Back in the Bosh Bunker

In the last post on the topic of Bosh I put together a simple Cloud Foundry environment using the tools & repos of Stark & Wayne. Even though the bootstrap is a great way to get an environment up and started, it doesn’t explain a lot of things about Bosh. So let’s take a look at what we’re dealing with here.

Bosh – What is it?

Bosh handles deployment and upgrades of Cloud Foundry environments. However, it isn’t particularly limited to just Cloud Foundry. It’s been used to launch Riak Clusters, setup Redis, Cassandra, CouchDB and other services that don’t just fit neatly in the Cloud Foundry services design.

It is a very important tool in regards to keeping a Cloud Foundry environment up to date with the latest bits, security fixes, bugs and related elements. Bosh is broken down into several key components that work together to handle these deployment and maintenance tasks.

To put it another way, Bosh aims to give ops or devops the ability to throw together an entire stack to deploy. Bosh starts with stemcells, packages and jobs as the core concepts of how it works.

Bosh is used, within Cloud Foundry and prospectively for whatever anyone would want to use it for, to launch instances, change out the instances, change networking values, IPs and other configuration information. Overall it kind of rolls a lot of other tooling (chef, puppet) together into one tool. How well it does this is up for debate, but I’m not arguing what it is here, just going to get some definitions here.

The Pieces of BOSH

Stemcells

A stem cell or stemcell is something that is a bit hard to track down a definition for. I’m taking a stab at it with what I know a stem cell is, so if you have any corrections please comment below – I’ll be more than happy to add a correction or three. Overall I understand a stem cell to be a complete framework stack built on some sort of virtual image. It can be thought of as the recipe for building an operating systems that will act as an active member of a Cloud Foundry environment. In some situations, such as with a distributed database like Riak, it becomes not so much a member of the Cloud Foundry environment itself but an active node available to a distributed database cluster. This can then be used as a distributed database that is managed by Bosh and accessible within the Cloud Foundry ecosystem.

Packages

A package is sourec with the appropriate scripts for building it into usable binaries. Think of this as a package in the Node.js NPM, Gems (Ruby/Rails), or Nugets (.NET) worlds. It’s something that Bosh will pull in and compile on demand.

There are a few key parts to a package, referred to as package specs. These are: name, dependencies and files. Of the specs, the name and files are really the only required parts. The dependencies are an optional list of other packages this package would depend on.

Jobs

This is pretty self-descriptive. The jobs within Bosh spool up, start servers and services and other miscellaneous responsibilities as needed.

Relavent Sites, Documentation & Key Content
  • The Cloud Foundry Bosh Repo => This is the actual code repository on Github. If you’re in need of really diving into what it does, there’s always the possibility of reading the code!

  • Cloud Foundry Documentation => This has links to documentation related to Bosh that is pivotal (no pun intended).

  • Bosh Documentation => This is the Bosh documentation. It’s almost a good idea to start on the “Running Cloud Foundry” part of the documentation. This documentation can use your help (it’s super sparse at the moment), so if you get going and using Bosh, please contribute with examples and other material.

  • Stark & Wayne Repositories => I already mentioned them, but they’re likely some of the best material out there.

  • Bosh DB => This is a site & repository that Brian McClain @brianmmcclain put together to keep track of bosh stem cells and other repositories related to launching certain tools, services, servers and other things in Cloud Foundry environments via Bosh.

  • Dr Nic’s intro to Bosh => This page serves as an into and description of what’s going on in Bosh. I read this a while back for my own kick off with the Bosh Tool.

Summary

This is what I’ve found and put together as a good starting point. I still think there’s a bit of confusion around what Bosh is, how it works, how to get started with it and having it clearly defined on the web. Documentation is getting better, but still needs a lot of work (remember, you too can contribute). For systems outside of Cloud Foundry it also is a bit difficult and sometimes sketchy to use Bosh as the primary means of deployment, maintenance and upgrading. But just like the documentation that is also getting better. I’ll have more coming in the near future regarding what Bosh is, how it works, and things you can do with it – until then check out Dr Nic’s material for the most up to date how-to and related documentations and videos. He’s done some great work with the tooling and continues to knock it out of the park.

