We have been working for a while on our new Cloud Computing Framework (CCF). We wanted to wait until we had some real customers and partners behind the platform in production before spreading the word on a larger scale. And now, I am very happy to report that we have reached this point sooner than expected and just in time for the JavaOne event.
The new version includes an enhanced integration with the Amazon billing system Devpay designed to enable users to use GigaSpaces as a service on a true pay per use model. All you need is an Amazon account and your done. Unlike other products, that are offered in similar fashion, we decided not to provide just a bundle of our software packed in an Amazon image (AMI) but instead provide a more tight integration with EC2 that will enable our users to use a single GigaSpaces product for all GigaSpaces versions as well as customize the installation to include their own software packages and application code on the fly. The new CCF provides a true end to end experience that will enable our users to deploy and manage their *entire* application from the load-balancer to the database in one single click. The latest release of CCF includes support for the new GigaSpaces 7.0 release. Users that are looking to try out the new XAP product can now do that for free without the need to download or install anything. This will enable you to try out any of the built-in examples, test the high availability features and run benchmarks in just one click. The new version includes lots of additional improvements to the user experience as well as new features and bug fixes.
Those that will be visiting JavaOne this week will be able to join the hands-on labs session and experience a full deployment of JEE application using CCF. You will also be able to gain insight from one of our customers, Primatics Financial on how they used CCF to build their Risk Management application as a service.
In this post I will try to address some of the most common questions that we often receive when introducing this new service:
Who is using GigaSpaces CCF and Why?
The new release is already used by different customers in the following areas:
ISV’s and Service providers using CCF for SaaS enablement:
Many ISV’s are looking for ways to move their standalone applications into a SaaS based offering. In doing so they face a few challenges:
1. Scalability – now their application needs to serve not just the users of a certain customer at a certain location but all customers from all locations. This increases the scalability challenge on their product by an order of magnitude.
2. Continuous high availability – one of the challenges that is imposed by having a shared platform for all customers is that the impact of failure can be catastrophic as failure can affect all of your clients at the same time and becomes public fairly quickly.
3. Portability – There are cases where some customers would still require their application be installed in their local data center for security and latency purposes. Today, this often means you will need to develop two seperate branches of your product to serve these two scenarios. With GigaSpaces you can write your application once and deploy it in the cloud or in your customer data center without having to modify your application and without locking your application to a specific cloud provider.
4. Performance – In developing high performance applications such as Trading, Risk Analysis, or SIP server, keeping the latency at sub msec and throughput at a maximum becomes critical. This is where our XAP middleware has a proven record in running numerious production mission critical applications.
The following are a few public references that chose to use XAP:
– Primatics Financial is using GigaSpaces CCF to build a high performance risk management solution
– Orbyte is using GigaSpaces CCF for building state of the art high performance trading applications that can be offered as service.
Other customers include Online Gaming companies that were looking for a simple and cost effective manner to launch new online games and provide a gaming application platform that enables other gaming providers to host their applications easily in a cloud environment.
Enterprise customers using CCF to improve time to market of new applications and for large scale testing
According to recent research conducted by Forrester, one of the main requirements driving cloud adoption by the enterprise market is that current IT can’t keep up with the business demands of their organization:
- Capacity planning is too difficult – The current method of provisioning applications based on estimated peak loads has become either too costly or impossible. Most systems are non linearly scalable which means that knowing how many resources would be needed to meet certain goal is known only through trial and error.
- Time to market – launching new applications and services often takes months and sometimes year.
- The business wants a simple and cost effective way to prototype – not all applications make it to production but these initiatives still require the business to invest upfront in the purchase and configuraiton of infrastructure to support these prototypes.
- Cost saving – There are sets of applications that have fluctuating demand on resources. Enabling these applications to “lease” a common set of resources only when under heavy demand can lead to huge cost saving and efficiency.
I discussed the enterprises challenges in my previous talks. The most recent one is the one I gave during the CloudSlam event: Practical Guide to Developing Enterprise Applications on the Cloud- Online Presentation
A good example of an enterprise customer who is already using our CCF in production is a Large Telco Service Provider that searched for ways to reduce the time to market for launching new scalable web applications. This customer was able to bring a project that previously took more than 6 months just to finish the development and testing to 4 weeks with only 90$ spent on pre-investment.
Large scale testing, performance benchmarks and demo as a service
Users that are not ready to use the cloud to run their production systems can still receive benefits from the cloud for testing and demonstration purposes. There are a few challenges that we tried to address with CCF to make this type of use simpler:
1. Making cloud testing environments identical to your local testing environment – To effectively test your application on the cloud and deploy a production version of your system locally, your application must be at a point where it behaves fairly the same in both environments.
