System Administration

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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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This post is dedicated to the task of monitoring a Caché instance using SNMP. Some users of Caché are probably doing it already in some way or another. Monitoring via SNMP has been supported by the standard Caché package for a long time now, but not all the necessary parameters are available “out of the box”. For example, it would be nice to monitor the number of CSP sessions, get detailed information about the use of the license, particular KPI’s of the system being used and such. After reading this article, you will know how to add your parameters to Caché monitoring using SNMP.

Last comment 20 September 2019
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Here are a few examples of conversions and operations you might need, along with links to documentation where you can learn more.

At the time I wrote this, Eastern Daylight Time was in effect for my Caché system.

How Caché keeps the time and date

Caché has a simple time format, with a longer range of recognized dates compared to some other technologies.

The current time is maintained in a special variable $HOROLOG ($H):

Last comment 23 August 2019
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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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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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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 2 days ago
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An installation or upgrade of Caché, Ensemble, or HealthShare on Windows could fail with the titled error if a newer version of the Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable 2013 (x86) or (x64) is installed instead of version 12.0.30501.

Last comment 14 August 2017
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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:

Last comment 8 November 2017
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Recently I started working with GitLab - GitHub self-hosted foss alternative. So far so good, liked the UI,  ease of administration, and available functionality (I was on Phabricator previously,  and still use it for repo mirroring).

GitLab has GitLab CI  (GitLab Continuous Integration) which looks promising (pluggable docker/vm/ds to run code) , but I wondered if someone uses it already and can share scripts for it?

Last answer 13 January 2017 Last comment 13 January 2017
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This post provides guidelines for configuration, system sizing and capacity planning when deploying Caché 2015 and later on a VMware ESXi 5.5 and later environment.

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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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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 30 September 2019
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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.

Last comment 22 February 2017
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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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++ 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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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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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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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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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.

Last comment 16 August 2017
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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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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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Help, after a day of coding, I wanted to backup my files. I found out that alle of my 3 instances of caché refuse to start.

the error says: cstart-exe-fout   (112 Service for Caché instance did not start).

Is there a way to solve this? (off course the management portal does not work either.)

I think there has been a power interruption as the battery from my laptop does not work, and the power went off before

shutdown.

Thanks  in advance!

Last answer 8 May 2018 Last comment 12 June 2018
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Often InterSystems technology architect team is asked about recommended storage arrays or storage technologies.  To provide this information to a wider audience as reference, a new series is started to provide some of the results we have encountered with various storage technologies.  As a general recommendation, all-flash storage is highly recommended with all InterSystems products to provide the lowest latency and predictable IOPS capabilities.

The first in the series was the most recently tested Netapp AFF A300 storage array.  This is middle-tier type storage array with several higher models above it.  This specific A300 model is capable of supporting a minimal configuration of only a few drives to hundreds of drives per HA pair, and also capable of being clustered with multiple controller pairs for tens of PB's of disk capacity and hundreds of thousands of IOPS or higher. 

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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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