andreas vallberg serverless integration

Serverless Integration

The integration landscape is changing and you are paying too much!

Serverless integration is our offering where we replace your traditional on-prem enterprise integration software with auto-scalable, fully managed, pay-for-what-you-use connectivity between your software applications on-premise and in the clouds.

Why serverless integration?

Enterprises has struggled with integration, where projects were setting up integration dependencies as part of the project and when the project closed down after delivery the integration dependencies were left in limbo with nobody to management.

Enter the era of integration software, where we established integration competence centers and purchased specialized software that was trying to make the integrations easier, deliveries faster and integrations manageable.

With 15 years in using enterprise integration software, We can see with a bit of hindsight that the promise of integration software has failed to deliver to us:

  • Visibility of the cost now cause integration to be a problem, instead of being spread out among the projects
  • Feature based selling of integration platforms often leave customers with a lot more features than they will make use of
  • Centralization leads to more structure, yes, but the structure comes at the cost of red-tape and more lead time for implementing solutions

So the solution to this was the Self service API’s – already touted by Jeff Bezos back in 2002 in his now-famous Mandate which sternly forced everyone into an API-first approach. Suddenly teams can consume other teams data and do integrations without talking to the intermediary.

Even though it is almost 20 years ago, we still see corporations trying to adopt this way of thinking, while also trying to save the Enterprise Integration Center.

A battle of many fronts

We see the Integration Competence Center concept being attacked on many fronts:

  • The software application owners and teams are building their own dependencies directly using API driven approach
  • Infrastructure is moving to the cloud, leaving no Servers to manage, cluster and consider
  • The different building blocks (i.e. features) of the old integration platform are becoming increasingly available from the existing cloud vendors rendering your integration software platform obsolete
  • Infrastructure is becoming code, Security Operations is becoming code.
    Why should the integrations reside in proprietary formats deep inside custom software which only a few selected people have access and knowledge how to manage

The way out

This is the challenge we at TIQQE has seen, and that is why we are providing integration-as-a-service in our unique way. Knowing that a big part of the integration work is in the details of the specifications and the major part of the integrations within an organization is very similar we have a different approach.

We provide fully managed integrations and we do this using software implemented in standard languages, on a well-known cloud platform using serverless patterns.

This means the integrations are built securely, with auto scaling from the start. It means we are using standard development tools and standard programming languages that already millions of developers know.

Governance is still key!

Our value add is not mainly focusing on the implementation of the integrations, but rather the management of the integrations and standardization of monitoring and handling them.

The freedom of building high-order value add systems as integrations, and the standardization comes as a support in terms of operational excellence, security, reliability, performance efficiency and cost optimization (Yes – those are the 5 pillars of well-architected framework from AWS).

Many of our customers have felt their integrations to be a black-box experience and they feel a lack of understanding of what they have and how it works. We are handling this by providing our Harbor solution, where you as a customer get full transparency to the documentation, the integrations and their health.

Business Impact

  • You will save money
  • No license costs
  • No hardware costs
  • No patching costs
  • No lock-in
  • Pay for what you use
  • Adapt to change

Please feel free to reach out to Jacob Welsh and let us speak about how we can help lower your costs, increase your business agility and provide insights into your integration landscape.We will set you free from all major integration platforms such as Microsoft Biztalk, Teis, WebMethod and many others.

AWS

Continuous improvement – server access example

When you work with any of the big public cloud providers, one thing is for sure – there will be many changes and improvements to the services that they provide to you. Some changes may perhaps change the way you would architect and design a solution entirely, while others may bring smaller, but still useful improvements.

This post is a story of one of these smaller improvements. It is pretty technical, the gist of it is that with a mindset of continuous improvement, we can find nuggets to make life easier and better and it does not have to be completely new architectures and solutions.

A cloud journey

In 2012, before TIQQE existed, and when some of us at TIQQE started our journey in the public cloud, we created virtual machines in AWS to run the different solutions we built. It was a similar set-up to what we had used in on-premises data centres, and we used the EC2 service in AWS.

Using VPC (Virtual Private Cloud) we could set up different solutions isolated from each other. A regularly used pattern used back then was a single account per customer solution, with separate VPCs for test and production environments. These included both private and public (DMZ) subnets.

