3 Strategies for Building Resilient Distributed Apps

Resilient Distributed Apps

As enterprises grow, they need to be able to seamlessly conduct business operations from every geographical location. For such organizations, distributed apps are a great way to allow remote users to access applications that run on multiple servers within a network. Mostly stored on cloud systems, these applications use the same network to communicate with each other and complete a specified task or command. 

For organizations looking to make the most distributed apps, it makes sense to enable resiliency, so users can more easily collaborate, share ideas, coordinate on tasks, and access information.  highly resilient distributed apps can withstand service disruptions while meeting the scalability needs of a constantly fluctuating market. Developing apps that meet these requirements and supporting them throughout their lifecycle requires careful planning and design.

Why App Resiliency Matters

In today’s modern world, tech-savvy users expect distributed apps to function seamlessly – irrespective of what device they are using, what time of the day it is, or what season. 

An app that fails to offer the same level of performance as the user base grows or crashes due to the failure of a system component can prove very costly for the company. Not only will it lead to user frustration, but it can also cause business operations to get affected. Let’s take the example of an eCommerce site. If the system that compiles customer purchasing history doesn’t work as intended, the eCommerce system will fail to provide personalized recommendations, leading to the customer spending hours and hours surfing through products- without eventually finding what he/she needs. 

Although it might be impossible to completely avoid an outage or issue from impacting your distributed app, approaching resiliency as an on-going activity can enable your distributed app to withstand failures while ensuring you deal with issues and challenges that can affect the performance. 

Top 3 Strategies

Building distributed apps that continue to offer the same level of functionality and performance despite failures of system components is what sets the foundation of resiliency. For this, organizations need to build resiliency into all levels of their distributed app architecture: from how they lay their app infrastructure, to how they configure the network, design the app, embed storage deploy and test the app, and more. 

Strategy 1: Automate different aspects of app development

The foundation of a highly resilient distributed app is a strong underlying infrastructure. If the app is built on a strong infrastructure, it is more likely to withstand any issue and failure that comes its way. One of the best ways to set a strong foundation is to embrace automation to increase consistency and speed and minimize human error.

  • Automate the infrastructure provisioning process to free up time and resources for mission-critical innovation, improve consistency of your environments, and ensure successful deployments.
  • Use concepts like Infrastructure as Code to automatically manage and provision the technology stack for your distributed app and improve the consistency and reproducibility of your environment. 
  • Use autoscaling to automatically scale computing resources consumed by your app and increase the capacity of your app and maintain its performance. 
  • Embrace concepts like CI/CD, so any changes or updates you make to your distributed app can automatically be tested and deployed. 
  • Leverage immutable infrastructure to improve the consistency and reliability of your environment as well as the predictability of deployments.  

Strategy 2: Design for high availability

Another critical component of a high resiliency is high availability. Ensuring your distributed app is available – under different loads, different times, and across different devices and eliminating single points of failure – is a key indicator of overall app health. 

  • Physically distribute resources and components across different locations to ensure a single outage does not cause the entire app to crash. 
  • Duplicate components of your app to improve redundancy and overall availability of your system. 
  • Embrace the cloud to install and support all parts of your application stack from a single console and spend less time managing infrastructure and more on improving reliability. 
  • Use load balancers to distribute traffic among different groups of resources and avoid the problem of resources being strained. 
  • Containerize your app into lightweight, independent, executable packages to make them easier to deploy, maintain, and scale. 
  • Test your app to ensure it responds to failures as intended. Introduce failures to check if expected alerts for appropriate metrics are generated, allowing you to take the right action. 

Strategy 3: Enable continuous monitoring

Another critical component for high resiliency is continuously monitoring your distributed app to understand its behavior, performance, and health. Such monitoring can help you discover potential issues before they cause an outage and resolve them in time. 

  • Invest in a monitoring tool that monitors and tracks your distributed app and proactively identifies issues or challenges that can affect availability. 
  • Unearth insights into app performance using dashboards and alerts and view all metrics through a single pane of glass. 
  • Monitor across all levels to get a holistic picture of your apps’ health: including CPU load, design, workflows, service, network, interactions, memory usage, integration etc. 

Balance cost with user experience

To meet (and exceed) the expectations of business users, building highly resilient distributed apps have become a top priority. A resilient app delivers consistent performance and ensures that user experience is not hampered in the event of a component failure or service outage. 

Despite the significance of resiliency, it is also essential for app companies to carry out a cost-user experience analysis. Determining the minimum acceptable level of performance and the associated costs needed to maintain that level is important to optimize user experience for a reasonable price. 

 

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