Scalability

Azure Functions App–Run OnDemand Serverless code – a path way to Serverless Computing

June 18, 2017 App Service, Azure, Azure Functions, CosmosDB, Microsoft, Resilliancy, Scalability, Windows Azure Development, Windowz Azure No comments

Azure Functions is a new cloud solution from Azure that would let you execute small pieces code or “functions” in the cloud.  This means you do not have to worry about the infrastructure or environment to execute your little piece of code to solve any of your business problems.

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Functions can make development even more productive, and you can use your development language of choice.

Benefits:

  • Pay only for the time your code runs and trust Azure to scale as needed.
  • Azure Functions lets you develop serveries applications on Microsoft Azure.
  • Supports wide variety of development language choices , such as C#, F#, Node.js, Python or PHP.
  • Bring your own dependencies – you can bring any of your Nuget/NPM dependencies for your functional logic.

What can we do with Azure Functions?

Azure Functions is a very good  solution for processing data, integrating systems, working with the internet-of-things (IoT), and building simple APIs and micro services.

Functions provides templates to help you  get started with some useful scenarios, including the following:

  • BlobTrigger – Process Azure Storage blobs when they are added to containers. You might use this function for image resizing.
  • EventHubTrigger – Respond to events delivered to an Azure Event Hub. Particularly useful in application instrumentation, user experience or workflow processing, and Internet of Things (IoT) scenarios.
  • Generic Webhook – Process webhook HTTP requests from any service that supports webhooks.
  • GitHub Webhook – Respond to events that occur in your GitHub repositories.
  • HTTPTrigger – Trigger the execution of your code by using an HTTP request.
  • QueueTrigger – Respond to messages as they arrive in an Azure Storage queue.
  • ServiceBusQueueTrigger – Connect your code to other Azure services or on-premises services by listening to message queues.
  • ServiceBusTopicTrigger – Connect your code to other Azure services or on-premises services by subscribing to topics.
  • TimerTrigger – Execute cleanup or other batch tasks on a predefined schedule.

Integration Support with other Azure Services:

Following are the services integration supported by Azure Functions app.

  • Azure Cosmos DB
  • Azure Event Hubs
  • Azure Mobile Apps (tables)
  • Azure Notification Hubs
  • Azure Service Bus (queues and topics)
  • Azure Storage (blob, queues, and tables)
  • GitHub (webhooks)
  • On-premises (using Service Bus)
  • Twilio (SMS messages)

Costing:

Azure functions will be charged based on two pricing plans below:

  1. App Service Plan – if you already have an Azure App Service running with Logic, Web, Mobile or Web Job, you can use the same environment for your Azure functions execution without needing to pay for extra resources.  You will be charged based on regular app service rates.
  2. Consumption plan  – with this plan you only need to pay for how long and how many times your functions runs and computational needs/resource usage during that execution time. Consumption plan pricing includes a monthly free grant of 1 million requests and 400,000 GB-s of resource consumption per month.

You can find further pricing related info here

Support and SLA:

  • Free billing and subscription management support
  • Flexible support plans starting at $29/month. Find a plan
  • 99.95% guaranteed up time. Read the SLA

Useful Links:

Microsoft Azure IoT Suite–Provisioned solutions for Faster Time to Market IoT enabled solutions

January 7, 2017 Analytics, Azure, Azure SDK, Cloud Computing, Communication Protocols, Contrained Networks/Devices, Data Collection, Data Integration, Emerging Technologies, Identity of Things (IDoT), Internet of Things, Interoperability, IoT, PaaS, Performance, Predictive Analytics, Predictive Maintenance, Realtime Analytics, Reliability, Scalability, Self Driven Cars, Solutions, Stream Analytics, Tech-Trends, Windowz Azure No comments

Microsoft Azure IoT Suite Provisioned solutions will help you create your own fully integrated solutions tailored for your specific needs in the following 3 sections. Using these ready to consume solutions will accelerate your time to market IoT(Internet of Things) requirements.

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  1. Remote Monitoring  – Connect and monitor your devices to analyze untapped data and improve business outcomes by automating processes.  For ex: As a car  manufacturing company, provide an option to customer to remotely monitor their car condition, and suggest if they need a re-fuel or oil change.
  2. Connected Factory – Anticipate maintenance needs and avoid unscheduled downtime by connecting and monitoring your devices. For ex: As a car manufacturing  factory and spare parts are essential for car manufacturing. Automated solutions can ensure timely availability of necessary spare parts inventory to meet daily, weekly or monthly manufacturing needs.
  3. Predictive Maintenance – Connect and monitor your factory industrial devices for insights using OPC UA to drive operational productivity.  For ex: As a car service support, you can get near real-time performance data from the cars manufactured by your company, predict the health of each components in a car and offer timely maintenance to their cars.  Send real-time reminders and notifications to customers. Their by ensuring higher satisfaction levels for customers and more business value to the organization as it attracts more sales and good customer feedback.

