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After spending almost two decades in IT Shahram's passion for computing and IT is still raging. His pain threshold seems to be off the scale when it comes to configuring new systems and services on the web. His idea of fun is to configure machine instances on the Amazon EC2. Shahram is also Morfik's Mr. Reliable when it comes to operations and our web infrastructure. He has the unenviable responsibility of making sure that Morfik website and its server infrastructure is up 24/7!
Personally I feel most people using the internet don’t notice or appreciate the wonderful work of DNS (Domain Name System) servers. There is no reason really for them to think about it; they type an address on the browser and the website appears. Like a phone number, you dial the right number and the right person answers. That is fine until you offer an online service on the internet, you have your own domain name and somehow you need to use a DNS service. Since most Morfik users will be using Morfik DAS, sooner or later it will be essential to know a few things about DNS and how it relates to Morfik DAS.
I am very passionate about this feature of Morfik software, but sometimes I wonder if other people can see the benefits too.
The reason I appreciate this feature more than others is that for a long time I used to deploy and update Morfik applications manually. At that stage, we did not have the auto-deployment feature—and it was a real pain. It’s not that Morfik web applications (XApps) were particularly hard to deploy, but this was a general problem when deploying web applications—especially when they needed to use a back-end database.
Nowadays, the deployment process has become so trivial using Morfik software that all the Morfik team deploy their XApps directly from the environment they work in (Morfik IDE) without any knowledge of the back-end or even which files and resources the project needs. They don’t even ask a question about this anymore!
In my last blog we went through commissioning and connecting to a Linux virtual machine on the Amazon cloud. Today we’ll look at running a Morfik XApp as an Apache module on that system.
After commissioning the server we used Putty for Windows to connect to the server and we got to the point where we made a secure connection to the server and logged in as the root user.
Since we are going to deploy the XApps as an Apache module we need to make sure an Apache 2 web server is installed and running on the system.
To install the Apache web server we use the “yum” command. Yum is an automatic updater and package installer/uninstaller for systems using rpm packages.
In the first part of this blog I will take you through the steps involved in setting up and connecting to a virtual machine on Amazon cloud computing services. In the second part I will detail the exact steps involved in installing a Morfik XApp as a native Apache 2 module under Linux.
You might well ask why someone from Morfik would talk about a cloud hosting platform like Amazon. The best thing about cloud computing is the ability to use all the resources you need in a very simple way and pay only for the resources being used. Just like electricity in your home, you flick the switch and you have light, or turn it off when you don’t need it. Power is at your fingertips and you choose when you access the power.
Those of you who have been with Morfik for a while may remember times when the Morfik site would go down and we would get the bad news from you guys. Thankfully those days are long gone and I can’t recall the last time a user had to contact us about a site outage.
Of course there are a number of reasons for this. Yes, Morfik software is now more mature and stable, and the auto-deployment process reduces the pain of maintenance and updates, but the main reason is that we are using a simple yet effective monitoring service which informs us immediately of any problem with our site or service. I receive a call within minutes on my cell phone!
Monitoring can be implemented at a few levels: the server level, Hosting Service Provider level and independent monitoring service level. To me the last one is the key. (And by the way I have no affiliation with any of the monitoring service providers).
If you set up your own monitoring server it is possible that your server fails long before you know it. Moreover, setting up your server to send SMS messages or make a Voice Call is not a trivial task.
As we all know maintaining a website and its related server infrastructure is a daunting task! Most of us think of it as some kind of pain that is unavoidable - a pain that has to be endured for things to work properly. While this is largely true, I feel there are a number of things that we can do to reduce or even eliminate this pain.
In my blogs I will try to help you manage this pain by simply talking about our experiences in this field. I will share with you what we have learnt running and supporting Morfik and its related partners’ websites and their server infrastructure.
Morfik uses its own software exclusively for its website and associated services. As well as this being one of the best things we could have ever done for the product, it ensures that there is never a dull moment in the IT department here at Morfik!
Here are the areas that I will be covering in my future blogs: