WebScalar — A prebuilt fault-tolerant auto-scaling web server farm in the cloud

By: Huan Liu

One of the success stories of cloud is around a startup company called Animoto. The company’s website was hit hard when they became famous, but, by running on top of Amazon cloud, they handled the onslaught gracefully. As the traffic increased, they scaled their infrastructure from roughly 50 servers to a peak of 4000 servers. The story demonstrates the power of using cloud — dynamically scaling based on usage. This is particularly important for web applications where the number of users fluctuates unpredictably, not only through the application life cycle, but also throughout the day.

In comparison, in a traditional infrastructure, you have to provision a fixed capacity because it takes too long to provision additional capacity. In a couple of client projects that I have seen, people grossly over-provision for what they need because it is better to be safe than sorry. As a result, they pay way more than what they should pay, sometimes orders of magnitude higher.

The order of magnitude in infrastructure cost savings alone should convince you that cloud is the right way to go. But, I have to break the bad news to you that you cannot simply drop your application in cloud and expect it to scale all by itself. Although there are many solutions out there now, it is difficult to determine which solution works the best for your application and which solution is the most robust. As a proof, I visited Animoto’s website recently and I was surprised to find that their website is down. Apparently, even the cloud poster child did not get it right completely, at least the failure handling part.

What solution out there should you choose if you decide to host your web application in the cloud? Obviously, you can build it on your own. I have talked about how to choose a load balancer in the cloud, but it is just a start. You still need to figure out how to add auto-scaling capabilities and fault-tolerant capabilities. Instead of designing a new solution from scratch, you can leverage an Accenture’s pre-built solution.

I would like to introduce WebScalar — a prebuilt platform developed by Accenture which can host any web applications. WebScalar is auto-scaling, which means that servers could be brought up/down depending on traffic demands. It is also fault-tolerant, any single point of failure is repaired automatically. For example, if the load balancer fails, an active standby load balancer immediately takes over. At the same, a new standby load balancer is spun up to protect against future failures. Lastly, WebScalar also has a set of load balancing modules that could be plugged in. Depending on your application profile, we can plug in the optimal load balancer for your need. You can check out a video demo of the WebScalar asset that we have built. The video is a capture of the monitoring front end which shows the status of the moving parts in the systems, including the load balancers and the web servers.

WebScalar is free of charge to our client teams, and it is typically used in a larger cloud application migration project. If you have an interest using this solution, you can reach out to your client director or to us directly.

Manager of Research, Accenture Technology Labs Cyber Security (Enhanced Situational Awareness)

Requisition Number: 00092202

View Job Description: http://bit.ly/aW6r8v

Email Resume to: kevin.daprile@accenture.com

Location – Washington, DC

R&D at the Labs: Working on technology’s frontier, Accenture Technology Labs finds bold new ways to achieve high-performance for Accenture and its clients. Our differentiator? We apply new technologies to solve real-world challenges. “We combine the creativity and deep expertise of our PhDs in the Labs with the real-world knowledge and business acumen of our global network of technologists who work with clients every day,” explains Don Rippert, chief technology officer. “As a result, we are uniquely able to help CIOs and business executives envision the future and to prioritize their investments in-and use of-technology innovation to achieve high performance.

Accenture seeks to hire a senior researcher to lead projects in the areas of intrusion prevention and detection, attribution and anticipation of cyber threats and collaborative situational awareness. The research lead will define, manage and collaborate on new research problems and able to effectively collaborate with the science and technology community. Successful candidates will demonstrate a proven ability of presenting within workshops and interfacing with senior civilian and military leaders.

Primary Responsibilities:

Responsible for conducting scientific research related to intrusion detection & prevention, cyber identity & attribution, data visualization and human threat factors

  • Responsible for the commercialization of research outcomes either by turning work into project proposals or software/hardware products or services
  • Responsible for putting in place the techniques, tactics and procedures to better understand malware behavior and mitigating advanced persistent threats
  • Responsible for writing research papers and proposals and maintaining credentials through publications, presentations, external collaboration with the research community
  • Pursue and capture funding from DARPA, DoD, DHS, DoE and similar agencies

Basic Qualifications:

  • PhD in Computer Science, EE, Computer Engineering or direct related field
  • 4+ years experience practicing information assurance and computer network defense (CND)
  • 3 + years in program management
  • 3 + years experience conducting research in areas such as:  intrusion detection, situational awareness, vulnerability analysis, data visualization, cyber identity and attribution

Preferred Skills:

Excellent verbal, interpersonal and communication (presentation & writing) skills and able to conduct interactive dialogues on research topics with clients

  • 5+ publications at refereed conferences and journals with presentation at security forums
  • 2+ years experience working with NIST SP 800-30/37/39 and NIST 800-53
  • 4 + years programming skills such as Java, C/C++ and scripting language (Perl/Python/Ruby)
  • Working experience with reverse malware engineering and knowledge of new attribution approaches such as DARA’s Cyber Genome Program
  • Demonstrated ability to apply data mining techniques to a broad range of network, web and structured and unstructured data.
  • Substantial experience with IDS/IPS, SIEM rule sets, network engineering technologies and topology
  • Knowledge of federal funding procedures, regulations, policies and practice
  • Proven track record of program capture is preferred
  • Advanced understanding of hacker methodologies and tactics
  • Demonstrated experience interfacing with senior civilian and government leaders and a deep expertise in system building, technology transfer, project management
  • Strong and proven background in national security related issues
  • Top Secret/SCI security clearance

Applicants for employment in the U.S. must possess work authorization which does not require sponsorship by the employer for a visa.



1 Comment so far
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Nice article. Quite informative. Would like to know more. My curiosity is just academic right now.


Comment by Prabal

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