Keep reading and I’ll have more definitions, outlines of what is what, and the entire inception that Bosh is.

Vagrant for VMware Fusion with plugin issues… Part 2

After the previous blog entry I wrote up, working through getting vagrant to spool up a vmware image I got a few other suggestions via Twitter.

With that quick delete of the hidden vagrant directory I gave it a shot again with the provider flagh.

rm -rf .vagrant/
$ vagrant up --provider=vmware_fusionBringing machine 'default' up with 'vmware_fusion' provider...
[default] VMware requires root privileges to make many of the changes
necessary for Vagrant to control it. In a moment, Vagrant will ask for
your administrator password in order to install a helper that will have
permissions to make these changes. Note that Vagrant itself continues
to run without administrative privileges.
Password:
[default] Box 'bosh-solo-0.6.4' was not found. Fetching box from specified URL for
the provider 'vmware_fusion'. Note that if the URL does not have
a box for this provider, you should interrupt Vagrant now and add
the box yourself. Otherwise Vagrant will attempt to download the
full box prior to discovering this error.
Downloading or copying the box...

Which this seemed to work. Downloading the helpers and such started and I waited patiently.

A Few Thoughts…

Needing to delete a hidden file struck me as one of those completely arbitrary and random solutions. It worked, which is awesome, but it working is a completely counter intuitive solution. I did a ‘destroy’ previously along with a number of things that were somewhat not intuitive. At this point the steps were fine, I had to ask for help, and I got help really fast. That’s awesome, but needing to go through those steps was unfortunate and ties back around to @jeffsussna‘s tweet earlier.

Anyway, as soon as I did this I decided Virtual Box it is. As it went through a 40 minute download of an image (??) it finished and displayed…

$ vagrant up --provider=vmware_fusionBringing machine 'default' up with 'vmware_fusion' provider...
[default] VMware requires root privileges to make many of the changes
necessary for Vagrant to control it. In a moment, Vagrant will ask for
your administrator password in order to install a helper that will have
permissions to make these changes. Note that Vagrant itself continues
to run without administrative privileges.
Password:
[default] Box 'bosh-solo-0.6.4' was not found. Fetching box from specified URL for
the provider 'vmware_fusion'. Note that if the URL does not have
a box for this provider, you should interrupt Vagrant now and add
the box yourself. Otherwise Vagrant will attempt to download the
full box prior to discovering this error.
Downloading or copying the box...
Extracting box...te: 119k/s, Estimated time remaining: --:--:--)
The box you attempted to add doesn't match the provider you specified.

Provider expected: vmware_fusion
Provider of box: virtualbox

… because the image isn’t available for vmware according to Vagrant, so for now, with some solutions and more questions I’m just going to go with the Virtual Box Solution and get back on track with the larger picture blog entry I’m writing. Thanks to @brianmmclain, @mitchelh, @jeffsussna and @thoward37.

Vagrant for VMware Fusion with plugin issues…

I’ve started using Vagrant pretty regularly. I downloaded Virtual Box and been tinkering away with some of the vagrant packages. The one huge bummer was that I was under the delusion that it only worked with Vagrant. Then, I was told by a fellow coder that I needed to check out the VMware Fusion plugin. I immediately was stoked! Simply, have you…

$ vagrant plugin install vagrant-vmware-fusion
Installing the 'vagrant-vmware-fusion' plugin. This can take a few minutes...
Installed the plugin 'vagrant-vmware-fusion (0.6.1)'!
$ vagrant plugin license vagrant-vmware-fusion license.lic
Installing license for 'vagrant-vmware-fusion'...
The license for 'vagrant-vmware-fusion' was successfully installed!
$

Now mind you, you’ll need to go out and buy the VMware Fusion Plugin from Hashi Corp. From my perspective I was happy with this purchase just to get the stability improvements of VMware Fusion.

