While there is a deserved amount of publicity around the introduction of ARM compute onto OCI with the ARM Ampere CPU offering, and the amazing level of always free compute being provided (24GB of memory and 4 cores which can be used in any combination of servers). There have been some interesting announcements that perhaps haven’t drawn as much attention that they deserve. This includes OCI support for GitHub Actions, plus several new DevOps services and an Artifact Registry. We’ll comeback to the new services in another post. Today, let’s look at GitHub Actions.
OCI Always Free compute node has a restriction that isn’t clearly documented or obvious when you go to a instantiate such compute resources. That restriction is the absence of OCI Custom logging. This is a little surprising given that this capability is based on Fluentd and the compute footprint needed by Fluentd is so small. In the following screen shot, as you can see when configuring the compute, there is no reason to believe you can’t use OCI Logging for custom logs.
But when you go to configure the custom logging on your running compute, you can see that the feature is disabled with the message about the restriction. It would have been nice, to have the warning on the creation phase, as if I’d manually setup the VM then went to switch on OCI Logging knowing where I’d deployed my applications, I’d have wasted time in the setup.
Solution, use one of the AMD Flex or Previous Generation to minimize the footprint to your needs.
UPDATE 09th June 2021
We’ve been told that the this constraint has been addressed. In addition Oracle also introduced the new Ampere offering which allows for nodes with a form factor of upto 4 OCPU and 24GB of RAM using the new ARM chips. You can also use variations on this such as 4x 1 OCPU 6GB RAM
OKit is a tremendous tool for the visual design and development for your Oracle Cloud environment. Visualizing your networks, positioning of service gateways and so on makes it a lot easier than filling in web forms or writing Terraform files as you can see the relationships between the different parts far more easily. For the same reason really that a lot of people use Visio and other tools for this work. The real beauty is that OKit can generate the Terraform and Ansible scripting that can then be used to deliver the implementation.
The tool isn’t currently an official Oracle product, but something built by the Oracle A-Team (a small team of gurus who have a role blending developer advocacy, architect supporting customers for the special edge cases and providing thought leadership). But we can hope that someone brings it into the fold and perhaps even incorporates it securely into the cloud dashboard. In the mean time, the code in its entirety is available on GitHub.
Oracle’s data integration product landscape outside of GoldenGate has with the arrival of Oracle Cloud been confusing at times. This has meant finding the right product documentation can be challenging, and knowing which product to use in your own technology road-map can be harder to formulate. I believe the landscape is starting to settle now. But to understand the position, let’s look at the causes of disturbance and the changes that have occurred.
Why the complexity?
This has come from I think a couple of key factors. The organizational challenges triggered by Thomas Kurian’s departure which has resulted in rather than the product organization being essentially in three parts aligning roughly to Infrastructure, Platform and Applications to being two Infrastructure and Apps. Add to this Oracle’s cloud has gone through two revolutions. Generation 1 now called Classic was essentially a recognition that they needed an answer to Microsoft, Google and AWS quickly (Oracle are now migrating customers off classic). Then came Generation 2, which is a more considered strategy which is leveraging not just the lowest level stack of virtualization (network and compute), but driving changes all the way through the internals of applications by having them leverage common technologies such as microservices along with a raft of software services such as monitoring, logging, metering, events, notifications, FaaS and so on. Essentially all the services they offer are also integral to their own offerings. The nice thing about Gen2 is you can see a strong alignment to CNCF (Cloud Native Compute Foundation) along with other open public standards (formal or de-facto such as Microprofile with Helidon and Apache). As a result despite the perceptions of Oracle, modern apps are standard a better chance of portability.
Impact on ODI
Oracle’s Data Integration capabilities, cloud or otherwise have been best known as Oracle Data Integrator or ODI. The original ODI was the data equivelent of SOA Suite implementing Extract Load Transform (ELT) rather than ETL as it meant the Oracle DB was fully leveraged. This was built on the WebLogic server.
Along Came Cloud
Oracle cloud came along, and there is a natural need for ODI capabilities. Like SOA Suite, the first evolution was to provide ODI Cloud Service just like SOA Suite had SOA Cloud Service. Both are essentially the same on-premises product with UIs to manage deployment and configuration.
ODI’s cloud transformation for the cloud lead ODI CS evolving into DIPC (Data Integration Platform Cloud). Very much an evolution, but with a more web centered experience for designing the integrations. However, DIPC is no longer available (except possible to customers already using it).
Whilst DIPC had been evolving the requirement to continue with on-premises ODI capabilities is needed. Whilst we don’t know for sure, we can speculate that there was divergent development happening creating overhead as ODI as an on-prem solution remained. We then saw the arrival of ODI Marketplace, this provides an easier transition, including taking into account licensing considerations. DIPC has been superseded by ODI Marketplace.
Oracle has developed a Marketplace just like the other major players so that 3rd party vendors could offer their technologies on the Oracle cloud, just as you can with Azure and AWS. But Oracle have also exploited it to offer their traditional products normally associated with on-premise deployments in the cloud. As a result we saw ODI Marketplace. A smart move as it offers the possibility of exploiting on-prem licensing into the cloud along with portability.
So far the ODI capabilities in its different forms continued to leverage its WebLogic foundations. But by this time the Gen2 Oracle Cloud and the organizational structures behind it has been well established, and working up the value stack. Those products in the middleware space have been impacted by both the technology strategies and organization. As a result API for example have been aligned to the OCI native space, but Integration Cloud has been moved towards the Apps space. in many respects this reflects a low code vs code native model.
