Quick intro to Docker Swarm mode

docker swarmDocker is cool. It is a great tool to pack your application into set of containers, throw them into the host and they’ll just work. However, when it’s all happening within the single host, the app cannot really scale much: there’s fixed amount of containers it can accomodate. Moreover, when the host dies, everything dies with it. Of cause, we could add more hosts and join them with overlay network, so more containers can coexist and they still would be able to talk to each other.

However, maintaining such cluster would be a pain. How to detect if host goes down? Which containers are missing now? What’s the best place to recreate them?

Starting from version 1.12.0 Docker can work in Swarm mode and handle all of those tasks and even more. Continue reading “Quick intro to Docker Swarm mode”

Building VM image with Packer

Packer logoQuite often building a VM from scratch is not very wise. Unless server configuration is trivial, its provisioning might take significant amount of time. For example, creating an instance of a build server for my current project takes about 40 minutes. This includes installing updates, various SDKs and other dependencies. How is it possible then that I can add new build server to a cluster in about two or three minutes?

The secret is that the most of the software is baked into a VM image, so I never start from scratch. New VM still needs some steps like final configuration and registering within the cluster, but that’s fast. The slowest part is allocating resources for VM, not provisioning.

Historically, we’ve been using own tools for that, but there’re also free and open source ones. Like Packer. Continue reading “Building VM image with Packer”

Using Vagrant for Windows VMs provisioning

Vagrant Windows

Using Vagrant for creating Consul cluster on Linux probably was fun. But what about Windows hosts? Believe it or not, but more than half of developers are actually using Windows, so for most of the folks seeing how Vagrant creates Linux VMs is pretty useless.

However, you can create and provision Windows VMs with Vagrant with little to no problem. In fact, Windows support has been around for years. But there’re some things to keep in mind though. Continue reading “Using Vagrant for Windows VMs provisioning”

How to use Vagrant to create Consul cluster

Vagrant logo

Last two articles about Consul service discovery involved one simple but extremely boring manual task: creating and configuring a cluster. In fact, I had to do it twice. I had to create three virtual machines, download and unpack Consul on them, find out their IP addresses, add configuration files and finally launch the binaries.

It’s dull. It’s boring. Humans shouldn’t do that kinds of things by hand. Seeing how easily we can automate creation of Docker containers with Dockerfile and docker-compose makes me wonder if we can do the same for hosts. Continue reading “How to use Vagrant to create Consul cluster”

Checking service health status with Consul

Consul logoIn previous post we created a small Consul cluster which kept track of 4 services in it: two web services and two db‘s. However, we didn’t tell Consul agents how to monitor those services, so they completely missed the fact that none of the services actually exists. So today we’re going to take a close look at Consul’s health checks and see what effect they have on service discoverability. Continue reading “Checking service health status with Consul”

Using Consul for Service Discovery

Consul logoImagine your distributed app has two kinds of services: web and db. Both of them are replicated for higher availability, live on different hosts, go online and offline whenever they like. So, here’s a question: how do web‘s find db‘s?

Obvious solution would be to come up with some sort of reliable key-value storage, and whenever service comes online, it would register itself with the address in the store. But what happens when service goes offline? It probably could notify the store just before that, but c’mon, it’s internet: things can go offline without any warning. OK, then we could implement some sort of service health checks to ensure that they are still available… By the way, did you notice how quickly the simple idea of using external store for service discovery started to become a reasonably large infrastructure project?

Service discovery is something very hard to do. But we don’t have to – there’re tools for that, and Consul is one of them. Continue reading “Using Consul for Service Discovery”

Using Consul Key-Value Store for Service Configuration

Consul logoHow do you usually configure an app? Over the decades our industry came up with multiple approaches, like providing command line arguments, various config files, registry settings and environment variables. Even hardcoding certain options into the app itself also works sometimes. Whenever we need to reconfigure the app we’d just go to its host, change a setting or two, and the job is done.

And now imagine a challenge: you have a cluster of services that come and go, they have different versions and locations, and you need to reconfigure all of them. How would you do that?

Continue reading “Using Consul Key-Value Store for Service Configuration”

Persistent data in Docker volumes

Docker volumes

As Docker containers supposed to be small, single process and easy replaceable instances, it’s not particularly clear how persistent data fits into that picture. Imagine you have MySQL container which you decided to upgrade. What will you do with its database files? In containers world “upgrade” means “nuke an old one, start a new one” and your data will turn into radioactive ashes with the rest of container’s file system.

However, along with the problem Docker also provides a solution: Docker volumes.

Continue reading “Persistent data in Docker volumes”

Multi-host Docker network without Swarm

Docker has several types of networks, but one of them is particularly interesting. Overlay network can span across hosts boundaries, so your web application container at HostA can easily talk to database container at HostB by its name. It doesn’t even have to know where that container is.

Unfortunately, you can’t just create overlay network and hope that it magically finds out about all participating hosts. There should be one more component in order to make that happen.

Of cause, we could use Docker in Swarm mode and problem’s solved. But we don’t have to. Configuring multi-host Docker network without Swarm is actually quite easy. Continue reading “Multi-host Docker network without Swarm”

Visualize Elasticsearch data with Kibana

KibanaToday we’ll take a look at the last component of Elastic’s ELK stack – Kibana. Even though Logstash does a great job of processing logs and other data streams, and Elasticsearch is a powerful hybrid of a search index and a storage for them, these tools do not provide graphical user interface for analyzing the data. For some tasks otherwise convenient command line interface is just not enough. This is where Kibana steps in.

Continue reading “Visualize Elasticsearch data with Kibana”