Hi Developers!

Recently we published on Docker Hub images for InterSystems IRIS Community Edition and InterSystems IRIS Community for Health containers.

What is that?

There is a repository that publishes it, and in fact, it is the same container IRIS Community Edition containers you have on official InterSystems listing which have the pre-loaded ObjectScript Package Manager (ZPM) client.

So if you run this container with IRIS CE or IRIC CE for Health you can immediately start using ZPM and install packages from Community Registry or any others.

What does this mean for you?

It means, that anyone can deploy any of your InterSystems ObjectScript application in 3 commands:

  • run IRIS container;
  • open terminal;
  • install your application as ZPM package.

It is safe, fast and cross-platform.

It's really handy if you want to test a new interesting ZPM package and not harm any of your systems.

Suppose, you have docker-desktop installed. You can run the image, which wiil pull the latest container if you don't have it locally:

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I'm always on the lookout for tools that make the development and testing of my interfaces more efficient. A couple of years ago I came across HL7 Spy, from Inner Harbour Software. It quickly became my go-to tool for running message comparison reports for interface engine migrations, message statistics gathering, and troubleshooting message receipt and delivery. It also offered enhanced functionality for things like fetching messages via sftp that other tools don't provide.

I've recently been working with HL7 Spy's author, Jon Reis, to enable support for fetching messages directly from the Ensemble message store. Its SQL Loader feature now has native Caché/IRIS support, and I've contributed a small server-side class to support the extraction of messages using it.

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¡Hi everybody!

As you likely are aware, the new version of InterSystems IRIS for Health (I4H) it's already available in Docker Hub. It's the Community version and is free and fully functional. There have been comments about it in other articles and posts,... so today I won't add anything about features. Here I want to explore "the mistery about the disappearance, or better, absence of our persistent data when we run a container with the durable option" (I didn't find a terrifying font to emphasize the thriller... post editor is not terrific for styling smiley ) .

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Some time ago I developed an application that tackled a familarial problem faced by many developers when required to update multiple UAT or PRODUCTION sites with the latest Software patches that have been developed and tested on your DEV server and now need to be deployed to multiple sites running that software.

In principle the solution works as follows:

1) Prepare an XML export of affected classes/routines/csp pages/hl7 definitions et al

2) Optionally create a global export of any new globals or changes to existing globals

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The following steps show you how to display a sample list of metrics available from the /api/monitor service.

In the last post, I gave an overview of the service that exposes IRIS metrics in Prometheus format. The post shows how to set up and run IRIS preview release 2019.4 in a container and then list the metrics.


This post assumes you have Docker installed. If not, go and do that now for your platform :)

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Released with no formal announcement in IRIS preview release 2019.4 is the /api/monitor service exposing IRIS metrics in Prometheus format. Big news for anyone wanting to use IRIS metrics as part of their monitoring and alerting solution. The API is a component of the new IRIS System Alerting and Monitoring (SAM) solution that will be released in an upcoming version of IRIS.

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Loading your IRIS Data to your Google Cloud Big Query Data Warehouse and keeping it current can be a hassle with bulky Commercial Third Party Off The Shelf ETL platforms, but made dead simple using the iris2bq utility.

Let's say IRIS is contributing to workload for a Hospital system, routing DICOM images, ingesting HL7 messages, posting FHIR resources, or pushing CCDA's to next provider in a transition of care. Natively, IRIS persists these objects in various stages of the pipeline via the nature of the business processes and anything you included along the way. Lets send that up to Google Big Query to augment and compliment the rest of our Data Warehouse data and ETL (Extract Transform Load) or ELT (Extract Load Transform) to our hearts desire.

A reference architecture diagram may be worth a thousand words, but 3 bullet points may work out a little bit better:

  • It exports the data from IRIS into DataFrames
  • It saves them into GCS as .avro to keep the schema along the data: this will avoid to specify/create the BigQuery table schema beforehands.
  • It starts BigQuery jobs to import those .avro into the respective BigQuery tables you specify.

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Article
· Oct 23, 2019 2m read
Unit Tests for Data Transforms

Would you like to be sure your data transforms work as expected with a single command? And what about writing unit tests for your data transforms in a quick and simple way?

When talking about interoperability, there are usually a lot of data transforms involved. Those data transforms are used to convert data between different systems or applications in your code, so they are running a very important job.

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Every developer has made the mistake of accidentally leaving temporary debug code in place when they meant to remove it after debugging is complete. The great thing about writing in ObjectScript is that there is a way to make temporary code be truly temporary and automatically self-destruct! This can also be done in such a way that the code has no change of making it into your source control stream, which can be helpful as well.

