Automating access from Apache Spark to S3 with Ansible

According to the Apache Spark documentation, Spark jobs must authenticate with S3 to be able to read or write data in the object storage. There are different ways of achieving that:

  • When Spark is running in a cloud infrastructure, the credentials are usually automatically set up.
  • spark-submit reads the AWS_ACCESS_KEY, AWS_SECRET_KEY and AWS_SESSION_TOKEN environment variables and sets the associated authentication options for the s3n and s3a connectors to Amazon S3.
  • In a Hadoop cluster, settings may be set in the core-site.xml file.
  • Authentication details may be manually added to the Spark configuration in spark-defaults.conf.
  • Alternatively, they can be programmatically set in the SparkConf instance used to configure the application’s SparkContext.

Honestly, I wouldn’t know much about the first option. It might have something to do with running Databricks on AWS.

The second option requires to set environment variables on all servers of the Spark cluster. If using Ansible, this can be done but only on a level of a task or role. This means that if you run a long-live Spark cluster, the variables will not be available once you start using the cluster.

The fourth option is the one that will receive the attention in this post. The spark-defaults.conf is the default configuration file and proper configuration in the file tunes your Spark cluster.

There are five configuration tuples needed to manipulate S3 data with Apache Spark. They are explained below.

Getting environmental variables into Docker

The following approach is suitable for a proof of concept or a testing. An enterprise solution should use service like Hashicorp Vault, Ansible Vault, AWS IAM or similar.

I am using Docker on Windows 10. The folder where DockerFile resides also has a file called aws_cred.env. Make sure this file is added to the .gitignore file so that it is not checked into source code repository! The env file holds the AWS key and secret key needed to authenticate with S3. The file structure is like this:

AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID=
AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY=

When running the docker container with option –env-file the environmental variables in the file get exported to the Docker container.

In the Ansible code, they can both be looked-up in the following way:

{{ lookup('env', 'AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID') }}
{{ lookup('env', 'AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY') }}

These can be used in the Jinja2 template file spark-defaults.conf.j2 to generate a Spark configuration file. The configuration tuples relevant in this case are these two:

spark.hadoop.fs.s3a.access.key {{ lookup('env', 'AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID') }}
spark.hadoop.fs.s3a.secret.key {{ lookup('env', 'AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY') }}

This now gives you the access to the S3 buckets, never mind if they are public or private.

The JAR files

First, the following tuple is mandatory for the Spark configuration:

spark.hadoop.fs.s3a.impl      org.apache.hadoop.fs.s3a.S3AFileSystem

This tells Spark what kind of file system it is dealing with. The JAR files are the library sources for this configuration.

Two libraries must be added to the instances of the Spark cluster:

  • aws-java-sdk-1.7.4
  • hadoop-aws-2.7.3

The above mentioned Jinja2 file also holds two configuration tuples relevant for these JAR files:

spark.driver.extraClassPath   /usr/spark-s3-jars/aws-java-sdk-1.7.4.jar:/usr/spark-s3-jars/hadoop-aws-2.7.3.jar
spark.executor.extraClassPath /usr/spark-s3-jars/aws-java-sdk-1.7.4.jar:/usr/spark-s3-jars/hadoop-aws-2.7.3.jar

Be careful with the versions because they must match the Spark version. The above combination has proven to work on Spark installation packages that support Hadoop 2.7. Last two tasks in this main.yml do the job for the Spark cluster.

Once the files are downloaded (for example, I download them to /usr/spark-s3-jars) Apache Spark can start reading and writing to the S3 object storage.

Zealpath and Trivago: case for AWS Cloud Engineer position

Tl;dr: https://github.com/markokole/trivago-cicd-pipeline-aws

Trivago uses Zealpath to find potential engineers to join their team. Zealpath is a website which hosts challenges that everyone can solve and submit, and with that apply for a job.

This is my first time using Zealpath and approach seems very practical. In worst case you learn about company’s technology stack (or some of it) and the way they think and solve problems. I have “applied” for the position AWS Cloud Engineer and 72 hours were given to submit the solution. My intention, honestly, was not to apply for Trivago job but to learn something new about automation and pipelines in AWS.