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These solutions will help you to:

  1. Connect and scale quickly – Use preconfigured solutions, and accelerate the development of your Internet of Things (IoT) solution.

  2. Analyze and process dataCollect previously untapped data from devices and sensors, and use built-in capabilities to visualize—and act on—that data.

  3. Integration and Digital TransformationEasily integrate with your systems and applications, including Salesforce, SAP, Oracle Database, and Microsoft Dynamics, making it simple to access your data and keep your disparate systems up to date.

  4. Enhanced security Set up individual identities and credentials for each of your connected devices—and help retain the confidentiality of both cloud-to-device and device-to-cloud messages.

Useful Links:

IoT Protocols–Quick Comparison

January 5, 2017 Communication Protocols, Connectivity, Contrained Networks/Devices, Internet of Things, Interoperability, IoT, Performance, Reliability, Scalability, Tech-Trends No comments

The table below contains a quick summary of the IoT protocols:

Protocol CoAP XMPP RESTful HTTP MQTT AMQP
Transport UDP TCP TCP TCP TCP
Messaging Request/Response Publish/Subscribe Request/Response Request/Response Publish/Subscribe Request/Response Topic based Publish/Subscribe
2G, 3G, 4G Suitability (1000s nodes) Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
LLN Suitability (1000s nodes) Excellent Fair Fair Fair Excellent
Compute Resources 10Ks RAM/Flash 10Ks RAM/Flash 10Ks RAM/Flash 10Ks RAM/Flash 10Ks RAM/Flash
Success Stories Utility Field Area Networks Remote management of consumer white goods Smart Energy Profile 2 (premise energy management, home services) Extending enterprise messaging into IoT applications Extending enterprise messaging into IoT applications
designed for resource-constrained devices and low bandwidth, high latency networks interoperability
reliable queuing, flexible routing, transactions, and security

Source: Beyond MQTT: A Cisco View on IoT Protocols, Paul Duffy, April 30 2013

IoT Hub vs Event Hub–A quick comparison

December 11, 2016 Azure, Cloud Computing, Cloud to Device, Communication Protocols, Connectivity, Contrained Networks/Devices, Data Hubs, Device Shadow, Device to Cloud, Device Twin, Emerging Technologies, Event Hubs, HTTP2, Identity of Things (IDoT), Intelligent Cloud, Internet of Things, Interoperability, IoT, IoT Hub, IoT Privacy, IoT Security, Messaging, Microsoft, Performance, Protocols, Reliability, Scalability, Tech-Trends No comments

With this article I am trying to provide you a birds eye view comparison of IoT Hub and Azure Event Hub, so that some of you may stop feeling that there is nothing new in IoT Hub.

For the interest of this article, I put together a table with side-by-side comparison of some important features/desired features from an IoT Hub like platform.

Feature IoT Hub Event Hub
Communication Supports both device-to-cloud and cloud-to-device bidirectional communication Supports only device-to-cloud communication
State Management Can maintain device state using Device Twins and query them whenever needed. Not Supported
Protocol Support AMQP 1.1, AMQP over Web Sockets, MQTT 3.2, MQTT over Web Sockets, HTTP 1.1, Web Sockets. AMQP 1.1, AMQP over Web Sockets, HTTP 11 , Web Sockets only
Protocol Extensions Provides IoT protocol gateway a customizable implementation for industrial protocol channelling. Not Supported
Security Provides identity to each device and easily revocable through IoT Hub Device Management portal. Shared access policies with limited revocation capabilities are provided.
Monitoring/ Operations Provides a rich set of features through Device Management capability. Includes individually enable/disable or provision new device. Change security keys as needed. View/identify individual device problems easily. Does not provide individual performance metrics. Can provide only a high level aggregated metrics only.
Scalability Scalable to thousands/millions of simultaneous devices Limited number of simultaneous connections up to 5000 connections per Azure Service Bus Quotas. Event Hub provides a capability to partition your message to channel it in to associated Service Bus quotas.
SDK Support/ Developer Support Provides very good Integration SDK and developer support. Both Azure IoT  Device SDK and IoT Gateway SDK are the most essential kits provided for almost all devices/OS platforms. It also support all the latest programming languages such as C#, Node.js, Java and Python.
Also provides  direct MQTT, AMQP and REST based HTTP APIs.
Very detail oriented documentation provided.
.NET, Java and C apart from protocols such as AMQP, HTTP API interfaces.
Files/Images Upload Capability Supports IoT devices/solutions to upload files/images/snapshots to cloud and define a workflow for processing them. Not Available
Message Routing Very decent message routing capability is available out of the box. Up to 10 end points can be defined and Advanced Rules can be defined on how routing should occur. Requires additional programming and hosting to support as per the need.

