What is Cloud Automation?

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What is Cloud Automation?

Cloud automation is a blanket term that is often used to denote specialized software, tools, and operations that help us reduce the manual effort when it comes to deploying and maintaining cloud-based IT infrastructure. Simply put, it is automating tasks programmatically.

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Did you ever wonder what happens when you place an order for a new VPS via the Liquid Web Manage Interface? Cloud Automation is behind all of that. Let’s dig in a bit deeper to learn what Cloud Automation is.

One key reason why automation is so widely embraced and used almost everywhere is that automation reduces the manual effort and intervention needed to deploy a set of tasks. Again, let’s take ordering a VPS as an example. When we placed our order before automation was in place, someone would have to manually allocate both the hardware and software resources. We would then install the OS, cPanel/WHM, and the other default server software, and we would test to make sure everything is working correctly.

Today, we can make an initial selection of our configurations based on the cloud environment of our choice, and so gain the ability to perform multiple complex tasks with a single click.

Benefits of Cloud Automation

Benefits of cloud automation are many, but I’ll list some of them so that you can get a better understanding of what Cloud Automation can do for your business and why it is a must-have if you are running an enterprise.

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  1. Agility: Businesses can scale quickly to better adapt to changing needs
  2. Speed: Increased deployment speed of cloud infrastructure and management
  3. Control: Better administration and centralized management of existing environments
  4. Security: Graduated levels of security provide more granularity when controlling permissions and access rights
  5. Resiliency: Downtime is revenue lost. The continuous monitoring of cloud services and automatic response to issues keep business processes running smoothly
  6. Change Management: Improving the CI/CD (Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery) method ensures a better overall process cycle while lowering the possibility of software errors or a failure which increases development stability
  7. Cost: The TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) of our IT infrastructure is often significantly reduced

Once we have our automation system configured and ready for the delivery of programmed tasks, we will be able to deploy, integrate, and manage our systems quickly and effectively. Now that we know what cloud automation is and some of its benefits let’s talk about Cloud Orchestration.

Cloud Orchestration

We like to imagine Cloud Orchestration as Cloud automation evolved.
Using cloud orchestration, we can execute automated tasks at an exact time across multiple nodes. We have task A, task B, and task C. You need to run task C before B, and task A after B. Automation can handle these tasks automatically. Orchestration allows us to perform them in the correct order, in a specific timeframe with better fault-tolerant behavior.

Cloud orchestration is an ideal solution for enterprises that need to orchestrate and manage processes across hundreds of domains, systems, and teams. Now that we know the difference between automation and orchestration, it’s time to discuss some common uses of cloud automation.

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Cloud Automation Usage

Load balancing

Load balancing is the process of routing web traffic across multiple servers to ensure that resources are utilized in the best possible way. This can limit delays and improve the overall responsiveness of a site or application. Moreover, if one of our servers in a cluster goes offline, the website or application will not stop, as the rest of the servers in the cluster will take up the work for the server that went offline. Additionally, a new server can be restarted to replace the down server or service almost immediately.

Development and Testing

In today’s world, everything around us is continually evolving and changing. Think about your favorite software. Every update that comes out has to be tested in advance on multiple environments and platforms. In many cases, whole teams of developers are testing new updates. They need new settings generated directly, and this is where automation comes into play and shines. Developers can set up new environments with an OS, browser, and other tools that they need in a blink of an eye.

IaC (Infrastructure as Code)

IaC is actually one of the most common uses of automation. This process is what manages and deploys VM’s, cloud storage volumes (when you order new CBS or Object Storage platform, for example), networks, load balancers, and many other available components and services. Basically, we create templates to manage all of these functions and services and allow IaC to oversee these processes. Now that we have provided some examples of automation and its usage let’s review some of the most common cloud automation tools.

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Cloud automation tools

Kubernetes

Kubernetes is a widely used open-source system for automation used to manage containerized workloads and services. Today, all major cloud providers are offering their own branded versions of Kubernetes, including Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, to name a few.

Puppet

Puppet is one of the oldest tools in use today for use in IaC. When we are looking for a server cluster and management automation tool, Puppet meets that need. It is also an open-source software but does have an available enterprise version.

