ElasTest Passes European Commission’s Review Successfully!

On July 18th in Brussels project partners presented ElasTest results and progress to a tribunal of three independent experts appointed by the European Commission and the EC Project Officer. The key project objective is to improve the efficiency of testing large-scale complex software systems. The ElasTest project is coordinated by URJC. ZHAW’s ICCLab is a key project partner delivering research and technology in the area of service delivery, monitoring and billing. 

The objective of this review was to evaluate the project progress and to show all technical evolution and of course check on the administrative coordination of the first 18 months. For assessing the project, the three reviewers analysed all the public and private information related to the project.

We had an 8 hours evaluation meeting and we were able to show the progress made in research, innovation, demos, exploitation plans, sustainability, and coordination issues of course were  also presented. The most challenging part was to show the demonstration of the software developed by the different project partners: a one-hour session in which all the software artifacts were successfully demonstrated, including the ZHAW work. All of these efforts were welcomed by the reviewers. Finally, after an initial deliberation, the reviewers communicated their decision to approve the project and congratulated the team on a successful review!

The project is now focused on the second phase: once the initial platform has been developed is integrated and its up-and-running, most of our efforts will aim to dedicate to research and create a community of users around ElasTest.

For more information on ElasTest checkout our site and code repositories.

Storage & Data Analytics – Swiss 2018

On the 24th of May we attended the “Storage & Data Analytics – Swiss 2018” day which was organized at the Seedamm Plaza in Pfäffikon SZ.
Our interest and expertise at the ICCLab for innovative solutions in the area of Cloud Storage motivated us to join the event with the aim to exchange expertise with colleagues from both the industrial and the academic realms.

Welcome and introduction to the day

The program for the event offered a well-balanced mix of keynote speeches from top-experts in the field of storage and data analytics, presentations from specialists and companies actively working in the continuously evolving market, workshops, round-tables, and live demos on specific aspects of interest, and important moments for networking and knowledge exchange with the participants.
Besides the keynotes, the program was organized with four sessions running in parallel. The high number of persons attending the sessions and the stands proposed by the industrial partners for the event witnesses the high interest in the topics in focus. Five major areas of interest were covered: Data Management, Data Analytics, Cloud Storage, Technology and Security. You can find the complete program at the following link https://www.storage-day.ch/

Harald Seipp (IBM) presents Storage in Container-based Cloud Infrastructure

The research and development interests at the ICCLab naturally attracted our interest towards presentations in the area of Cloud Storage and Technology. The first Keynote of the day by Prof. Brinkmann from the University of Mainz, guided us through a classification of Storage with a view on the future of Storage. In the subsequent presentation by IBM, Storage in container-based Cloud Infrastructures was discussed underlying the importance of persistant storage and multi-cloud environments. Of particular interest to us was the presentation given by the company SUSE. Software Defined Storage was discussed as the de-facto Standard for storage in the Cloud, highlighting also the importance of open source based solutions when they presented their Enterprise Storage solution based on Openstack and Ceph. A further interesting analysis on Cloud Storage was later presented by the company Nutanix which introduced their full-stack solution for Storage in the Cloud.

As an icing on the cake, the day was concluded by the insightful keynote given by Moshe Rappaport, Executive Technologist at IBM Research, which guided the audience in the future shedding light on the new disruptive technologies being ahead of us. The future of Storage was also predicted as this is rapidly evolving towards high density data storage applications requiring innovative research and development solutions.

Moshe Rappaport’s insightful keynote on the future of Business and IT from an IBM research perspective

In conclusion, our participation to the “Storage & Data Analytics – Swiss 2018” was well worth the time investment. The event has clearly fulfilled the expectations as an important source of inspiration for our research activities and as an opportunity for networking with experts in the field. We are already looking forward to the next event of this kind!

Call for Contributions: IEEE/ACM UCC and BDCAT 2018, Zurich, Switzerland

Block the dates in your calendar: December 17 to 21 is high cloud time in Switzerland!

Two computer science research laboratories at Zurich University of Applied Sciences, the Service Prototyping Lab and the ICCLab, are jointly going to host the 11th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Utility and Cloud Computing (UCC 2018) and the 5th IEEE/ACM International Conference on Big Data Computing, Applications and Technologies (BDCAT 2018) along with a number of satellite and co-located events from December 17 to 21 in Zurich, Switzerland. This pre-christmas conference week with prestigious conferences is a unique opportunity to bring together international researchers and practitioners in central Europe. Please consider supporting the event with corporate donations, tutorials, cloud challenge entries and other contributions. Your chance to demonstrate convincing cloud technology to the world! Contact the conference organisers for any details.