To login to a server (required in most cases, not so much immutable infrastructure back then) you needed credentials for the VPN server solution, with appropriate permissions set up. To log in to an actual server, you also needed a private SSH key. One such SSH key is the one which you select or create when you create the virtual machine, for the ec2-user user.

While this worked, it did provide some challenges in terms of security and management – which persons or roles should be able to connect to the VPNs, which VPCS should they be able to access? Of those users and roles, who should be able to SSH into a server and which servers?

There was a centrally managed secrets store solution for the SSH keys for the ec2-user user and different keys for different environments and purposes, but this was a challenge to maintain.

Serverless and Systems Manager

The serverless trend which kind of started with AWS Lambda removed some of these headaches since there were no server access or logins to consider – at least not where solution components can be AWS Lambda implementations. That was great – and still is!
Going serverless can provide other challenges, and it is not the answer to all problems either. There is a lot to say about benefits with serverless solutions. However, this story is focusing on when you still need to use servers.

AWS has another service, called Systems Manager, which is essentially a collection of tools and services to manage a fleet of servers. That service has steadily improved over the years, and a few years back it introduced a new feature called Session Manager. This feature allows a user to login to a server via the AWS Console or via the AWS CLI – no SSH keys necessary to be maintained and no ports to configure for SSH access. This feature also removes the need for a VPN solution for people who need direct access to the server for some reason.
Access control uses AWS Identity and access management (IAM) – no separate credential solution.

Some other major cloud providers already had similar features, so in this regard, AWS was doing some catch-up. It is good that they did!

A new solution to an old problem

For a solution that requires servers, there is a new access pattern to use. No VPN, no bastion hosts. Those that should have direct access to a server and login to that server can now login directly via the AWS Console in a browser tab. No VPN connections, no SSH keys to manage –  only select to connect log in to the server via the browser.  That is, assuming you have the IAM permissions to do so!


For those cases that the browser solution is not good enough, it is still possible to perform an SSH login from a local machine. In this case, it is possible with the help of the AWS CLI to make a connection to a server using Systems Manager Session Manager. The user can have their SSH key, which can be authorized temporarily for accessing a specific server.

Since it is then possible to use regular SSH software locally, it is then also possible to do port forwarding for example, so that the user can access some other resource (e.g. a database) that is only accessible via that server. AWS Systems Manager also allows for an audit trail of the access activities. 

Overall, I believe this approach is useful and helpful for situations where we need direct server access. The key here is though, with a mindset of continuous improvement – we can pick up ways to do better, both big and small.

AWS

AWS re:Invent Online 2020

Usually this time of the year we at TIQQE are getting prepared for re:Invent, traveling to Las Vegas and having our yearly Reinvent comes to you live streamed from our office in Örebro together with our friends, customers and employees. 

This year will of course be a little different but still the possibility to take part online! 

You are well on your way to the best few weeks of the year for Cloud. Make sure to join AWS re:Invent and learn about the latest trends, customers and partners. Followed by many excellent key notes, Break-out sessions, Tracks and not to forget all the possibilities to deepen your knowledge and be provided with training and certifications.

So, whether you are just getting started on the cloud or are an advanced user, come and learn something new at the AWS re:Invent Online 2020.

Make sure to register yourself on the link below and secure your place to re:Invent 2020! 

https://reinvent.awsevents.com/

Want to get started with AWS? At TIQQE, we have loads of experience and are an Advanced Partner to AWS. Contact us, we’re here to help.

Machine Learning

TIQQE enters the world of AI

In the past years we have seen a huge uprising of AI/ML companies across the market. Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning is a part of our everyday lives and will be for the foreseeable future.

This is an area which TIQQE has decided to invest heavily in, both to meet the needs of our customers and also to extend our offering to the market.

The first of September Torbjörn Stavenek joined our team at TIQQE. Torbjörn is an AI expert and will lead our investment in the AI domain.

AI has already started to grow within TIQQE and we have several customers in different market segments.

One of our strategic partners is Neurolearn. Neurolearn is a company based at the AI Innovation Hub close to Örebro Universitet and they are at the forefront of AI research. Together we combine our strengths within AI and cloud services. One example is our joint collaboration in supplying an AI solution to the start-up Beescanning which has won several awards thanks to the AI solution based on computer vision to fight the Varroa mite. In the next coming weeks, we will be sharing different customer cases where we have helped companies across the Nordics with AI solutions.

