Category: Research

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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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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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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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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Diving into the Helm ecosystems: From charts to metrics

In recent months, we have extensively studied Helm charts, including setting up a continuous quality assessment, to find out more about this promising packaging format for Kubernetes applications. Apart from individual tweets and occasional talks, there was a lack of a coherent presentation of the ongoing work. Yet, due to the increasing installation base of Kubernetes stacks, the significance of this work appears to be on the rise. This blog post therefore tells what we achieved already and what we are still going to do in the next months.

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Extending cloud management platforms with cloud functions

Through several years of research on the subject of cloud functions, researchers including ourselves have gained a thorough understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of function-based application development. Along with increased maturity of FaaS, a more specialised consideration of potential use cases is needed to filter out the ones where the technology shines compared to the ones where significant weaknesses become apparent and other technologies, perhaps even in combination, would be a better fit. This early experience report informs about how we have deployed cloud functions around an existing cloud management platform as a variant of the well-known solar system approach of introducing microservices around monoliths.

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Colloquium on “Microservice migration: motivations, patterns and antipatterns”

At the Service Prototyping Lab, we were honored to receive another international speaker in our colloquium series this year.  Davide Taibi  assistant professor (tenure-track) of cloud and web engineering presented his ongoing research at Tampere University of Technology.  Specifically, His research interests include software quality and cloud migration in continuous architecting processes, supporting companies in migrating to microservice-based architectures while keeping technical debt under control. Before, he was assistant professor at the Free University of Bozen (Italy), post-doc at the University of Kaiserslautern and Fraunhofer IESE, where he replaced prof. Dieter Rombach during his sabbatical year, and Ph.D. at the University of Insubria (Italy) under the supervision of prof. Sandro Morasca.

Davide Taibi

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