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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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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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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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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There are often questions surrounding the ideal Apache HTTPD Web Server configuration for HealthShare. The contents of this article will outline the initial recommended web server configuration for any HealthShare product.

As a starting point, Apache HTTPD version 2.4.x (64-bit) is recommended. Earlier versions such as 2.2.x are available, however version 2.2 is not recommended for performance and scalability of HealthShare.

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Suppose you have developed your own app with InterSystems technologies stack and now want to perform multiple deployments on the customers' side. During the development process you've composed a detailed installation guide for your application, because you need to not only import classes, but also fine-tune the environment according to your needs.
To address this specific task, InterSystems has created a special tool called %Installer. Read on to find out how to use it.

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While the integrity of Caché and InterSystems IRIS databases is completely protected from the consequences of system failure, physical storage devices do fail in ways that corrupt the data they store. For that reason, many sites choose to run regular database integrity checks, particularly in coordination with backups to validate that a given backup could be relied upon in a disaster.

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Everybody has a testing environment.

Some people are lucky enough to have a totally separate environment to run production in.

-- Unknown

.

In this series of articles, I'd like to present and discuss several possible approaches toward software development with InterSystems technologies and GitLab. I will cover such topics as:

  • Git 101
  • Git flow (development process)
  • GitLab installation
  • GitLab WorkFlow
  • GitLab CI/CD
  • CI/CD with containers

This first part deals with the cornerstone of modern software development - Git version control system and various Git flows.

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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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++ 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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This time I want to talk about something not specific to InterSystems IRIS, but that I think is important if you want to work with Docker and your server at work is a PC or laptop with Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise.

As you likely know, containers technology comes basically from Linux world and, nowadays, is on Linux hosts were it shows maximum potential. Those who use Windows on a normal basis see that both, Microsoft and Docker, have done important efforts during these last years that allow us to run containers based on Linux images on our Windows system in a really easy way... but it's something not supported for production systems and, this is the big problem, is not reliable if we want to keep persistent data outside of containers, in the host system,... mostly due to the big differences between Windows and Linux file systems. In the end, Docker for Windows itself uses a small linux virtual machine (MobiLinux) to run the containers... it does it transparently for the windows user... and it works perfectly well if, as I said, you don't require that your databases survive longer than the container...

Well,...let's get to the point,... the point is that many times, to avoid issues and simplify, we need a full Linux system and, if our server is based on Windows, the only way of having it is through a virtual machine. At least till WSL2 in Windows is released, but that will be another story and sure it'll take a bit of time to become robust enough.

In this article, I'll tell you, step by step, how to install an environment where you'll be able to work, if you need it, with Docker containers on an Ubuntu system in your Windows server. Let's go...

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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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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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What is Journaling?

Journaling is a critical IRIS feature and a part of what makes IRIS a reliable database. While journaling is fundamental to IRIS, there are nuances, so I wrote this article to summarize (more briefly than our documentation which has all the details) what you need to know. I realize the irony of saying the 27 minute read is brief.

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Importance and Collection of Exact Version Information ($zv / $zversion)
The explanation of:
- why collecting $zv is important (The WHY),
- what the components of $zv mean (The WHAT),
- and how to collect $zv (The HOW).
(The Ultimate $zv Guide to the ISC Galaxy in large, friendly letters)
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If a picture is worth a thousand words, what's a video worth? Certainly more than typing a post.

Please check out my "Coding talks" on InterSystems Developers YouTube:

1. Analysing InterSystems IRIS System Performance with Yape. Part 1: Installing Yape

https://www.youtube.com/embed/3KClL5zT6MY
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Running Yape in a container.

2. Yape Container SQLite iostat InterSystems

https://www.youtube.com/embed/cuMLSO9NQCM
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Extracting and plotting pButtons data including timeframes and iostat.

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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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When there's a performance issue, whether for all users on the system or a single process, the shortest path to understanding the root cause is usually to understand what the processes in question are spending their time doing. Are they mostly using CPU to dutifully march through their algorithm (for better or worse); or are they mostly reading database blocks from disk; or mostly waiting for something else, like LOCKs, ECP or database block collisions?

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InterSystems Data Platform includes utilities and tools for system monitoring and alerting, however System Administrators new to solutions built on the InterSystems Data Platform (a.k.a Caché) need to know where to start and what to configure.

This guide shows the path to a minimum monitoring and alerting solution using references from online documentation and developer community posts to show you how to enable and configure the following;

  1. Caché Monitor: Scans the console log and sends emails alerts.

  2. System Monitor: Monitors system status and resources, generating notifications (alerts and warnings) based on fixed parameters and also tracks overall system health.

  3. Health Monitor: Samples key system and user-defined metrics and compares them to user-configurable parameters and established normal values, generating notifications when samples exceed applicable or learned thresholds.

  4. History Monitor: Maintains a historical database of performance and system usage metrics.

  5. pButtons: Operating system and Caché metrics collection scheduled daily.

Remember this guide is a minimum configuration, the included tools are flexible and extensible so more functionality is available when needed. This guide skips through the documentation to get you up and going. You will need to dive deeper into the documentation to get the most out of the monitoring tools, in the meantime, think of this as a set of cheat sheets to get up and running.

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[Background]

InterSystems IRIS family has a nice utility ^SystemPerformance (as known as ^pButtons in Caché and Ensemble) which outputs the database performance information into a readable HTML file. When you run ^SystemPerformance on IRIS for Windows, a HTML file is created where both our own performance log mgstat and Windows performance log are included.

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YASPE is the successor to YAPE (Yet Another pButtons Extractor). YASPE has been written from the ground up with many internal changes to allow easier maintenance and enhancements.

YASPE functions:

  • Parse and chart InterSystems Caché pButtons and InterSystems IRIS SystemPerformance files for quick performance analysis of Operating System and IRIS metrics.
  • Allow a deeper dive by creating ad-hoc charts and by creating charts combining the Operating System and IRIS metrics with the "Pretty Performance" option.
  • The "System Overview" option saves you from searching your SystemPerformance files for system details or common configuration options.

YASPE is written in Python and is available on GitHub as source code or for Docker containers at:


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Article
· 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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