Since AI is applicable in so many different areas, our go to market approach is simple: we will never try to sell you an AI solution to fix a problem you were not aware of that you had. However we will ask you specifically which challenges you are facing, what goals you have and if there is a match then let us find a way forward together on how to solve it.

If you are interested in learning more about our AI investment then please don’t hesitate to reach out.

#theTIQQEcode

How is it to get into TIQQE

Some months ago, I answered some questions about my first impressions of Tiqqe and why I decided to join. It is time to tell you more about how my journey is going and how it is getting into Tiqqe.

The first impression I had of Tiqqe was that I was in a special company, which is characterized by unique core values and that is completely different from and with all of those that compose the IT sector.

When you start a new job however, you are on a cloud and what you usually get to see the first weeks is a front of the reality that is too good to be true: the company tends to show only the best part of itself and you don’t really know your colleagues and the dynamics within the work environment.Only after two or three months you get to know the true character of the company and to face the problems across the latter. That is how it usually is but it was not like that with Tiqqe.

Tiqqe did not put up any facade, trying to show something it wasn’t. Tiqqe was transparent and honest from my first interview: #theTIQQEcode,  avoiding hierarchies, stay agile, be nice, courage, team over the individuals, employees and clients first, inclusivity are real and they are aspects on which everyone of us is working on every day.

Getting into Tiqqe has been easier than what I could imagine: for the first time in my career, my goals both personal and professional go hand in hand with the goals of the company, my vision is my company’s vision.Even though I started concurrently with the beginning of the pandemic, I got the support of my colleagues and the organization. It felt natural to get into the dynamics of the company and to become part of it.

Currently I am a SRE for Postnord AWS Retail backend and I am having the opportunity to work with amazing developers and awesome people. No matter the workloads we have or the stress level we could reach, we support each other and we try to be always nice: we succeed and fail together.

Getting into Tiqqe is getting into a next generation company and I am proud of being part of it.

AWS

Simply: AWS DynamoDB

My “Simply AWS” series is aimed at absolute beginners to quickly get started with the wonderful world of AWS, this one is about DynamoDB.

What is DynamoDB?

DynamoDB is a NoSQL, fully managed, key-value database within AWS.

Why should I use it?

When it comes to data storage, selecting what technology to use is always a big decisions, DynamoDB is like any other technology not a silver bullet but it does offer a lot of positives if you need a document based key-value storage.

Benefits of DynamoDB

How do I start?

First you’re gonna need an AWS account, follow this guide.

Setting up our first DynamoDB database

If you feel like it you can set your region on the top right corner of the AWS console, it should default to us-east-1 but you can select something closer to you, read more about regions here.

From the AWS console, head to Services and search for DynamoDB, select the first option.

The first time you open up DynamoDB you should see a blue button with the text Create Table, click it.

Now you’re presented with some options for creating your table, enter myFirstTable (this can be anything) in the Table name.

Primary key

A key in a database is something used to identify items in the table and as such it must always be unique for every item. In DynamoDB the key is built up by a Partion key and an option Sort key

  • Partition Key: As the tooltip in the AWS console describes the Partion key is used to partion data across hosts because of that for best practice you should use an attribute that has a wide range of values, for now we don’t need to worry much about this, the main thing to takeaway is that if the Partion key is used alone it must be unique
  • Sort key: if the optional sort key is included the partion key does not have to be unique (but the combination of partion key and sort key does) it allows us to sort within a partion.

Let’s continue, for this example I’m gonna say i’m creating something like a library system, so I’ll put Author as the Partion key and BookTitle as the sort Key.

Note that this is just one of many ways you could setup this type of table and choosing a good primary key is arguably one of the most important decisions when creating a DynamoDB table, what’s good about AWS is that we can create a table, try it out, change our minds and just create a new one with ease.

Next up are table settings, these are things like secondary indexesprovisioned capacityautoscalingencryption and such. It’s a good idea to eventually get a bit comfortable with these options and I highly recommend looking into on-demand read/write capacity mode, but as we just want to get going now the default settings are fine and will not cost you anything for what we are doing today.

Hit create and wait for your table to be created!

