Create a full-stack serverless web-app with a single file

Serverless is one of the biggest buzzwords of these years, and the implementation of solutions based on such architecture has been boosted by the release of AWS Lambda. This post describes a little experiment I conducted to learn more about this technology. I wanted to define and deploy a fully functional web-app (both back-end and front-end) based on RESTful services with one single file. Continue reading

Hunting Down Memory Issues in Rails

On a Friday a few weeks ago, we deployed a set of minor changes to one of our Rails apps. That evening, our servers started alerting on memory usage (> 95%). Our initial attempts to remedy this situation by reducing the Puma worker count on each EC2 instance didn’t help, and the memory usage remained uncomfortably high through the weekend. On Monday, we popped open NewRelic and had a look in the Ruby VM section. Indeed, both the Ruby heap and memory usage of each web worker process had begun a fairly sharp climb when we deployed on Friday, after being totally flat previously:

Heap Size Growing

However, over the same period of time, the number of objects allocated in each request remained fairly static:

Object Allocations Over the Same Period

If our requests aren’t creating more objects, but there are more and more objects in memory over time, some of them must be escaping garbage collection somehow. Continue reading

What your AutoScaling Groups can learn from rabbits

Rabbits, they are small, the are cute, they are fluffy…. and they are terrible fighters*.

rabbit-705759_640

Which is why evolution has favoured the skittish amongst them.

The rabbit which was overly cautious and ran away and the first hint of danger survived and went on to produce more rabbits. But the rabbit which was more laid back and waited until it was sure it was in peril before trying to flee did not. Of course running away does have a cost, and if you spend all your time running at the slightest sound you’ll expend a lot of energy and have no time to nibble at the grass and gain more**.

So what do rabbits have to do with Auto Scaling Groups (ASGs)?

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‘cfn2dsl’ – an open source tool to translate CloudFormation into Ruby DSL

In REA, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is our major development and production environment, and CloudFormation (CF) is one of the best tools we’ve found to manage deployments in AWS. At the time of writing, JSON is still the only template format supported by CloudFormation; but if you search for “Programming in JSON” in your favorite search engine, the results may be very disappointing. Some developers find writing JSON templates hard and have trouble with the data format, especially when the templates are big (you can’t have comments, syntactic strictness, etc).

At REA, we encourage people to explore and find new technologies to solve problems, improve product quality and speed up deployment cycles; this freedom to explore has given us a few choices for addressing this problem.

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Using our everyday dev tools for effective Load and Performance testing

Previously at REA we’d had very special tools for Load and Performance testing that were quite expensive, very richly featured but completely disconnected from our every day development tools. The main outcome of this was that we ended up with a couple of engineers who were quite good at L & P testing with our enterprise tools while the majority of engineers found the barriers too great. We have moved to an approach which is far more inclusive and utilises many of the tools our engineers are working with on a daily basis. I’ll talk about how we did this for the most recent project I worked on.

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Acquisition, Ownership, and Migration of Legacy Applications

Recently, I presented a talk at the DevOpsDays conference in Brisbane, Australia on how a team of people can utilise the best of DevOPS to deal with legacy applications. Specifically how migration, ownership, maintenance and handover of legacy applications can be handled.

The below video is a tale of such a journey that my team undertook recently.

DevOpsDays Brisbane 2014 – Mujtaba Hussain – Acquisition, Ownership, and Migration of Legacy Applications from devopsdays on Vimeo.