Select Page

NETWAYS Blog

Windows: One Framework to Monitor them all by Christian Stein | OSMC 2019

This entry is part of 4 in the series OSMC 2019 | Recap

 

At the Open Source Monitoring Conference (OSMC) 2019 in Nuremberg, Christian Stein captivated the entire conference room with his presentation “Windows: One Framework to Monitor them all”. His demo was the highlight of his presentation, which ended up with enthusiastic applause. You have missed him speaking? We have got something for you: Watch the video of Christian’s presentation and read a short summary (below).

At OSMC international monitoring experts meet annually to set and discuss future trends and objectives. Since 2006 the event takes place every autumn in Nuremberg, Germany. Leading specialists present the full scope of Open Source monitoring and are ready to answer your hardest questions. Discuss with top developers, exchange knowledge and learn wen techniques.

You want more? In-depth workshops the day prior to the conference and a Hackathon provide further possibilities to extend your skills and deepen your knowledge in IT monitoring and management.

The next OSMC takes place in 2021 in Nuremberg.

More information and tickets at osmc.de.


Windows: One Framework to Monitor them all

Christian Stein signed up with a talk titled “Windows: One Framework to Monitor them all” and the intention to turn the Windows side of Icinga upside down. After giving a short run down of the the current issue with “Icinga for Windows” and his attempts at fixing them, we get to the good stuff.

An Icinga PowerShell Framework supported by Powershell 4.0 or higher, but let‘s get into the juicy details: The framework comes with a lot of features, to easily extend it within your environment and to simplify monitoring on Windows as well. Additionally, there is a dev-toolkit, which offers plenty of possibilities for developers to give the framework their own tweak. As of now, there are four repositories beyond the framework itself. Up first and most important to mention is icinga-powershell-kickstart, which provides a basic PowerShell script to interactively install the framework. Also rather essential for the framework is the icinga-powershell-plugins repository, which provides a collection of Windows check plugins.

Want to run the framework as a service? Glad you asked. There is a repository for that as well. It’s also covered by the kickstart wizard. Check icinga-powershell-service to find out more or to give some feedback. If you’ve always asked yourself why you should run appliances as a service, there are several benefits. Like the service running before a user logs on and continuing to run, without a logged on user.

Last but not least, even most essential, the framework itself. If we look at the current ways to make Icinga work on windows, they are good, but not great. The icinga-monitoring-framework provides tools and configuration to make icinga monitoring on windows possible, almost natively, except for said repositories.

Having said all that and more, Christian went on with a live demo of the Framework, gave some installation advice and by that I mean, delved deeper into the kickstart script. He also showed off some features and gave some best practice advice. So, all that was left to say is… whats next?

Christian announced, that it will be available on PowerShell Gallery, which will not only help the project grow, but make it even more available as is. And of course, there will be more plugins. For those eagerly waiting for one of these, the next release hopefully provides MSSQL, Active-Directory, Exchange and Hyper-V plugins.

The community’s and the customer’s interest in better windows monitoring is undeniable, but we depend on your feedback and support on this, the respective repository is the place to be, and if you can’t figure, which one it fits, just post your issue at: https://github.com/Icinga/icinga-powershell-framework/issues

Alexander Stoll
Alexander Stoll
Junior Consultant

Alexander ist ein Organisationstalent und außerdem seit Kurzem Azubi im Professional Services. Wenn er nicht bei NETWAYS ist, sieht sein Tagesablauf so aus: Montag, Dienstag, Mittwoch Sport - Donnerstag Pen and Paper und ein Wochenende ohne Pläne. Den Sportteil lässt er gern auch mal ausfallen.

Plugins, Provider, PowerShell

Im Icinga-Windows-Kosmos passiert in letzter Zeit sehr viel, vor allem durch das Zauberwort PowerShell. Framework, Plugins, Kickstart und Service, das alles hört man recht oft und auch neue Releases sind da oder stehen an. Doch wie schreibe ich meine eigenen Checks beziehungsweise Plugins? Gibt es Vorschriften an die ich mich halten sollte? Und kann ich mich auch an dem Projekt beteiligen?