Now you should be taken to the tables view of DynamoDB and your newly created table should be selected, this can be a bit daunting as there is a lot of options and information, but let’s head over to the Items tab.

From here we could create an Item directly from the console (feel free to try it out if you want) but I think we can do one better and setup a lambda for interacting with the table.

Creating our first item

If you’ve never created an AWS lambda before I have written a similar guide to this one on the topic, you can find it here.

Create a lambda called DynamoDBInteracter

Make sure to select to create a new role from a template and search for the template role Simple microservice permissions (this will allow us to perform any actions agains DynamoDB).

After creating the lambda we can directly edit it in the AWS console, copy and paste this code.

const AWS = require('aws-sdk')
const client = new AWS.DynamoDB.DocumentClient();
exports.handler = async (event) => {
    try {
        console.log(event.action)
        console.log(event.options)

        let response;
        switch (event.action) {
            case 'put':
                response = await putItem(event.options);
                break;
            case 'get':
                response = await getItem(event.options);
                break;
        }
        return response;
    } catch (e) {
        console.error(e)
        return e.message || e
    }
};


let putItem = async (options) => {
    var params = {
      TableName : 'myFirstTable',
      Item: {
         Author: options.author,
         BookTitle: options.bookTitle,
         genre: options.genre
      }
    };

    return await client.put(params).promise();
}

let getItem = async (options) => {
    var params = {
      TableName : 'myFirstTable',
      Key: {
        Author: options.author,
        BookTitle: options.bookTitle
      }
    };


    return await client.get(params).promise();
}

hit Save then create a new test event like this.

{
    "action": "put",
    "options": {
        "author": "Douglas Adams",
        "bookTitle": "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy",
        "genre": "Sci-fi"
    }
}

and run that test event.

Go back to DynamoDB and the Items tab and you should see your newly created Item!

Notice that we did not have to specify the genre attribute that is because DynamoDB is NoSQL it follows no schemea and any field + value can be added to any item irregardless of the other items composition as long as the primary key is valid.

Retrieving our item

Now let’s try to get that item, create another test event like this.

{
    "action": "get",
    "options": {
         "author": "Douglas Adams",
        "bookTitle": "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"
    }
}

and run it.

You can expand the execution results and you should see your response with the full data of the item.

Congratulations!

You’ve just configured your first DynamoDB table and performed calls against it with a lambda but don’t stop here the possibilities with just these two AWS services are endless, my next guide in this series will cover API-Gateway and how we can connect an API to our lambda that then communicates with our database table, stay tuned!

What’s next?

As I’m sure you understand we’ve just begun to scratch the surface of what DynamoDB has to offer, my goal with this series of guides is to get your foot in the door with some AWS services and show that although powerful and vast they are still easy to get started with, to check out more of what calls can be made with the DynamoDB API (such as more complicated queries, updates and scans as well as batch writes and reads) check this out, feel free to edit the code and play around.

I would also like to recommend this guide if you want even more in-depth look into DynamoDB, it covers most of what I have here but more detailed and also goes over some of the API actions mentioned above.

Contact me

Questions? Thoughts? Feedback?
Twitter: @tqfipe
Linkedin: Filip Pettersson

Webinar

Hardware refresh webinar

Join our hardware refresh webinar the 29:th of September between 08:30 to 09:15. Learn how to reduce your infrastructure cost by 30-40% by moving to cloud.

With a depreciation cycle of 36 months, you’re looking at a 33% replacement of servers and storage in your datacenter this year. Now is a good time to challenge the default decision to replace those servers with new ones and consider cloud instead. Here are a few reasons why:

  • You don’t have to make the capital expenditure upfront which will have a positive impact on your cashflow and your balance sheet.
  • You will lower your cost by an average of 30-40%
  • You don’t have to buy capacity to last for 36 months with low utilization the first couple of years.
  • You pay for what you use and you can scale up or down in capacity by pressing a button.
  • You are making the inevitable move to cloud sooner than later

Join our webinar the 29th of September at 08:30 to 09:15. We will provide you with the tools to assess cloud vs. on-prem workloads from a financial, security and technical perspective. The webinar will be hosted in Swedish with English slides

You can also read our blog post of a business case example of a company with 300 servers and 50TB storage.

Please enroll here.

