Openshifter: Migrating Applications Between Openshift Instances

Migrating an application from one cloud to another is a challenging activity and one must be mindful of both potential incompatibility and data loss when migrating. It is also, however, often necessary, so a proper way to automate the process and ensure a working deployment on the other end is certain to be a handy tool to an administrator. Since we have been working with multi and cross cloud environments and application portability (see paper and blog), we present a tool to automate this process for Openshift.

As far as use cases for migration go, the easiest example to visualize is moving an application from the development environment to production. Minishift, the single node local development version of Openshift is a great way to develop and test a new application, isolated from the risks and expenses of exposing it to the outside world. But at some point, this application will need to be recreated on a production Openshift instance and while doing this ‘traditionally’ is easy for small applications, it can become cumbersome for larger cases, especially if parts of it were configured using the graphical dashboard.

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SPLab at Serverless Days 2019 Zürich

Yesterday, we had the opportunity to attend the excellent ServerlessDays Zurich event which brought together folks interested in serverless technologies in Zurich. It was an all day event with 66 folks in attendance.

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Open Source serverless technology choices: OpenWhisk or Knative

With interest in serverless computing increasing rapidly, the question of which technology solutions will win is receiving much interest. Although there is significant industrial activity relating to serverless – driven primarily by the AWS Lambda ecosystem – there is a clear need for solutions which are not premised on lock-in to a single provider and which can work across clouds. OpenWhisk and Knative are two technologies which focus on this space – here we consider the relative positioning of these technologies based on our experience working with them.

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Building a Sample MQTT-based Application on OpenWhisk

In two previous blog posts – here and here – we discussed our experience with deploying OpenWhisk on Kubernetes on OpenStack. As applied researchers at the Service Prototyping Lab, we are investigating potential use cases for such setups and for FaaS-based applications in general. In this blog post, we will therefore describe how we built a sample MQTT-based application that shows OpenWhisk in action for sensor data processing for future Internet of Things and smart dust scenarios.

The basic idea of the application is that it consumes data from an MQTT feed, stores it in a database and provides a means to access the database via a web UI. The architecture of the application is shown in the figure below. The application is based on this blog post.

Sample Application Architecture
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Reliable OpenWhisk Deployment on Kubernetes With Persistent Storage

In a previous blog post, we described our experience with deploying OpenWhisk on Kubernetes on OpenStack. During subsequent testing, we observed some issues with the OpenWhisk deployment wherein some OpenWhisk components – specifically, the controller and the invoker – would fail to restart after rebooting the machines running the Kubernetes nodes for maintenance tasks. To fix this, we had to redeploy OpenWhisk after each failure which resulted in significant data loss and was clearly an unacceptable operational solution.

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Deploying OpenWhisk on Kubernetes on OpenStack

Serverless applications is one topic that SPLab has been working on for a couple of years now, with, for example, our work on a stand-alone FaaS platform Snafu, work on disaggregating applications into serverless functions, Podilizer and other activities. Having organised ESSCA some weeks ago, we are now again exploring the technical limits and challenges in this space. This blog post reports about our experience of running the combination of OpenWhisk, Kubernetes, Helm and OpenStack.

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Students: Invitation to Serverless and Cloud-native Application Development

Bachelor students of computer science at Zurich University of Applied Sciences focus a lot on software development. Software is never developed in the blue; rather, software needs a concrete environment to function and to deliver value. In ‘Programming’ (1st/2nd semester) and ‘Software Development’ (3rd/4th semester), you learn some basic skills. In ‘Systems-oriented Programming’ (2nd semester), you apply these skills to predefined systems with some constraints. In ‘Web Development’ (3rd semester), you apply these skills to another environment in which there is a lot of pace through new technologies. In ‘Game Development’ (5th semester), you develop for specific interactive scenarios, and in ‘Mobile Applications’ (5th semester, you develop user-facing apps for common mobile platforms.

One of the most fascinating and economically important areas is the development of applications which run in the cloud. You may access them with web or mobile devices, but you still cannot see them! Still, they are very powerful, scalable to millions of users, and interconnected across cloud providers and with various backend systems such as databases, message queues and key-value stores. This is why we offer SCAD, a new elective module on Serverless and Cloud-native Application Development.

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Bundling CNA Applications

For almost five years, we have been researching cloud-native applications. As part of an industry-wide push to cloud-native computing, a lot of stacks and middleware components are proposed every day, but few tools and processes help improving the applications themselves especially in terms of quality attributes such as discoverability, elasticity and resilience. With Helm charts, there is already a higher-level approach to package cloud applications in Kubernetes environments. Our work on static analysis of Helm charts and quality assessment beyond is documented and ongoing. In this post, we take a first look at CNAB, or Cloud Native Application Bundle which is self-described as secure and cloud-agnostic way to deliver applications.

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CloudCom’18 – The 10th IEEE International Conference on Cloud Computing Technology and Science

From the 10th until 13th of December 2018 in Nicosia, Cyprus, the 10th IEEE International Conference on Cloud Computing Technology and Science took place. This slightly delayed conference report briefly recapitulates the event from our subjective participation perspective.

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End-to-end testing of cloud-native applications

In our research group, we have for many years observed and systematically explored how cloud applications are being developed. In particular, we focus our investigations on cloud-native applications whose properties are largely determined by exploiting the capabilities of modern cloud platforms for both their development and operation. As we are involved in European research on testing cloud applications (Elastest), our aim was to look at the current project results through the cloud-native glasses. This blog post reports about end-to-end testing of composite containerised applications from this perspective.

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