Ansible

Ansible is an IaC friendly tool developed by Red Hat. The enterprise version of this tool is called Ansible Tower, and it is capable of performing automation and orchestration tasks. We will conclude this article with Ansible.

Docker

Docker is a containerization software that is used for automating the deployment and management of applications within an isolated environment. This software allows us to “pack” and ship an application, along with all of its needed files, libraries, and dependencies, into a “docker container“. That container can then be easily ported to any Linux system that contain cgroups support within the kernel, and provides a container management environment. Docker is one of several containerization implementations (not to be confused with virtualization) based on this cgroups mechanisms built into the Linux kernel.

These are just a few of the essential tools used in cloud automation, but we have merely scratched the surface of the available devices and utilities available to us.

Overall, Cloud automation is a winning choice for many businesses if a stable, continuous, and permanent management of infrastructure is required.

Our Support Teams are replete with talented Linux technicians and System administrators who have an intimate knowledge of multiple web hosting technologies, especially those discussed in this article. If you are a Fully Managed VPS server, Cloud Dedicated, VMWare Private Cloud, Private Parent server or a Dedicated server owner and you are uncomfortable with performing any of the steps outlined, we can be reached via phone @800.580.4985, a chat or support ticket to assisting you with this process.

How to Install INXI on Ubuntu 18.04

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INXI is one of the best tools that offer a straightforward and comprehensive method for obtaining a wealth of information about a server with a single command.

There are a myriad of individual tools and commands that can be utilized to glean this information from a Linux system. Understanding the specific hardware that underlies a Linux server is an integral part of understanding that server’s capabilities. In this tutorial, we will cover the installation of INXI on an Ubuntu 18.04 server. It will also include some basic command-line usage of the INXI tool.

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Docker For Beginners

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What is Docker?

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Docker is a containerization software that is used for automating the deployment and management of applications within an isolated environment. This software allows us to “pack” and ship an application, along with all of its needed files, libraries, and dependencies, into a “docker container“. That container can then be easily ported to any Linux system that contain cgroups support within the kernel, and provides a container management environment. Docker is one of several containerization implementations (not to be confused with virtualization) based on this cgroups mechanisms built into the Linux kernel.

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The Best DevOps Tools for Infrastructure Automation

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Today, DevOps teams try to utilize automation as much as possible. This is to cut down on the sheer number of repeatable processes to limit man-hours worked, throttle development efforts, and to reduce the possibility of errors. This is also a business necessity to reduce overhead costs, increase the speed of the CI/CD process and increase customer satisfaction. There are multiple individual areas that need to be automated to have a fully autonomous infrastructure. Luckily, there are various tools we can take advantage of to help us automate our infrastructure and make sure we have well-developed DevOps processes. In this article we will go over the several of the best DevOps tools for our infrastructure systems.

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How to Install Docker on CentOS 8

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What is Docker?

Before we begin, let’s describe what Docker is. Docker is a set of virtualization tools that allows us to create, test, and deploy containerized applications quickly and easily on a dedicated server. It has become very popular and used almost everywhere in our daily lives. Thanks to containerization, we can quickly launch applications on different cloud platforms utilizing small bundles which contain all the needed packages, libraries and configuration file to run an application. These docker packages communicate via established network channels.

Docker Silhouette
Docker Silhouette
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Top Ten 2019 Password Security Standards

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Here are the top ten password security standards and specification for 2019. Use these tips to increase your overall security and remember, your server is only as secure as your weakest password or point of authentication.

Follow these top 10 best practices for 2019 to better protect all of your information.

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The Benefits Of Containerization

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Fast, Portable and Secure.

Containerization is a technology that is taking the IT world by storm! It’s no surprise considering the considerable benefits of shifting to a container based deployment.

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Today we’ll be discussing the top benefits of containers, and why you might want to consider containers for your next web app. Let’s dig in!

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What’s My DNS?

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What is DNS?

If you are new to web hosting, you may have heard the term DNS, but you might not be sure what it means or how it is essential to you. DNS is short for Domain Name System, and it is the process by which the whole Internet organizes and easier way for humans to reach websites.

Numbers or IP addresses identify all of the computers/websites connected to the Internet. While computers have no trouble identifying each other using these strings of numbers, it would be challenging for humans if we had to remember a set of numbers for every website we wanted to visit! Fortunately, DNS translates domain names like liquidweb.com to an IP address and back, so all we need to know to find a website is the name. For a more in-depth discussion of the DNS system, see Understanding the DNS Process.