The case is described here. I am aware that they might remove the link at some point so I copied the text to the GitHub repository where the solution is.

Once you apply, the clock start ticking. You download a data.zip file and follow the instructions.

The confusion

The zip file itself is a bit confusing since all the files in the top directory appear to be in the two folders as well. I have removed all the duplicates from the home directory which left me with only README file.

The technology stack

The AWS services making up the pipeline are:

  • Athena
  • Cloudformation
  • Glue
  • S3

A DockerFile has been created to automate the provision of the pipeline.

The solution

My solution is in a GitHub repository. Hopefully it is well enough documented for anyone to understand it. It should be quite simple once you have an AWS account and Docker on Windows 10 installed. I have not tested it on Linux system.

All one needs to do is copy the DockerFile to a folder on a local machine, add a file called aws_cred.env and build the container.

But! Before all that is done, the variable s3_bucket in the Jupyter Notebook needs to be updated to the bucket name you plan to use. I really didn’t understand why the duplicates in the zip file. That is also the reason why I created the tar.gz file with the code from Zealpath’s zip file. I have also taken out the files I assume are duplicates.

Streaming messages from Kafka to EventHub with MirrorMaker

Idea

The idea is to replicate messages from Apache Kafka to Azure Event Hubs using Kafka’s MirrorMaker.

Introduction

Apache Kafka has become the most popular streaming and messaging open- source tool. Many organizations have implemented it on premise or in a public cloud. And many are content with Kafka’s performance and are hesitant to migrate to a Kafka-like service in the cloud. For example, one such service in Azure is Event Hubs. A “simple, secure and scalable real-time data ingestion” service in Azure.

LinkedIn has developed Kafka and donated it to the community in 2011. Microsoft cannot deny the popularity Kafka has gained and is therefore offering the possibility to use Kafka API to work against Event Hubs. This allows Kafka developers to continue using Kafka APIs without any disturbance. Only the configuration changes.

Architecture

MirrorMaker is ran on the consumer side – Kafka – in this case. However, it is advised to run MirrorMaker on the producer side, this would be on a server in Azure on this occasion.

For the sake of simplicity, 5 Kafka topics are defined: prod.test[1-5]. Kafka and MirrorMaker configurations are standard.

Consumer side: Kafka

First, a working Kafka is needed.

In the GitHub repository cloud and local alternatives are available:

  • provisioned to AWS using Terraform. This way you can create a Kafka cluster. The README.md files should give more details about provisioning Kafka in AWS.
  • created using Docker container. This gives you a Kafka service suitable for development and testing on your local computer. Keep in mind that Kafka needs to be started manually inside the container by executing script /opt/startall.sh.

Configuring server.properties

If Kafka in Docker container is used, the server.properties file is very standard:

broker.id=0
log.dirs=/var/logs/kafka-logs
zookeeper.connect=localhost:2181
zookeeper.connection.timeout.ms=6000
listeners=PLAINTEXT://localhost:9092
advertised.listeners=PLAINTEXT://localhost:9092
offsets.topic.replication.factor=1
advertised.host.name=127.0.0.1

Using the above configuration, value for parameter bootstrap-server is localhost:9092. Alternatively, 127.0.0.1 can be used since parameter advertised.host.name is defined in the file.

Once either of Kafka alternatives is up and running, test messages can be produced.

Message producer: Scala

Kafka should be up and running and the DNS of Kafka server(s) or localhost is the input parameter when initializing an instance of the class.

Scala script is executed from the client and produces numerous messages that are randomly assigned to topics mentioned above. Client can be any server with Scala installation since DNS names are used to communicate with Kafka and all you need is to be able to reach the Kafka’s DNS names.

The script is going to produce messages to one of the topics randomly. Ten is the default number of messages produced, but this parameter can be adjusted since it is method’s input parameter.

