Welcome!

Java Authors: Roger Strukhoff, Lori MacVittie, Esmeralda Swartz, Trevor Parsons, Sandi Mappic

Related Topics: Java, XML, SOA & WOA, .NET, Open Source, Virtualization

Java: Blog Post

Efficiency in Development Workflows: Immutable Infrastructure

Immutable Infrastructure and Continuous Deployment work great together

After reading Chad Fowlers excellent blogpost about immutable deployments at 6Wunderkinder, we wanted to share our views on immutability in infrastructure.

Our definition of Immutable Infrastructure:

  1. Automate the setup and deployment for every part and every layer of your infrastructure.
  2. Never change any part of your system once it is deployed. If you need to change it, deploy a new system.

For example, instead of deploying into an existing EC2 instance, start a new server, deploy there and point your load balancer to the new server. Then remove the old server.

Replacing a system at the lowest level you can forces you to automate every deployment step.

Immutable infrastructure and Continuous deployment work great together. Completely replacing, instead of updating, an existing part of your infrastructure makes your deployments less complex.

Test driven development, Continuous Deployment and Immutable Infrastructure are strategies we have been using on the Codeship for a long time.

For Immutable Infrastructure you need cloud servers and a virtualised environment.

Cloud servers are building blocks
In his AWS re:Invent Keynote Werner Vogels talked about Cloud servers as building blocks for larger systems. Jamie Begin wrote a great blog post on cloud serves as building blocks, based on the Keynote.

Today cloud instances are still used like physical hardware in the past. You set it up once and update it whenever necessary. The problem is that cloud servers are not meant to be reliable or durable.

Their advantage is that they are standardised and easy to replace. Cloud servers are like Lego pieces that can be changed whenever necessary. If you want to have a different color or the lego piece breaks, just put in a new one. You wouldn't repair a lego piece, would you?

Immutable Infrastructure is like building with lego blocks

You wouldn't repair a lego piece. Just grab a new one.

Our Experience with Immutable infrastructure
Our web application, the Mothership, is hosted on Heroku and has therefore always been immutable. Whenever we deploy a new version, Heroku builds the Slug and replaces current instances with it. We have enabled Herokus Zero Downtime support.

Our test server infrastructure, the Checkbot, is hosted on AWS since August 2012. Whenever we want to change the test servers, we build a completely new Amazon AMI, test it and replace the old machines with the new AMI. We will go into more detail about this in our next blogpost.

By replacing every part of our infrastructure, often several times a day, we feel very comfortable with releasing changes. This workflow allows us to improve our service very quickly.

Advantages of an Immutable Infrastructure
There are many more advantages to Immutable Infrastructure than the following, but we have found these to be the most important ones to us:

  • Going back to an old version is easy, as you have the old image available.
  • Every change to the infrastructure needs to be in a script. Any server can be removed at any time and will take manual changes with it.
  • It's easy to have a production-like system on development machines.
  • You have an incentive to speed up the time your servers need to be built. We will talk about this in future blogposts.
  • Setting up staging systems is easy and can be automated.
  • Testing the new infrastructure in isolation is possible.

Challenges with Immutable Infrastructure

Of course this approach also has its challenges. Especially around tooling.

  • Better and standardised tooling is necessary, although new tools like Packer make it easier.
  • Setting up automation for immutable infrastructure has higher costs at the beginning.
  • Fixing problems is slower as you can't just SSH into an existing server. It needs to be redeployed.
  • There needs to be a way to reliably replace a server without impacting the whole system. Queuing and proxies that can store requests for a while are helpful.
  • Replacing databases continuously is hard.

Conclusion
Fixing broken servers instead of replacing them is a waste of time. It slows down the development and deployment cycle.

Test-Driven Development, Continuous Deployment and Immutable Infrastructure are practices every team should use. Together these practices help build reliable and high quality software that can be changed at any time. Being able to go back to an old version of your system in seconds allows you to experiment and innovate at a much faster pace.

Over the last months different tools like Packer or Docker have been released that make Immutable Infrastructure a lot easier.

In our next blog post we will show you in detail how we deploy our testing infrastructure several times a day. In future blog posts we will introduce Packer, Docker and other tools and show you how to rebuild your infrastructure constantly. Stay tuned!

Further Info:

More Stories By Manuel Weiss

I am the cofounder of Codeship – a hosted Continuous Integration and Deployment platform for web applications. On the Codeship blog we love to write about Software Testing, Continuos Integration and Deployment. Also check out our weekly screencast series 'Testing Tuesday'!