Vagrant & Riak

For my first example of the new plugin I forked and then cloned the Bosh Riak Repository. Once that was cloned I simply opened a terminal and navigated to the path of the repository and tried…

vagrant up

…and immediately got the message, “Failed to load the “vagrant-vmware-fusion” plugin. View logs for more details.” Noooooooooooooooez! :( I was sad. But dove into the logs by executing vagrant up with…

VAGRANT_LOG=INFO vagrant up

…and there was the error amid the log was something about the VMware Plugin requiring Vagrant the latest version.

Doh! I’d forgotten to upgrade first. I installed the upgrade via the downloads for 1.2.2. Once I upgrade I ran into the same error. A quick ‘vagrant -v’ to check the version showed 1.2.2 was installed. Not knowing the special secret sauce at this point, I figured I’d just reboot. It had been about 20-30 days since I had, so who knew what weird service or something needed to be restarted. I guessed correctly and after a restart vagrant kicked off the download of the vagrant image for the Bosh Riak deploy. It went by fast, and since it didn’t spit out an error about not loading the plugin I thought everything had worked…

$ vagrant up
Bringing machine 'default' up with 'virtualbox' provider...
[default] Setting the name of the VM...
[default] Clearing any previously set forwarded ports...
[default] Creating shared folders metadata...
[default] Clearing any previously set network interfaces...
[default] Preparing network interfaces based on configuration...
[default] Forwarding ports...
[default] -- 22 => 2222 (adapter 1)
[default] Booting VM...
[default] Waiting for VM to boot. This can take a few minutes.

...more stuff here...

…or so I had thought. Scrolling back up through the log I realized Vagrant had NOT used the plugin for VMware Fusion. I was still stuck with VirtualBox. I went through the plugin install again to see if it just needed re-applied. At this point, since I’d already installed Virtual Box previously I figured maybe I’d just keep plunging forward and mess with the vmware plugin later, however I’d REALLY like to have all my virtualized images running via Fusion. Not sure what I missed I decided to give it one more try…

$ vagrant plugin install vagrant-vmware-fusion
Installing the 'vagrant-vmware-fusion' plugin. This can take a few minutes...
Installed the plugin 'vagrant-vmware-fusion (0.6.1)'!
Adrons-MacBook-Air-3:Downloads adronhall$ vagrant plugin license vagrant-vmware-fusion license.lic
Installing license for 'vagrant-vmware-fusion'...
The license for 'vagrant-vmware-fusion' was successfully installed!
$ cd ~/Codez/riak-release/
$ vagrant up
Bringing machine 'default' up with 'virtualbox' provider...

Ugh… so I almost give up at this point. I read this, it seems ironic.

Being this isn’t the best user experience I stumble forward trying something else. I get a suggestion from a fellow coder (thx Brian) to try this.

$ vagrant up --provider=vmware_fusionAn active machine was found with a different provider. Vagrant
currently allows each machine to be brought up with only a single
provider at a time. A future version will remove this limitation.
Until then, please destroy the existing machine to up with a new
provider.

Machine name: default
Active provider: virtualbox
Requested provider: vmware_fusion
$

Well, that didn’t work either. It looks like maybe if I just blew away my VirtualBox images it would work? Well, funny, being I don’t have any VirtualBox images running or installed. Well, just to make sure I checked the VirtualBox directory. Nothing. I went ahead and deleted the entire VirtualBox Application. Tried again.

$ vagrant up --provider=vmware_fusionAn active machine was found with a different provider. Vagrant
currently allows each machine to be brought up with only a single
provider at a time. A future version will remove this limitation.
Until then, please destroy the existing machine to up with a new
provider.

Machine name: default
Active provider: virtualbox
Requested provider: vmware_fusion
$

Ok, I’ve no idea now. Any help would be greatly appreciated! This same thing appears to work fine under VirtualBox, but with the plugin added and VirtualBox removed I’m still not able to get this to work. Help!

