Article
Luca Ravazzolo · Jan 31, 2018 3m read
Container - What is a Container?

Containers

With the launch of InterSystems IRIS Data Platform, we provide our product even in a Docker container. But what is a container?

The fundamental container definition is that of a sandbox for a process.

Containers are software-defined packages that have some similarities to virtual machines (VM) like for example they can be executed.

Containers provide isolation without a full OS emulation. Containers are therefore much lighter than a VM.

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Continuing on with providing some examples of various storage technologies and their performance profiles, this time we looked at the growing trend of leveraging internal commodity-based server storage, specifically the new HPE Cloudline 3150 Gen10 AMD processor-based single socket servers with two 3.2TB Samsung PM1725a NVMe drives.

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Google Cloud Platform (GCP) provides a feature rich environment for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) as a cloud offering fully capable of supporting all of InterSystems products including the latest InterSystems IRIS Data Platform. Care must be taken, as with any platform or deployment model, to ensure all aspects of an environment are considered such as performance, availability, operations, and management procedures. Specifics of each of those areas will be covered in this article.

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++ Update: August 1, 2018

The use of the InterSystems Virtual IP (VIP) address built-in to Caché database mirroring has certain limitations. In particular, it can only be used when mirror members reside the same network subnet. When multiple data centers are used, network subnets are not often “stretched” beyond the physical data center due to added network complexity (more detailed discussion here). For similar reasons, Virtual IP is often not usable when the database is hosted in the cloud.

Network traffic management appliances such as load balancers (physical or virtual) can be used to achieve the same level of transparency, presenting a single address to the client applications or devices. The network traffic manager automatically redirects clients to the current mirror primary’s real IP address. The automation is intended to meet the needs of both HA failover and DR promotion following a disaster.

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In this article I would like to present the RESTForms project - generic REST API backend for modern web applications.

The idea behind the project is simple -after I wrote several REST APIs I realized that generally, REST API consists of two parts:

  • Work with persistent classes
  • Custom business logic

And, while you'll have to write your own custom business logic, RESTForms provides all things related to working with persistent classes right out of the box.
Use cases

  • You already have a data model in Caché and you want to expose some (or all) of the information in a form of REST API
  • You are developing a new Caché application and you want to provide a REST API
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In the last post we scheduled 24-hour collections of performance metrics using pButtons. In this post we are going to be looking at a few of the key metrics that are being collected and how they relate to the underlying system hardware. We will also start to explore the relationship between Caché (or any of the InterSystems Data Platforms) metrics and system metrics. And how you can use these metrics to understand the daily beat rate of your systems and diagnose performance problems.

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Container Images

In this second post on containers fundamentals, we take a look at what container images are.

What is a container image?

A container image is merely a binary representation of a container.

A running container or simply a container is the runtime state of the related container image.

Please see the first post that explains what a container is.

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A request came from a customer to estimate how long it would take to encrypt a database with cvencrypt utility.

This question is a little bit like how long is a piece of string — it depends. But its an interesting question. The answer primarily depends on the performance of CPU and storage on the target platform the customer is using, so the answer is more about coming up with a simple methodology that can be used to benchmark the CPU and storage while running cvencrypt.

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I am often asked by customers, vendors or internal teams to explain CPU capacity planning for large production databases running on VMware vSphere.

In summary there are a few simple best practices to follow for sizing CPU for large production databases:

  • Plan for one vCPU per physical CPU core.
  • Consider NUMA and ideally size VMs to keep CPU and memory local to a NUMA node.
  • Right-size virtual machines. Add vCPUs only when needed.

Generally this leads to a couple of common questions:

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This post will show you an approach to size shared memory requirements for database applications running on InterSystems data platforms including global and routine buffers, gmheap, and locksize as well as some performance tips you should consider when configuring servers and when virtualizing Caché applications. As ever when I talk about Caché I mean all the data platform (Ensemble, HealthShare, iKnow and Caché).


A list of other posts in this series is here

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Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) solutions have been gaining traction for the last few years with the number of deployments now increasing rapidly. IT decision makers are considering HCI when scoping new deployments or hardware refreshes especially for applications already virtualised on VMware. Reasons for choosing HCI include; dealing with a single vendor, validated interoperability between all hardware and software components, high performance especially IO, simple scalability by addition of hosts, simplified deployment and simplified management.

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Article
Eduard Lebedyuk · Oct 18, 2016 7m read
Macros in the InterSystems Caché

In this article I would like to tell you about macros in InterSystems Caché. A macro is a symbolic name that is replaced with a set of instructions during compilation. A macro can “unfold” in various instruction sets each time it is called, depending on the parameters passed to it and activated scenarios. This can be both static code and the result of ObjectScript execution. Let's take a look at how you can use them in your application.

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If you've worked with iKnow domain definitions, you know they allow you to easily define multiple data locations iKnow needs to fetch its data from when building a domain. If you've worked with DeepSee cube definitions, you'll know how they tie your cube to a source table and allow you to not just build your cube, but also synchronize it, only updating the facts that actually changed since the last time you built or synced the cube. As iKnow also supports loading from non-table data sources like files, globals and RSS feeds, the same tight synchronization link doesn't come out of the box. In this article, we'll explore two approaches for modelling DeepSee-like synchronization from table data locations using callbacks and other features of the iKnow domain definition infrastructure.