I am generating messages using Scala CLI. Stepping into the folder where RandomMessage.scala is located and starting Scala is a good start before executing the following commands:

:load RandomMessage.scala
val rm = new RandomMessage("localhost", "test") //second parameter is name of topic with prefix prod. and suffix [1-5]
rm.CreateMessages(10000) //10 is default parameter

Output should be something like the following:

Topic: prod.test1. Message: This is message number 9701
Topic: prod.test1. Message: This is message number 9702
Topic: prod.test2. Message: This is message number 9703
Topic: prod.test3. Message: This is message number 9704
Topic: prod.test1. Message: This is message number 9705
Topic: prod.test4. Message: This is message number 9706
Topic: prod.test4. Message: This is message number 9707
Topic: prod.test5. Message: This is message number 9708
Topic: prod.test1. Message: This is message number 9709
Topic: prod.test4. Message: This is message number 9710

This should create 5 topics in Kafka and add some messages to the topics.

As soon as the script is executed it is possible to check in Kafka if topics are created:

$KAFKA_HOME/bin/kafka-topics.sh --bootstrap-server 127.0.0.1:9092 –list

should return a list of topics available:

__consumer_offsets
prod.test0
prod.test1
prod.test2
prod.test3
prod.test4
prod.test5

Reading from one topic:

$KAFKA_HOME/bin/kafka-console-consumer.sh --bootstrap-server localhost:9092 --topic prod.test3 --from-beginning

should return lines like these:

This is message number 6207
This is message number 6215
This is message number 6217
This is message number 6219
This is message number 6221

The topics and the messages are now “sitting” in Kafka. The next step is to get them into Azure Event Hubs.

Producer side: Event Hubs

Kafka’s MirrorMaker replicates the messages from Kafka to Event Hubs. This post is not going into details about configuration of MirrorMaker, it will just prepare the configuration files to produce a working example.

In this repository, Terraform is used to provision Event Hubs. If you already have an existing Event Hubs, that works too, just make sure you don’t have topics that match the names of topics used in this Proof-of-Concept.

Configuration files

There are two files needed for MirrorMaker to work: one for consumer and one for producer side (for better illustration, check the graphic on top).

Below is an example of consumer.config file for Kafka running locally:

bootstrap.servers=localhost:9092
group.id=example-mirrormaker-group
exclude.internal.topics=true
client.id=mirror_maker_consumer
partition.assignment.strategy=org.apache.kafka.clients.consumer.RoundRobinAssignor
auto.offset.reset=earliest

The last parameter will fetch all messages from Kafka. This is good for testing purposes because you avoid having a live producer to Kafka to see it works. It does however follow the offset rules like any other Kafka’s producer.

To configure producer.config what is needed from Event Hubs is Connection string–primary key, which can be found in the settings of the Event Hubs service, under Shared access policies. Clicking on the policy opens connection strings on the right side. Copy the string. Below is an example of the file.

Replace NAMESPACE with the unique namespace of your choice. Replace CONNECTION_STRING_PRIMARY_KEY with the string from Event Hubs.

bootstrap.servers=NAMESPACE.servicebus.windows.net:9093
client.id=mirror_maker_producer
sasl.mechanism=PLAIN
security.protocol=SASL_SSL
sasl.jaas.config=org.apache.kafka.common.security.plain.PlainLoginModule required username="$ConnectionString" password="CONNECTION_STRING_PRIMARY_KEY";

Now that the configuration files are in place, the MirrorMaker can be started:

$KAFKA_HOME/bin/kafka-mirror-maker.sh --consumer.config $KAFKA_HOME/config/consumer.config --num.streams 1 --producer.config $KAFKA_HOME/config/producer.config --whitelist="prod.*"

The last parameter defines which topics should be replicated to Event Hubs. Above Scala example generated 10.000 messages to Kafka so it is expected to have 10.000 messages also in Event Hubs.

In Azure, it is obvious that all messages have been consumed by the Event Hubs – the blue line. The chart can be interpreted as all messages were consumed within the same minute.

Note: the green colour is used for presentation of messages that were captured – saved to some storage available by Azure. This is out of scope for this post.

The messages are now in Event Hubs. Its is up to the retention parameter how long they will be available there. In the repository above, the value is set to one – one day.