You can use the DNS Tree for a quick, visual comparison of the records that exist on all of your nameservers. Making sure your records match across nameservers and that they match your server is an essential part of troubleshooting possible website issues. If you’re error messages like “This site can’t be reached” or “webpage is not available”, the DNS Tree may help you figure out where the problem exists.

 

How Do I Check My DNS?

Verifying accurate DNS records is essential for navigating traffic to the correct web server. You can use Liquid Web’s Internet Webhosting Toolkit to view your current, authoritative DNS records. Just go to the toolkit’s site, click on the DNS Tree tab, enter your domain name, and click Submit.

lw dns tree

Note
Our servers will query your domain’s nameservers for the most common DNS record types. If a domain is not registered or if no DNS records exist for the domain, you’ll receive an error message indicating that the records are not available. This may suggest that your nameservers are unavailable for some reason, especially if you are hosting those nameservers on a private server.

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If you have registered your domain and set DNS records our tool will display the results in an easy to see “tree” of records, organized from most general to most specific.

lw dns tree detail

In our example, we are looking up the records for liquidweb.com, so the tree begins with that domain at the far left of the screen.

lw dns tree domain

The next set of records displayed are the Authoritative Nameservers for the domain. These are the servers designated as the holders of the records for this domain. If you want to change the records for this domain, you must change them on these servers. Changing records anywhere else won’t make reflect DNS changes. Your domain can have one, two, or as many Authoritative Nameservers as you would like but most websites use at least two for redundancy and stability.

lw dns tree nameservers

 

The next set of entries in the DNS Tree show the Types of records that are available. DNS record types are unique for each kind of DNS function.

  • An “A Record” is used to identify primary IP addresses of given domains.
  • MX Records” are used for email routing and delivery.
  • TXT records” hold additional information about the domain, like SSL validations, DKIM entries, or SPF records.

For more information about DNS record types, see DNS Record Types.

lw dns tree record types

The final “column” of entries displays the actual DNS record. This is typically an IP address for an “A record”, and domain name for an “MX record”, or a string of text for a “TXT record”. Hovering the mouse over a circle will display all of the information for the record in a pop-out window, including the TTL, Type, and Data.

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If you’ve made recent changes to your DNS records, the toolkit may be showing an older, or cached, version of the records. The TTL portion of the record indicates how frequently the DNS system should update its records. TTL is shown in seconds, so a typical setting of 3600 means that servers will be asked to update your records every 6 minutes.

The delay that occurs during this period is referred to as propagation. Some DNS changes, like nameserver changes, can take up to 72 hours to propagate, so if you are going to be making changes to your DNS records, you’ll want to lower your TTL values for a quick update. For more information on reducing your TTLs, see How To: Lowering Your DNS TTLs.

If you need additional help, Liquid Web customer’s can contact the Most Helpful Humans in Hosting via ticket, chat, or phone (1-800-580-4985) at any time and we’ll do our best to make sure everything is working correctly.

 

Why Is Most of My Memory Being Used?

Reading Time: 2 minutesOften we hear a lot of customers asking why, when their server is largely idle, much of their RAM appears to be in use.

When RAM is not needed for other functions, your server will load frequently-accessed files into memory in order to read them more quickly. When a file is loaded into RAM, the server can access the information orders of magnitude faster than from disk. A modern SSD disk can read files at up to around 500-700 MB/second, if the files are in sequential units. However, RAM can be read at GB/second rates; or even tens of GB/second.

If the RAM becomes needed for another function, these files are quickly flushed out of memory, and the RAM becomes available for other tasks. Continue reading “Why Is Most of My Memory Being Used?”

Enable Remote MySQL Connections in cPanel

Reading Time: 2 minutesRemote MySQL connections are disabled by default in cPanel servers because they are considered a potential security threat. Using the tools in the Web Host Manager (WHM) and the domain-level cPanel interface (usually http://domainname.com/cpanel) remote hosts can be added which the server allows connecting to the MySQL service.

Before using either of the following techniques, you will need to open up port 3306 in your server’s firewall.

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