2. Setting up a large scale environment of hundreds of nodes can be fairly complex
3. Trouble shooting failure in such an environment can be a fairly complex and lengthy process.
If your application is already running on our XAP product then porting it to the cloud and running it locally in your production environment will not require any change to your code or configuration. With CCF setting up a large scale environment of hundreds of nodes with the new CCF takes just a few minutes. We designed the CCF to run not only GigaSpaces but other external services which are essential for tests such as JMmeter, Tomcat servers etc. Users can easily configure their own initialization and command scripts when the machine is launched and define which software packages will be installed on their machines on the fly. We added the ability to capture the logs of multiple machines easily and monitor the system and middleware behavior at runtime using a zero installation environment all through the web.
GigaSpaces and our existing customers and partners have already been using CCF to run live demos and recently GigaSpaces started using CCF for our own internal large scale testing purposes. Using the cloud for demo purposes has been extremely useful to show cases that previously were hard to demonstrate such as fail-over and scalability in a real production environment. You can read more on how you can use CCF for running your own demo on the cloud in a similar way without going through all the challenges we had gone through in one of my recent posts: Demo as a Service . Similarly CCF can be ideal for running large scale Benchmarks.
Partner ecosystem –
We designed our CCF in away that would enable us to run not just GigaSpaces components but almost any application such as JEE or Spring based applications. This enables our Solution provider partners to use CCF to offer their specialized solutions and offerings for both GigaSpaces and their other software partners.
System Integrators are also looking for ways to gain a competitive advantage by offering turn key solutions at a significantly shorter time to market and lower initial investment. I tried to outline below some of the public references on these two categories:
- Solution providers
Real time production monitoring: Dynatrace offers enhanced integration with CCF for enhanced production monitoring. Dynatrace users are able to monitor in real time how their application is performing and trace their application bottlenecks in real time – see details on this integration here.
Model Driven Development framework – New Technology/enterprise (NT/e) – GigaSystemBuilder helps Java developers prove applications quickly – in a few days – on a local grid or in the cloud, and then rapidly move on to production development, rather than waste time on finger-trouble or implementation details – see more information here as well as a live demo on their deployment manager solution
- System integrator
In many cases customers are looking for experts that will enable them to gain the benefit of the cloud and bridge some of the skill-set gaps. AAR is one of our leading system integrators in that field who has already delivered several solutions on top of our GigaSpaces CCF for Enterprise customers. For them, using CCF was a tool to gain a competitive edge and provided their customers the ability to launch new applications in a matter of weeks as opposed to months and at a fraction of the setup (development environment, testing environment, staging environment) and hardware costs that are associated with setting up such an environment with traditional projects.
Here is a quote from one of our System Integrators in the UK that describes their experience in using CCF for the Telco Service provider that I mentioned earlier.
“We use GigaSpaces XAP and CCF to deploy a standard JEE web application on EC2. To address security concerns we kept the business logic outside of the cloud on the customer site. We exposed the business logic through a secured web services channel. We use XAP data grid for maintaining the session high availability and for reducing the latency associated with accessing the remote data center. We used the XAP integrated Jetty container for hosting our web application and through that gained the built-in self healing and auto-scaling provided through the CCF. In this way we were able to deal with potential failure or load without human intervention. From a management and monitoring perspective we were able to leverage the integrated ganglia monitoring and integrated visual representation of different metrics, like cpu/memory/network usage of the entire cluster. We used JMX to bind our custom Mbeans to the integrated ganglia UI. Overall GigaSpaces CCF gave us big boost on utilizing ec2”
I must admit that from our end this was probably the smoothest project we had been engaged with. The reason was probably related to the fact that unlike other projects we had full control over the environment. This enabled us to minimize potential miss configuration errors which is one of the major areas for complexity in setting up such a project. Another benefit was the support. When we faced an issue it was very easy to log-in directly to the machine and fix the problem on the spot without the need to go through a complex process of authorization from the IT Security and without the need to create a reproduction package and ship it over.
The customer was able to deploy a new business application quickly without putting all the initial investment upfront. In this way they gained the freedom to decide at any point if the application should continue, be canned or if they should move it entirely to their local IT.
Looking into the future
The future looks very promising as we continue to work on bringing new customers and businesses towards using CCF and the latest XAP 7.0. We are currently working on supporting the Amazon European datacenter and taking advantage of some of the new XAP 7.0 cluster administration API to enable users to provide thier own custom SLA deployment. At this point, I would like to ask for your specific feedback and wish list for our next major CCF release.