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In this post, I am going to detail how to set up a mirror using SSL, including generating the certificates and keys via the Public Key Infrastructure built in to Caché. The goal of this is to take you from new installations to a working mirror with SSL, including a primary, backup, and DR async member, along with a mirrored database. I will not go into security recommendations or restricting access to the files. This is meant to just simply get a mirror up and running.

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Article
Benjamin De Boe · Jul 4, 2016 8m read
Introduction to the iKnow REST APIs

After a five-part series on sample iKnow applications (parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), let's turn to a new feature coming up in 2017.1: the iKnow REST APIs, allowing you to develop rich web and mobile applications. Where iKnow's core COS APIs already had 1:1 projections in SQL and SOAP, we're now making them available through a RESTful service as well, in which we're trying to offer more functionality and richer results with fewer buttons and less method calls. This article will take you through the API in detail, explaining the basic principles we used when defining them and exploring the most important ones to get started.

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Ansible helped me solve the problem of quickly deploying Caché and application components for Data Platforms benchmarks. You can use the same tools and methodology for standing up your test labs, training systems, development or other environments. If you deploy applications at customer sites you could automate much of the deployment and ensure that system, Caché and your application are configured to your applications best practice standards.

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One of the great availability and scaling features of Caché is Enterprise Cache Protocol (ECP). With consideration during application development distributed processing using ECP allows a scale out architecture for Caché applications. Application processing can scale to very high rates from a single application server to the processing power of up to 255 application servers with no application changes.

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Enterprises need to grow and manage their global computing infrastructures rapidly and efficiently while simultaneously optimizing and managing capital costs and expenses. Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) computing and storage services meet the needs of the most demanding Caché based application by providing
 a highly robust global computing infrastructure.

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Index

This is a list of all the posts in the Data Platforms’ capacity planning and performance series in order. Also a general list of my other posts. I will update as new posts in the series are added.


You will notice that I wrote some posts before IRIS was released and refer to Caché. I will revisit the posts over time, but in the meantime, Generally, the advice for configuration is the same for Caché and IRIS. Some command names may have changed; the most obvious example is that anywhere you see the ^pButtons command, you can replace it with ^SystemPerformance.


While some posts are updated to preserve links, others will be marked as strikethrough to indicate that the post is legacy. Generally, I will say, "See: some other post" if it is appropriate.


Capacity Planning and Performance Series

Generally, posts build on previous ones, but you can also just dive into subjects that look interesting.


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In this post I would like to talk about the syslog table. I will cover what it is, how you look at it, what the entries really are, and why it may be important to you. The syslog table can contain important diagnostic information. If your system is having any problems, it is important to understand how to look at this table and what information is contained there.

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A short post for now to answer a question that came up. In post two of this series I included graphs of performance data extracted from pButtons. I was asked off-line if there is a quicker way than cut/paste to extract metrics for mgstat etc from a pButtons .html file for easy charting in Excel.

See: - Part 2 - Looking at the metrics we collected

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This article contains the tutorial document for a Global Summit academy session on Text Categorization and provides a helpful starting point to learn about Text Categorization and how iKnow can help you to implement Text Categorization models. This document was originally prepared by Kerry Kirkham and Max Vershinin and should work based on the sample data provided in the SAMPLES namespace.

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Article
Murray Oldfield · Sep 30, 2016 1m read
ECP Magic

I saw someone recently refer to ECP as magic. It certainly seems so, and there is a lot of very clever engineering to make it work. But the following sequence of diagrams is a simple view of how data is retrieved and used across a distributed architecture.

For more more on ECP including capacity planning follow this link: Data Platforms and Performance - Part 7 ECP for performance, scalability and availability

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In previous articles on iKnow, we described a number of demo applications (iKnow demo apps parts 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5) that are either part of the regular kit or can be easily installed from GitHub. All of those applications assumed you already had your iKnow domain ready, with your data of interest loaded and ready for exploration. In this article, we'll shed more light on how exactly you can get to that stage: how you define and then build a domain.

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++Update: August 2, 2018

This article provides a reference architecture as a sample for providing robust performing and highly available applications based on InterSystems Technologies that are applicable to Caché, Ensemble, HealthShare, TrakCare, and associated embedded technologies such as DeepSee, iKnow, Zen and Zen Mojo.

Azure has two different deployment models for creating and working with resources: Azure Classic and Azure Resource Manager. The information detailed in this article is based on the Azure Resource Manager model (ARM).

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Setting the TZ Environment Variable on Linux

The Update Checklist for v2015.1 recommends setting the TZ environment variable on Linux platforms and points to the manpage for tzset. This is recommended to improve the performance of Cache’s time-related functions. You can find out more about this here:

https://community.intersystems.com/post/linux-tz-environment-variable-not-being-set-and-impact-caché

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