Monday, October 23, 2017

AZURE PoC in the Box

As part of the $3 billions invested in Europe, Microsoft is opening multiple datacenters to support fast growing cloud adoption of Azure. The partnership between Microsoft and Activeeon resulted in developing the “AZURE PoC in the BOX” program. The main objective is to support companies on their path to gain competitive advantage through cloud services, flexibility and open solutions and support their transition.

AZURE PoC in the BOX principles

The AZURE PoC in the BOX program aims to reduce transition to the Cloud by tackling adoption barriers. The challenges usually faced are on multiple levels:

  • Management approval,
  • Investment justification and money allocation,
  • Environment configuration and time to market deployments,
  • Workload transition.

Compute resources will be allocated on the fly for the AZURE PoC to replicate your environment. Thus, investment is greatly reduced and a replicated infrastructure is instantly available.

Activeeon is an open source Software Vendor, the solution aims to simulate the workload on the platform. Its flexibility lets any business (ie “métier”) users of the PoC to orchestrate application framework across environments (e.g. local and Azure) while controlling execution. Scenarios can then be tested in a timely manner thus giving instant feedback to the testing teams.

Moreover, Activeeon supports transition to the cloud in multiple ways. Activeeon’s engineers are Azure certified expert. A workflow conversion tool has been developed to quickly adapt hundreds of workflows to ProActive standards. Finally, Activeeon’s solution being agnostic to the resource, the transition to the cloud is seamless and progressive without IT process interruption and therefore end users disruption.

Leveraging those technologies, the AZURE PoC in the BOX also aims to present companies how to boost agility at a process and infrastructure levels and estimate real cost savings. Moreover, it will stimulate access to new services enabling new insights or free additional resources. For instance, access to high available databases, user friendly replication mechanisms, etc.

AZURE PoC in the BOX journey

In three simple steps, get setup and explore new opportunities.

First of all, request an introductory meeting with the Activeeon team to build a Spec of Work expressing the requirements. The main objective is to identify similarities with existing use cases, share PoC objectives, estimate Azure requirements and define current workload to be replicated.

Then, with an engineer from Activeeon, setup your test environment in Azure and start replicating workloads and orchestration rules. Connect to any external datacenter if required and get a production-like ready system. Finally, start transitioning using the define workflows to the cloud.

To conclude, use this environment to identify new services which would bring value:

  • Leverage infinite capacity from the cloud
  • Adapt resource pool to the load (elasticity)
  • Setup high availability on some services
  • Connect new services to ProActive open solution
  • Control execution
  • Monitor results
  • Etc.

Why transitioning?

Without developing too much about a topic covered by many, here are a few reasons to consider transitioning to the cloud.

  1. Companies can see immediate cost saving for low utilization workloads or irregular workloads. In those cases, instances and VMs can be created just in time and will be consumed only when required.
  2. The pace of innovation is increasing. To beat the market, PoC with new technologies is key. The cloud lets you setup an environment production like very quickly. Trying new solutions could be done quickly, with no disruption at a cheap cost.
  3. Businesses can stay focus on what they do best. Computing resources are becoming a commodity that is not required to produce.
  4. Etc.

Why Activeeon?

Activeeon ProActive is an open solution which by design answers various and heterogeneous use cases from IoT to Big Data, Machine Learning through IT and distribution. As mentioned in previous sections, Activeeon has supported multiple transition to the cloud. Below is a few areas where ProActive makes a difference in current IT architectures.

Immediate Results

With a simplified distribution system, processes can be easily parallelized. Thus, computing reports and analyze faster. In some cases such as risk analysis in the financial industry, this will have a significant impact on the company's ability to compete.

An efficient distribution system is also leading to savings in architecture requirements or will unlock extra compute capacity. For instance, in Legal and General, their VaR algorithm went from 18 hours to 15.

Pay for what you need with an immediate connection to Azure services. Unused capacity is greatly reduced and load peaks are handled natively.

