Get a Job, Container: A Serverless Workflow with Iron.io

This post originally appeared on DZone

My previous post, Distinguished Microservices: It’s in the Behavior, made a comparison between two types of microservices – real-time requests (“app-centric”) and background processes (“job-centric”). As a follow up, I wanted to take a deeper look at job-centric microservices as they set the stage for a new development paradigm — serverless computing.

Of course, this doesn’t mean we’re getting rid of the data center in any form or fashion — it simply means that we’re entering a world where developers never have to think about provisioning or managing infrastructure resources to power workloads at any scale. This is done by decoupling backend jobs as independent microservices that run through an automated workflow when a predetermined event occurs. For the developer, it’s a serverless experience.

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Distinguished Microservices: It’s in the Behavior

This post originally appeared on DZone

Microservices is more than just an academic topic. It was born out of the challenges from running distributed applications at scale; enabled by recent advancements in cloud native technologies. What started as a hot topic between developers, operators, and architects alike, is now catching on within the enterprise because of what the shift in culture promises — the ability to deliver software quickly, effectively, and continuously. In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing landscape, that is more than just desirable; it’s required to stay competitive.

Culture shifts alone are not enough to make a real impact, so organizations embarking down this path must also examine what it actually means for the inner workings of their processes and systems. Dealing with immutable infrastructure and composable services at scale means investing in operational changes. While containers and their surrounding tools provide the building blocks through an independent, portable, and consistent workflow and runtime, there’s more to it than simply “build, ship, run.”

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E is for Event: A Fresh Take on ETL

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As a follow up to my previous post, The Workloads of the Internet of Things, I wanted to walk through a real world example that fully captures the principles of event-driven computing put forth.

Let’s set the stage first… imagine we operate a windmill farm and want to continually track optimal weather conditions to maximize energy output. What basic steps need to be taken?

  1. Sensors capture surrounding weather conditions
  2. Captured data is delivered to a backend service
  3. The service calculates the expected power generation
  4. Calculated data is delivered to an analytics system
  5. Data is presented in a variety of charts and maps

This process flow sounds similar to the common Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) pattern, however the distinction to make here is that data is pushed from the source to the backend service instead of pulled. This means we need to update our pipeline to be more reactive.

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Iron.io Now Available in Microsoft Azure Marketplace

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Iron.io continues to grow its ecosystem of value-added partners. To this point, today you can now find Iron.io solutions in the Application Services within the Microsoft Azure Marketplace. Azure users can now directly leverage Iron.io within their applications to respond to application events, decouple components as independent services, offload individual workloads, and schedule regular occurring jobs.

IronWorker and IronMQ can be added by visiting the Azure Marketplace. Developers can then write and package task code for deployment to IronWorker’s processing environment within Azure. The Iron.io dashboard built into Azure provides detailed insight into the state of tasks for monitoring complete application activity and performance.

By using Azure and Iron.io, developers and operators can move individual components to the cloud, while maintaining safe application environments through improved security. Iron.io can also act as a key processing gateway to Azure component services including storage, queues, mobile services, and more, making it easy to create hybrid solutions of existing client-server applications and cloud-based microservices.

To quote Iron.io CEO Chad Arimura: “The combination of Azure and Iron.io brings flexibility, scalability, control and security – all the things Enterprises are seeking for their applications.

IronWorker and IronMQ are currently available in the West US region of Azure, and support multiple languages with native SDKs including Go, Java, Ruby, PHP, Python, Node.js, and .NET.

The Workloads of the Internet of Things

I must say my favorite part about researching the Internet of Things has to be the mind blowing stats. Just a couple from the arsenal… we already have more connected devices on the planet than humans, and every two days we create more data than all of human history up to 2003. The predictions are wild too… Intel predicts that there will be 200 billion connected devices by 2020, and Cisco predicts the market size to reach $14.4 Trillion by 2022. It’s hard to really wrap your head around numbers like that, but there was one that really jumped out at me – IDC predicts that Internet of Things workloads will increase approximately 750% by 2019. Why that really matters: how on earth are we going to handle that level of scale?

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DockerWorker Unplugged

Today, the world revolves around developers. Digital businesses are becoming a significant part of the landscape. Traditional business thrives on its responsiveness to customers and how it handles business data. People used to talk about the Era of Information Technology, however now we’re in the Era of the Developer.

Fast-moving businesses recognize the need to give developers the tools, platforms, and application services developers require to get things done. Equally important is getting obstructions out of the way of developers and allowing them to move fast. What do developers need to be successful in this modern world? They need self-service, on-demand capabilities, immediate scale, and little to no operations. Simply put, developers want to write code – and do so in a manner that lets them focus on writing code without having to manage tools and infrastructure. The overhead of managing infrastructure or dealing with a mismatch between development and production systems, steals precious cycles from a developer’s main driver – writing code.

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Roam Directories Goes Serverless With Iron.io and Other Cloud Services

Users expect immediate access to information, and this expectation is no different in the commercial real estate industry. Fast-moving companies need innovative web tools that enable property managers to upload, update and exchange building information with prospective tenants.

Roam Directories, founded in 2013, is a relatively new company in an industry filled with established firms. They created a commercial real estate directory that provides unique and engaging experiences for prospective tenants, while empowering property managers to deliver a rich set of materials that provide an enhanced view of a property.

To make this possible, Roam Directories built the Atlas directory, an interactive, digital touchscreen display that shows building tenants, visitors, and prospective tenants up-to-date photos, videos, architectural drawings, and other materials about the building they are visiting. The Atlas interface design and workflow that Roam Directories created for property managers is a big part of their success. Also key is the way they address process automation and IT infrastructure management to keep information up to date. The combination gives them fast innovation and reduced costs that lets Roam Directories offer the Atlas service at a highly competitive price.

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