Plugins und Provider

Als das Projekt gestartet worden ist, war es bereits angedacht, dass Plugins individuell anpassbar sein sollten. Um dies zu gewährleisten, war es wichtig die Daten, die zur Prüfung genutzt werden in einer normierten Form gesammelt zurückzugeben und hier kommen die Provider ins Spiel.

Was ist ein Provider?

Ein Provider sammelt Daten vom System und stellt sie zur Verfügung um in Plugins genutzt zu werden. Sehen wir uns das ganze im icinga-powershell-plugins repository an:
└── provider
├── bios
├── cpu
├── directory
├── disks
├── enums
├── eventlog
├── memory
├── process
├── services
├── updates
├── users
└── windows

Innerhalb dieser Verzeichnisse befinden sich in der Regel zwei Dateien. Im Falle von CPU wären das Icinga_ProviderCpu.psm1 und Show-IcingaCpuData.psm1. Respektive Dateien existieren auch in allen anderen Verzeichnissen.

Mit dem gleichnamigen Befehl Show-IcingaCpuData kann man nun alle generischen Daten zur Thematik CPU abfragen. Während die Datei Icinga_ProviderCpu.psm1 verschiedene Funktionen enthält um spezifische Daten anzufordern. Darunter zum Beispiel folgende Funktionen: Get-IcingaCPUArchitecture, Get-IcingaCPUArchitecture.

Im Falle von Get-IcingaCPUs könnte der Output beziehungsweise die bezogenen Daten, wie folgt aussehen – gekürzt und in JSON konvertiert:
{
"specs":  {
"L3CacheSize":  0,
"CurrentClockSpeed":  2100,
"VoltageCaps":  0,
"L2CacheSpeed":  null,
"ThreadCount":  1,
"CurrentVoltage":  null,
"LoadPercentage":  7,
"L2CacheSize":  null
},
"errors":  {
"ErrorDescription":  null,
"ErrorCleared":  null,
"ConfigManagerErrorCode":  {
"value":  "This device is working properly.",
"raw":  0
},
"LastErrorCode":  null
},
"metadata":  {
"ProcessorType":  {
"value":  "Central Processor",
"raw":  3
},
...
"SocketDesignation":  "CPU 1",
"ProcessorID":  "078BFBFF000306A9",
"NumberOfCores":  1,
"SerialNumber":  "",
"Architecture":  {
"value":  "x64",
"raw":  9
},
"Availability":  {

},
"AddressWidth":  64,
"Status":  "OK",
"StatusInfo":  {
"value":  "Enabled",
"raw":  3
},

}

Auf diese Daten können wir nun Aufbauen. Ob die Daten direkt zuträglich sind oder ausreichend für unsere Anwendung ist individuell.

Bevor ich ein Plugin schreibe!

Bevor es dazu kommt, dass man ein Plugin schreibt und Unmengen an Cmdlets benutzt und die Daten normiert, sollte man sich darüber im Klaren sein, was es alles für Provider gibt und vorher überprüfen, ob die Daten nicht in der ein oder anderen Form bereits vorhanden sind.

Gefällt mir etwas am Invoke-IcingaCheckCPUs Check nicht, dann ist es sinnig, zumindest zunächst den Provider des Check-Plugins zu betrachten und zu prüfen ob man nicht die Informationen die der Check erhält anders nutzen kann.

Falls das nicht der Fall ist, sollte man seinen eigenen Provider schreiben oder einen vorhanden ergänzen und uns vielleicht mit einen Pull-Request überraschen.

Aber wohin das Ganze?

Damit nicht alles verloren ist beim nächsten Update oder Konflikte auftreten, gibt es im Icinga-PowerShell-Framework ein Custom-Verzeichnis. Dieses unterteilt sich wiederum in /lib und /plugins. In das plugins-Verzeichnis kommen folgerichtig natürlich die Plugins, die ihr für euch individuell anlegt und die nicht oder noch nicht Teil des Repositorys sind.

