|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.
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
Aug. 28, 2016 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,908
SYS-CON Events announced today that eCube Systems, a leading provider of middleware modernization, integration, and management solutions, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. eCube Systems offers a family of middleware evolution products and services that maximize return on technology investment by leveraging existing technical equity to meet evolving business needs. ...
Aug. 28, 2016 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 695
This complete kit provides a proven process and customizable documents that will help you evaluate rapid application delivery platforms and select the ideal partner for building mobile and web apps for your organization.
Aug. 28, 2016 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,633
The following fictional case study is a composite of actual horror stories I’ve heard over the years. Unfortunately, this scenario often occurs when in-house integration teams take on the complexities of DevOps and ALM integration with an enterprise service bus (ESB) or custom integration. It is written from the perspective of an enterprise architect tasked with leading an organization’s effort to adopt Agile to become more competitive. The company has turned to Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) as ...
Aug. 28, 2016 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 850
Modern organizations face great challenges as they embrace innovation and integrate new tools and services. They begin to mature and move away from the complacency of maintaining traditional technologies and systems that only solve individual, siloed problems and work “well enough.” In order to build...
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Am...
Aug. 28, 2016 03:15 PM EDT Reads: 3,479
Thomas Bitman of Gartner wrote a blog post last year about why OpenStack projects fail. In that article, he outlined three particular metrics which together cause 60% of OpenStack projects to fall short of expectations: Wrong people (31% of failures): a successful cloud needs commitment both from the operations team as well as from "anchor" tenants. Wrong processes (19% of failures): a successful cloud automates across silos in the software development lifecycle, not just within silos.
Aug. 28, 2016 02:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,128
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
Aug. 28, 2016 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 3,646
Cloud Expo 2016 New York at the Javits Center New York was characterized by increased attendance and a new focus on operations. These were both encouraging signs for all involved in Cloud Computing and all that it touches. As Conference Chair, I work with the Cloud Expo team to structure three keynotes, numerous general sessions, and more than 150 breakout sessions along 10 tracks. Our job is to balance the state of enterprise IT today with the trends that will be commonplace tomorrow. Mobile...
Aug. 28, 2016 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 3,509
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
Aug. 28, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,412
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Aug. 28, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,118
A company’s collection of online systems is like a delicate ecosystem – all components must integrate with and complement each other, and one single malfunction in any of them can bring the entire system to a screeching halt. That’s why, when monitoring and analyzing the health of your online systems, you need a broad arsenal of different tools for your different needs. In addition to a wide-angle lens that provides a snapshot of the overall health of your system, you must also have precise, ...
Aug. 28, 2016 10:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,634
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, 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 opportuni...
Aug. 28, 2016 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 4,020
[session] Architecting for the Cloud By @RagsS | @CloudExpo @IBMBluemix #Cloud #Docker #Microservices
As the world moves toward more DevOps and Microservices, application deployment to the cloud ought to become a lot simpler. The Microservices architecture, which is the basis of many new age distributed systems such as OpenStack, NetFlix and so on, is at the heart of Cloud Foundry - a complete developer-oriented Platform as a Service (PaaS) that is IaaS agnostic and supports vCloud, OpenStack and AWS. Serverless computing is revolutionizing computing. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Raghav...
Aug. 28, 2016 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 883
Let's just nip the conflation of these terms in the bud, shall we?
"MIcro" is big these days. Both microservices and microsegmentation are having and will continue to have an impact on data center architecture, but not necessarily for the same reasons. There's a growing trend in which folks - particularly those with a network background - conflate the two and use them to mean the same thing.
They are not.
One is about the application. The other, the network. T...
Aug. 28, 2016 09:15 AM EDT Reads: 4,650
If you are within a stones throw of the DevOps marketplace you have undoubtably noticed the growing trend in Microservices. Whether you have been staying up to date with the latest articles and blogs or you just read the definition for the first time, these 5 Microservices Resources You Need In Your Life will guide you through the ins and outs of Microservices in today’s world.
Aug. 28, 2016 08:15 AM EDT Reads: 5,112
Sharding has become a popular means of achieving scalability in application architectures in which read/write data separation is not only possible, but desirable to achieve new heights of concurrency. The premise is that by splitting up read and write duties, it is possible to get better overall performance at the cost of a slight delay in consistency. That is, it takes a bit of time to replicate changes initiated by a "write" to the read-only master database. It's eventually consistent, and it'...
Aug. 28, 2016 04:45 AM EDT Reads: 3,205
SYS-CON Events announced today that Isomorphic Software will exhibit at DevOps Summit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Isomorphic Software provides the SmartClient HTML5/AJAX platform, the most advanced technology for building rich, cutting-edge enterprise web applications for desktop and mobile. SmartClient combines the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software with the simp...
Aug. 28, 2016 03:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,373
With so much going on in this space you could be forgiven for thinking you were always working with yesterday’s technologies. So much change, so quickly. What do you do if you have to build a solution from the ground up that is expected to live in the field for at least 5-10 years? This is the challenge we faced when we looked to refresh our existing 10-year-old custom hardware stack to measure the fullness of trash cans and compactors.
Aug. 28, 2016 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,787
The emerging Internet of Everything creates tremendous new opportunities for customer engagement and business model innovation. However, enterprises must overcome a number of critical challenges to bring these new solutions to market. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Martin, CTO/CIO at nfrastructure, outlined these key challenges and recommended approaches for overcoming them to achieve speed and agility in the design, development and implementation of Internet of Everything solutions wi...
Aug. 28, 2016 01:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,122