System Administration

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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

Last comment 22 August 2017
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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?

Last comment 30 September 2016
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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.

Last comment 24 March 2018
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Greetings, InterSystems community!

I am pleased to announce that the web terminal project, Caché WebTerminal version 4 gets its release! After long period of enhancing this web application from 2013, it came to the version 4, which features major stability and security improvements, intelligent autocomplete and syntax highlighting, convenient SQL mode and a lot of other useful features.

The goal of this article is to spread the knowledge about this project over the InterSystems community.

Last comment 26 February 2019
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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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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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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.

Last comment 29 December 2016
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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)
Last comment 15 November 2016
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InterSystems Caché globals provide very convenient features for developers. But why are globals so fast and efficient?

Theory

Basically, the Caché database is a catalog having the same name as the database and containing the CACHE.DAT file. On Unix systems, the database can also be an ordinary disk partition.

Last comment 27 March 2019
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In this post I show strategies for backing up Caché using External Backup with examples of integrating with snapshot based solutions. The majority of solutions I see today are deployed on Linux on VMware so a lot of the post shows how solutions integrate VMware snapshot technology as examples.

Last comment 16 November 2018
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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:

Last comment 7 June 2017
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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.

Last comment 19 February 2016
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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: 29-May, 2019 

Last comment 13 February 2019
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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. 

Last comment 14 June 2018
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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.

Last comment 11 March 2019
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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.

Last comment 22 November 2018
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This is the third article (see Part 1 and Part 2) where I continue to introduce you to the internal structure of Caché databases. This time, I will tell you a few interesting things and explain how my Caché Blocks Explorer project can help make your work more productive.

Last comment 30 August 2018
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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.


Capacity Planning and Performance Series

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

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Note (June 2019): A lot has changed, for the latest details go here

Note (Sept 2018): There have been big changes since this post first appeared, I suggest using the Docker Container version, the project and details for running as a container are still in the same place  published on GitHub so you can download, run - and modify if you need to.

Last comment 12 June 2019
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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.

Last comment 8 December 2016
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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. 

Last comment 13 November 2016
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When running the built in Ensemble Purge task (Ens.Util.Tasks.Purge) there are three parameters DaysToKeep, BodiesToo, and KeepIntegrity.  This article focuses on the KeepIntegrity boolean parameter, but more information about running this task can be found here:

http://docs.intersystems.com/latest/csp/docbook/DocBook.UI.Page.cls?KEY=...

KeepIntegrity determines which Ensemble Messages are marked for deletion within the time specified by DaysToKeep. 

Last comment 1 November 2016
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This text is a continuation of my article where I explained the structure a Caché database. In this article, I described the types of blocks, connections between them and their relation to globals. The article was purely theoretical. I made a project that helps visualize the block tree - and this article will explain how it works in great detail.

Last comment 11 October 2016
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