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This is a demonstration of a hypothetical web application spread over 9 web server nodes fronted by a HAProxy load balancer. There are 2 servers providing the angelia service via an agent and we use the MCollective HA facilities to redundantly access one of these for notification.

In order to help with management of the estate a fact called cluster has been added and the nodes have been broken in to 2 sets - clusters alfa and bravo.

The orchestration script uses the rpcutil, haproxy, appmgr, nrpe and angelia mcollective Agents combining them all into a single deployment script.

The script is written using the Puppet DSL and takes advantage of the relationship system between resources, ordering, classes, facts and defines to create a real time multi node orchestration script.

Web App Overview

We will follow a playbook for upgrading the web app, for the sake of demonstration we will update the stack one cluster at a time. The orchestration steps will have to be re-run once per cluster.

The playbook is written to update all the nodes in the cluster at the same time in a parallel manner. Alternative approaches updating the nodes 1 at a time could also be taken but this demonstrates how the to take advantage of the parallel nature of mcollective, my deployment step is very minimal but the entire process completes in 3 seconds including any discovery delays etc.

The steps in our play book are as follows:

  1. Determine the list of load balancer(s)
  2. Determine the list of webservers in the given cluster
  3. Using the rpcutil agent check the list of webservers and load balancers are all responding, you'd typically use a discovery cache for this use case so this step validates the nodes you intended to deploy to were all available.
  4. Using the haproxy agent set the webservers all in maintenance mode
  5. Using the appmgr agent update the web application to the desired revision. Do this in batches of 2 nodes to manage load on databases
  6. Using the nrpe agent check the load average, keep checking it for up to 100 seconds allowing it to settle post deploy
  7. Using the haproxy agent enable the webservers
  8. Using the angelia agent notify the administrator using iPhone push

For best effect all these agents are written idempotently so that once the issue has been resolved the orchestration can just be run again.

Two example orchestration scripts are provided one written using the Puppet DSL and one using the Ruby DSL. Both scripts have the same end result and both scripts demonstrate how to interact with multiple different agents in one script.

Ruby DSL vs Puppet DSL

The main difference between the 2 DSLs is how you can interact with the data.

The Puppet DSL behaves like any Puppet DSL. It gets compiled and turned into a catalog and then the catalog gets applied. You do not have any ability to inspect or branch based on the data returned from the MCollective RPC calls. It's a pure fire and forget style script with no user interaction and a boolean pass or fail result.

In the Ruby DSL you have access to all the data and stats and can do any kind of branching or logic based on that.

See the files README-ruby.md and README-puppet.md for a walkthrough of the two different orchestration scripts.