Cloud-Native Platform as a Product: Unsung Heroes

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We discuss the following topics in this blog:

  1. Cloud-Native for managing complex, data and network-intensive applications
  2. Basic tenets of any Cloud-Native development.
  3. All about Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs).

In addition to these topics, we shall also be answering the following FAQs:

  1. What is Cloud Computing?
  2. What is a Data Centre?

Overview

Now Telcos can deploy and manage complex, data and network-intensive applications that were not possible, or not practical at speed and scale earlier. And the whole industry is on the verge of revolutionizing their offering innovations with an “as-a-service” experience both in Retail and Enterprise ecosystems. This reality is possible largely due to the Cloud Native.

What Does Cloud Native Actually Mean?

Cloud-Native, as the name suggests, is that which is developed and managed within a cloud environment. Cloud Native apps are not the ones that “can” run in a cloud but those that originate in a cloud rather than an on-premises data centers. One of the defining features of STL NSW Portfolio is all our Products are Cloud-Native and include Cloud-Native Platform as a Product!

The basic tenets of any Cloud-Native development are Microservices, Containers, DevOps, and CI/CD. Microservices means decomposing an application as a collection of services that are loosely coupled, independently deployable and organized around business capabilities. These specialized, single-function services as individual units make up a complete application—but each one can be deployed, upgraded, and managed on its own.

Whereas Containers, unlike standard virtual machines, which require an embedded operating system, are designed to run anywhere and are not reliant on any one cloud platform or specific cloud service. When packaged in a container with all of the resources (code, runtime, system tools, libraries and settings) it needs to run, a microservices can be scaled quickly and independently of other microservices. In other words, a Container is a standardised unit of Software.

All these containers with microservices are orchestrated by platforms such as Kubernetes. And DevOps is a process of developing and delivering apps in this architecture.

Now one thing that is often seen missing from the above scene is the Application Delivery Controllers (ADC). ADC is the unsung hero of this grand story. Performance, Resilience and Security are selling points of this entire CN revolution which makes Operators thrive in the XaaS economy due to ADCs at the most fundamental level.

What are Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs)?

Understanding ADC requires quick time travel from two vantage points. In a highly abstracted system design, between a client and application servers, there are two important components: Load Balancers and Reverse Proxy servers



Load Balancers distribute the traffic across the Reverse Proxy Servers for optimum service management. The first path would be that of Load Balancer evolution. Load Balancing was done at Layer 4 based on IP address and Port numbers till recently where it is done at Layer 7 based on HTTP header, URL, Cookies, Intent, etc. Though they kept evolving from Hardware to Virtual to Software, it’s always been a manual process to configure, bake in policies, etc. On top of that, it required third party Security Software to be loaded which demanded an additional project-time (headache) for Network Engineers. The effort tripled as the traffic doubled.

Now the second path. The Reverse Proxy Servers are network devices between Load Balancers and Application Servers. They take 75% of the responsibilities of Application Servers. They accept, forward and return the server response to LBs. In addition to HTTP authentication, SSL encryption, storing JS & HTML content, Caching and Compression, they also optimize the traffic. 

Instead of managing a two sets of population of Load Balancers and Reverse Proxy Servers, architects eventually decided to consolidate the key functionalities of both Load Balancers and Reverse Proxy servers and put them into a single device. That single device is an Application Delivery Controller which saves 80% of time and resources. In short, ADCs simplify and accelerate the application delivery in multi-cloud, multi-tenant, heterogeneous environments such as Operators ecosystems. ADC delivers the application services and manages interactions by optimizing the application performance, availability, and security level. 

The role of ADCs on the application delivery management in the Cloud-Native Development process is no less than that of the other celebrated components. Whenever we talk of speed, availability and resilience, you know whose courtesy it is. ADC.

FAQs

What is Cloud Computing?

IoT or Internet of Things refers to a network of physical devices (embedded with intelligence and technologies) connected to the internet to share and collect information. The term Internet of Things was first coined by British technology pioneer Kevin Aston in 1999. The rise to IoT has been mainlyImagee to the following reasons: access to low-cost, low-power sensor technology; ubiquitous connectivity, Cloud computing platforms, Machine learning & analytics, and Conversational artificial intelligence (AI).

In a typical IoT environment, data is collected via smart sensors (like GPS, Accelerometer, Camera, temperature sensor, etc.), i.e., it could be as simple as taking temperature data from the surrounding. Next, the data is sent to the cloud. The sensors could be connected to the cloud via Satellite/ WiFi/ Bluetooth/ Cellular/Ethernet. As the data reaches the cloud, it undergoes data processing and analytics. Once the data is aligned to the specific use case, it can be sent to the user device of choice, laptop/computer via email/text/notification, etc. When IoT devices talk to each other, they can use various standards and protocols, for example, WiFi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT), etc.

With the potential of converting any physical device into an IoT-powered device and negate the need for human intervention, the technology is set to transform across every possible sector. The major industries that will benefit from IoT will be:

a) Manufacturing (Quality Control, Predictive Maintenance, Smart Packaging, etc.
b) Automotive (Fleet & Driver Management, Real-Time Vehicle Telematics, IoT based Predictive, In-vehicle Infotainment maintenance, etc.)
c) Transporation and Logistics (Inventory tracking and warehousing, Location management systems, Drone-based delivery, etc.)
d) Retail (Automated Checkout, In-store Layout Optimization, Robot Employees, etc.)
e) Finance (Auto Insurance, IoT enabled Smart Payment Contracts, Account Management)
f) Healthcare (Remote patient monitoring, robotic surgeries, Ingestible sensors, etc.)
g) Public Sector ( Infrastructure management, Disaster management, Law enforcement)

What is a Data Centre?

A datacentre, sometimes referred to as a server farm, is a centralized physical location housing compute resources (high-end servers), storage (SSD, HDD, Flash, Optical), and networking equipment (routers, switches, firewalls, etc.) for collecting, storing, processing, distributing and allowing access to large amounts of data. Apart from the IT equipment data center also houses environment controls (airflow, humidity & temperature sensors), server racks, power supplies (backup systems, generators), and cabling systems (ethernet, copper, optical fiber). Initially, data centers were introduced to manage the large influx of service requests and store user-generated data. In contrast, it has now evolved to adopt technologies such as virtualization, cloud computing, mobile, Internet of Things (IoT) applications, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and big data analytics.

There are four main types of data centers:

a) Enterprise data centers – Built, owned, and managed by a company for particular use-cases for their target user set. They are usually built on-site but can also be built away from the company premise.

b) Managed services data centers – Deployed, managed, and monitored by a third-party datacentre service provider for a company. The features and functionality can be accessed by the company using a managed service platform (MSP)

c) Colocation data centers – Consist of one data center owner selling space, power, and cooling to multiple enterprises and hyperscale customers in a specific location. The company focuses entirely on running the compute, storage, and networking equipment while the data centre service provider takes care of the space, power, cooling, security, and IT racks.

d) Cloud data centers- An off-site data centre provider such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud that stores the data of various enterprises. The data is fragmented and stored at various locations across the internet (i.e. datacentres across the world). This offers enhanced security, scalability, management, reliability, customization, and cost-effectiveness.

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