Das Gleiche gilt natürlich auf für das Library-Verzeichnis. Wenn ihr das Rad neu erfinden wollt und ein Custom-Module baut für Test-Numeric oder euch das Ausgabeformat von Convert-Bytes stört, dann sind eure Tools hier sicher. Und natürlich auch da freuen wir uns über einen Pull-Request.

Wir halten fest, wenn man also ein Plugin baut, dann sollte man ein eigenes PowerShell Modul bauen und sich dabei weitestgehend zunächst an den vorhandenen Plugins orientieren und aufpassen, wo was hingehört.

Fazit

Wer es richtig machen will, fängt langsam an und baut vor allem modular. Erst der Provider, dann das eigentliche Check-Plugin. Desto größer der Provider, desto einfacher das Bauen der Check-Plugins, weil mit bereits vorhanden Informationen ist die Logik, der Check-Prüfung das wenigste Problem.

Wem das alles noch nicht genug ist, der kann auch mal auf unserem Youtube-Channel vorbei schauen, wo wir im Umfang unserer Webinare mit unter Custom Plugin Development und Custom Daemon Development besprochen haben.

Seit in jeden Fall gespannt wie es mit dem Projekt weitergeht und für noch mehr zum Thema Plugin schreiben schaut euch den Developer-Guide an.

Alexander Stoll
Alexander Stoll
Junior Consultant

Alexander ist ein Organisationstalent und außerdem seit Kurzem Azubi im Professional Services. Wenn er nicht bei NETWAYS ist, sieht sein Tagesablauf so aus: Montag, Dienstag, Mittwoch Sport - Donnerstag Pen and Paper und ein Wochenende ohne Pläne. Den Sportteil lässt er gern auch mal ausfallen.

Evolution of a Microservice-Infrastructure by Jan Martens | OSDC 2019

This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series OSDC 2019 | Recap

 

At the Open Source Data Center Conference (OSDC) 2019 in Berlin, Jan Martens invited to audience to travel with him in his talk „Evolution of a Microservice-Infrastructure”. You have missed him speaking? We got something for you: See the video of Jan‘s presentation and read a summary (below).

The former OSDC will be held for the first time in 2020 under the new name stackconf. With the changes in modern IT in recent years, the focus of the conference has increasingly shifted from a mainly static infrastructure approach to a broader spectrum that includes agile methods, continuous integration, container, hybrid and cloud solutions. This development is taken into account by changing the name of the conference and opening the topic area for further innovations.

Due to concerns around the coronavirus (COVID-19), the decision was made to hold stackconf 2020 as an online conference. The online event will now take place from June 16 to 18, 2020. Join us, live online! Save your ticket now at: stackconf.eu/ticket/


 

Evolution of a Microservice-Infrastructure

Jan Martens signed up with a talk titled “Evolution of a Microservice Infrastructure” and why should I summarize his talk if he had done that himself perfectly: “This talk is about our journey from Ngnix & Docker Swarm to Traefik & Nomad.”

But before we start getting more in depth with this talk, there is one more thing to know about it. This is more or less a sequel to “From Monolith to Microservices” by Paul Puschmann a colleague of Jan Martens, but it’s not absolutely necessary to watch them in order or both.

 

So there will be a bunch of questions answered by Jan during the talk, regarding their environment, like: “How do we do deployments? How do we do request routing? What problems did we encounter, during our infrastructural growth and how did we address them?”

After giving some quick insight in the scale he has to deal with, that being 345.000 employees and 15.000 shops, he goes on with the history of their infrastructure.

Jan works at REWE Digital, which is responsible for the infrastructure around services, like delivery of groceries. They started off with the takeover of an existing monolithic infrastructure, not very attractive huh? They confronted themselves with the question: “How can we scale this delivery service?” and the solution they came up with was a micro service environment. Important to point out here, would be the use of Docker/Swarm for the deployment of micro services.