Next step

The messages are in the Event Hubs now. It would make sense to save them to a permanent storage so that they can be used for analysis. This is covered in this blog post.

Provision Apache Spark in AWS with Hashistack and Ansible

Provision Apache Spark in AWS with Hashistack and Ansible

Automation is the key word when it comes to using cloud services. Pay-as-you-go is the philosophy behind it.

In this post, I explain how I provision Apache Spark cluster on Amazon. The configuration of the cluster is done prior to the provisioning using the Jinja2 file templates. The cluster, once provisioning is completed, is therefor ready to use immediately.

One of the points with automation is to make data scientists more independant of data engineers: data engineer builds the solution and data scientist uses it without having the need for engineering experience.
In this case, the data scientist hast to configure the cluster using the YAML file and prepare a GitHub repository.

There are two ways of using this solution:

  • A long-live Spark cluster
    Spark cluster serves as a solution for running various jobs. The cluster is always available.
  • One-time job execution
    Spark cluster is provisioned for a specific job which is executed and then the cluster is destroyed. Data Scientist is responsible for data input and data storage in the code (example).

Technologies and services

  • AWS EC2 (Centos7)
  • Terraform for provisioning the infrastructure in AWS
  • Consul for cluster’s configuration settings
  • Ansible for software installation on the cluster
  • GitHub for version control
  • Docker as test and development environment
  • Powershell for running Docker and provision
  • Visual Studio Code for software development, running Powershell

In order to use a service like EC2 in AWS, the Virtual Private Cloud must be established. This is something I have automized using Terraform and Consul and described here. This provision is a “long-live” provision since VPC has practically no cost.

Prerequisites

I will not go into details of how to install all the technologies and services from the list. However, this GitHub repository does build a Docker container with Consul and latest Terraform. Consul in the Docker is an agent which connects to a global Consul server in Amazon. Documenting the global Consul is on my TO-DO list.

I suggest investing some time and creating a Consul with connection to your own GitHub repository that stores the configuration.

Repository on GitHub

The repository can be found at this address.

Repository Structure

There are two modules used in this project: instance and provision-spark. The module instance is pure Terraform code and does the provisioning of the instances (Spark’s master and workers) in the AWS. The output (DNS and IP addresses) of this module is the input for the module provision-spark which is more complex. It is written in Terraform, Ansible and Jinja2.

Ansible Roles

Below is the structure of the Ansible part of the module.

Roles prereq and spark are applied to all instances. The prereq role takes care of the prerequisites (java, anaconda) and the spark role downloads and installs Spark, and creates Linux objects needed for Spark to work. The start_spark_master applies only to the master instance and start_spark_workers to the worker instances. The role execute_on_spark automatically executes a job on Spark cluster (more on that later).

The path to the YAML file that executes the roles is available here.

Cluster Configuration

Cluster is configured in YAML format and the configuration is sent to the global Consul server. One configuration block servers one cluster. Example for cluster lr_iris can be found here.

Running the code

Provisioning starts in module provision-spark where the line

terraform apply -auto-approve

starts provisioning the cluster. Configuration is taken from Consul to populate the variables in Terraform. Ansible (inventory) file is created by Terraform after the EC2 instances are launched and started. After the inventory file is created, Terraform executes the spark.yml file and the rest is in the hands of Ansible. If everything goes well, the output is similar to the following:

This is a Terraform output as defined in the output.tf file.

The Spark cluster is now ready.

View in AWS Console

The instances in the Spark cluster look like this in AWS console:

Spark as a Service

Spark services running on master and workers are handled as services using systemctl. The services are created and started using Ansible: Spark workers start a service called spark-worker whose Ansible code can be seen here.
Spark Master has two services: spark-master and sparkhs (Spark History Server). Ansible code for both services is here.

Spark Master

Checking if Spark Master is available by using the public IP address and port 8080 should return an interface similar to this one:

Five workers were set up in the configuration file. This means we have a cluster with six instances: one is the Spark Master, the other five are the workers.

Spark History Server

Spark History Server, just like Spark Master become significant if long-live cluster is used. It helps monitoring and debugging the jobs (applications in Spark language).
Spark History Server can be reached at port 18080 on Spark Master.

Above is an example of an application that was executed on the Spark cluster. Note Event log directory – it is pointing to a local directory which will be removed once the cluster is destroyed. This is not an issue if we are running a long-live cluster, but if we want to keep logs for one-time clusters it is advised to store the logs externally. In this case, since Amazon is used, storing to S3 would be the best option.

Automatic Code Execution

The Spark cluster is now ready to use. Full automation process is achieved when the Spark code is automatically executed from the Terraform code once the cluster is available. In the repository, one of the Ansible roles is execute_on_spark which executes either a Python or a Scala code on the provisioned Spark cluster.

Which Spark code will be executed depends on the configuration in the YAML file. A path to a GitHub repository is part of the configuration and that repository is cloned to the Spark Master and executed.

An example mentioned above can be found here. The example is one of Hello Worlds in data science – Logistic Regression on Iris dataset. In this case, the Data Scientist is responsible for the input data and storing the results outside of the Spark cluster.

    input_file = "s3a://hdp-hive-s3/test/iris.csv"
    output_dir = "s3a://hdp-hive-s3/test/git_iris_out"

When the cluster is ready, the repository is cloned and the code is executed. Inside the code, the Data Scientist defines input and output. In this case, object storage S3 is used to do a one-time job, save the results and the Spark cluster is of no use anymore.

Service configuration tools and files

The previous post mentions Consul and git2consul which are storing the parameters and fetching data from GitHub to Consul. It is only fair to gain more in-depth knowledge about them.

Consul is a product of a company called HashiCorp and together with Terraform (and other I do not mention yet) forms a group of tools called HashiStack. Consul is a tool for service configuration we build with our scripts. The scripts are the general presentation of the to-be state, while the configuration in Consul personalizes the infrastructure we plan to build (provision).

Service git2consul “mirrors the contents of a git repository into Consul KVs”. With other words, the service reads a git repository and creates/updates key-value pairs in Consul.

git2consul_Consul_cooperation

High level presentation of git2consul and Consul cooperation – git2consul periodically reads from a given GitHub repository and updates the Consul server

The previous post describes how local Consul server is started when the Docker container is ran. Local Consul is acceptable for testing purposes, it is possible and advised to build a distributed Consul service which offers High Availability (avoids single point of failure).

Configuration in YAML

A dedicated GitHub repository for the configuration parameters for my IaC projects can be found here. One YAML file for one project. For example configuration for the VPC architecture defines the services built in VPC that serve as the foundation for clusters built on top, for example configurations (I write in plural since there are/can be more than one) for a Spark cluster.

The git2consul configuration file inside the Docker container holds parameters, among them also the URL to the GitHub repository that serves as configuration repository. The file I am using for my git2consul service is here. It is copied over in the container when the image is created.

The following graphic show the same configuration parameters in three ways. First image is YAML file as seen in GitHub (I use Atom for development), second picture shows the same parameters as seen using a consul API from the command line in the Docker and the third picture shows a print screen of the same parameters in Consul web server.

configuration_example_aws

Three views of same key-value pairs – GitHub, command line and Consul web server

Another example, this one of Machine Learning in Spark shows how two different machine learning projects are configured in spark.yml. The prerequisite to run either of this is the VPC infrastructure and the input files (key spark_job_args). This example show that the scripts used to build the Spark cluster are untouched while the configuration in Consul personalizes the use case. If a new Spark job should be run, it is best to copy an existing block of key-value pairs and change to fit the needs.

A more complex example is the hdp.yml file which holds key-value pairs for five different Hadoop clusters. All can be provisioned using the same Terraform and Ansible scripts.

Writing to Consul at runtime

As mentioned a couple of times, the VPC in AWS is prerequisite and the established VPC is where all the following solutions are built in. This requires saving some values of the VPC so that they can be picked up at the provisioning of the next solution. These values are saved in Consul and are NOT pushed to GitHub – git2consul works one way only.

Once the VPC is provisioned, Terraform writes to Consul in a path defined by the user. In my example, everything starting with generated under the aws is coming from Consul.

consul_generated

Key-value pairs generated when VPC is provisioned. Observe the last line – it specifies the name which should be used to gather all generated key-value pairs under.

These values are further picked up in other Terraform scripts so that the infrastructure that is being build knows where to fit in. I mentioned Spark and Hadoop earlier – the instances launched in AWS need the generated key-value pairs for successful launch.

Example of DevOps environment

This post builds on the theory from Introduction to Automation in the Cloud. It explains how the DevOps environment is build and used.

Cloud for testing

Creating a user account in the cloud of your choice is the best start. My choice was AWS and all infrastructures are built on AWS. When doing Proof of Concept (PoC) in the cloud on your own, you adopt the logic of companies who are entering the cloud era – you wish to minimize the costs. That means two things:

  • build services in the cloud when needed and destroy them once done using them
  • create a work/development environment on your own machine – Docker container is my choice.

AWS offers instance types (EC2 services in AWS world) called “t2.micro”, which are perfect for testing infrastructure scripts. For example, they will not get you further than installing services and starting a few services in your infrastructure, but they will be helpful letting you know if your install and configuration works as it should. That is where dynamic configuration comes in handy: once ready to run on bigger scale, just change the input configuration file (more on this later).

Work environment

Now we know we are planning to provision on AWS, we have access to the cloud, all we need is the work environment.

The tools needed are PowerShell, Docker and GitHub Desktop.

work-environment

Interaction between the tools used to prepare the work environment. Once the container is created, the user accesses it from PowerShell, except that now it is not Command Prompt anymore, but the operating system defined in the DockerFile.

GitHub Desktop connects you to the GitHub repositories you wish to clone or work on. This tool is used to push and pull changes to and from your repository on GitHub.

PowerShell is a Command Prompt on steroids, it is used to work with Docker images and containers. I am most certain you will try to maximize the experience and use PowerShell ISE. It will not work, since it is not compatible with Docker for Windows.

With Docker, you can create an environment on your operating system but independent of the system. In worst case scenario, you can delete the container and build it again. The DockerFile is the definition of the IMAGE you wish to use to create a container. An example of DockerFile with necessary files can be found here. This repository creates the Docker container with the tools needed for IaC work.

The Docker needs to be built from this folder since it picks up configuration from the DockerFile. I use PowerShell to build Docker containers which then serve me as an entry point to infrastructure-as-code development. Details about how to get started are in the README.md file. My flavour of Linux in the container is Centos.

Inside the container

The container consists of Ansible, Terraform, Consul and some other installations used to support the work (git2consul, awscli…). It also starts a local Consul server which can be reached at localhost:8501 (depending on the port you expose when running the container) from the browser on the client computer. The Consul server is populated from a GitHub repository which is a dedicated configuration repository – configuration in Consul. This means that configuration changes are pushed to the GitHub using GitHub Desktop and a process inside the Docker container called git2consul updates the Consul server.

Before being able to provision anything on AWS from the container, the AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID and  AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY should be set as environmental variables.

At this point the DevOps environment should be in place: Terraform and Consul are installed, Ansible is installed, git2consul is setup and local Consul server is running and ready to serve configuration settings.

tools_in_DevOps_env

Simple representation of the DevOps (work) environment with its main services.

Next post covers the configuration services (git2consul and Consul) and the key-value configuration files in GitHub.

Introduction to Automation in the Cloud

An attempt to explain how open source tools for automation are used for minimizing costs and maximizing control over infrastructure in the cloud.

Introduction

Automation or Infrastracture-as-Code (IaC) is the idea where all the infrastructure is written in scripts and the scripts are executed when needed. In the “old days” (and some vital parts of organization’s solutions) the infrastructure represented physical servers in the basement with software installed and maintained by the in-house engineers with the help of vendor’s consultants. With the Infrastructure-as-Code the only thing maintained are the scripts while the basement is housing the table-tennis table. The scripts are maintained by data engineers (so called DevOps engineers) and broader audience can now build, maintain and destroy the infrastructure. It does help that the cloud vendors have simplified the services that were once the domain of the network engineers, for example.