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Article
· Jul 4, 2019 1m read
Install EnsDemo on IRIS

Has you may know, EnsDemo from Ensemble are not available anymore on IRIS.

This is a good thing, Iris is cloud oriented, it must be light, fast. Now the new way of sharing samples or modules is through git, continuous integration and OpenExchange.

But, in some cases you want to go back to your good old samples from EnsDemo to get inspiration or best practices.

Good news, there is a git for that :

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This is more for my memory that anything else but I thought I'd share it because it often comes up in comments, but is not in the InterSystems documentation.

There is a wonderful utility called ^REDEBUG that increases the level of logging going into mgr\cconsole.log.

You activate it by

a) start terminal/login

b) zn "%SYS"

c) do ^REDEBUG

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Article
· Apr 9, 2019 3m read
IRIS/Ensemble as an ETL

IRIS and Ensemble are designed to act as an ESB/EAI. This mean they are build to process lots of small messages.

But some times, in real life we have to use them as ETL. The down side is not that they can't do so, but it can take a long time to process millions of row at once.

To improve performance, I have created a new SQLOutboundAdaptor who only works with JDBC.

BatchSqlOutboundAdapter

Extend EnsLib.SQL.OutboundAdapter to add batch batch and fetch support on JDBC connection.

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The Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud provides a broad set of infrastructure services, such as compute resources, storage options, and networking that are delivered as a utility: on-demand, available in seconds, with pay-as-you-go pricing. New services can be provisioned quickly, without upfront capital expense. This allows enterprises, start-ups, small and medium-sized businesses, and customers in the public sector to access the building blocks they need to respond quickly to changing business requirements.

Updated: 10-Jan, 2023

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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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Database systems have very specific backup requirements that in enterprise deployments require forethought and planning. For database systems, the operational goal of a backup solution is to create a copy of the data in a state that is equivalent to when application is shut down gracefully. Application consistent backups meet these requirements and Caché provides a set of APIs that facilitate the integration with external solutions to achieve this level of backup consistency.

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Hi, this post was initially written for Caché. In June 2023, I finally updated it for IRIS. If you are revisiting the post since then, the only real change is substituting Caché for IRIS! I also updated the links for IRIS documentation and fixed a few typos and grammatical errors. Enjoy :)

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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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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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++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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Myself and the other Technology Architects often have to explain to customers and vendors Caché IO requirements and the way that Caché applications will use storage systems. The following tables are useful when explaining typical Caché IO profile and requirements for a transactional database application with customers and vendors. The original tables were created by Mark Bolinsky.

In future posts I will be discussing more about storage IO so am also posting these tables now as a reference for those articles.

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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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This week I am going to look at CPU, one of the primary hardware food groups :) A customer asked me to advise on the following scenario; Their production servers are approaching end of life and its time for a hardware refresh. They are also thinking of consolidating servers by virtualising and want to right-size capacity either bare-metal or virtualized. Today we will look at CPU, in later posts I will explain the approach for right-sizing other key food groups - memory and IO.

So the questions are:

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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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Your application is deployed and everything is running fine. Great, hi-five! Then out of the blue the phone starts to ring off the hook – it’s users complaining that the application is sometimes ‘slow’. But what does that mean? Sometimes? What tools do you have and what statistics should you be looking at to find and resolve this slowness? Is your system infrastructure up to the task of the user load? What infrastructure design questions should you have asked before you went into production? How can you capacity plan for new hardware with confidence and without over-spec'ing? How can you stop the phone ringing? How could you have stopped it ringing in the first place?

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** Revised Feb-12, 2018

While this article is about InterSystems IRIS, it also applies to Caché, Ensemble, and HealthShare distributions.

Introduction

Memory is managed in pages. The default page size is 4KB on Linux systems. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11, and Oracle Linux 6 introduced a method to provide an increased page size in 2MB or 1GB sizes depending on system configuration know as HugePages.

At first HugePages required to be assigned at boot time, and if not managed or calculated appropriately could result in wasted resources. As a result various Linux distributions introduced Transparent HugePages with the 2.6.38 kernel as enabled by default. This was meant as a means to automate creating, managing, and using HugePages. Prior kernel versions may have this feature as well however may not be marked as [always] and potentially set to [madvise].

Transparent Huge Pages (THP) is a Linux memory management system that reduces the overhead of Translation Lookaside Buffer (TLB) lookups on machines with large amounts of memory by using larger memory pages. However in current Linux releases THP can only map individual process heap and stack space.

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