This new product appears to be a very much ground up build as it exploits Apache Spark and Function as a Service (FaaS) as foundational elements. As a ground up build, it doesn’t inherit all the adapters the original ODI can offer. This does mean as a solution today it is very focused on some specific needs around supporting the data movement between the various Oracle Cloud storage and Database as a Service solutions rather than general ingestion and extraction processes.
Products are evolving, but the direction of travel appears to be resolving. But we are still in that period where there are capability gaps between the Gen2 native solution and the traditional ODI via Marketplace solution. As a result the question becomes less which product, but when and if I have to invest in using ODI Marketplace how to migrate when the native product catches up.
Earlier this month as part of the Virtual Oracle Developer Meetups, we were very fortunate to have Oracle Ace, Martien van den Akker present on the subject of the magic of correlations in SOA, BPM, and Oracle Integration Cloud. Martien not only presents to the Oracle community but also is very active on the Oracle community sites (community.oracle.com and Cloud Customer Connect) sharing his wealth of knowledge. When it comes to the tough questions about Oracle middleware tech on these platforms, you stand a good chance that Martien will be the one answering your question.
This insightful presentation not only addressed the traditional Oracle Integration approach using SOA and BPM but also contrasted the capabilities as provided by Oracle Cloud. Martien was generous enough to allow us to record the presentation and share it (below), along with the demo resources from:
Today was one of my sessions, whilst I only co-hosted, we got to hear a great presentation with a heart warming story which in this challenging times seems all the more appropriate. Christian McCabe (Steltix) and Filip Huysmans (Contribute) presented on how a multinational hackerthon spanning South Africa to Belgium was put together to only help children of Christel House (a charity who work to provide education to those who would not normally get access to it). Not only was the hackerthon engineered to given the students a chance to learn and experience software development in a pretty realistic context, it also provided the school with some software to help their everyday activities, in this case managing books in their library.
The hackerthon yielded a lot of successful outcomes (Steltix wrote about it here), but, what was really interesting is that whilst working with the school, children and interns (from both Steltix and Contribute) took a lot lessons away as well.
We’ve been told because of current events in the US that this event is going to be rescheduled.
I am pleased to say that I will be talking about Fluentd at the Cloud Native eParty virtual conference on 2nd June 2020. I’ll be presenting at 4pm, and then hanging out on the conference slack channel to answer any more questions people might have.
The news about Oracle offering some free cloud services ‘for life’ is making an impact. But, the free services don’t end there. The pricing of some other native cloud services includes some free bands. So it’s worth keeping an eye on the fine print. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see limited capacity access in other areas.
Oracle Functions – whilst the core of this service is built on the open-source Fn Project (also largely driven by Oracle) the managed service has a free tier allowing up to 2 million invocations that can consume 400, 000 gigabytes of memory per second use (details can be seen here). Plenty enough to experiment with the concepts behind Serverless aka FaaS capabilities.
Oracle Notifications whilst focussed on the technical side of gathering key event data from OCI and its services, as the document states “sending notifications to numerous interested parties, or even synchronizing the moving parts of a distributed application” – this obviously means a service with characteristics a bit like AWS’ SNS. Like SNS it can be hooked up to email and other HTTPS services using Oracle Events which also has free use. Events is particularly interesting as it is bases the event structure on the CNCF CloudEvents spec. There is an excellent illustration of such a use case in the Oracle blogs here.
It will be interesting to see if we a similar trend with other Oracle cloud-native services. A new take on the now-defunct Application Container Cloud Service (ACCS) would be an ideal vehicle – whether there is sufficient demand for such a capability is not clear (it would in effect be an always live service like a Kubernetes solution, but the simpler, smaller footprint more like Functions in a multi-tenant environment. At the same time, it doesn’t have potential latency of a Function being activated).
Whilst the weather may have put some off venturing out, not for our intrepid duo of presenters – Joost Volker (Oracle PM for a Blockchain) and Robert van Mölken Oracle Groundbreaker Ambassador and author of Blockchain Across a Oracle who both had to negotiate protesting farmers, traffic jams, flight delays (wrong kind of rain to land in London) and London’s rush hour traffic.
Getting to grips with FluentD configuration which describes how to handle logging event(s) it has to process can be a little odd (at least in my opinion) until you appreciate a couple of foundation points, at which point things start to click, and then you’ll find it pretty easy to understand.
It would be hugely helpful if the online documentation provided some of the points I’ll highlight upfront rather than throwing you into a simple example, which tells you about the configuration but doesn’t elaborate as deeply as may be worthwhile. Of course, that viewpoint may be born from the fact I have reviewed so many books I’ve come to expect things a certain way.
But before I highlight what I think are the key points of understanding, let me make the case getting to grips with FluentD.
Why master FluentD?
FluentD’s purpose is to allow you to take log events from many resources and filter, transform and route logging events to the necessary endpoints. Whilst is forms part of a standard Kubernetes deployment (such as that provided by Oracle and Azure for example) it can also support monolithic environments just as easily with connections working with common log formats and frameworks. You could view it as effectively a lightweight (particularly if you use FluentBit variant which is effectively a pared-back implementation) middleware for logging.
If this isn’t sufficient to convince you, if Google searches are a reflection of adoption, then my previous post reflecting upon Observability -London Oracle Developer Meetup shows a plot reflecting the steady growth. This is before taking into account that a number of cloud vendors have wrapped Fluentd/fluentbit into their wider capabilities such as Google (see here).
Not only can you see it as middleware for logging it can also have custom processes and adapters built through the use of Ruby Gems, making it very extensible.
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