|By Don MacVittie||
|March 8, 2013 10:00 AM EST||
If you’re like most people, when you notice something really odd about your body, the first thought to enter your brain is not “I need to call the doctor.” Of course let me clarify, if you look down after a fall, and think “My arm really shouldn’t bend like that”, then yeah, you call a doctor right away. But if you didn’t fall and go “there’s this tingle in my right arm”, the first thing you do is attempt to analyze. Then, if you want to know all of the really worst things in the world it might be, you research online at a site like WebMD. If, after reasonable thought and possible research, you cannot place a reason for your problem, you might go see your doctor. Or you might try some aspirin, depending upon the problem, and your level of discomfort.
If you decide to go see a doctor, you don’t want him to take an XRay, glance at a blurry image, and pronounce that you have two days to live. You’re going to want him to do a thorough job of examining anything more than “you slept on it wrong, it’ll be better tomorrow”. Because you want to – and you want your doctor to – work from an informed position.
But do you give your hardware the same opportunity?
Just like your body shows odd symptoms or even has a system failure, so too for the hardware in your datacenter. While it would be wonderful if a device could last forever, see my Mean Time Between Failures post in the Bare Metal Series for more reasonable expectations.
<Disclaimer> As always, I am an F5 employee, and I know F5 gear better than other vendors. From here on, I will talk primarily about what is available to diagnose problems on an F5 device. Vendor support for these tools varies, check with your vendor to find out if/how you can achieve the same ends. </Disclaimer>
It’s about hardware.
Somewhere on the system, there is going to be a hardware diagnostics tool. In the case of F5 gear, it is called End User Diagnostics (EUD), and it provides you with a solid battery of self-diagnostics that can be used to see if the hardware is functioning well. Here is the main menu from the tool:
Notice that it can test the RAM, the LCD display, SFPs, the indicator lights on the chassis, overall system, and system sensors (like temperature). But it can go beyond these tests, checking the internal path packets traverse through the hardware, the hardware-used memory (PVA), SSL processing (since SSL is offloaded to specialized hardware), FIPS processing, compression, disk drives, file systems on the drives… It’s a pretty solid picture of what might be wrong with the system. While we hope you never need it, reality is that hardware wears down, gets dirty power, or on occasion fails in spite of burn-in. So for those times, you have the tool available.
Notice that EUD doesn’t have an option to quit without rebooting, and that’s not the only caveat. While I could give you the other details, like you need to disconnect network cables while running EUD, I’ll just point out that http://ask.f5.com has a lot of information about the tool if you have an account, and F5 offers training in using it also. Again, we do our best to make sure you’ll never need it but know it does happen, so want you prepared. It is strongly recommended that you download the latest version and read the release notes also.
But it’s software too!
No complex piece of computing machinery runs on straight hardware anymore. Whether you recognize it as software or not, all computer systems – including all ADCs – use software to accomplish some goals. In F5 gear, a fair share of processing is either shared hardware/software or straight software, and as you might imagine, the software can have issues from configuration on that can cause odd behavior.
For that bit of the puzzle, F5 has long had the tool for the job… QKView* runs on the machine and collects a ton of data. The results of QKView can be sent to technical support upon request, but also can be uploaded to a user diagnostics site. More on that in a moment. qkview runs across the system, picking up important (but non security-related) information and puts it all together in a tarball. “What good is that?” a bunch of you must be asking. And that’s the great part, since normally that would be a valid question. The logs, configs, error dumps are all available to you on the device, so what use is making them less available in a tarball? That’s where the next part comes in…
I cannot stress strongly enough, if you are an F5 customer considering using qkview, please go to ask.f5.com and download the latest version. Improvements in performance, what data is gathered, even organization of data inside the tarball are happening pretty regularly, and using the newest version will help insure that you have the most relevant data in the most efficient form.