Using Bosh to Bootstrap Cloud Foundry via Stark & Wayne Consulting

I finally sat down and really started to take a stab at Cloud Foundry Bosh. Here’s the quick lowdown on installing the necessary bits and getting an initial environment built. Big thanks out to Dr Nic @drnic, Luke Bakken & Brain McClain @brianmmcclain for initial pointers to where the good content is. With their guidance and help I’ve put together this how-to. Enjoy…  boshing.

Prerequisites

Step: Get an instance/machine up and running.

To make sure I had a totally clean starting point I started out with an AWS EC2 Instance to work from. I chose a micro instance loaded with Ubuntu. You can use your local workstation if you want to or whatever, it really doesn’t matter. The one catch, of course is you’ll have to have a supported *nix based operating system.

Step: Get things updated for Ubuntu.

sudo apt-get update

Step: Get cURL to make life easy.

sudo apt-get install curl

Step: Get Ruby, in a proper way.

\curl -L https://get.rvm.io | bash -s stable
source ~/.rvm/scripts/rvm
rvm autolibs enable
rvm requirements

Enabling autolibs sets up so that rvm will install all the requirements with the ‘rvm requirements’ command. It used to just show you what you needed, then you’d have to go through and install them. This requirements phase includes some specifics, such as git, gcc, sqlite, and other tools needed to build, execute and work with Ruby via rvm. Really helpful things overall, which will come in handy later when using this instance for whatever purposes.

Finish up the Ruby install and set it as our default ruby to use.

rvm install 1.9.3
rvm use 1.9.3 --default
rvm rubygems current

Step: Get bosh-bootstrap.

bosh-bootstrap is the easiest way to get started with a sample bosh deployment. For more information check out Dr Nic’s Stark and Wayne repo on Github. (also check out the Cloud Foundry Bosh repo.)

gem install bosh-bootstrap
gem update --system

Git was installed a little earlier in the process, so now set the default user name and email so that when we use bosh it will know what to use for cloning repositories it uses.

git config --global user.name "Adron Hall"
git config --global user.email plzdont@spamme.bro

Step: Launch a bosh deploy with the bootstrap.

bosh-bootstrap deploy

You’ll receive a prompt, and here’s what to hit to get a good first deploy.

Stage 1: I select AWS, simply as I’ve no OpenStack environment. One day maybe I can try out the other option. Until then I went with the tried and true AWS. Here you’ll need to enter your access & secret key from the AWS security settings for your AWS account.

For the region, I selected #7, which is west 2. That translates to the data center in Oregon. Why did I select Oregon? Because I live in Portland and that data center is about 50 miles away. Otherwise it doesn’t matter which region you select, any region can spool up almost any type of bosh environment.

Stage 2: In this stage, select default by hitting enter. This will choose the default bosh settings. The default uses a medium instance to spool up a good default Cloud Foundry environment. It also sets up a security group specifically for Cloud Foundry.

Stage 3: At this point you’ll be prompted to select what to do, choose to create an inception virtual machine. After a while, sometimes a few minutes, sometimes an hour or two – depending on internal and external connections – you should receive the “Stage 6: Setup bosh” results.

Stage 6: Setup bosh

setup bosh user
uploading /tmp/remote_script_setup_bosh_user to Inception VM
Initially targeting micro-bosh…
Target set to `microbosh-aws-us-west-2′
Creating initial user adron…
Logged in as `admin’
User `adron’ has been created
Login as adron…
Logged in as `adron’
Successfully setup bosh user
cleanup permissions
uploading /tmp/remote_script_cleanup_permissions to Inception VM
Successfully cleanup permissions
Locally targeting and login to new BOSH…
bosh -u adron -p cheesewhiz target 54.214.0.15
Target set to `microbosh-aws-us-west-2′
bosh login adron cheesewhiz
Logged in as `adron’
Confirming: You are now targeting and logged in to your BOSH

ubuntu@ip-yz-xyz-xx-yy:~$

If you look in your AWS Console you should also see a box with a key pair named “inception” and one that is under the “microbosh-aws-us-west-2″ name. The inception instance is a m1.small while the microbosh instance is an m1.medium.