From this comparison table, you can analyse that IoTHub is the right candidate for your IoT solution needs, as Event Hub lacking certain capabilities that are essential for an IoT Ingestion point. If you are only requiring to send messages to cloud and doesn’t require any fancy stuff as IoTHub provides, you can choose Event Hub.

Remember with more power comes more responsibility, that’s what IotHub intend to provide to you.

Hope this overview was helpful. Please feel free to comment or initiate a discussion any time. Please share your feedbacks on this article as well.

Scalability – Scale Out/In vs Scale Up/Down (Horizontal Scaling vs Vertical Scaling)

October 1, 2016 Architecture, Azure, Cloud Computing, Cloud Services, Horizontal Scaling, Performance, Reliability, Resilliancy, Scalability, Scale Down, Scale In, Scale Out, Scale Up, Software/System Design, Vertical Scaling, Virtualization No comments

When you work with Cloud Computing or normal Scalable highly available applications you would normally hear two terminologies called Scale Out and Scale Up or often called as Horizontal Scaling and Vertical Scaling.  I thought about covering basics and provide more clarity for developers and IT specialists.

What is Scalability?

Scalability is the capability of a system, network, or process to handle a growing amount of work, or its potential to be enlarged to accommodate that growth. For example, a system is considered scalable if it is capable of increasing its total output under an increased load when resources (typically hardware) are added.

A system whose performance improves after adding hardware, proportionally to the capacity added, is said to be a scalable system.

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This will be applicable or any system such as :

  1. Commercial websites or Web application who have a larger user group and growing frequently,
  2. or An immediate need to serve a high number of users for some high profile event or campaign.
  3. or A streaming event that would need immediate  processing capabilities to serve streaming to larger set of users across certain region or  globally.
  4. or A immediate work processing or data processing that requires higher compute requirements that usual for a certain job.

Scalability can be measured in various dimensions, such as:

  • Administrative scalability: The ability for an increasing number of organizations or users to easily share a single distributed system.
  • Functional scalability: The ability to enhance the system by adding new functionality at minimal effort.
  • Geographic scalability: The ability to maintain performance, usefulness, or usability regardless of expansion from concentration in a local area to a more distributed geographic pattern.
  • Load scalability: The ability for a distributed system to easily expand and contract its resource pool to accommodate heavier or lighter loads or number of inputs. Alternatively, the ease with which a system or component can be modified, added, or removed, to accommodate changing load.
  • Generation scalability: The ability of a system to scale up by using new generations of components. Thereby, heterogeneous scalability is the ability to use the components from different vendors.

Scale-Out/In / Horizontal Scaling:

To scale horizontally (or scale out/in) means to add more nodes to (or remove nodes from) a system, such as adding a new computer to a distributed software application.

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Pros:

  • Load is distributed to multiple servers
  • Even if one server goes down, there are servers to handle the requests or load.
  • You can add up more servers or reduce depending on the usage patterns or load.
  • Perfect for highly available web application or batch processing operations.

Cons:

  • You would need additional hardware /servers to support. This would increase increase infrastructure and maintenance costs.
  • You would need to purchase additional licenses for OS or required licensed software’s.

Scale-Up/Down/Vertical Scaling:

To scale vertically (or scale up/down) means to add resources to (or remove resources from) a single node in a system, typically involving the addition of CPUs or memory to a single computer.

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Pros

  • Possibility to increase CPU/RAM/Storage virtually or physically.
  • Single system can serve all your data/work processing needs with additional hardware upgrade being done.
  • Minimal cost for upgrade

Cons

  • When you are physically or virtually maxed out with limit, you do not have any other options.
  • A crash could cause outages to your business processing jobs.

We discussed in detail about the both approach in Scalability, depending on the need you will have to choose right approach. Nowadays high availability of cloud computing platforms like Amazon AWS/Microsoft Azure etc., you have lots of flexible ways to Scale-Out or Scale-Up on a Cloud environment, which provides you with virtually unlimited resources, provided you are being capable to pay off accordingly.

Hope this information was helpful, please leave your comments accordingly if you find any discrepancies or you have any queries.