Let’s skip ahead a bit and take a look at the state of 2018 REWE Digital. Well there operating custom Docker-Environment consists of: Docker, Consul, Elastic Stack, ngnix, dnsmasq and debian

Jan goes into explaining his infrastructure more and more and how the different applications work with each other, but let’s just say: Everything was fine and peaceful until the size of the environment grew to a certain point. And at that point problems with nginx were starting to surface, like requests which never reached their destination or keepalive connections, which dropped after a short time. The reason? Consul-template would reload all ngnix instances at the same time. The solution? Well they looked for a different reverse proxy, which is able to reload configuration dynamically and best case that new reverse proxy is even able to be configured dynamically.

The three being deemed fitting for that job were envoy, Fabio and traefik, but I have already spoiled their decision, its treafik. The points Jan mentioned, which had them decide on traefik were that it is dynamically configurable and is able to reload configuration live. That’s obviously not all, lots of metrics, a web ui, which was deemed nice by Jan and a single go binary, might have made the difference.

Jan drops a few words on how migration is done and then invests some time in talking about the benefits of traefik, well the most important benefit for us to know is, that the issues that existed with ngnix are gone now.

Well now that the environment was changed, there were also changes coming for swarm, acting on its own. The problems Jan addresses are a poor container spread, no self-healing, and more. You should be able to see where this is going. Well the candidates besides Docker Swarm are Rancher, Kubernetes and Nomad. Well, this one was spoiled by me as well.

The reasons to use nomad in this infrastructure might be pretty obvious, but I will list them anyway. Firstly, seamless consul integration, well both are by HashiCorp, who would have guessed. Nomad is able to selfheal and comes in a single go binary, just like traefik. Jan also claims it has a nice web UI, we have to take his word on that one.

Jan goes into the benefits of using Nomad, just like he went into the benefits of ngnix and shows how their work processes have changed with the change of their environment.

This post doesn’t give enough credit to how much information Jan has shared during his talk. Maybe roughly twenty percent of his talk are covered here. You should definitely check it out the full video to catch all the deeper more insightful topics about the infrastructure and how the applications work with each other.

Alexander Stoll
Alexander Stoll
Junior Consultant

Alexander ist ein Organisationstalent und außerdem seit Kurzem Azubi im Professional Services. Wenn er nicht bei NETWAYS ist, sieht sein Tagesablauf so aus: Montag, Dienstag, Mittwoch Sport - Donnerstag Pen and Paper und ein Wochenende ohne Pläne. Den Sportteil lässt er gern auch mal ausfallen.

Fast log management for your infrastructure by Nicolas Frankel | OSDC 2019

This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series OSDC 2019 | Recap

 

Nicolas Frankel is a Developer Advocate with 15+ years experience consulting for many different customers, in a wide range of contexts. “Fast log management for your infrastructure” was his topic at the Open Source Data Center Conference (OSDC) 2019 in Berlin. Those who missed the talk back then now have the opportunity to see the video of Nicolas’ presentation and read a summary (below).

The former OSDC will be held for the first time in 2020 under the new name stackconf. With the changes in modern IT in recent years, the focus of the conference has increasingly shifted from a mainly static infrastructure approach to a broader spectrum that includes agile methods, continuous integration, container, hybrid and cloud solutions. This development is taken into account by changing the name of the conference and opening the topic area for further innovations.

We are proud to announce that Nicolas Frankel is in our speaker lineup this year, too. We are looking forward to his talk: “Real Continuous Deployment of JVM applications”.

Due to concerns around the coronavirus (COVID-19), the decision was made to hold stackconf 2020 as an online conference. The online event will now take place June 16 – 18, 2020. Be there, live online! Save your ticket now at: stackconf.eu/ticket/


Fast log management for your infrastructure

Fast log management for your infrastructure”, well that is one way to get OSDC visitors excited. Nicolas Frankel signed up with that one and he did not disappoint. The issues, he was tackling, were issues produced by optimization, that being said do you think about the logs when it comes to migrating your application to reactive micro services?

Before we get to all that, Nicolas had to take a little detour through programming logic and how logging works, and he also points out some misconceptions of how things are done and how they work. Like for example, his so called “[…] root of all evil”.

