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Old 07-21-2022, 01:36 PM   #1
sundialsvcs
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"I shoulda used containers." A bad experience with VMWare hosting


When you arrange for your client to sign-up with a [VMWare ...] cloud hosting service, you ordinarily take for granted that the service in question actually has the hardware infrastructure to make good on their contracts. But, not too long ago, I encountered one that didn't. (A well-known but unnamed company whose primary business is providing "data centers." I was stunned ...)

I deployed the site using eight virtual machines, all named for Peanuts characters. Database server, NFS file repository, backup database mirror, web servers and so on. Later on, I was called to figure out why some of the virtual CPUs were reporting "stalls" of up to 30 seconds(!) at a time. (Eventually, the lawyers settled this "material breach of contract" case, and soon thereafter the provider sold its hosting enterprise to another firm which apparently did know what it was doing. The site, in its various manifestations, is now very-reliably doing about $6 million in business a month ...)

But I think I learned something: "containers minimize your exposure to the underlying host." Well, maybe it would or maybe it wouldn't, but since that experience I have shifted ... first of all, to better hosting companies(!!) ... but also to the use of containers. Instead of configuring multiple smaller VMs, I will configure just one big one. Then, I use container technology to carve it up. It works quite well, and it also eliminates the need for things like NFS. Now, the host has only one thing to dispatch, and I know that VMWare knows how to do it if given the resources. Linux does the rest.

"Docker" is one obvious strategy, but I personally don't like being so far out-of-the-loop as to what is actually going on "inside." Therefore, I use lxc/lxd with very satisfactory results.

Last edited by sundialsvcs; 07-21-2022 at 01:49 PM.
 
Old 07-21-2022, 01:43 PM   #2
dc.901
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Maybe I am misunderstanding here...
But with "one big one" if you have to do any maintenance on that one what would happen to all things running on it? Maybe per SLA there is some downtime allowed?

PS: I see you have been doing this for a long time, so I am not questioning your methods here. But simply am curious...
We're not a 24x7 shop, but have been there a few times where some users tend to think so.

Last edited by dc.901; 07-21-2022 at 01:50 PM.
 
Old 07-21-2022, 01:52 PM   #3
sundialsvcs
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"Maintenance" as seen by the end-user or the client basically consists of actions taken within a particular container.

Yes, the contracts allow for scheduled downtime, but the VM that is running the containers might now have "uptime" spanning multiple years. You have no need to turn this one off. The only reason why you might do so is to update Linux itself, and that's a simple "bump." Less than a minute.

Unlike VMs, containers are extremely easy to spin-up and spin-down. You can even swap one for another. Because it's all really just a software illusion. A well-behaved Linux process that is "wearing rose-colored glasses" without knowing it.

I used VMs at that time because that's what the customer said he wanted me to use. But, looking back, it was "very messy," and dependent on things (settings which could be made only by the hosting company owner) that translated to considerable "technical exposure" for the project. For instance, "two separate VMs" were constantly involved with something as basic as "reading a file." I should have argued harder, and sold the container idea better.

Last edited by sundialsvcs; 07-27-2022 at 01:51 PM.
 
  


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