Workflow flexibility

Flexibility and agility are core to an IT infrastructure sustainable on the long run. The expressivity of ProActive workflows, let users understand at a glance dependencies and add new ones. Furthermore, the execution can be controlled through various meta-data enabling users to select the appropriate resource, setting up an environment, share variables and files, etc. With current variable management on a workflow level, reducing the workflow variety to only generic workflow is simplified and will lead to greater quality code.


ProActive includes support for multiple languages and is fully open, thus easing integration with any platform in use. Do not hesitate to glance through our use cases and some workflows to understand the flexibility given.


As infrastructure grows with the cloud, every tool in use need to scale with it. ProActive has been tested over 10,000 cores and regular improvements are made to ensure less overhead and better distribution of the load.

Why Microsoft Azure

Microsoft is a long term trusted partner for ActiveEon and for large organizations. With Azure, they offer an open, trusted, hybrid and hyperscale cloud covering 42 regions worldwide. With the opening of datacenters in France, Microsoft invests locally and offers data residency at rest for organization that are sensitive to this aspects. By collaborating with Microsoft during Azure Preview program and offer Azure POC in a Box, ActiveEon is in leading position to help customers transform to the cloud in France.

Use Cases

Legal & General

Legal & General successfully uses Activeeon Workflows & Scheduling software to handle Solvency II analysis on 2.5 million Monte Carlo scenarios. It is also used to dynamically define and prioritize workloads and thus, minimize time to results.

Partnering with Azure and Activeeon has enabled L&G to focus on enhancing their competitive edge rather than maintaining legacy infrastructure. Resource consumption is controlled with Activeeon to reduce infrastructure needs while improving performances.

Now, thanks to ProActive, and thanks to additional optimizations we made along the way with Azure, the batch time which previously was taking us 18 hours, is now down to 5 hours, and by the end of the year, my hope and expectation is to go definitely below 4 hours and possibly less by having more grid hosts and more capacity.

Guido Imperiale, Lead Integration Engineer at Legal & General

$1,200,00 spent on Azure services
Priority available in 2h instead of 18
All reports available in 5h instead of 18


As part of the Azure PoC in the Box program, the CNES (French Spacial Agency) has requested Activeeon services to improve their current service.

In an initial stage, Activeeon’s solution has been implemented as a meta-scheduler over PBS Pro. Two solutions are available in this specific architecture. On one hand, it is possible to natively schedule and distribute user’s workloads. That way, the resources are actively managed by Activeeon and process benefits from all Activeeon’s features. On the other hand, PBS is used like a third party software and workloads are submitted to its main interface. This way, native features of PBS can be leveraged but information and control related to the execution are then missing from the overall platform. This could lead to more complex debugging, non standard behaviors, etc.

To offer a better service to its platform users, the CNES was looking at extending its capacity to Azure according to the overall load. Users will have their request processed faster with little interference from others. This concept also called cloud bursting is represented below.

Activeeon cloud experts developed an architecture which did not change the experience from the end user. The initial architecture was simply connected to the cloud and horizontal scaling policy have been setup according to the actual load. A secured connection over ssh embedded in Activeeon’s solution instantly enables data to flow between on-premise infrastructure and the cloud.

To optimize the cloud capacity, the first meta-scheduling option has been selected where Activeeon actively manages cloud resources. Native mechanisms enable autoscaling from Azure images, environment setup, error management recovery system at the resource level, etc.

As a next step, the CNES is now able to leverage any cloud service offered by Azure. For instance, using Azure object storage a library of satellites images could be setup.

Faster time to result for better user experience
Multiple meta-scheduling policies
Cloud services unlock for enhanced services


Activeeon’s solution enables the transition of big compute workloads to the cloud and translate business processes to expressive workflows. With Microsoft and Activeeon, Financial institutions, Big Data, IoT and R&D labs benefit from infinite capacity, cost saving, workload distribution optimization, execution control, etc. Web portals and comprehensive Rest APIs ease the integration and user adoption. This partnership offers a best in class integrated solution to maximize performance of any application framework over any resource such as CPU, RAM, GPU, FPGA and Network.

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