Technical paper submissions are furthermore open to a number of collocated workshops. Among them we would like to point out the 1st Workshop on Quality Assurance in the Context of Cloud Computing (QA3C 2018) and the 1st Workshop on Cloud-Native Applications Design and Experience (CNAX 2018) in which our research staff proudly serves as co-chairs. In total, 9 workshops are accepting papers now, a doctoral forum accepts research proposals, and a cloud challenge supports practical (demo-able) contributions with emphasis on reproducible impactful results.

Finally, we would like to mention specifically the subsequent European Symposium on Serverless Computing and Applications (ESSCA 2018) on December 21st which as a mixed industry-academic-community event acknowledges that FaaS-based applications have become mainstream but challenges remain. Got a talk on that topic? Just propose it informally to enrich the technical meeting with different perspectives. Along with ESSCA, on December 20 there will be the 4th edition of the International Workshop on Serverless Computing as part of UCC.

KubeCon’18 – Cloud, containers, edge, nets, robots, and philosophy of science

KubeCon / CloudNativeCon Europe 2018 took place at the shiny Bella Center of Copenhagen on May 2 – 4, 2018.
Here at ICCLab/SPLab we use extensively Kubernetes / CNCF technologies both in teaching and research, but we had one extra reason for being there this year: our friends and colleagues from Rapyuta Robotics (RR) were scheduled to give a talk on Cloud Robotics PaaS.

Bella Center - Copenhagen

Bella Center – Copenhagen

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UCC 2017 Coverage – Day 1

Our own researchers Piyush and Josef are in Austin, the capital of the lone star state Texas to attend the current iteration of IEEE/ACM International Conference on Utility and Cloud Computing which takes place in conjunction with the International Conference on Big Data Computing, Applications and Technologies. ICCLab’s and SPLab’s recent research results have been accepted as multiple peer-reviewed workshop papers and a tutorial presented on the first day and a work in progress poster which will be presented in the next days.

In this series of blog posts, starting with this one, we will present our views and analysis of the results that will be presented at this event by cloud researchers from around the world.

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Enhancing OpenStack Swift to support edge computing context

As the trend continues to move towards Serverless Computing, Edge Computing and Functions as a Service (FaaS), the need for a storage system that can adapt to these architectures grows ever bigger. In a scenario where smart cars have to make decisions on a whim, there is no chance for that car to ask a data center what to do in this scenario. These scenarios constitute a driver for new storage solutions in more distributed architectures. In our work, we have been considering a scenario in which there is a distributed storage solution which exposes different local endpoints to applications distributed over a mix of cloud and local resources; such applications can give the storage infrastructure and indicator of the nature of the data which can then be used to determine where it should be stored. For example, data could be considered to be either latency-sensitive (in which case the storage system should try to store it as locally as possible) or loss sensitive (in which case the storage system should ensure it is on reliable storage). Continue reading

ESOCC 2017 – Oslo

The past 27, 28 and 29 of September were dedicated to the 6th European Conference on Service-Oriented and Cloud Computing (ESOCC) in Oslo, Norway. It is one of the traditional community-run conferences in Europe with a cloud and community history dating back into the year 2012 and a (web) service history of about a decade before that. As in previous years, it featured the co-located event CloudWays: the 3rd International Workshop on Cloud Adoption and Migration, which is focused on cloud applications more than on infrastructure and platforms. The topic is thus of high interest for the Service Prototyping Lab and specially for its Cloud-Native Applications (CNA) research initiative in which we partner with Swiss SMEs to explore new cloud-native designs and architectures for elastically scalable, resilient, price-efficient and portable services. Our participation was therefore centered around the presentation of research results from one of these partnerships.

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ROSCon 2017 – Vancouver

For third time in a row we attended ROSCon, this year held in beautiful Vancouver.
Our goals besides seeing the newest trends in the ROS and Robotics universe first hand, and finding some new robotic hardware directly from manufacturers, was to support our partners from Rapyuta Robotics (RR) in presenting and performing a demo of the first preview of their upcoming Cloud Robotics Platform.

