|April 14, 2021||
Glossary Of Terms: Application Monitoring
Definition: Tools designed to ensure software applications perform as expected. IT professionals use APM tools to ensure their end-users get the quality of service they expect from important business applications. In virtual environments, application monitoring tools helps administrators ensure that application servers operate within the parameters of their service-level agreements (SLAs).
Reproduced from SIOS
|April 12, 2021||
Cloud Availability: The Biggest Trap of 2021
Author Carey Nieuwhof hooked me with a blog topic of the biggest trap for 2021. While not directly speaking to HA, the topic alone made me reflect on some of the trends of 2020. Cloud innovations are numerous and begin at the most fundamental levels of the infrastructure. Not to mention advances in AI, machine learning, compute capacity and algorithms, memory management and sharing, and a battery of others. All of these advances add up to making the current generation cloud the most robust, reliable and available data center. These centers, optimized with redundant power, cooling, a legion of IoT devices for monitoring and alerting, redundant networking, high speed interconnects, massive servers, storage, and disks are impressive– and quite possibly the biggest trap that may be looming in 2021.
The biggest trap of 2021 will be believing that cloud availability alone is the same as or enough for higher availability. This is a complex trap to dissect. The list of named advances that make up the backbone of many data centers is indeed vast and impressive, and it is only a fraction of the technological innovations that exist driving the cloud. So, what makes this massively redundant, high capacity, and AI driven infrastructure a trap? Namely, that hardware and infrastructure availability still leave your enterprise at risk.
|April 5, 2021||
Fifty Ways to Improve Your High Availability
I love the start of another year. Well, most of it. I love the optimism, the mystery, the potential, and the hope that seems to usher its way into life as the calendar flips to another year. But, there are some downsides with the turn of the calendar. Every year the start of the New Year brings ‘____ ways to do_____. My inbox is always filled with, “Twenty ways to lose weight.” “Ten ways to build your portfolio.” “Three tips for managing stress.” “Nineteen ways to use your new iPhone.” The onslaught of lists for self improvement, culture change, stress management, and weight loss abound, for nearly every area of life and work, including “Thirteen ways to improve your home office.” But, what about high availability? You only have so much time every week. So how do you make your HA solution more efficient and robust than ever. Where is your list? Here it is, fifty ways to make your high availability architecture and solution better:
So, what are the ideas and ways that you have learned to increase and improve your enterprise availability? Let us know!
-Cassius Rhue, VP, Customer Experience
Reproduced from SIOS
|March 31, 2021||
Seven Skills That Your Team Needs if You are Going with Open Source High Availability
In the realm of High Availability (HA) there are certain important skills your team needs if you decide to go the route of open source. Open source by definition denotes software that is freely available to use.
Today, there are numerous commercial implementations of high availability clusters for many operating systems provided by vendors like Microsoft and SIOS Technology Corp. These commercial solutions provide resource monitoring, dependency management, failover and cluster policies, and some form of management prepackaged and priced. An alternative to commercial implementations are several open source options that also give companies the opportunity to provide high availability for their enterprise.
As companies continue to look for optimizations, cost savings, and potential tighter control, a growing number of companies and customers are also considering moving to open source availability solutions.
Here are seven skills that your team may need for a move to Open Source HA:
1. Coding skills
In many cases the lack of pre-packaged and bundled support for enterprise applications means that your team will need to be able to develop solutions to protect components, fix issues with bundled components, or write application connectors to ensure application awareness is properly handled. Lots of people can write scripts, but your team will need to know how to create and adhere to sound development practices and standards. The basics of this include things such as:
2. Knowledge of the technology environment
Many enterprise applications require integration with multiple systems in order to provide high availability that meets the Service Level Agreements (SLA) and Service Level Objectives (SLO). Your team will require deep application awareness and knowledge of the technology environment to build protection and solutions for this integration with multiple enterprise systems. You need people who know the ins and outs of the critical applications, the technology environment for those applications, networking, hardware, hypervisors, and an understanding of the environmental and application dependencies. You’ll also need team members who understand the architecture, features, and limitations of the set of HA technologies that you intend to use from the Open Source community. Consider how much of these areas your team knows and understands:
3. Business process knowledge
You need someone to understand your business requirements, and the business process. Your team needs professionals who understand the enterprise’s business and the processes that drive it. Your team will need to know and understand how much budget is available to spend for developing the solution, how much risk the business is willing to take, and how to gather additional requirements that may be unspoken or unspecified.
