|By Michael Bushong||
|July 24, 2014 08:45 AM EDT||
When people talk about Big Data, the emphasis is usually on the Big. Certainly, Big Data applications are distributed largely because the size of the data on which computations are executed warrants more than a typical application can handle. But scaling the network that provides connectivity between Big Data nodes is not just about creating massive interconnects.
In fact, the size of the network might be the least interesting aspect of scaling Big Data fabrics.
Just how big is Big Data?
Not that long ago, I asked the question: how large is a typical Big Data deployment? I was expecting, as I suspect many people are, that the Big in the title meant that the deployments would be, in a word, big. But the average Big Data deployment is actually far smaller than most people realize. I grabbed a list from HadoopWizard in an article dating back to last year.
What is remarkable about this list is just how unremarkable the sizes of the deployments are. Sure, the list is dated, and deployments have certainly gotten larger. And yes, companies like Yahoo! are pushing scaling limits. But the average deployment if you take Yahoo! out is a mere 113 nodes. Even if every node is multi-homed to two switches, this means the average deployment could be handled by 4 access switches.
Even if every deployment quadrupled, you would still only be talking about 16-access-switch deployments. When our industry talks about scaling, we usually think well beyond 16 switches.
Is scaling an issue?
So if deployments are small, does that mean scaling is a solved issue? The answer is both yes and no. If the end game is building individual networks for each Big Data application, then yes. While the web scale companies will always need more, the vast majority of customers will be well-served by the scaling limits that are around today.
But the issue with Big Data is that it isn’t really just Big Data. When we talk about Big Data, we usually ought to be using a different moniker. For most people, Big Data is less about Hadoop and more about clustered applications (at least so far as the network is concerned). By expanding the definition to clustered applications, you move past Hadoop and into clustered compute and even clustered storage environments. Anything clustered has a dependency on some kind of interconnect.
The challenge in clustered environments
The challenge of all these types of clustered environments is that their requirements vary. For Hadoop, job completion times are dominated by the compute side of things, so the network is really about providing a congestion-free interconnect that is always available. For clustered compute, latency might be more important. And for multi-tenant environments, it might be most important to isolate traffic. Whatever the application, the point is that the requirements are highly contextual.
Which brings us back to scaling.
The real issue in scaling Big Data fabrics is less about making a small interconnect larger. Networks are not going to scale along the lines of single applications (or at least they shouldn’t). The actual scaling challenge is plotting a course from a single Big Data application to an environment that hosts multiple clustered applications, each with different requirements.
This might seem dead simple, but it isn’t. When people deploy Big Data applications today, the Big part leads people to purpose-build architecture with massive data workloads in mind. In many cases, this includes building out separate networks aimed at specific workloads.
But even in the best cases, Hadoop makes use of things like rack awareness, which help provide application resilience while minimizing traffic across the network. Regardless of whether you view this as for the application or for the network, the result is that proximity and locality are built into the infrastructure. This creates interesting considerations (and potentially limitations) when expanding. If you want to grow a cluster, you can’t just use any available server in the datacenter; there are servers that are more preferable than others based solely on their physical location.
Scalability is more than scaling
Making a scalable interconnect for these types of clustered applications is more than just supporting a large (or as I mentioned previously, not so large) number of nodes. The objective for scalability is to provide a graceful path from start to finish. This means architectures need to consider not just what the ending state is but also how to get from here to there.
With Hadoop, this means that things like locality have to be an explicit consideration in architecting the interconnect. Is the right answer a bunch of cross-connects zigzagging across the datacenter? Maybe. Or it might be a different architectural approach to providing interconnect between clustered servers.
Additionally, it isn’t just about one application. Architecting for bandwidth because you have a Hadoop-y application is great, but what if the next clustered application is latency-sensitive? Or if it brings with it a set of auditing and compliance requirements more typical of HIPAA-style applications?
If the architecture doesn’t explicitly consider how to expand beyond a single application, even if it can grow to thousands of switches, it won’t really matter.