LOGGER.debug(
"Cart price is now {}", cart.getPrice())

He states the question, who believes that in case of the log level being above debug the statements will be ignored? That’s what is to be expected, however it is not the case. In a small demo section he gives further insight on the topic from the perspective of a software developer.

From the developer point of view one should only do physical logging is the statement he ends his demo explanation run on. Directly afterwards he states that developers do not like to think that they are dealing with the physical world, then he goes further on about the respective storage possibilities like the write time regarding SSDs, HDDs or on an NFS, which should be taken into account.

Tackled some issues already, Nicolas keeps switching back and forth between the perspective of a software developer and an operator. He puts a lot of empathizes on these perspective changes to make sure that everyone involved starts to understand where the issue lies and if there is an issue at all.

For example the writing process and the opening and closing of streams for single log statements. It would be great if the stream could be continuously open and log statements can be written until the stream can be closed. But arguably and in most cases by default, logging is blocking. While most frameworks allow asynchronous logging, there is no right or wrong. And it also doesn’t have to be a software development mistake nor a bad infrastructure.

He dives deeper into asynchronous logging, because if you want to use it, you have to understand it: from queue size to discarding thresholds, the difference between blocking and dropping messages, everything. Nicolas also covers some logging basics, like metadata and what is especially important. Most essential metadata named timestamp, log level, line number and more. You may ask, why? Because some metadata is more expensive to get than others.

After some more detours through log aggregations and common pitfalls, with searching in logs or mandatory metadata, we get to a well-known application stack in the world of logging, the Elastic Stack.

He explains the basic architecture of the Elastic Stack and how the applications work with each other. Especially Filebeat and Logstash take the spotlight during this part. Step by step he works his way through an abstraction of the path a log takes from Filebeat to Logstash until you get a JSON you are familiar with. Then common misunderstandings like “Why do I need Logstash at all?” are being tackled by him, before he goes onto how he is doing logging at Exoscale.

They are using syslog-ng instead of Filebeat, basically just because when they started Filebeat was not ready for production. Then a regular Logstash and before we come to Elasticsearch there is a Kafka running. The reason why they are using Kafka is that Kafka being a decentralized data store, and using Logstash to get data out of it there is lower risk of dropping data instead of buffering towards elasticsearch, because there are not multiple nodes writing at once.

Nicolas summarizes his talk at the end with six short statements or maybe even lessons for log management. If you want, head over to the video above to learn about them from Nicolas himself or experience him live to learn from him.

Alexander Stoll
Alexander Stoll
Junior Consultant

Alexander ist ein Organisationstalent und außerdem seit Kurzem Azubi im Professional Services. Wenn er nicht bei NETWAYS ist, sieht sein Tagesablauf so aus: Montag, Dienstag, Mittwoch Sport - Donnerstag Pen and Paper und ein Wochenende ohne Pläne. Den Sportteil lässt er gern auch mal ausfallen.

Was war, ist und wird sein – ein Azubi & PowerShell

Wir Azubis bei NETWAYS lassen ohnehin oft genug durchscheinen, was bei uns in der Ausbildung so alles passiert. Aber meistens nur Projekte, die bereits abgeschlossen sind. Damit ich dem auch weiterhin nachkomme, hier ein bisschen, was war, ist und kommen wird.

Was war?

Ganz kurz gefasst? PowerShell. Und in letzter Zeit wird das Wort im NETWAYS und Icinga-Kontext ganz schön oft in den Raum geworfen. Letztes Jahr hat Christian irgendwann den Entschluss gefasst, das damalige Windows-Modul seinerseits zu einem voll funktionalen Framework mit PowerShell umzugestalten. Christian hatte, sowie alle der Kollegen, die Möglichkeit, einen Azubi mit ins Boot zu holen – und von hier sollte es keine große Überraschung sein, wo die Geschichte hinführt. Besagter Azubi war eben ich.

