Docker.

So let us look at some of the pros and cons of Cloud Foundry

Pros

Cons

Application portability

  • Designed to be configured, deployed, managed, scaled, and upgraded on any cloud IaaS provider AWS, OpenStack, vSphere or CF vendor offering
  • IBM BlueMix core offering built on top of Cloud Foundry
  • SAP HANA Cloud Platform latest release SPS11 has added support for Cloud Foundry runtime as the core engine of the platform

Multiple deployment models - public, private-hosted, private-on premise.

Build, Runtime and services is specific to Cloud Foundry with Build Packs, DEA, and Warden Containers. Though this is an ideal environment for fresh application development, supporting existing application and services will require a change in mind-set as well as an architecture revamp.

 

Auto-scaling of applications

There is support for importing Docker container images but still execute as Warden containers. However with the Diego elastic runtime this issue will also be taken care off.

Centralized Logging with the log aggregator that can be easily integrated with an external log management solution like graylog2 or ELK.

.NET support is still in-experimental stages with the new Cloud Foundry runtime

Dynamic routing support that can help in tenant or user context specific functionality

 

Out of the box application health management as part of the runtime

 

Inbuilt support for vertical and horizontal scaling

 

Infrastructure Security – The security module provides user management , RBAC capability and multi-tenant isolation using the organization and spaces concept

 

Support for Blue , Green deployments that reduces the downtime

 

 

Core Concern

Interoperability and workload portability across different Cloud Foundry offerings has been the main concern with projects wanting to use Cloud Foundry. There are multiple vendors who provide their own implementation, but are they really compatible?

The solution :

  • Cloud Foundry Certification program to address this issue
  • Requirements for the same include
    • Certified products and services are expected to differentiate themselves, but only via
      • ​Non- functional attributes (availability, customer support, etc…)
      • Functional differences based on explicitly defined plug-in points within the Cloud Foundry platform architecture.
    • Functional differences include features and functions built on top of the Cloud Foundry platform (e.g.: CF as part of a larger offering or suite of offerings).
    • Current versions of certified products and services are expected to contain a version of the Cloud Foundry platform in the form released by the Foundation no older than 12 months
  • As part of this program the certified providers include – Pivotal Cloud Foundry, IBM BlueMix, SAP HANA Cloud Platform, HPE Helion Cloud Foundry

Cloud Foundry Decision Points

The graphic below tries to capture what could be some of the decision points on Cloud Foundry .

 

Conclusion

Cloud Foundry has seen a strong level of adoption over the last one year with leading cloud offerings from IBM Bluemix, SAP HANA among others getting certified for the same. Industry adoption is on the rise in various fields like IoT, health care and telecom etc. Pivotal Cloud Foundry was the fastest growing open source product ever by first-year sales in 2014 and the adoption trend continues through in 2016.This is likely to be a major platform to invest in over the long term and is ideally suited for micro services based architectures where you require the application to be portable across multiple clouds and datacenter infrastructures. We looked at some of the considerations that might help in the overall selection process and deciding your cloud strategy.

Author

Tarun Kumar Sukhu is an Enterprise Architect in the Engineering and R&D Services group of HCL Technologies

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