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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Use COM- A New Approach to Build Next-Gen Cloud Applications

What is COM? 

COM stands for Container, Open source and Microservice. In late 1990s, .com revolution transformed the way computing was done. Today, containers and microservices are transforming the way cloud computing is done. Microservices architecture is not just an IT buzzword anymore. Many companies have successfully adapted microservices architecture to develop highly scalable cloud applications. Cloud providers like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, etc. are building an ecosystem to facilitate application development using containers and microservices. No wonder open-source community played a significant role in this revolution. If you are wondering how the the next-gen scalable cloud applications will be built, COM approach is one of the most promising alternatives. 

Why COM ?

  • Containers: Build, ship and Run anywhere. A docker container can run on Bare Metal, VM, AWS, Azure, Google, Digital Ocean. Docker1.2 provides native support for Mac and Windows too. 
  • Open source: It's open source, duh!
  • Microservices: Scale, flexibility, system resilience. Monoliths are bad for health!

COM Ecosystem

Building an individual microservice might be easy. Challenge is to integrate all services to build the complete solution. Therefore, for building COM based applications, following aspects need to be considered. 

Containerizing a service: While packaging a service in the container, we must remember that container is NOT a VM. Some of the best practices while building containers are one process per container, ephemeral behavior (can be stopped and a new one can be put in place with an absolute minimum of set-up and configuration). 

Service discovery: COM based cloud application can have hundreds and thousands of containers coming up and going down continuously. Hardcoded IP addresses or traditional DNS based service discovery will not be useful in such scenarios. We need to use a dynamic and scalable service discovery solutions. Open source solutions like zookeper, consule are the suitable for such use cases. 

Service-service communication: For synchronous communication, REST/JSON has been a de-facto standard for past several years. However, other promising alternatives like grpc/protbuf, thrift have emerged. These RPC frameworks take advantage of new HTTP2 (introduced in 2015), binary protocols and bi-direction streaming. For async communication, frameworks such as AMQP, STOMP have been widely used in the industry. 

Monitoring and logging: With hundreds of containers running in the system, we need specialized solutions such as fluetd, datadog, cAdvisor for system monitoring and logging. 

Automation and CI/CD: Building and deploying microservices without proper automation and CI/CD can prove to be the worst nightmare for an engineering team. Apart from traditional deployment techniques, engineering/devops team needs to consider container orchestration and container networking mechanism. 

The following mind map gives an overview of COM ecosystem. This is definitely not an exhaustive list, however it could be a good starting point for exploring various available options.


Note : The acronym COM used here is meant only for the purpose of explanation. It is not a standard acronym.

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