Ich hatte keinerlei Ahnung von PowerShell oder der Windows-Welt jenseits der Anwenderseite. Doch auch PowerShell ist kein Hexenwerk und die logischen Abhandlungen, die man bei anderen Sprachen verwenden kann, verlernt und verliert man auch hier nicht.

Juli 2019 hat das ganze begonnen, also zumindest für mich, und das Ziel sollte die OSMC im selbigen Jahr sein. Es ist einfach ein ganz anderer Ansporn zu wissen, dass man an einer Sache mitarbeitet, die später auf einer großen Plattform präsentiert wird und man sehen wird, was die eigene Arbeit gebracht hat.

Bis dato war ich eher an Plugin-Entwicklung sowie an den dazugehörigen Providern beteiligt. Auch das ein oder andere Tool im Framework kommt aus meiner Feder. Aber wenn man sieht, was Christian im vergangenen Jahr geleistet hat, dann kann man nur neidisch sein. Natürlich war seit meinem letzten Blog-Post nicht alles PowerShell. Ich hatte auch Trainings, habe die ersten Trainings als Co-Trainer mitgeleitet, war auf meiner ersten Consulting-Reise und noch mehr. Aber das PowerShell-Projekt lag mir besonders am Herzen.

Was ist?

Jetzt? Erstmal Foreman-Schulung. In der Vergangenheit wurde ich ja schon das ein oder andere Mal mit Foreman konfrontiert. Sei es ein bisschen Community-Arbeit beim Übersetzen von Strings oder mein letzter Blog-Post, in dem ich einen kleinen Einblick gegeben habe zum OSCAMP on Foreman, was letztes Jahr im Anschluss an die OSMC stattgefunden hat. Danach? Zunächst Abteilungsdurchlauf in den Support, auch wenn dieser nicht von langem ist, weil die Berufsschule dazwischen kommt und das auch noch samt Zwischenprüfung. Aber wird schon schief gehen.

Was wird?

Was? Ein ganzer Absatz ohne PowerShell. Also ja, ich mach auch weiter PowerShell. Man darf sich in der Hinsicht bald auch auf ein Zertifikats-Plugin freuen mit eigenem Provider. Und sonst? Die zweite gemeinsame Azubi-Projektwoche bahnt sich an, aber auch dazu werdet ihr bestimmt wieder einen Blog-Post bekommen. An dieser Stelle ist auch noch zu erwähnen, dass besagter Christian diesen Mittwoch sein erstes Webinar zu Icinga for Windows abgehalten hat. Keine Angst, die ganze Sache kommt auch später auf YouTube und zwei weitere Webinare stehen ja noch aus. Zum einen: Icinga for Windows – Custom Plugin Development am 01. April 2020 um 10:30 und Icinga for Windows – Custom Daemon Development am 06. Mai 2020 zur gleichen Zeit. Eine Übersicht zu den Webinaren bekommt ihr hier. Stellt euch drauf ein, dass in der Windows-Monitoring Landschaft noch so einiges passieren wird.

 

Alexander Stoll
Alexander Stoll
Junior Consultant

Alexander ist ein Organisationstalent und außerdem seit Kurzem Azubi im Professional Services. Wenn er nicht bei NETWAYS ist, sieht sein Tagesablauf so aus: Montag, Dienstag, Mittwoch Sport - Donnerstag Pen and Paper und ein Wochenende ohne Pläne. Den Sportteil lässt er gern auch mal ausfallen.

Veranstaltungen

Tue 27

GitLab Training | Online

October 27 @ 09:00 - October 28 @ 17:00
Tue 27

Graylog Training | Online

October 27 @ 09:00 - October 28 @ 17:00
NETWAYS Headquarter | Nürnberg
Nov 04

Vorstellung der Monitoring Lösung Icinga 2

November 4 @ 10:30 - 11:30
NETWAYS Headquarter | Nürnberg
Nov 24

Elastic Stack Training | Online

November 24 @ 09:00 - November 26 @ 17:00
Dec 01

Foreman Training | Nürnberg

December 1 @ 09:00 - December 2 @ 17:00
NETWAYS Headquarter | Nürnberg