New Pivotal Cloud Foundry Service: GemFire Session State Caching

April 30, 2015 Darrel Sharpe

sfeatured-gemfireScaling applications is easy, but what about your data?

One of Pivotal Cloud Foundry’s benefits is that it reduces the level of effort required for application development, provisioning, and general lifecycle management—down from grandiose “ogre wrestling” status to a mere “sunset appreciation” level of difficulty, on any cloud. Yet, spinning up 100 application instances (tempting as it may be to do at the really cool parties) has a downside—you can outpace your data sources’ ability to scale, and it will force you to reconsider how you manage application session state. To address the latter issue, Pivotal is bringing GemFire Session State Caching to Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF), enabling users to address session state issues while in production, and repeat this configuration in other use cases.

The reasons to pull session state into a different tier than the application become even more relevant in the cloud. Surviving individual application instance death and upgrading application versions without losing session state become increasingly difficult to address without a caching tier in a cloud that allows you to scale past a thousand nodes (and back down to one) with the click of button.

Pivotal GemFire has been solving such problems outside of the PCF ecosystem for well over a decade, in finance, government, e-commerce, airlines and other mission-critical applications. Now, right after announcing its open source intentions for GemFire, Pivotal is quickly moving GemFire capabilities into the PCF ecosystem in the form of a curated service, starting with a GemFire-based Session State Caching Service. Available as a service tile in PCF, GemFire Session State Caching offers Pivotal Cloud Foundry users an option to offload session data from a container, and bind the data to a session state caching service. Developers can easily offer this service in less than 30 minutes, with a handful of clicks.

Video: Session Management with GemFire

The video demonstrates how to retain authenticated state after application death and how easy it is to create and bind a Pivotal GemFire Session State Caching service to your application in PCF. The service offloads session information to the in-memory data grid, ensuring that authenticated state data is not lost when the application is shut down. This is just the beginning use case for GemFire managed in PCF—more will follow.

Considerations

The Service Broker API in Cloud Foundry abstracts the application from how the GemFire service is provisioned—and this means that your application can interchangeably leverage GemFire via the Apps Manager Marketplace or through a more traditional means (e.g., an external GemFire cluster offered via a user provided service). Binding applications to the caching service just works, without any code or configuration change needed.

The Future

Cloud platforms bring an unparalleled ability to deploy and manage applications at scale, not only stretching the old paradigms of monolithic or singleton OLTP RDBMS systems but breaking them entirely. The need for a horizontally scalable, transactional, and consistent form of storage has never been more urgent or contemporary—but now it’s needed in multiple clouds, on-demand.

This release of the GemFire Session State Caching service provides relevant functionality on its own, as well as a glimpse of what we have planned for Cloud Foundry—providing cross cloud-native capabilities for GemFire that address the transactional data scale issues fundamental to cloud applications.

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