That should get you going with bosh. In my next entry around bosh I’ll dive into some of Dr Nic & Brian McClain’s work before diving into what exactly Bosh actually is. As one may expect, from Stark & Wayne we can expect some pretty cool stuff, so keep an eye over there on Stark & Wayne.

Deploycon, PaaS & the pending data tier gravity fallout…

For a quick recap of last years Deploycon & related talks, check out my “Day #3 => DeployCon && Enterprise && Data Gravity” entry from last year.

PaaS Systems aren’t always effectively distributed. Heroku has fallen over every time east-1 has gone down at AWS. Not that I’m saying they’ve done bad, just pointing that out. With Cloud Foundry, there’s several key SPOFs (Single Points of Failure), and with all PaaS Systems the data tier is often the neglected pairing of the system. I’ve been wanting to write about this for a few months now and Deploycon has lit a fire for me to do just that.

Deploycon – “Platform Services and Developer Expectations” **

I’m on a panel at Deploycon titled “Platform Services and Developer Expectations” and this leads right back around to that. This SPOF issue is concerning to me as PaaS Providers talk up the offerings more and more with little light actually shone on this issue. In some ways each is moving away form their respective SPOFs, but overall they’re all pretty prevalent throughout. For security, each has a non-distributed database, which technically needs backed up still – no clear replication or other mechanisms setup to ensure data integrity in a failure situation. Of course, the huge saving grace with a PaaS, is that if the overall system goes down or a SPOF blows up, all the existing deployed applications will generally continue to run. Unless of course the routing and networking are also SPOF. This is the largest glaring concern with PaaS Systems that I see today.

One of the other things about PaaS that has always led to a ton of questions is “what about my PostGresql/mysql/Riak/mongodb/database thing and how do I do X, Y, Z with it to ensure scalability in my PaaS.” In almost every case it ends with a simple and unfortunate answer, “…when it comes to data, a PaaS doesn’t really do a damn thing for ya…” This is obviously not very helpful. The entire reason to put a PaaS into place is to simplify life, the sad fact that it barely does a thing for the data tier isn’t very helpful.

Now, hold on a second before you start screaming at me about “but a PaaS does X, Y and Z and isn’t even supposed to touch that aspect of things…” let me elaborate a bit more. The panel at Deploycon states “…Developer Expectations” and when things are getting simplified in the way a PaaS does, developers assume that if it does all this fancy magic for an application it ought to simplify the data side of things too! Right? Well no, and it isn’t going to for the foreseeable future. But no matter what, it doesn’t change the fact that developers often have that expectation.

Now, I could write at length about all the reasons that PaaS doesn’t really do anything for the data tier. I could wax poetic about how a distributed database (re: Riak, Cassandra, etc) just doesn’t lend itself to a cookie cutter approach to deployment under a PaaS or an RDBMS has umpteen different configurations for stability, scaling, hot swappable services, and other such complexities around the data tier. But instead I’m going to skip all, maybe cover some of those things another day, and jump right into some of the things that are actually moving forward to fill this gap.

BOSH, Cloud Foundry, OpenShift & fixing the data tier…

The most obvious reason there isn’t a simple turn key solution to the data side of things with a PaaS ecosystem is that data is complex and extremely diverse. There’s distributed key/value stores (Riak, Cassandra), there’s sort of kind of distributed databases (Mongo), graph databases (Neo4j), the age old RDBMS (DB2, SQL Server, Oracle’s Stuff, etc) and the million solutions around that, there’s key/value in memory styled databases that are insanely fast, like Redis. Expanding just slightly you have software that works around these systems such as Hadoop & Riak CS & the list goes on. All of it focused on the data tier and maintaining one, two or some form of the three points around CAP Theorem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAP_theorem), atomicity and other key capbilities.