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OpenShift custom router with TCP/SNI support

In the context of the ECRP Project, we need to orchestrate intercommunicating components and services running on robots and in the cloud. The communication of this components relies on several protocols including L7 as well as L4 protocols such as TCP and UDP.

One of the solutions we are testing as the base technology for the ECRP cloud platform is OpenShift. As a proof of concept, we wanted to test TCP connectivity to components deployed in our OpenShift 1.3 cluster. We chose to run two RabbitMQ instances and make them accessible from the Internet to act as TCP endpoints for incoming robot connections.

The concept of “route” in OpenShift has the purpose to enable connections from outside the cluster to services and containers. Unfortunately, the default router component in OpenShift only supports HTTP/HTTPS traffic, hence cannot natively support our intended use case. However, Openshift routing can be extended with so called “custom routers”.

This blog post will lead you through the process of creating and deploying a custom router supporting TCP traffic and SNI routing in OpenShift.

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New Release of DISCO – easier than ever, more powerful than before

Almost one year ago, the first version of DISCO was publicly released. Since then, a major refactoring of DISCO has taken place and we are proud to announce the fresh version with even better usability and a user-friendly dashboard. But first of all, how can DISCO help you? And what is new after the refactoring? We would like to present you the ways how DISCO can make your life as a Big Data analyst much easier. A short wrap-up is presented before the new features are explained more closely.

How can DISCO help me?

DISCO is a framework for the automatic deployment of distributed computing clusters. But not just that, DISCO even provisions the distributed computing software. You can lean back and have the tedious task done by DISCO so that you can focus entirely on the Big Data analysis part.

The new DISCO framework – even more versatile

What is new in the new DISCO edition? To say it shortly: almost everything! Here is a list containing the major new features:

  • Dashboard to hide the command line
  • easy setup for front-end and backend
  • many more Distributed Computing Frameworks
  • hassle-free extensibility with new components
  • automatic dependency handling for components
  • more intuitive commands over CRUD interface (though still no update functionality)

The Dashboard – a face for DISCO

A new dashboard hides the entire background complexity from the end user. Now, everything from planning over deployment to deletion can be done over an intuitive web interface. The dashboard will also provide you with real-time information about the status of the installed frameworks on your computing cluster.

Easy setup

Installing DISCO has never been as easy as it is now! The backend only needs 3 settings to be entered, two of which are not even external settings. And the dashboard? The dashboard comes even with its own installation script – so the most difficult part is cloning the github repository.

New Distributed Computing frameworks

The first version of DISCO could only provision Hadoop. The new release has more, most importantly another major Distributed Computing framework. Here is a list of all supported frameworks right now:

Extensibility made easy

Is there a framework that you would like to provision, but which is not implemented in DISCO yet? This is not a problem anymore! The new system is very easy to extend with new components. You can just write the new component (for instance by copying and modifying an existing component) and drop its directory structure to the other components! There is no installation needed; you can have the new component deployed immediately. DISCO has a built-in functionality which will greatly enhance your provisioning experience – everything is done in parallel on the entire cluster! Just take a look at the Wiki for further reference.

Dependency handling automated

When it comes to dependencies among the frameworks, things can get complicated easily. Unless you are using DISCO. DISCO automatically installs each required component for a smooth provisioning process. You don’t have to bother yourself with questions about which additional components to install. You just select the ones you need access to and DISCO will take care of the rest.

Future work

DISCO did a huge leap forward over the last year. Still, there are some visions what can be done to improve or extend it even beyond its current state. In the future, DISCO will not only provision distributed computing clusters but it will find out on its own what the end user needs for his current task. There will be a recommendation engine, which will propose the best fitting distributed computing frameworks upon a completed questionnaire. Of course, as the world of distributed computing frameworks is always evolving, more components are going to be included on the go. Still, this doesn’t mean that DISCO will get more complicated – on contrary: the Dashboard will make the choice of frameworks and settings easier than ever. We already have many ideas how to provide  an even more fulfilled user experience. Just wait and see the new additions! Don’t forget to check back regularly or to sign up for our mailing list for news! And if there is something that we have missed (or something that you specially like), please contact us – we will happily help you!

DISCO 2.0 release can be downloaded from our git repo here: https://github.com/icclab/disco and extensive documentation is available under the github wiki at https://github.com/icclab/disco/wiki, we wish you happy testing!