The bottom line
The punch line here is that scaling is not only about growing larger. It also means potentially growing more diverse. And if there is one thing that the Hadoop deployment numbers tell me, it’s that people are still experimenting. If you are still experimenting, how can you predict with certainty what the next 5 or 10 years will mean in terms of applications for your business? You can’t. Which means that the most important architectural objective might go well beyond the number of switches in a deployment. Scalability could be about building flexibility into you datacenter. How do you get a bunch of different purpose-built capabilities into a single, general-purpose network? Answering that might be the real key to determining how to scale Big Data fabrics.
[Today’s fun fact: It is against the law to use the Star Spangled Banner as dance music in Massachusetts. There go my party plans!]
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
Dec. 7, 2016 04:30 PM EST Reads: 1,669
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation; Alan Williamson, Principal...
Dec. 7, 2016 04:15 PM EST Reads: 314
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Dec. 7, 2016 03:45 PM EST Reads: 2,245
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
Dec. 7, 2016 03:30 PM EST Reads: 1,767
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, drew together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established compa...
Dec. 7, 2016 02:30 PM EST Reads: 939
"IoT is going to be a huge industry with a lot of value for end users, for industries, for consumers, for manufacturers. How can we use cloud to effectively manage IoT applications," stated Ian Khan, Innovation & Marketing Manager at Solgeniakhela, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 7, 2016 02:30 PM EST Reads: 4,306
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
Dec. 7, 2016 02:15 PM EST Reads: 3,382
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
Dec. 7, 2016 02:15 PM EST Reads: 1,110
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
Dec. 7, 2016 02:15 PM EST Reads: 2,193
"Dice has been around for the last 20 years. We have been helping tech professionals find new jobs and career opportunities," explained Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 7, 2016 01:45 PM EST Reads: 1,108
"At ROHA we develop an app called Catcha. It was developed after we spent a year meeting with, talking to, interacting with senior citizens watching them use their smartphones and talking to them about how they use their smartphones so we could get to know their smartphone behavior," explained Dave Woods, Chief Innovation Officer at ROHA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 7, 2016 12:30 PM EST Reads: 630
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2017 New York. The 20th Cloud Expo and 7th @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Internet to enable us all to im...
Dec. 7, 2016 12:30 PM EST Reads: 726
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
Dec. 7, 2016 12:30 PM EST Reads: 844
We are always online. We access our data, our finances, work, and various services on the Internet. But we live in a congested world of information in which the roads were built two decades ago. The quest for better, faster Internet routing has been around for a decade, but nobody solved this problem. We’ve seen band-aid approaches like CDNs that attack a niche's slice of static content part of the Internet, but that’s it. It does not address the dynamic services-based Internet of today. It does...
Dec. 7, 2016 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,120
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 7, 2016 11:30 AM EST Reads: 678
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Dec. 7, 2016 11:15 AM EST Reads: 2,295
IoT solutions exploit operational data generated by Internet-connected smart “things” for the purpose of gaining operational insight and producing “better outcomes” (for example, create new business models, eliminate unscheduled maintenance, etc.). The explosive proliferation of IoT solutions will result in an exponential growth in the volume of IoT data, precipitating significant Information Governance issues: who owns the IoT data, what are the rights/duties of IoT solutions adopters towards t...
Dec. 7, 2016 11:01 AM EST Reads: 217
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
Dec. 7, 2016 10:30 AM EST Reads: 1,712
Unsecured IoT devices were used to launch crippling DDOS attacks in October 2016, targeting services such as Twitter, Spotify, and GitHub. Subsequent testimony to Congress about potential attacks on office buildings, schools, and hospitals raised the possibility for the IoT to harm and even kill people. What should be done? Does the government need to intervene? This panel at @ThingExpo New York brings together leading IoT and security experts to discuss this very serious topic.
Dec. 7, 2016 10:00 AM EST Reads: 433
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
Dec. 7, 2016 09:15 AM EST Reads: 7,258