Nomenclature

Introduction

This chapter offers a quick reference-style overview of key terms used throughout the Zato documentation.

Clusters and servers

A Zato cluster if a grouping of servers that run internal and user-defined services. Each servers always belongs to a cluster and a cluster has at least one server. There is no limit to how many servers there can be assigned to a cluster.

Servers in a cluster can all run in the same operating system or in multiple ones. There can be multiple Zato environments running in one operating system and conversely, a single Zato environment can be spread across multiple systems.

All servers always run the same set of services and all servers are always active, i.e. there is no notion of a standby server although servers can be taken offline with regards to the HTTP traffic they receive.

Hot-deployment

Most actions performed against a Zato environment, for instance, installation of new services or updates to configuration, can be performed without any restarts. A hot-deployment performed using one server is internally synchronized by Zato with other members of a cluster without any need for manual updates in each server.

Services

A Zato service is Python code offering interesting functionality forming business processes between domain systems in an integrated environment. This is the core building block used to build a services-oriented architecture (SOA).

In coding terms, it is a Python class making use of the programming API Zato offers. This is the code that Zato programmers produce.

Web-admin

Web-admin is a web-based console used to manage clusters, servers, channels and other entities constituting a Zato environment. Each Zato environment has one web-admin instance.

Load-balancer

Each Zato environment has a load-balancer in front of its servers to evenly distribute incoming HTTP traffic. The load-balancer is an embedded instance of HAProxy.

Scheduler

Each Zato environment comes with scheduler, managed through web-admin, that runs tasks periodically, according to user-defined task configuration.

CLI (command line interface)

A wide range of admin commands is offered through a CLI instead of or in addition to web-admin to aid in scripting and other routine tasks.

Channels

A typical service is always independent of the means through which it becomes accessible to the outside world, that is, a service itself is not tied to any particular network protocol or data format. It just receives input data, performs its operations and produces output.

It is the channel’s function to make a given service available under, say, REST, AMQP, ZeroMQ or any other protocol Zato supports - channel is the place where the translation between intricate aspects of a protocol to the input for a service takes place.

Since each server in a Zato cluster is always identical, each server has access to the list of channels that in turn are said to expose services behind them.

Channels are created declaratively in web-admin or en-masse and each service can be independently mounted on multiple channels.

Outgoing connections

Each service can access external resources such as REST, AMQP, SMTP, Amazon S3 and more. An outgoing connection encapsulates all the details needed to make use of a given resource and offers a programmer-friendly API that hides all the actual details of how an outgoing connection is actually made, possibly using connection queues or other constructs that are internally managed by Zato without any needed for programmer’s input. A programmer only produces JSON, XML or other data that an external resource needs and Zato issues a request and hands over the response to the programmer’s code.

Security

Each Zato channel or outgoing connection can be protected with a security definition, such as HTTP Basic Auth, OAuth or TLS certificates. Each such definition is independent of one or more channels it is assigned to and changing details of security definition is automatically propagated to all channels using it.

Statistics

Statistics can be collected on several levels with diagrams and comparison tables available for most commonly used and slowest services in the last hour, day, month, year or for arbitrary dates.

En-masse

En-masse is the command-line companion to web-admin. While web-admin offers an intuitive way to manage server objects from one’s browser, en-masse lets one store the definitions of channels, security mechanism and more in JSON files that can be put in a code repository and used to install or update objects from command line in an automated fashion.

Admin API

99% of what web-admin does can be emulated or built upon by user-defined scripts and programs that take advantage of the REST or SOAP admin API. Apart from a few cases, the API offers full control over Zato environments - in fact, web-admin underneath is a client making use of the API itself.