But it’s really complex software…
F5 gear is a marriage of blazingly fast, bullet proof hardware with highly optimized software. To create a system that is not only that complex, but adds in features like the ability to store multiple versions of the software and boot the one of choice at any given time, and pluggable software modules that do a variety of application delivery and application security functions for you, well, that takes a lot of software. Never fear, all of our software has rigorous QC applied, just like our hardware does, but there’s a lot of it interacting, and I have never met the device whose designers knew before hand the array of uses that customers will find to put it to. Every network is different, every application architecture is different, and thus the usage of every single ADC deployed is different. Well, not every single one, since most customers use clustering sooner or later, but more than half of them, for certain.
That is why QkView output is a tar file There’s a bunch of information about how all the various software and hardware parts are communicating in those files, what’s gone wrong, how the device is configured… Just a ton of information. In fact, with versioning differences (if software changed, often what it reports changes), it was difficult to offer up a cohesive application on the BIG-IP to analyze these files.
Enter iHealth, a free (registration required to keep it to people with legitimate uses) qkview analyzer. There are a large variety of reasons that F5 chose to go to a centralized online analyzer over a standalone tool. I’ll hit on a couple of them for you, they’re the ones I think you’ll care the most about.
1. The online tool offers manipulable graphical output. In short, you can navigate data organized in a natural way, look at what’s important to you, and get back to fixing problems faster. Generated charts are also great tools for management presentation to point out problem areas or talk up how much traffic the device is handling.
2. The online tool can utilize the information from thousands of deployed devices to show you where you’ve made common configuration errors or point out potential future problems. It’s like chatting with thousands of your widespread peers about qkview output and getting free advice.
3. The heuristics database that checks configurations and offers advice/tells you how to resolve issues is always up to date. You don’t have to update it before checking a qkview file.
But as always, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll offer you a couple thousand words’ worth.
When the qkview file is uploaded and analyzed, you get the iHealth summary page:
This serves as a starting point to explore in more detail, and offers totals for how many devices have been defined, what add-on modules are licensed, version information, etc.
Next let’s take a look at the diagnostics section, the one that will interest most users (some users utilize iHealth to performance tune their network, and for those customers, diagnostics is far less used):
Notice how it' has issues divided up by severity? And it offers links to how to fix them. Useful when there’s trouble and you’re in a hurry.
It builds this handy list from information stored in the online app – information that can be updated as needed. That means the app is more responsive to your needs than an on-device tool might be.
In the end, it’s about serving traffic. Reliably.
All of these tools – End User Diagnostics, qkview, and iHealth are out to help with one thing… Helping you (and F5 tech support when necessary) figure out what’s really wrong and fix it, and helping you proactively fix things that might be wrong for the future. And all of that is to simply support the need to keep applications on-line and performing well. While they are not much use if your ADC is a doorstop, they’re invaluable if the ADC is a cornerstone of your datacenter, and cut hours, in some cases days off of troubleshooting and repair timelines.
And remember, all are free tools for you to use, just one part of the overall quality plan at F5.
As we enter the final week before the 19th International Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo in Santa Clara, CA, it's time for me to reflect on six big topics that will be important during the show. Hybrid Cloud: This general-purpose term seems to provide a comfort zone for many enterprise IT managers. It sounds reassuring to be able to work with one of the major public-cloud providers like AWS or Microsoft Azure while still maintaining an on-site presence.
Dec. 9, 2016 04:45 AM EST Reads: 2,970
I’m a huge fan of open source DevOps tools. I’m also a huge fan of scaling open source tools for the enterprise. But having talked with my fair share of companies over the years, one important thing I’ve learned is that you can’t scale your release process using open source tools alone. They simply require too much scripting and maintenance when used that way. Scripting may be fine for smaller organizations, but it’s not ok in an enterprise environment that includes many independent teams and to...
Dec. 9, 2016 02:45 AM EST Reads: 783
Between 2005 and 2020, data volumes will grow by a factor of 300 – enough data to stack CDs from the earth to the moon 162 times. This has come to be known as the ‘big data’ phenomenon. Unfortunately, traditional approaches to handling, storing and analyzing data aren’t adequate at this scale: they’re too costly, slow and physically cumbersome to keep up. Fortunately, in response a new breed of technology has emerged that is cheaper, faster and more scalable. Yet, in meeting these new needs they...
