Software as a Service: DockerCon US 2016

There was DockerCon US 2016 in June in Seattle [http://2016.dockercon.com]. Docker community grows from year to year, and this is the largest Docker-centric event. There are a lot of news announced during the sessions, plenty of use-cases described, talks about success stories from enterprise level projects to middle-size Software as a Service solutions.

New Features

There was announced new version of Docker 1.12. It should be released in several weeks. There will be built-in Orchestration and Docker Swarm.

Orchestration is a set of duties for installing, updating and maintaining your infrastructure during lifetime of the application. It doesn’t seem a problem in case of several servers, but if you have more systems to hold under control in your Software as a Service project, then it would not be so easy. Orchestration have to be useful and simple. To achieve both of those goals, the orchestration is built-in into new Docker version.

Docker Swarm

Docker Swarm is a technology to install and maintain a cluster for Docker. Several systems may be joined together and treated as the saem Docker container. There are Swarm manager and worker nodes. They are communicating in secured way via TLS transparently for software developers. We can use docker CLI to create a swarm:

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Application Development: Polymer framework is a new better Web

Web and HTML as its main technology was designed more than 20 years ago. There was just the idea to publish rich format documents and reference each other in easy way. The purpose of the Web has been changed drastically several times during these years. A proposition to reinvent HTML sounds reasonable. There is a lot of hype around new Polymer project [https://www.polymer-project.org/1.0/] provided by Google. Its version 1.0 is already released and used widely. Polymer is based on Web Components technology. In practice, it’s treated as the same.

Web Components

Web Components is HTML5 standard for both extending HTML as a language and providing modularity for rich SPA solutions. A component is a sort of reusable part of the page. It contains all 3 parts of web application: HTML template based on regular tags and other components treated as children, CSS styles specific for the component and JavaScript code of this logical part of the page:

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Application Development: JWT approach in scalable microservices architecture

Microservices architecture [http://martinfowler.com/articles/microservices.html] is a mature robust Web Application Development approach are widely used among all web development platforms. It allows easy integration, deployment and horizontal scaling for VPS, pure cloud or dedicated hosting.

Scalability problem

Generally, there would be several application instances runned on the same system or separated machines. User may connect or send request to any of front-end server and that transaction may be processed by any of instance of the next layer. That looks ok till we receive another request of the same user, which involves the result of previous transaction or an object specified for this case and this user. It’s called the state. And if it holds the state on specific instance, then the request have to be routed to that instance to be processed. Another approach is to share the state among all instances we have in the cluster. Both cases needs additional efforts for design, implementation and support. JWT provides a solution for this problem.

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SaaS: Docker as a container solution to reduce deployment costs

There are a lot of hype around containers as a new best technical approach for hosting, development, deployment and testing. Docker [https://www.docker.com] is the most popular container-based solution.

The problem

Nowadays, software developers have a wide range of programming languages, frameworks and other tools to be used to implement various solutions (static web site, web service, analytics database, background workers, queues, etc.). But wait, development is only half of the story. DevOps guy checks out the solution from the repo to deploy it on the server or just to test it on another machine. “Dependencies hell” and other pure technical issues may turn this process into very complicated quest with bunch of traps. On the other hand, there would be many target platforms for deployment (development PC or laptop, cloud hosting, domestic cluster, etc.). Each of platforms may have its own additional deployment and configuration steps. The problem is a huge number of cases (the cartesian product of two sets: development stacks and hosting platforms) both the software developer and the systems administrator have to care about.

Container is a solution

The idea is not absolutely new. In the middle of previous century the trucking industry had almost the same problem of 2 sets: different sizes and shapes of cargo and plenty of transportation approaches. Standard transport container was introduced as universal wrapper for any kind of goods. The trucking industry operates in terms of these standard containers. Software as a Service applies the same idea. Docker helps developer to pack any application with all its dependencies into container and be sure it can be runned anywhere. On the other hand, system administrator have to worry about container environment configuration only and be sure it can run any application within a container.

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Java Development: Spark as a lightweight web framework in Java world

There are several powerful technological stacks available to create any kind of web application from a set of microservices with REST API to huge enterprise solutions. They a based on appropriate programming language as a platform, like Java, C#.NET, Python, PHP, etc. All those web development platforms are completely separated. They are rather linked and even much more than you ever imagine. Trends are popular in one platform found their mirror in another and vice versa. That’s mostly because of enthusiastic activity of multi-platforms software developers. E.g., a lot of Java Development packages and approaches are converted into their C#.NET clones almost one-to-one with adding a .NET suffix.


Another example of multi-platform web development approach is micro frameworks. These are very light MVC frameworks that provides basic web application functionality out of the box. On the other hand, they need minimal code and development efforts as a whole to implement and launch ready to use application. PHP has Slim, Limonade, Lumen, Flight, Silex. Sinatra is the most popular Ruby micro-framework. Flask is for Python stack. For Java Development there is a Spark [http://sparkjava.com/].

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Java Development: Spring Boot for fast and easy start-up

10 years ago, Spring framework became a trend in Enterprise Java Development without huge and overweight classic JEE (it was called J2EE) technology based on EJB. We called Spring as JEE without EJB. Its amazing IoC container and DI schema have been doing our life much more easy. Configuration via annotations made the whole process even more fun, because it allows us to avoid describing all our beans and relations in XML. Nowadays, modern popular frameworks like Ruby on Rails or Django provides even more fast tools and development practices. On the other hand, Java Development world is bit more conservative. We had no easy and fast way to start new project. Instead, we had to spend some time to configure Spring environment. Spring Boot [http://projects.spring.io/spring-boot] is a solution for this problem, applicable in case of start up, agile approaches or even pet projects.

Configuration over dependencies

Rail uses its power command line tools to start new application, generate new element of the project and various other actions. But Spring Boot is not an automatic code generation tool. It is rather a plug for Java Development build system. It supports both Maven and Gradle. Main feature of of Spring Boot is

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Application Development: API as a modern service approach

API turns a service into a platform

Nowadays, largest commercial services, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, provides API for their models and services. They opened their platforms to be extended by huge community of software developers around the world. If one user of a service costs one unit, then single developer contributing into the architecture has value ten times more. This is true for full range of Application Development approaches from simple customization scripts to huge business based on complicated systems. API and its ability to extend and create attracts and even inspire the most creative specialists. This is a two-way street. On the one hand, developers and entrepreneurs have ability to grow up their own ideas into a successful business using existing cool service and its community of users, on the other hand, a service may acquire additional features without extra efforts. Users or hired API developers would design and implement specific features for their own needs. API looks like one more communication channel between customers, service and community as a whole. It is a way to show what they really need. API is a next-level step in the project evolution. It is a point where system may become a platform rather than just a service.

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