All of the PaaS Systems, including public and private often have some sort of plug-in style architectures for data. Whether it is Apprenda which is closed to community and closed source or an ongoing open to community PaaS like OpenShift or Cloud Foundry, things still fall almost entirely to the developers or database team to build an architecture around the data. When looking at solutions to simplify data in PaaS Systems the closed source solutions we have no idea what they’re up to in this regard. The one’s that are open source or in large part public and involved in the community PaaSes, like EngineYard, Heroku, Cloudbees and others we can really see the directions and efforts around creating real PaaS style solutions to the data tier problem.

BOSH, Vagrant, etc…  One of the best solutions I’ve seen so far is the ability of Bosh, which was created by the Cloud Foundry team while at VMware, to spool up an environment that includes such things as a Riak Cluster (or other cluster). Currently Brian McClain & Dr Nic have worked to put together such Bosh + Vagrant scripts & get things rolling. I myself will be spending some considerable time on just that. But beyond that this is a good start in enabling data tier back ends.

How to close the gap, between absurdly simple application deployment and still arduous and difficult data tier deployment? For the next several years I think we’ll have cumbersome deployment practices around the data tier. There won’t be anything as elegantly simple as Cloud Foundry’s single line deployment or AppFog’s one click deployment of a web application. The best we can do at this time, is to streamline around pieces and architectures, and at least get them into a kind of simple 3 step deployment.

Please drop a comment or two on how you think we might simplify the data side of the PaaS toolchain. Also drop a few tweets in the twitterverse too, I’m sure that’ll be exploding as usual. I’m @adron, ping me.

Cheers, happy data architecting.

** the Deployconpanel will be at 4:30pm in Santa Clara on April 2nd. Come check it out.

Cloud Foundry 1 Year Anniversary & New Bits (Code Included)

Today was the 1 year anniversary for the Cloud Foundry Open Source PaaS Project. For info on what PaaS is, especially related to open source and related to Cloud Foundry check out my 5 part series at New Relic’s Blog; Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.1, Part 3.14159265, Part 4, and Part 5 (which I know, it is really a 6 part series).

Updates, Updates, and More Updates!

Today was pretty cool and jam packed with code & information. There are a load of updates in the Cloud Foundry Repository now.

One of the big parts of the new features released today, isn’t so much a feature, but an entire open source project based around actually building & deploying an entire Cloud Foundry PaaS Environment called BOSH. Here’s my takeaway notes about this project, what it does, and how it can help Cloud Foundry usage.

BOSH (https://github.com/cloudfoundry/bosh.git)

The first thing to do, when learning about and using BOSH is to hit the groups:

What is it?

BOSH is a YAML based Cloud Foundry deployment tool. It provides a way to deploy a multiple image machine into a new Cloud Foundry environment. These images, just basic VMs, are referred to in the BOSH System as Stem Cells.

There is more to learn about BOSH, but for now suffice it to say there is some serious potential in what it enables for building out a Cloud Foundry Environment. Up until now this process was a manual installation effort which would take take a lot of energy and take an long time.

Cloud Foundry Additions?

There are a lot of Cloud Foundry changes that are in the works and a lot that went in. However, from an external point of view, there isn’t a lot of visible changes. No new user interface or anything like that. The biggest changes have been around stability, scaling, deployment, and other core capabilities.

For further information and news on the release, check out some of these write ups:

Cloud 9 IDE ROCKS!

Outside of the Cloud Foundry Project there are other things working toward interoperability with Cloud Foundry and building in features that will help you work against Cloud Foundry. One of those companies is Cloud 9. They’ve enabled single-click deployment via their Cloud 9 IDE.

That’s it from me for now. I’ll have a lot more regarding Cloud Foundry, Iron Foundry, and other projects related to PaaS soon.