🆕 Had a great time at the last Seattle Scalability Meetup. I’ve also just finished processing and fixing up the talk video from this last Seattle Scalability Meetup. I feel like I’ve finally gotten the process of streaming and getting things put together post-stream so that I can make them available almost immediately afterwards.
Here @rseroter gives us a full review of various business models, open source licenses, and a solid situational report on cloud providers and open source.
I ran into this issue recently. The “Invalid JWT Signature.” error while running some Terraform. It appeared to occur whenever I was setting up a bucket in Google Cloud Platform to use for a back-end to store Terraform’s state. In console, here’s the exact error.
My first quick searches uncovered some Github issues that looked curiously familiar. Invalid JWT Token when using Service Account JSON #3100 which was closed without any particular resolution. Upon further searching it didn’t help to much but I’d be curious as to what the resolution was. The second is Creating GCP project in terraform #13109 which sounded much more on point compared to my issue. This appeared closer to my issue but it looked like I should probably just start from scratch, since this did work on one machine already but just didn’t work on this machine I shifted to. (Grumble grumble, what’d I miss).
In the end this is a message, if you work on multiple machines with multiple cloud accounts you might get the keys mixed up. In this particular case I reset my NIC (i.e. you can just reboot too, especially if on Windows it’s just easier to do that). Then everything just started working. In some cases however, the JSON with the gcloud/gcp keys needs to be regenerated as the old key was rolled or otherwise invalidated.
For to long lock-in has been referred to with an almost entirely negative connotation even though it can be inferred in positive and negative situations. The fact is that there’s a much more nuanced and balanced range to benefits and disadvantages of lock-in. Often this may even be referred to as this or that dependency, but either way a dependency often is just another form of lock in. Weighing those and finding the right balance for your projects can actually lead to lock-in being a positive game changer or something that simply provides one a basis in which to work and operate. Sometimes lock-in actually will provide a way to remove lock-in by providing more choices to other things, that in turn may provide another variance of lock-in.
Concrete Lock-in Examples
The .NET Windows SQL Server Lock In
This application, say it was built out with this set of technology platforms and used stored procedures in SQL Server, locking the application into the specific database, used proprietary Windows specific libraries in .NET with the C# code, and on Windows used IIS specific advances to make the application faster. When it was first built it seemed plenty fast and scaled just right according to the demand at the time.
Fast forward to today. The application now has a sharded database when it hit a mere 8 Terabytes, loaded on two super pumped up – at least for today – servers that have many cores, many CPUs, GPUs, and all that jazz. They came in around $240k each! The application is tightly coupled to a middle tier, that is then sort of tightly coupled to those famous stored procedures, and the application of course has a turbo capability per those IIS Servers.
But today it’s slow. Looking at benchmarks and query times the database is having a hard time dealing with things as is, and the application has outages on a routine basis for a whole variation of reasons. Sometimes tracing and debugging solves the problems quickly, other times the servers just oversubscribe resources and sit thrashing.
Where does this application go? How does one resolve the database loading issues? They’ve already sunk a half million on servers, they’re pegged out already, horizontally scaling isn’t an option, they’re tightly coupled to Window Servers running IIS removing the possibility of effectively scaling out the application servers via container technologies, and other issues. Without recourse, this is the type of lock in that will kill the company if something is changed in a massive way very soon.
To add, this is the description of an actual company that is now defunct. I phrased it as existing today only to make the point. The hard reality is the company went under, almost entirely because of the costs of maintaining and unsustainable architecture that caused an exorbitant lock in to very specific tools – largely because the company drank the cool aid to use the tools as suggested. They developed the product into a corner. That mistake was so expensive that it decimated the finances of the company. Not a good scenario, not a happy outcome, and something to be avoided in every way! This is truly the epitomy of negative lock in.
Of course there’s this distinctive lock in we have to steer clear from, but there’s the lock in associated with languages and other technology capabilities that will help your company move forward faster, easier, and with increasing capabilities. Those are the choices, the ties to technology and capabilities that decision makers can really leverage with fewer negative consequences.
The “Lock In” That Enables
One common statement is, “the right tool for the job”. This is of course for the ideal world where ideal decisions can be made all the time. This doesn’t exist and we have to strive for balance between decisions that will wreck the ship or decisions that will give us clear waters ahead.
For databases we need to choose the right databases for where we want to go versus where we are today. Not to gold plate the solution, but to have intent and a clear focus on what we want our future technology to hold for us. If we intend to expand our data and want to maintain the ability to effectively query – let’s take the massive SQL Server for example – what could we have done to prevent it from becoming a debilitating decision?
