Cloud-Native Applications Seed Project: Migration-Process Part 1

As stated in a previous blog-post, at the beginning of this year we started with the project of migrating the open-source application Zurmo CRM into the cloud. In this first blog-post on the progress of this process we will describe our initial plan, show the basic components of a cloud-optimized application and talk about whether to stick with the monolithic architecture style of Zurmo or migrate it to a microservices architecture. We’ll furthermore discuss the first steps we took in migrating Zurmo to the cloud and how we plan to continue.

TL;DR

  • We use the term cloud-optimized to describe an application which has the same characteristics as a cloud-native applicaton but is the result of a migration process.
  • The basic components of a cloud-optimized application are: Application Core, Enabling Systems, Monitoring- and Management-Systems. All of which have to be scalable and resilient.
  • A monolithic architecture style is best suited for smaller applications (little functionality / low number of developers) resp. when starting to build a new application.
  • A microservices architecture style is best suited for large applications (lots of functionality / high number of developers). Its benefits are less of a technical nature but more of the way it helps to manage the development and deployment of applications.
  • We decided to stick with the monolithic architecture. The first change we did to the application was to horizontally scale the web server with the use of a load balancer and make the application core stateless.

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Energy Aware Cloud Load Management

Resource Management in Cloud Computing is a topic that has received much interest both within the research community and within the operations of the large cloud providers; naturally, as it has a significant impact on the cloud provider’s bottom line. Much of the work to date on resource management focuses on Service Level Agreements (for different definitions of an SLA); some of the work also considers energy as a factor.

Objectives

The primary objective of this work is to develop an energy aware load management solution for Openstack: variants of this have been proposed before and indeed implemented in other stacks (e.g. Eucalyptus) but no such capability exists for Openstack as yet. As well as realizing the solution, the work will involve deploying a variant of the solution on the cloud platform without impacting the operation of the platform and determining what energy savings can be made. It is worth noting that the classical load balancing approach which is very typical for resource managers in cloud contexts is somewhat contradictory to minimizing energy consumption; consequently, the very standard load management tools are not suitable for minimizing cloud energy consumption.

Research Challenges

The research challenges are the following:

  • How to characterize the load in the system, particularly relating to spikes in demand
  • How much buffer space to maintain to accommodate load spikes
  • How to perform load consolidation – what load should be moved to what machines?
  • When to perform load consolidation – how frequently should it take place?
  • What are the energy gains that can be achieved from such a dynamic system?

Relevance to current and future markets

Advanced resource management mechanisms are a necessity for cloud computing generally. In the case of large deployments, Facebook’s autoscale is an example of how they can be used to achieve energy savings of the order of 15%. In the case of smaller deployments, it is still the case that there are many [[ https://gigaom.com/2013/11/30/the-sorry-state-of-server-utilization-and-the-impending-post-hypervisor-era/ | highly underutilized servers ]] in typical Data Centres and ultimately there will be a need to reduce costs and realize energy efficiencies. The problem is a large, general problem and energy is one specific aspect of it – one of the challenges for this work is how to integrate with other active parts of the ecosystem.

There are some commercial offering which explicitly address energy efficiency in the cloud context. These include:

Impact

Architecture

See the Energy Theme for the larger system architecture.

Implementation Roadmap

The next steps on the implementation roadmap are as follows:

  • Get tunnelled post-copy live migration working with modifications to libvirt (Jan 2015)
  • See if this can be pushed upstream to libvirt
  • Consolidate live migration work into clearer message relating to the potential of live migration (Jan 2015)
  • Devise control mechanism which can be used to provide energy based control (Feb 2015)
  • Deploy and test on Arcus servers (Mar 2015)
  • Determine if it is ready for deployment on Bart/Lisa (April 2015)

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