The central focus of DevOps has been the continuous delivery (CD) pipeline: A single, traceable path for any new or updated version of software to move through lower environments to a higher environment using automated promotion. However, in my recent experience, DevOps is also serving as the bridge between the “expectations chasm” — the gap between the three personas in the above diagram.
Each persona (CIO, Ops and App Teams) have varying expectations for the move to public cloud. For CIO, the motivation to move to the public cloud is based on key selling points — dealing with capacity constraints, mounting on-premises data center costs, reducing the Time to Value (TtV), and increasing innovation. The Ops Team is expecting a tooling maturity on par with on-premises including Capacity Planning, HA, compliance and monitoring. The Apps team is expecting to use the languages, tools, and CI process that they are already using, but in the context of new PaaS services. They also expect the same level of compliance and resilience from the underlying infrastructure services.
Unfortunately, as we will see in a moment, these expectations are hard to meet, despite the rapid innovation and cadence of releases in the cloud.
Companies are adopting Docker containers at a remarkable pace and for a good reason – Docker containers are turning out to be key enablers for a micro-services based architecture.
As a quick recap, Docker containers are:
Encapsulated, deployable components that can run as isolated instances
Small in size with a fast boot-up time
Include tools that enable containerized application images to be easily moved across the public cloud and on-premises
Capable of applying limits on physical resources consumed by any given application
Given the popularity of Docker containers, it should come as no surprise that the Azure platform already provides first-class support for a container hosting solution, in the form of Azure Container Service (ACS). ACS makes it simple to create a cluster of Virtual Machines that can run containerized applications. ACS relies on popular open-source tools – with Docker as the container format, and a choice of Marathon, DC/OS, Docker Swarm and Kubernetes for orchestration and scheduling, etc. All this makes it possible to easily run containerized workloads on Azure in a portable manner.
But the Docker containerization story on Azure does not stop here.
It is also being weaved more and more into existing PaaS offerings, including Azure Batch, Azure App Service and Azure Service Fabric. Let’s briefly review the latest developments to see how Docker integrates with Azure PaaS: Read More…
Bondi Digital Publishing has relied on AIS for several years to build and enhance it’s Cloud Hosted digital magazine archive platform. Vogue, Rolling Stone, and many other magazines now have a compelling avenue for delivering content to their readers. Both back issues and new and upcoming issues of magazines are provided online in a beautiful HTML5 viewer.
The Bondi Digital Archive has grown, and with that growth new challenges have arisen. Some publishers have come to Bondi with a need to make hundreds or thousands of back issues available online as quickly as possible. However, once the back issues were all scanned, the images and metadata had to be processed before the final digital product was ready. This processing was taking an immense amount of time – sometimes up to several weeks. The publications wanted their back issues available online much more quickly than that. Read More…
At AIS, our Account Teams work with our clients every day to produce IT solutions that solve business problems. We work closely with our CTO organization to ensure that we are researching the latest technology and services in a manner that is applicable to our clients and prospective clients.
We recently applied this to a business problem that required an organization to quickly — and with no notice — stand up a website to collect hundreds, or potentially millions, of submissions from the general public. Our use case focused on law enforcement and the sorts of emergency response situations we’ve seen all too often in the news, such as the Boston Marathon bombing. When local, state or federal authorities respond to criminal acts, they seek to quickly collect vast amounts of input from the public. This input can be in the form of tips, photos, videos or any untold number of observations. Agencies need the capability to surge their IT tools and applications to collect the data, store it, and run analysis tools against the collected content to harvest information. Read More…
Since PaaS and Windows Azure have both been in the news recently, thanks to a favorable report from Gartner, I thought it might be good timing to revisit a whitepaper I wrote on PaaS.
There’s been a lot of talk about the different cloud-based services available today, including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). While each of these services is unique, PaaS stands out from the mix. This is not to suggest that PaaS is somehow better than IaaS; that would be an improper comparison. In fact, as shown in the diagram below, PaaS simply builds on the capabilities offered by IaaS.
But if you are a developer, IT shop or an ISV responsible for building, deploying and maintaining solutions, leveraging PaaS is where you reap the maximum cloud-computing benefits. Read More…
AIS will be presenting a new series of Azure ‘n’ Action Café webinars in early 2014. We will have expert speakers offering new and exciting content in a convenient “lunch and learn” online format, one Wednesday a month, from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. EST.
Our first presentation date is Wednesday, January 29. You won’t want to miss this session, as we’ll cover both updates to Azure and new ways to extend your data center.
In this session we will share an example Platform as a Service (PaaS) Web Role workload in Azure. This workload will help you understand how Azure constructs can be used in support of different scenarios.
The workload we’ll discuss makes use of the following Constructs:
A private data center extended into multiple Azure Regional Data Centers (East Coast / West Coast) with IPSEC tunnels
The on-premises AD / DNS infrastructure extended into Azure IaaS
An on-premises SQL Server 2012 Server database supporting a High Availability Group (Synchronous) with a local primary and a remote secondary located in Azure IaaS
The PaaS Web Role Load Balanced across data centers using Azure Traffic Manager
I’ve been reading a lot about the sweeping organizational changes at Microsoft. It’s always interesting to analyze and attempt to interpret their strategy and internal politics. (For example, why is the Dynamics business still separate? Is it being positioned to be sold? Probably not, but fun to consider.)
However, I am more drawn to the larger changes the re-org is enabling. The external press always seems to be negative about the actions of Microsoft’s executive leadership ever since Bill Gates left. While I may not agree with every choice Steve Ballmer has made, when you really stop and think about how they have transformed themselves over the past six years, it’s pretty amazing — especially when set in juxtaposition to the lack of change at other lumbering IT giants. Microsoft is well on their way to transforming from a worldwide monopoly of “Windows and Office” to a “devices and services” business.Read More…
Yesterday, Microsoft announced the general availability of its offering of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). They join an already-crowded market of IaaS providers, but this offering gives all companies the ability to offload workloads that have traditionally run in a company data center to the cloud. Welcome, Microsoft — the water is fine.
This announcement also represents a major chunk of Microsoft’s family of Azure offerings…and in my opinion, a stepping stone many companies simply must take in moving out of the traditional data center and into the cloud. The following diagram shows the stepping stones out of the traditional data center:
In a previous blog post I discussed Windows Azure PaaS / IaaS hybrid scenarios. Together with my colleague Jack O’Connell (Infrastructure Specialist extraordinaire), we set up each of the four scenarios outlined in the previous post including:
Using Windows Azure Virtual Network to provision a VPN to connect our on-premised infrastructure with a Windows Azure datacenter.
Set up front-end and back-end subnets.
Provision a set of Azure IaaS Virtual Machines and Azure Web Roles.
Install System Center Monitoring Pack for Windows Azure Applications on Azure-based machines.
Install System Center Operations on-premises in order to manage Azure-based resources.
Watch the following video for a quick walkthrough of the scenarios in action: