Statistics released by Eurostat in 2014 tell us that only 19 % of European companies use the Cloud - services directly resulting from the virtualisation of software. This is far less than, say, the US where 82 % of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. For partners in the ENVISAGE (Engineering Virtualized Services) project, however, the potential benefits of software virtualisation are worth breaking down the remaining barriers to its wider adoption. ‘Virtualised services are business-oriented rather than technology-oriented in their deployment strategy,’ says Einar Broch Johnsen, project coordinator for the University of Oslo. ‘This means that their deployment on the cloud, as well as their scaling, reflects the business logic of the service and the client-side service-level agreements (SLAs) rather than the provisioning side as supported by the cloud provider.’ With his team, Johnsen believes that two elements are still missing to convince reluctant businesses. The first consists of efficient and dynamic means for the analysis, composition and deployment of services with qualitative and quantitative service levels. The second is a dynamic control of resources such as storage and processing capacities in accordance with the internal policies of the services. To meet both requirements, the team has developed a practical open-source framework for model-based development of virtualised, resource-aware services. ‘Our approach is part of a DevOps [development and operations] methodology,’ Johnsen explains. ‘Models live together with the software, are extracted from the software and can be made increasingly precise to reflect critical parts of the code while remaining coarse and approximate for less critical parts. This is important as no software today is developed from scratch, so model-based analysis tools should not make that assumption.’ ENVISAGE’s semantic foundation for virtualisation and service level agreement (SLA) goes beyond state-of-the-art. It uses automated analysis tools to efficiently develop SLA-aware and scalable services able to control their own resource management and renegotiate SLA across the heterogeneous, virtualised computing landscape. From mathematical models to concrete applications Overall, Johnsen says the project’s success is on the cards. ‘We set out with quite ambitious technical objectives and in the end the project came together in a very nice way, avoiding silos between different research activities. This really made a difference for how the project outcomes integrated with the DevOps approach, delivering a toolbox for automated analysis of resource-aware virtualised services. Using the same model, developers can communicate efficiently with quality assurance and deployment, perform worst-case cost analysis, conduct systematic testing and set up automated SLA monitoring.’ As ENVISAGE focused on studying the foundational semantics of resources and deployment architectures rather than providing a specific technology to market, its framework can be easily adapted to different technology stacks and different levels of abstraction. But the team isn’t ruling out the possibility of developing expressive, resource-sensitive models with automated analysis support. ‘We are actually exploring different application domains for the framework now and several of the project partners are discussing concrete applications in different sectors. One of our plans is to use the ENVISAGE framework to support a collaborative control panel for DevOps teams,’ says Johnsen. In addition to services and cloud, other sectors of interest for the consortium include logistics and transport. Overall, ENVISAGE provides companies creating virtualised services with the means to ensure that their development, operation and quality assurance teams collaborate more effectively in an agile DevOps process, all whilst ensuring that deployment strategies better reflect the business-logic of the company. ‘Use cases from the ENVISAGE project suggest that the gain in efficiency from this kind of approach not only increases the quality of the services but it can also be a significant cost saver in terms by reducing the size of the DevOps team,’ Johnsen concludes.
ENVISAGE, Cloud, virtualisation, DevOps, service level agreement, SLA, virtualised services