A solution that could have effectively come into play would have been not to shard the relational database, but instead to either export or split the data in a more horizontal way and put it into a distributed database store. Start building the application so that this system could be used instead of being limited by the relational database. As the queries are built out and the tight coupling to SQL Server removed, the new distributed database could easily add nodes to compensate for the ever growing size of the data stored. The options are numerous, that all are a form of lock-in, but not the kind that eventually killed this company that had limited and detrimentally locked itself into use of a relational database.
At the application tier, another solution could have been made to remove the ties to IIS and start figuring out a way to containerize the application. One way years ago would have been to move away from .NET, but let’s say that wasn’t really an option for other reasons. The idea to mimic containerization could have been done through shifting to a self-contained web server on Windows that would allow the .NET application to run under a singular service and then have those services spin off the application as needed. This would decouple from IIS, and enable spreading the load more quickly across a set number of machines and eventually when .NET Core was released offer the ability to actually containerize and shift entirely off of Windows Server to a more cost efficient solution under Linux.
These are just some ideas. The solutions of course would vary and obviously provide different results. Above all there are pathways away from negative lock in and a direction toward positive lock in that enables. Realize there’s the balance, and find those that leverage lock in positively.
Nuanced Pedantic Notes:
Note I didn’t say all examples, but just that this combo has left more than a few companies out on a limb over the years. There are of course other technologies that have put companies (people actually) in awkward situations too. I’m just using this combo here as an example. For instance, probably some of the most notorious lock in comes from the legal ramifications of using Oracle products and being tied into their sales agreements. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Stack Overflow is a great example of how choosing .NET and scaling with it, SQL Server, and related technologies can work just fine.
Still stumbling through determining what Kubernetes does for networking? Here’s a good piece written up by Mark Betz, titled “Understanding Kubernetes Networking: Pods”. Just reading Mark’s latest on Kubernetes is great, but definitely take a look at his other writing too, it’s a steady stream of really solid material that is insightful, helpful, and well thought out. Good job Mark.
I’ve got two more blog entries on getting Kubernetes deployed and what you get with default Terraform configuration setups in Azure and AWS (The Google Cloud Platform write up is posted here). Once complete that’s a wrap for that series. Then I’m going shift gears again and start working on a number of elements around application and services (ala microservices) development.
Always staying nimble means always jumping around to the specific details of the things that need done! This, among many efforts to jump around to the specific thing that needs done, actually feels more like a return to familiar territory. After all, the vast majority of my work in the last many years has been writing code implemented against various environments to ensure reliable data access and available services for customers; customers being web front end devs, nurses in a hospitals, GIS workers resolving mapping conflicts, veterinarians, video watching patrons on the internet, or any host of someone using the software I’ve built.
In light of that, here’s a few extra thoughts and tidbits about what’s in the works next.
Getting the Data Diluvium Project running, a core product implemented, and usable live out there on the wild web.
Getting blue-land-app (It’s a Go Service), blue-world-noding (It’s a Node.js Service), and blue-world-making (It’s the infrastructure the two run on) are all working and in usable states for prospective tutorials, sample usage, and for speaking from in presentations. They’re going to be, in the end, solid examples of how to get up and running with those particular stacks + Kubernetes. A kind of a from zero to launch examples.
.NET Fringe took place this last week. It’s been a rather long time since my last actual conference that I actually got to really attend, meet people, and talk to people about all the different projects, aspirations, goals, and ideas about what’s next for the future. This conference was perfect to jump into, first and foremost, I knew it was an effort in being inclusive of the existing community and newcomers. We’d reached out to many brave souls to come and attend this conference about pushing technology into the future.
I met some truly excellent people. Smart, focused, intent, and a whole lot of great conversations followed meeting these people. Here’s a few people you’ll want to keep an eye on based on the technology they’re working on. I got to sit down and talk to every one of these coders and they’re in top form, smart, inventive, witty and full of great humor to boot!
I met Maria and one of the first things I saw was her crafty and most excellent art sketches around lifestyles, heroes, and more. I love art like this, and was really impressed with what Maria had done with her’s.
I was able to hang out with Maria a bit more and had some good conversation time talking about evangelism, tech fun and nonsense all around. I also was able to attend her talk on “Legacy… What?” which was excellent. The question she posed in the description states a common question posed, “When students think about .Net they think: legacy , enterprise , retired, and what is that?” which I too find to be a valid thought. Is .NET purely legacy these days? For many getting into the field it generally isn’ the landscape of greenfield applications and is far more commonly associated with legacy applications. Hearing her vantage point on this as an evangelist was eye opening. I gained more ideas, thoughts, and was pushed to really get that question answered for students in a different way… which I’ll add to sometime in the future in another blog entry.