@ThingsExpo Stories
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, will discuss how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money! Speaker Bio: Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, has spent 16 years as a marketing, product management, and busin...
Samsung VP Jacopo Lenzi, who headed the company's recent SmartThings acquisition under the auspices of Samsung's Open Innovaction Center (OIC), answered a few questions we had about the deal. This interview was in conjunction with our interview with SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson. IoT Journal: SmartThings was developed in an open, standards-agnostic platform, and will now be part of Samsung's Open Innovation Center. Can you elaborate on your commitment to keep the platform open? Jacopo Lenzi: Samsung recognizes that true, accelerated innovation cannot be driven from one source, but requires a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Red Hat is the world's leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As the connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, a...
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash Inc., will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Matrix.org has been named “Silver Sponsor” of Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Matrix is an ambitious new open standard for open, distributed, real-time communication over IP. It defines a new approach for interoperable Instant Messaging and VoIP based on pragmatic HTTP APIs and WebRTC, and provides open source reference implementations to showcase and bootstrap the new standard. Our focus is on simplicity, security, and supporting the fullest feature set.
BSQUARE is a global leader of embedded software solutions. We enable smart connected systems at the device level and beyond that millions use every day and provide actionable data solutions for the growing Internet of Things (IoT) market. We empower our world-class customers with our products, services and solutions to achieve innovation and success. For more information, visit www.bsquare.com.
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic • Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it’s a mix of architectural style...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SOA Software, an API management leader, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SOA Software is a leading provider of API Management and SOA Governance products that equip business to deliver APIs and SOA together to drive their company to meet its business strategy quickly and effectively. SOA Software’s technology helps businesses to accelerate their digital channels with APIs, drive partner adoption, monetize their assets, and achieve a...
From a software development perspective IoT is about programming "things," about connecting them with each other or integrating them with existing applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Yakov Fain, co-founder of Farata Systems and SuranceBay, will show you how small IoT-enabled devices from multiple manufacturers can be integrated into the workflow of an enterprise application. This is a practical demo of building a framework and components in HTML/Java/Mobile technologies to serve as a platform that can integrate new devices as they become available on the market.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Utimaco will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Utimaco is a leading manufacturer of hardware based security solutions that provide the root of trust to keep cryptographic keys safe, secure critical digital infrastructures and protect high value data assets. Only Utimaco delivers a general-purpose hardware security module (HSM) as a customizable platform to easily integrate into existing software solutions, embed business logic and build s...
Connected devices are changing the way we go about our everyday life, from wearables to driverless cars, to smart grids and entire industries revolutionizing business opportunities through smart objects, capable of two-way communication. But what happens when objects are given an IP-address, and we rely on that connection, sometimes with our lives? How do we secure those vast data infrastructures and safe-keep the privacy of sensitive information? This session will outline how each and every connected device can uphold a core root of trust via a unique cryptographic signature – a “bir...
Internet of @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley announced on Thursday its first 12 all-star speakers and sessions for its upcoming event, which will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. @ThingsExpo, the first and largest IoT event in the world, debuted at the Javits Center in New York City in June 10-12, 2014 with over 6,000 delegates attending the conference. Among the first 12 announced world class speakers, IBM will present two highly popular IoT sessions, which will take place November 4-6, 2014 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, Calif...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, will discuss how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Oct. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Spansion Inc. (NYSE: CODE), a global leader in embedded systems, today added 96 new products to the Spansion® FM4 Family of flexible microcontrollers (MCUs). Based on the ARM® Cortex®-M4F core, the new MCUs boast a 200 MHz operating frequency and support a diverse set of on-chip peripherals for enhanced human machine interfaces (HMIs) and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. The rich set of periphera...

SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue business and deliver exceptional experiences to their customers.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce the value of the network in helping organizations to maximize their company’s cloud experience.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is making everything it touches smarter – smart devices, smart cars and smart cities. And lucky us, we’re just beginning to reap the benefits as we work toward a networked society. However, this technology-driven innovation is impacting more than just individuals. The IoT has an environmental impact as well, which brings us to the theme of this month’s #IoTuesday Twitter chat. The ability to remove inefficiencies through connected objects is driving change throughout every sector, including waste management. BigBelly Solar, located just outside of Boston, is trans...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Matrix.org has been named “Silver Sponsor” of Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Matrix is an ambitious new open standard for open, distributed, real-time communication over IP. It defines a new approach for interoperable Instant Messaging and VoIP based on pragmatic HTTP APIs and WebRTC, and provides open source reference implementations to showcase and bootstrap the new standard. Our focus is on simplicity, security, and supporting the fullest feature set.
Predicted by Gartner to add $1.9 trillion to the global economy by 2020, the Internet of Everything (IoE) is based on the idea that devices, systems and services will connect in simple, transparent ways, enabling seamless interactions among devices across brands and sectors. As this vision unfolds, it is clear that no single company can accomplish the level of interoperability required to support the horizontal aspects of the IoE. The AllSeen Alliance, announced in December 2013, was formed with the goal to advance IoE adoption and innovation in the connected home, healthcare, education, aut...