Containerizing an application for the cloud: A journey of settings, state, and security.

Red Hat Developers and author N. Harrison Ripps have just begun releasing a ten-part series in which Harrison describes the process of deploying an application using containers into a clustered environment on the cloud.

Using the ZRC IRC client as a sample application, Harrison demonstrates each step in the process of containerizing software, dealing with issues like statelessness, security, and robustness that are typically architectural hurdles for most development teams moving to a cloud infrastructure.

Parameterizing application settings is a common requirement of applications that end up deploying to any environment, and containers have only heightened this need — with the emergence of on-demand environments, scriptability and configurability of the application images being deployed is a must.

Harrison suggests that containerizing applications should happen later, while development should happen first. This might seem intuitive, but his point is that containerizing an application actually need not introduce many development-time changes that would affect the architecture of your system — it can, but it need not. For a small sacrifice of startup performance, container images can be made more configurable and flexible, supporting DevOps procedures and deployments.

Once configured, the series also demonstrates how to host the application on a private instance of the OpenShift Container Platform, including clustering, via either the Red Hat Container Development Kit (CDK), or binary download of OpenShift. Harrison goes step-by-step through the process of starting the private cloud, deploying the application, and using Kubernetes to cluster the application.

Using attached storage, Harrison introduces a window of statefulness into our container environment. This produces an application that runs on the cloud in stateless containers, but maintains its internal state throughout the lifecycle as pods are brought up and down.

Follow along and learn some of these core cloud concepts as the series is published:

Title Date
That app you love, part 1: Making a connection 2016/09/27
That app you love, part 2: Immutable but flexible – What settings matter? 2016/09/29
That app you love, part 3: Every setting in its place 2016/10/04
That app you love, part 4: Designing a config-and-run container 2016/10/06
That app you love, part 5: Upping our (cloud) game 2016/10/11
That app you love, part 6: Container, meet cloud 2016/10/13
That app you love, part 7: Wired for sound 2016/10/18
That app you love, part 8: A blueprint for “that app you love” 2016/10/20
That app you love, part 9: Storage and statefulness 2016/10/25
That app you love, part 10: Long live “that app you love” 2016/10/27

Intro to Integration

Integration is one of those concepts that is easy to “know,” but becomes less obvious that more you try to define it. A basic, casual definition is making different things work together. The complexity, though, comes from the fact that every single part of that has to be broken down: what are the “things,” what are they doing that makes them “work together,” how are they working, and what is the goal or purpose of them working together. All of those elements can be answered differently for different organizations, or even within the same organization at different times.

An understanding of integration comes from looking at the different potential patterns that you can integrate and then defining the logic behind the integration so you can select the right patterns for your environment.

Integration Patterns

Integration itself is an architectural structure within your infrastructure, rather than an action or specific process. While getting various systems to work together has long been an IT (and organizational) responsibility, integration as a practice became more of a focus in the early 2000s. With emerging large-scale enterprise applications, there became a growing need to get those applications working together without having to redesign or redeploy the applications themselves. That push became integration.

Integration is subdefined by what is being integrated; these are the integration patterns.

There are different types of patterns, depending on perspective. There are patterns based on what is being integrated and then there are patterns based on the topology or design of the integration. Basically, it’s the what and the how.

Continue reading “Intro to Integration”

Intro to DevOps

DevOps is a portmanteau of development and operations. Simple definition, blog post over.

Of course, in practice, DevOps is much more nuanced. The signal there is in practice — while there are different schools of thought on whether DevOps is a set of tools or a culture or a process, one thing that is consistent is that it is a thing that is done. It is not a theory (which agile development kind of is) and it’s not a tooling change in that simply changing tools won’t change your outcomes. It really is a way of practicing how your applications are designed and delivered.

The Background: Agile and CI / CD

DevOps means a lot of things to a lot of people, and its meaning depends on the context. Because it is a rather vague term, DevOps is frequently confused with a couple of other critical concepts, namely agile development and continuous integration / continuous delivery (CI/CD). The associations are fair — it’s just important to understand what those associations are.

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Building an API-Based Connected Healthcare Solution: Q&A Followup

Christina Lin (a technology evangelist for Red Hat) and Sameer Parulkar (middleware product marketing manager for Red Hat) conducted a webinar earlier this week about data integration challenges which specifically face healthcare providers. As promised, this is a brief roundup of the major questions that came out of the webinar and pointers to more detailed information about the demo. (If you would like more background on integration challenges in healthcare, we do have posts on integration architecture for healthcare and another on how to overcome integration challenges.)

A Quick Summary

The recording of the full webinar is available here, but I’ll summarize it briefly if you can’t watch it yet.

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The Core Value of Integration

There is a new Red Hat infographic that summarizes the benefits (and power) of integration. I am only using excerpts here because it is a large-ish infographic, and it’s definitely worth viewing the whole thing. This is just a taste. (Even better, download the underlying whitepaper; it is very much worth reading.)

value-fuse-integration

The headline-making numbers come down, not surprisingly, to cost-savings:

  • 488% ROI in three years
  • Payback in 8.2 months
  • Over $1.4 million in annual savings

The most interesting thing that I saw is definitely part of that headline, but it’s a smaller part of it — over half ($838,800) of those annual savings come from making your IT staff more productive. When an application is integrated, it requires about 41% fewer staff to maintain it. There is a lot a variation here (defining integration is a whole ‘nother blog post) but the idea of saving money, increasing individual productivity, and reducing the staff to maintain applications doesn’t necessarily translate into cutting costs or reducing staff. The power of that, the core value of integration as I read it, is reallocating those precious resources to different operations for your company. Instead of keeping your current apps running, you could have a lot more available people and space to try to do new things, to reinvest in what your company does and move forward.

That’s pretty cool.

Red Hat and In-Memory Data Grids – Increasing adoption in the enterprise

I’m happy to share that Red Hat was named a leader for our in-memory data grid (IMDG) technology by Forrester Research. The ranking follows recognition of Red Hat JBoss Data Grid, our open source IMDG product, as a finalist in the Database Trends and Applications magazine Readers’ Choice awards.

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Your integration architecture may be holding you back: 3 considerations for fixing it

Digital transformation sounds great, doesn’t it? The phrase is used to describe a paradigm where everything is connected—people, systems, applications, data, and devices. Salesforce.com efficiently talks to your ERP system. Everything from point-of-sale devices, to fleet cars and trucks, to remote locations, to medical or manufacturing equipment, and even employees with wearable devices are all connected and serving as intelligent inputs. And, they’re all in sync with your datacenter in real time. Systems of record and systems of engagement seamlessly connect and new business processes can be integrated or changed in days, not months or years. User experience is consistent and IT is able to easily see and control systems to keep them from spinning out of control.

Continue reading “Your integration architecture may be holding you back: 3 considerations for fixing it”

Moments of truth, systems of record and systems of engagement: it all fits together with Red Hat JBoss Fuse

In 2001, I was in the final term of my master’s in e-Business at La Salle University in Barcelona. Ramon Ollé, who at the time was the chairman and CEO of Epson Europe, gave a master class on innovation and explained how, with the advent of the Internet (that had been around for “just” a decade), competition was no longer between multinational companies (e.g., General Motors vs. Toyota). Instead, competition was now among the cluster of vendors that formed a partner ecosystem around brands. Success was tied to the ability of the vendors in those ecosystems and their systems to collaborate real-time to enable the two main sources of customer satisfaction: exceeded expectations and speed.

Continue reading “Moments of truth, systems of record and systems of engagement: it all fits together with Red Hat JBoss Fuse”