The tendency in the areas of data storage and data processing (or everywhere in the IT fields) is to move to a cloud. A private cloud, a public cloud or a hybrid. Those are the options. Moving everything to a public cloud (big three: AWS, Google Cloud Platform or Azure) will make you a smart consumer of those services moneywise. Your goal is to pay-as-you-go, meaning run your applications when needed on the infrastructure you need and destroy the infrastructure when results are saved.

“Pay-as-you-go in cloud”

For succeeding in pay-as-you-go concept, two things have emerged on the market:

  • cheap object storage (S3 on AWS, Blob Storage on Azure and Cloud Storage on Google Cloud Platform).
  • tools for Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC)

Cheap object storage is exactly that: low cost storage of files in all form, shapes and types. This allows to store data cheap and build infrastructure for processing when needed. This follows the idea of dividing storage and processing.

“Division of storage and processing resources”

Days of having Hadoop just to have Hadoop are over and a company needs a good reason to justify having and maintaining a Hadoop cluster. The division of storage and processing works if the infrastructure is dynamic, rather, if the infrastructure-as-code can fulfil user’s needs. The responsibility falls on the DevOp engineers and the tools.

There is no doubt that the tools are there, plenty to choose from already from the open source community. Since I am following the philosophy where companies pay less for licence and more for knowledge I focus on open source technologies in cloud.

“Organizations will pay less for licenses and more for knowledge”

Infrastructure-as-code should offer a robust and general solution where the infrastructure is configured through input parameters. With other words, users define the input parameters, run the code and get the customized solution. This is what I attempt to demonstrate in a few of my GitHub repositories. I will come to this in my later posts.

Choosing the tools to do the job is not simple. As it is not simple to pick the most suitable cloud distributor. Here in Norway, Azure is the most popular cloud solution, in my opinion, not because of quality but because of the market position and good sales people at Microsoft.

Myself, I have experience mostly with AWS (a reader might observe that I write Amazon Web Services as AWS while Google Cloud Platform is not GCP) and some with OpenStack and VMWare. Choosing a cloud vendor is not as problematic as it is choosing the architecture in your cloud. Using services provided by the cloud vendor results in a possible risk to be locked to one technology or vendor. Migration to another, similar, solution might be costly. And this should be an option always when working with new technologies where there are uncertainties if the proposed architecture will deliver.

“Locking yourself to one distributor can be risky”

The technology stack I use in my examples is the following:

Cloud vendor: AWS

Cloud Vendor’s services: S3 (object storage), VPC (virtual private cloud – mandatory for launching instances in AWS), EC2 (instances in the cloud – Linux servers)

aws

Object storage S3 for storing data is separated from the processing resources (made up from EC2 instances) which are in the mandatory VPC. Any other storage can be used if it has connectors, as well as S3 can be accessed externally.

Infrastructure as Code tools: Terraform (automation of services in the cloud), Consul (configuration of infrastructure to be created) and Ansible (software installation and administration of instances built in the cloud)

IaC tools.JPG

Symbiosis between the IaC tools: user stores configuration of desired infrastructure to Consul, Terraform reads the configuration at provisioning, saves new parameters back to Consul and at the same time executes the Ansible scripts which install and setup the software for the desired solution.

Work environment: Docker for Windows (container with Linux environment on local machine), PowerShell (for Docker creation and development and test of scripts)

Version control: GitHub and GitHub Desktop (for pulling and pushing to the repositories)

work-environment

Repository with files for Docker container creation is cloned from GitHub using GitHub Desktop. PowerShell is used to create the Docker image and start the Docker container. This Docker container represents the entry point to the Infrastructure-as-Code development and testing.

IDEs for coding: Atom (for Terraform, Ansible and Consul configuration), PyCharm and Jupyter (for Python scripts) and Intellij IDEA (for Scala scripts)

Next post goes in depth on the DevOps environment.