Dec. 9, 2016 01:45 AM EST Reads: 1,956
More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes how...
Dec. 9, 2016 12:45 AM EST Reads: 5,124
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Dec. 9, 2016 12:45 AM EST Reads: 1,214
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2017 New York. The 20th Cloud Expo and 7th @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Internet to enable us all to im...
Dec. 9, 2016 12:30 AM EST Reads: 896
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
Dec. 8, 2016 09:15 PM EST Reads: 1,675
Monitoring of Docker environments is challenging. Why? Because each container typically runs a single process, has its own environment, utilizes virtual networks, or has various methods of managing storage. Traditional monitoring solutions take metrics from each server and applications they run. These servers and applications running on them are typically very static, with very long uptimes. Docker deployments are different: a set of containers may run many applications, all sharing the resource...
Dec. 8, 2016 07:45 PM EST Reads: 5,748
Logs are continuous digital records of events generated by all components of your software stack – and they’re everywhere – your networks, servers, applications, containers and cloud infrastructure just to name a few. The data logs provide are like an X-ray for your IT infrastructure. Without logs, this lack of visibility creates operational challenges for managing modern applications that drive today’s digital businesses.
Dec. 8, 2016 05:00 PM EST Reads: 1,811
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
Dec. 8, 2016 04:45 PM EST Reads: 1,861
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
Dec. 8, 2016 04:45 PM EST Reads: 2,262
@DevOpsSummit taking place June 6-8, 2017 at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Dec. 8, 2016 04:30 PM EST Reads: 1,986
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Dec. 8, 2016 04:15 PM EST Reads: 2,326
"Dice has been around for the last 20 years. We have been helping tech professionals find new jobs and career opportunities," explained Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 8, 2016 02:15 PM EST Reads: 1,203
Rapid innovation, changing business landscapes, and new IT demands force businesses to make changes quickly. In the eyes of many, containers are at the brink of becoming a pervasive technology in enterprise IT to accelerate application delivery. In this presentation, attendees learned about the: The transformation of IT to a DevOps, microservices, and container-based architecture What are containers and how DevOps practices can operate in a container-based environment A demonstration of how ...
Dec. 8, 2016 01:15 PM EST Reads: 1,225
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann returns to 'DevOps at Cloud Expo 2017' as Conference Chair The @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. "DevOps is set to be one of the most profound disruptions to hit IT in decades," said Andi Mann. "It is a natural extension of cloud computing, and I have seen both firsthand and in independent research the fantastic results DevOps delivers. So I am excited to help the great t...
Dec. 8, 2016 01:15 PM EST Reads: 758
Without lifecycle traceability and visibility across the tool chain, stakeholders from Planning-to-Ops have limited insight and answers to who, what, when, why and how across the DevOps lifecycle. This impacts the ability to deliver high quality software at the needed velocity to drive positive business outcomes. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Phil Hombledal, Solution Architect at CollabNet, discussed how customers are able to achieve a level of transparency that e...
Dec. 8, 2016 12:45 PM EST Reads: 1,266
Get deep visibility into the performance of your databases and expert advice for performance optimization and tuning. You can't get application performance without database performance. Give everyone on the team a comprehensive view of how every aspect of the system affects performance across SQL database operations, host server and OS, virtualization resources and storage I/O. Quickly find bottlenecks and troubleshoot complex problems.
Dec. 8, 2016 12:00 PM EST Reads: 2,215
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dataloop.IO, an innovator in cloud IT-monitoring whose products help organizations save time and money, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Dataloop.IO is an emerging software company on the cutting edge of major IT-infrastructure trends including cloud computing and microservices. The company, founded in the UK but now based in San Fran...
Dec. 8, 2016 10:00 AM EST Reads: 675
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
Dec. 8, 2016 09:15 AM EST Reads: 989