Managing Cloud At Scale: Configure Systems, Not Servers

RightScale works with customers that manage some of the world’s largest public and private cloud deployments. Understanding their needs to manage at scale is what drives the development of many our automation features. These valuable features don’t necessarily make it front and center on our marketing website because they are complex and hard to explain to people who are new to the cloud. But they’re just as important, if not more important for the regular day-to-day operations of a cloud admin. I’ll review a few below, including some items that were just released last week.

Making the System Adjust Itself

First, let’s look at one that’s been out there for a little while on version 5.7 of our RightLink agent – the ability for a server to call a script on a different set of servers. Let’s say I’m running this command from a boot script on an application server:

% rs_run_right_script -n "Register App Server" -p "IP_ADDRESS=text:" -r "provides:type=proxy"

In layman’s terms, this means “find all the proxy servers out there, and run the ‘Register App Server’ script passing my IP address.”  The script will run on the proxy server and register that new app server’s IP address to the available app server pool. On the flipside, the application server can call a “Deregister App Server” script when it is terminated to remove itself from the pool.

So if you need an army of new app servers, you can simply click a few “launch” buttons (or adjust the size of a RightScale array), and voila, the system adjusts itself as the servers become operational. In other words, we don’t just spin up new instances, we help you code how the overall system should behave. (Oh, and this works on Windows too!)

Pushing a Single Change to the Whole System

I know you sysadmins out there write bug-free scripts.  But let’s just say you found a bug in a script one day (we’re talking hypothetical here), and realized that script was being used by 10 images, and these images were behind 100 servers. Now you have to create all new images and cycle all those instances at some point. There is a high possibility for mistakes when you have to manually hunt down and update all these images and instances.

With last week’s release, we completed a request that was at the top of our feedback forum to help with just this (see requests here and here). Now, with a click of a few buttons in our UI, you can queue up this change for all your servers, and have a complete record of what each ServerTemplate and Server is now using.

Here’s a glimpse into this “bulk update” capability. Just click “Update Selected” on both screens below:

…and then you’re done.

Configuring Systems

Finally, and also with last week’s release, we made it even easier to configure your entire system at once. As you specify the variables you need to define for your system, you can also specify the categories these variables belong to (see original feedback here). Furthermore, you can even specify that some variables are advanced – hiding them from view for most users who may never need to manipulate them. This allows you to focus on just the area you wish to change within your system when editing the configuration, and not on some giant list or JSON file.

More to Come

Since RightScale is a SaaS platform, we can continue to evolve our ability to manage cloud computing at scale and roll out new features to all of our customers with each release.  Please keep the feedback coming, and we’ll keep making your cloud life easier.