I spoke to Kathleen while we took a break across the street from the conference at Grendal’s Coffee Shop. We talked a lot about education and what is effective training, diving heavily into what works around video, samples, and related things. You see, we’re both authors at Pluralsight too and spend a lot of time thinking about these things. It was great to be able to sit down and really discuss these topics face to face.
We also dived into a discussion about city livability and how Portland’s transit system works, what is and isn’t working in the city and what it’s like to live here. I was, of course, more than happy to provide as much information as I could.
We also discussed her interest in taking legacy shops (i.e. pre-C# even, maybe Delphi or whatever might exist) and helping them modernize their shop. I found this interesting, as it could be a lot of fun figuring out large gaps in technology like that and helping a company to step forward into the future.
Kathleen gave two presentations at the conference – excellent presentations. One was the “Your Code, Your Brain” presentation, talking about exactly the topic of legacy shops moving forward without disruption.
If you’re interested in Kathleen’s courses, give a look here.
Amy had a wicked great slides and samples that were probably the most flawless I’ve seen in a while. Matter of fact, a short while after the conference Amy put together a blog entry about those great slides and samples “Super Smooth Technical Demoes“.
An intent and listening audience.Amy’s talked at the conference was titled “Space, Time, and State“. It almost sounds like we could just turn that into an acronym. The talk was great, touched on the aspects of reactiveness and the battle of state that we developers fight every day while building solutions.
We also got to talk a little after the presentation, the horror of times zones, and a slew of good conversation.
AAAAAaggghhhhhh! I missed half of Tomasz’s talk! It always happens at every conference right! You get to talking to people, excited about this topic or that topic and BOOM, you’ve missed half of a talk that you fully intended to attend. But hey, the good part is I still got to see half the talk!
If you’re not familiar with Tomasz’ work and you do anything with Node.js you should pay close attention. Tomasz has been largely responsible for the great work behind Edge.js and influencing the effort to get Node.js running (and running damn well might I add) on Windows. For more on Edge.js check out Act I and Act II and the Github repository.
The Big Hit for Me, Distributed Systems
However some in the community didn’t stop moving the ball forward, and at this conference I got a great view into some of that progress! I’m stoked to see this technology and where it is now, because there is a LOT of potential for a number of things. Here’s the two talks and two more great people I got to see speak. One I knew already (great to see you again and hang out Aaron!) and one I had the privilege & honor to meet (it was most excellent hanging out and seeing your presentation Lena).
Aaron I’d met back when Troy & I put together the first Node PDX. Aaron had swung into Portland to present on “Building Node.js Applications on Windows Azure“. At .NET Fringe however Aaron was diving into a topic that was super exciting to me. The first line of the description from the topic really says it all “Distributed computing in .NET isn’t something you often hear about, but it’s becoming an increasingly important area for growing .NET businesses around the globe. And frankly it’s an area where .NET has lagged behind other runtimes and platforms for years – but this is changing!“. Yup, that’s my exact pain point, it’s awesome to know Aaron & Petabridge are kicking ass in this space now.
Aaron’s presentation was solid, as to be expected. We also had some good conversations after and before the presentation about the state of distributed compute and systems within the Microsoft and Windows ecosystem. To check out more about Akka .NET that Aaron & Andrew Skotzko … follow @AkkaDotNet, @aaronontheweb, @petabridge, and @askotzko.
…Lena traveled all the way from Kiev in the Ukraine to provide the .NET Fringe crowd with some serious F# distributed and parallel compute knowledge in “Embracing the Cloud“! (Slides here)
Here’s a short dive into F# here if you’re unfamiliar, which you can install on OS-X, Windows or whatever. So don’t use the “well, I don’t use windows” excuse to not give it a try! Here’s info about MBrace that Lena also used in her demo. Also dive into brisk from elastacloud…
In addition to the excellent talk that Lena gave I also got to hang out with her, Phil Haack, Ryan Riley, and others over food at Biwa on the last day of the conference. After speaking with Lena about the Ukraine, computing, coding and other topics around hacking and the OSS Community she really inspired me to take a dive into these tools for some of the work that I’m working on now and what I’ll be doing in the near future.
All The Things
Now of course, there were a ton of other people I got to meet, people I got to catch up with I haven’t seen in ages and others I didn’t get to write about. It was a really great conference with great content. I’m looking forward to round 2 and spending more time with everybody in the future!
Cheers everybody! \m/
An Aside of Blog Entries on .NET Fringe
Here are some additional blog entries that others wrote about the event. In addition to these blog entries I’ll be updating this entry with any additional entries that I see pop up – so if you post one let me know, and I’ll also update these talks above that I’ve discussed with videos when they’re posted live.