The team will also need to know, or to hire someone who knows how to convert those business requirements into software requirements and how to manage a process that brings a minimum viable high availability solution to fruition that meets the needs of the business, the speed of the business, and fits within the processes of the business.
4. Experience with OS, Applications and Infrastructure
If you are looking to go all open, your team will need experience understanding Operating Systems, Applications and Infrastructure. You’ll need to understand the various OS release cycles, including kernel versions for Linux, updates and hotfixes for Windows. You have applications in house that need to be supported, but you’ll need to also be diligent to understand the application update cycle, their dependencies, and the intersection of applications and OS support matrices. If your environment is homogeneous, great. Otherwise, your team will need to know the differences between RHEL, RHEL derivatives, and SUSE. If you are both Linux and Windows you’ll need to know these as well. You’ll also need to understand the difference that the infrastructure will make on the application and OS combination. AWS and Azure present differences for high availability that differs from GCP, on-premise, and other hypervisors.
5. Change management capabilities
Imagine that you have the development team to create the solution, with technical and business knowledge along with a firm grasp of the OS, Infrastructure and Applications. But, getting the scripts together is just the beginning. Your team will also need change management capabilities. How will your team keep track of the code changes and versions, packages, and package locations? How will your team manage the releases of updates and changes? Your team will need to be versed in a source repository, such as git, project management tools, such as Jira, and release train proficiency. You’ll need a team that understands how to make updates to code, deliver patches and fixes, all while avoiding unwanted impact.
6. Data analytics and troubleshooting experience
When you enter the space of delivering your own HA solution your team will need analytics and troubleshooting experience. You’ll need to have resources who understand the intersection of application code, system messages, and application error logs and trace files. When a system crash occurs, you’ll have to dig deeper into the logs to troubleshoot and find the root cause, analyze the data to make recommendations, and be prepare to roll out changes (see #5 above). Don’t forget, your team will also need to know and understand what the data from these logs and trace files can tell you about the health of your environment even when there isn’t an error, failure or system crash.
7. Connections (Dev, QA, Partners, Community)
Let’s be honest, your business isn’t about delivering high availability, but if you decide to dive into the realm of open source HA you are going to need more help than just the brilliance on your team. Key to getting that additional help will be understanding where to start and then making the right connections to community developers, persons who are experts on testing, HA and application partners, and the open source community. Open forums have been really helpful, but you’ll need to double check if the response times are compliant with your SLAs and SLOs.
Using Open Source solutions is an option that many companies choose to pursue for cost concerns and a perception of flexibility, lower cost, and less risk. But, buyer beware, there may be hidden costs in the form of new skills and management, and hidden risks in terms of the open source programs you use that will be needed for any “roll your own HA solution.”
– Cassius Rhue, VP, Customer Experience
Reproduced from SIOS
|March 25, 2021||
Cloud Migration Best Practices for High Availability
In 2020 we have seen more enterprises migrating more of their mission-critical applications, ERPs and databases to the cloud. However, not all of these migrations have been smooth. I have personally witnessed cloud migration projects dramatically slowed and even stopped due to a lack of planning for application availability, the complexity of retrofitting ‘DIY High Availability’, misunderstanding related to what a ‘lift and shift’ entails and unexpected costs.
There are a number of best practices, cloud checklists, and other ways for organizations to prepare for the cloud. The following best practices should be factored into every migration strategy for high availability clustering for those who have either hit pause on their 2020 cloud migration, or plan to forge ahead in 2021.
Cloud Migration Best Practices
Gather the requirements
Many organizations moving to the cloud think that the cloud is an on-premises architecture moved to the cloud. This misunderstanding in cloud migration often leads to stalls and delays when networking, storage, disk speeds, and system sizes for on-premises collide with the cloud reality. A smoother transition to cloud begins by gathering the real requirements for the infrastructure, governance and compliance, security, sizing, and related controls and resources.