COVID-19

Post corona thoughts

The corona pandemic has shown that being able to adjust cost according to market demand is a core capability for a company. Serverless computing is the solution to the problem.

It’s of course too early to claim that we are a through the corona pandemic and things will be going back to as they were before. We really doubt that it ever will go back to the way it was before. Only in the past few months we have seen a huge change in how we work, all from running online meetings, a huge increase in number of digital events, how we collaborate etc.

Things that we saw in the market at the start of Covid-19 was of course cost cutting, freezing costs and postponing different initiatives and projects. Unfortunately, Covid-19 might be with us for a while so is this a long-term solution? Just looking back 6-7 months the market was entirely different than it is right now. We have also seen companies who have been booming during this period.

At TIQQE we reach out to 150 companies each month to get an understanding of where the market is and where it’s heading.

If we would highlight two interesting areas it would be the following:

High demand, lack of capacity causing downtime and lost business

When we have reached out to companies who are booming at the moment, companies with high demand struggle with the amount of load they need to handle. IT has challenges with handling the loads which in turn causes downtime and of course lost business. Is the answer then to scale up the infrastructure during this period?

Low demand, over capacity and cutting back costs

When speaking with customers who in one way or another have entered into a recession, their challenge is unused capacity. When looking at cost cuts it makes sense to cut it back but at the same time, how do they scale up once it picks up again?

The benefit with serverless

One of the main benefits with serverless is exactly that, you have a scalable, flexible IT which is adaptable over time no matter if it’s a recession or booming.

In uncertain times it’s important to take control over of what you can, define your prediction of the future might look like and make sure not to make decisions which could be a win on a short-term basis but be a loss in a long-term perspective.

At TIQQE this is exactly what we help our customers with, we help you find the right solution, which is scalable, flexible and adaptable to change no matter what the market situation is for you.

Please feel free to reach out to us if you have questions or need to scale your business to address the higher or lower demand.

Event

Kodayoga is the new black

In March a young lady reached out to us, Yasnia. She told us about an initiative that she, together with Caroline and Frida, wanted to create an event around. With the mission to inspire and attract more women to our tech-industry through kodayoga. The unbeatable combination of developing code and practicing yoga.

Of course we wanted to be a part of this. So we can proudly present that TIQQE is not only Yasnia’s new workplace from 1st of September, we are also one of the sponsors of this upcoming event taking place the 3rd of October at Creative House in Örebro.

After the event we invite women to our office at TIQQE to mingle and meet like-minded and hopefully get some inspiration. We will provide lighter snacks and drinks but due to Corona we only have a limited number of seats.

Registration will open the 14th of September so stay tuned on their website or subscribe to #kodayoga on LinkedIn for updates.

People

Are you our next Cloud Architect?

We’re looking for a Cloud Architect to our Gothenburg office. If you know the AWS tech stack and want to work in an inspiring company with great potential, this is for you.

We are growing our business on Swedens west coast and even if we in many cases work distributed, we also see the importance of being present in person to be able to interact with our growing number of customers. Therefore we are looking for a Serverless Cloud Architect who has the ability to handle both interaction with developers and DevOps teams, as well as a deep knowledge in AWS infrastructural services. You will be working together with passionate people and both develop and test infrastructure.  

We believe that you already:

  • Have your home in Gothenburg or its surroundings
  • Have experience from Cloud solution architecture in general
  • Have specific knowledge in AWS Serverless Architecture and development
  • Have one or more AWS certifications
  • Are analytic and solution-oriented
  • Have a genuin interest in customers businesses and challenges

We wish that you:

  • Have the urge to learn more
  • Put teams over individuals
  • Are professionally driven by serverless technology and become your best version of yourself when surrounded by other ”techies”
  • Wants to develop your soft skills as well as your technical skills

What to expect from us:

  • A burning love for all things serverless
  • A place where people matters
  • Courage to say “we were wrong”
  • Technical excellency
  • A startup company with great visions
  • Distributed teams
  • A place where we don’t always do what the customer tells us, but instead always does what is best for the customer

Please get in contact with us to learn more

Sofia Sundqvist

Chief Operating Officer

sofia.sundqvist@tiqqe.com

Alicia Hed

Recruitment Assistant

alicia.hed@tiqqe.com