Australia and New Zealand have seen a big move to the public cloud, and “… when I talk to customers, I see huge interest in rearchitecting applications rather than doing a lift-and-shift right into public cloud,” said Scott van Kalken, F5 ANZ solution architect for DevOps and modern applications.
That migration to the public cloud has led to massive interest in telemetry. When you go from a monolithic application to a distributed app, there may be 100 or even 1,000 APIs involved. Without telemetry, you don’t know what’s going on with those APIs. But the telemetry needs to be consistent.
F5’s 2021 State of Application Strategy report found 75% of respondents considered telemetry, especially about application security and delivery, important for meeting business outcomes, and 95% of respondents said they are missing insights from their existing monitoring and analytics solutions.
Van Kalken recounted a conversation with a practitioner as an example. This practitioner gets yelled at when problems arise with partner APIs used by the application he manages. So, even though these APIs are not technically his responsibility, he needs visibility into their status. Only by combining internal telemetry with telemetry from these partner APIs can he make sense of what’s happening within the application ecosystem.
And it’s not just a question of whether an API is available or not. Problems can arise when it is responding slowly. “‘Is that normal? Is that normal for this time of day?’ I’ve got to have some sort of telemetry data available to me to make decisions,” van Kalken said.
Enabling Security Automation with Telemetry
An aspect that’s particularly interesting to him is the ability to automate or otherwise take action based on security telemetry data.
A simple example is a security event that reveals some kind of systems abuse. Automation can add a firewall rule to block the associated traffic.
As organizations increasingly adopt event-driven architectures, events and responses occur at the application, network, infrastructure and other levels. “The minute that you automate those event-driven architectures with security, it opens up a world of possibilities.”
It’s not just about automating security. Imagine an API gateway that serves a variety of APIs to customers. Telemetry might reveal that two of the APIs are starting to slow down; in which case, “I might kick off a workflow that just deploys more of them so that we can handle the load. But if you don’t have that telemetry, you can’t do that,” he said.
In practice, this involves telemetry, analytics and automation.
“When we show [customers] how you can make use of the analytics in a really easy way, their eyes light up,” van Kalken said.
A further consideration is that rearchitecting applications isn’t just about splitting monoliths into smaller pieces and redeploying them as microservices. There’s also a desire to run them across multiple public clouds to reduce risk, and also to deploy applications at the edge where they are closer to their users.
The 2021 State of Application Strategy reported that just over three-quarters of respondents are already using or have plans to use the edge to capture benefits related to application deployment, performance and data availability.
“This is really important, because as an application developer, I want to deploy my application once and I want to say, ‘I want this distributed to all of these places around the globe’,” van Kalken said.
But if the application is deployed in, say, five locations, then from a telemetry perspective, it is five applications, not one.
“I’ve got five sets of telemetry, because I’ve effectively got five different applications deployed out there. It’s the same app, but it’s in five locations, and the consumers are different in every location; the way that they interact is different and the telemetry that I’m getting is going to be different,” he said. “So, I need to actually suck up all of that telemetry, and make it meaningful in some way,” he explained.
Telemetry Enables Clearer Vision
“A distributed cloud architecture is right for these modern applications. We recently bought a company called Volterra, and this is one of the areas that they play in — distributed applications, and specifically, abstracting multi-cloud and multi-cluster Kubernetes application deployments,” he said. This area of focus will be critical in the future, van Kalken said.
He predicts that as organizations move to 5G, applications will become increasingly distributed. If that does happen, it will be extremely important to receive telemetry from all components of the application so it can be analyzed and used to support intelligent decisions, as part of the distributed application deployment.