Design and Document
In the design phase, the architecture of on-premises environments is mapped to the cloud environment that has been chosen for maximum availability and thoroughly documented. In this phase, as the architecture takes shape and you identify the strategy for IPs, load balancers, IOPS, and data availability. Teams need to look at how availability native to the cloud needs to be augmented with a robust application and infrastructure availability solution capable of automating complexities of the cloud. At SIOS, our experts in AWS and Azure clustering and availability work with customers to swap on-premises NFS for AWS EFS, Azure ANF, or a standalone NFS cluster tier. Additionally, a key part of the successful implementation in this phase will be documenting everything. Documentation is an often-neglected, but essential element of migration success.
Plan for High Availability
Achieving high availability in the cloud requires understanding the requirements, creating the design, and documenting a plan that lays out a strategy for achieving those requirements. A basic plan should include staffing, staff training, deploying a QA system testing, pre-production steps, deployment, post deployment validation, and on-going iterations. The best outcomes for cloud migration arise from a deliberate, planned process; not an ad hoc, break-fix approach.
How well is your team staffed for the cloud migration? Traditional help desk, client/server IT, or IT teams may not be enough for the cloud migration. If your team is new to the cloud, it may be time to consider adding more resources or professional services-based solutions. Migrating to the cloud can be taxing, tedious, and difficult without the proper insight, information, or training. Does your staff need to incorporate training related to the cloud environment? And while you are looking into training and professional services to assist your IT team, check with your vendor for training related to the availability solution. Many vendors provide flexible training for the HA solution and cloud training can be obtained with the cloud vendors or popular sites such as Udemy.
The QA deployment phase is the phase in which the team executes the plans for deploying the actual systems into the cloud. Successful deployment teams validate their plans and strategy, understand the data migration process, uncover any missing dependencies, and prepare for the next step in the process, especially testing. When this step is skipped or skimped on, the once-promising migrations often stall or fail. When you reach the QA system deployment phase, your team will do the heavy lifting of the initial migration and configuration of the applications, databases, and critical data in the cloud.
Test Your High Availability
Testing in your QA environment is a critical step. These tests are not a waste of time; they are a time saver. Deploying environments in the cloud is often easier than deploying on-premises. Your QA environment can be scripted with tools like Ansible, deployed quickly as templates from the cloud marketplace or a cloned image, or deployed and built from cloud formation templates. Once deployed, disaster scenarios can be ironed out and optimized before a disaster, not in them. Test scenarios can be leveraged to identify overprovisioning, under-provisioning or bottlenecks with networking or disk speeds. A full test scenario can also be used as a part of an on-boarding strategy for new staff. Additionally, testing should be performed on snapshots and backups as well.
When the testing phase completes, and your team has validated the test results, the next phase is to move from QA to pre-production, and from pre-production to go-live. The testing phase is the last phase of the heavy lifting involving final user acceptance testing, a final cutover and update of the production data, and then the users.
Review, Revise, and Repeat
A successful migration does not end once you reach the go-live phase, but continues through the lifecycle phases. In the post go-live phase of the cloud migration strategy, your team continues to review, revise, and repeat the steps from ‘Gather’ through ‘Deploy Production’. In fact, your team should repeat this process again and again, based on requirements specific to releases, application updates, security updates, related system maintenance, operating system versions, disaster recovery planning, as well as the requirements from your high availability vendor’s own best practices. The cloud platform is always evolving and adding new features, functionality, and updates that can enhance your existing HA solution and architecture. Reviewing, revising, and repeating the process will be a necessary step in successful onboarding.
In 2021 we’ll see more enterprises migrating more mission-critical applications, ERPs and databases to the cloud. A key major factor in their success will be utilizing cloud migration best practices to avoid delays and failures throughout the process. Understanding your business requirements and needs, documenting the design and plan, deploying in a QA environment with purpose built clustering solutions, and executing extensive testing before go-live will be essential. Contact SIOS Technology to understand how the SIOS Protection Suite can be included in your thoughtful cloud migration best practices.
-Cassius Rhue, VP, Customer Experience
Reproduced from SIOS