Liferay DXP on the Firelay Container Engine meet-up

Emma from FirelayNews

On Friday the 14th of September, Firelay and Liferay teamed up for a Liferay DXP on OpenShift meetup. The goal of the meetup was to share our knowledge on deploying Liferay on OpenShift with a live demo and to share the benefits of Liferay DXP. As one of the visitors stated:

“Everyone who works in a Shared Service Center should know about these developments, because they can play a tremendous part in achieving the Digital Agenda 2020 of the Dutch government.”

For those who couldn’t make it, here’s a short summary of what the experts from Liferay en Firelay had to say.

Liferay vision and experience with the DXP platform by Ruud Kluivers, general manager and founder of Liferay Benelux BV

The meetup started off with an introduction to Liferay DXP by Ruud Kluivers. He explained the benefits of the Liferay DXP platform and why Gartner named it a leader in their Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms. Liferay DXP is developed for enterprises that want to move from web-centric to multi channel digital experiences. It helps companies to speed up digital innovation which is a highly valued goal for many.

But as he mentioned during his presentation, the business value isn’t in setting up and managing Liferay DXP on your own infrastructure and hosting. This takes a lot of time and knowledge that doesn’t give you any revenue yet. The business value is in using it to your own advantages. That’s why you should ideally use it as a service in the cloud, or as a managed service. And that is where Firelay comes in.

An introduction to Containers, Kubernetes and OpenShift by Lex van Sonderen, CEO of Firelay

An introduction to Kubernetes

A demo isn’t complete without a little bit of a background story. Back in the days, around 2005, hosting on Virtual Machines was on the rise. The Cloud revolution began in 2006, when Amazon Web Services was founded. This changed a lot, but setting up and managing servers was still a tough job. Until Google found a solution. They had thousands of servers to maintain and couldn’t spend hours per month on each one of them. Google needed applications that were easy to manage, scalable and have auto-recovery characteristics. That is when they developed Kubernetes.

As is shown in Lex’ presentation, Kubernetes is the future of hosting. The container orchestration system enables developers to set up and manage applications easily and fast while lifting the burden of the IT department and reducing the consumption of resources. Kubernetes makes hosting application-centric. Application owners can focus on digital innovation while the system takes care of uptime, maintenance, security and deployments.

Disadvantages of Kubernetes

But when we started working with Kubernetes four years ago, we quickly noticed that the set up was very hard to complete. Building every piece of the infrastructure yourself is time-consuming and therefore expensive.  Even if you’ve completed that task, running day-to-day operations and orchestrating clusters require a significant amount of knowledge. Additionally, Kubernetes has rough edges in security: it lacks users and roles, pods even run as root, which means they also are root on the host machine. Finally, developers need tooling for development and deployment: Kubernetes does not enforce anything, which means that you need to set up everything yourself.

The main cloud providers saw the opportunity to introduce a new service to overcome the struggles of Kubernetes: Kubernetes as a Service (KaaS). KaaS solutions help you to accelerate the adoption process but you still have to figure out many operational challenges. And each cloud vendor fills the missing pieces of Kubernetes with its own solutions. In conclusion, plain Kubernetes lacks (among other things) security, deployment pipelines and user management while KaaS gives you the disadvantage of vendor lock-in.

End game of container hosting: OpenShift

As the leading enterprise distributor of Kubernetes, OpenShift is optimized for continuous application development and multi-tenant deployment. With features like a built-in Docker registry, role-based access, Jenkins pipeline, log monitoring and many more OpenShift remedies many of Kubernetes’ shortcomings. It gives developers time back to focus on building applications that actually help the business, instead of spending hours on system maintenance and set-up.

With Firelay offering OpenShift as a Service for Liferay, the entire container platform is delivered in an instance. From the Operating System to the hosting, we take care of it. You can start immediately without adopting all the knowledge that is needed to set up and control OpenShift yourself. Enjoy the benefits while having the fastest time to market.

Live demo of the Firelay Container Engine by Sven Aggenbach, COO of Firelay

After Lex explained the benefits of OpenShift as a Service, it was time for the live demo. Sven Aggenbach, COO of Firelay, showed the participants a detailed overview of the Firelay Container Engine. The demo focussed on running a Liferay environment on OpenShift since Liferay DXP has several dependencies like an application server, database, search engine and filestorage.

Firelay uses Tomcat, MariaDB, ElasticSearch and a persistent storage for the Liferay dependencies. Tomcat, ElasticSearch and MariaDB are run in separated pods on the OpenShift cluster and one cluster can host multiple Liferay environments. All you need is three or more nodes (or servers) for scalability and redundancy. Because when one node goes down, the pods are automatically set up on another. This is what we call automatic recovery. During Sven’s live demonstration he deleted a Liferay pod and showed that the site kept working.  He also demonstrated automatic scaling. When the load of an application on a pod gets too high, Kubernetes will automatically spread the load over several pods.

Curious to see the real deal? Schedule a live demo.

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