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Introducing GoGrid Version 2.0

August 11th, 2009 by - 9,684 views

Drum roll please! We are excited to announce the availability of GoGrid version 2.0, released today to all users. This is an important release from a product standpoint as it positions GoGrid firmly as the easiest to use hosting provider within the Cloud Computing Infrastructure marketplace.

GG2_logo_tabs

What is new with GoGrid in the 2.0 release?

  • MyGSI – GoGrid Server Images
  • Improved Server Deployment Times
  • IP Addresses in Passwords Tab

The 10,000 Foot View

Before I get into the 100 foot view, it is probably important to talk about what MyGSIs mean to you from a higher level.

The great thing about using a MyGSI for server creation is that you are creating copies of a server that you have already pre-configured. Some use cases that immediately come to mind are:

  • Vertical Scaling – if you find that your current server needs more RAM to run more efficiently, you can quickly deploy a new server based on a MyGSI with more RAM allocated in minutes
  • Horizontal Scaling – now you can create “clones” of a master image (MyGSI), all running the same customized code that is defined in the MyGSI
  • Server Parking – many GoGrid users have been asking for a way to “park” a server without having to leave it fully deployed. Once you create a MyGSI, you store in within Cloud Storage for a nominal monthly fee. Servers can be instantiated quickly from MyGSIs, used, and then deleted, eliminating the need to always have a GoGrid server running.

A bit more detail on using Cloud Storage to store MyGSIs. For one, you can utilize the free 10 GBs we give you with every GoGrid account. Also, since each additional GB on Cloud Storage is $0.15/GB/mo, you can effectively store multiple MyGSIs for just a couple of dollars a month. When a MyGSI is prepped for storage, we heavily compress it before loading it there. Typically, Linux MyGSIs are just a few GBs in size and Windows MyGSIs slightly larger. For example, an 8GB MyGSI would cost you only $1.20 per month!

So, let’s get into the practical details of this release.

MyGSI – GoGrid Server Images

Perhaps the most exciting feature in the GoGrid 2.0 release is MyGSIs. Back in April, I gave some information about MyGSIs. Today, the full details are revealed. We have stuck to making the process of creating personal server images on GoGrid as straight-forward and easy as possible. There are THREE steps:

  1. Add an Image Sandbox
  2. Run the Preparation Script
  3. Save your Image

Really, that is all there is to it! We mirrored much of the functionality you were already accustomed to when you create a GoGrid server, again with the goal of making your work intuitive and simple.

Understanding the Terms

  • Image Sandbox – the Image Sandbox is a development environment (an actual server running on GoGrid) where you create a “MyGSI”. The Image Sandbox varies slightly from a traditional GoGrid server in that it has a fixed hard-drive size (20 GB) and RAM allotment (2 GBs).
  • MyGSI – a personal server image that is used as a “Golden Master” server image to deploy GoGrid servers based on that image.
  • Preparation “Prep” Script – a script that resides on all Image Sandboxes that allows you to prepare a server for imaging. The script is available on Linux and Windows servers and is executed by the end-user once the Image Sandbox is fully configured and ready to be imaged.

Step 1 – Adding an Image Sandbox

You will notice now that we have reorganized and added some things to the Add menu of the GoGrid Dashboard (which has some changes as well including a new Images tab).

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At the top, you now see Image Sandbox which is where you start when you want to create a new MyGSI. Also note that we have changed the order of the elements, since logically, you only deploy a Load Balancer at the end of an Infrastructure build-out. Note: Please be sure that you have Cloud Storage deployed before trying to save a MyGSI (at the end of the process).

To start creating an Image Sandbox, click Add > Image Sandbox. You will be presented with Step 1 of the Image Creation process:

GG2_add_image_step1

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the steps and details of each item (note: the text in these screenshots may not accurately represent the final wording within GoGrid as they were taken prior to the release of GoGrid v2.0). Once you have read the details, click Yes, Continue to proceed.

You will see the familiar Server Image selection widget:

GG2_add_image_step1a

Note: Some server image availability may change over time

With this recently introduced Server Image widget, you can search, sort, filter, group and drill-down quickly and easily until you find the GoGrid server image you would like to base your Sandbox Image on. In the image below, I have filtered by “Database Server” and “CentOS” operating system.

GG2_add_image_step1a_filter

Note: Some server image availability may change over time

Click Next to continue. You will be presented with a form where you can define the Name, Description and IP Address of your Image Sandbox.

GG2_add_image_step1b_filled

Note: Some server image availability may change over time

Once you have completed the information, click Save and the server will be saved to your GoGrid dashboard.

Step 2 – Run Preparation Script

After clicking Save, you will be presented with Step 2 of the Image Creation process. This is known as the Image preparation stage.

GG2_add_image_step2

During this stage, you should fully configure your server to your liking. What that means is you can upload data, code, programs, web applications, etc. to your Image Sandbox, essentially anything that you would want to include in future GoGrid servers that are spawned based on this image. If you do have lots of data you want to include, it is recommended that you store this within Cloud Storage and then retrieve the data from there once other servers have been instantiated from the MyGSI.

Connect to your Image Sandbox the same way you would a standard GoGrid server, either via SSH (for Linux servers) or RDC (for Windows servers). Your Image Sandbox will feel and act like a traditional GoGrid server. Once you have configured the Image Sandbox and you feel it is ready to be “imaged,” you need to execute the Preparation Script.

The Preparation Script is conveniently located within both Windows and Linux servers:

Linux – In the root directory, type “ls” and you will see a script called: “prep.py“:

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To execute this script, type: “./prep.py” and hit Enter. You will be presented with some information about the Preparation Script:

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If you are ready to start the Imaging process, type “yes” otherwise type “no”. You can execute the script whenever you are ready. When the script starts, you will receive the following message:

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Windows – to execute the preparation script in Windows, go to the Start button and select “Run”. In the Run box, type in “prep” and hit Enter.

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When the preparation script runs, you receive the following alert. If you are ready to image your server, click Yes, otherwise, click No.

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Once you click Yes, you have another chance to exit out of the imaging process. Read through the information carefully.

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After clicking Yes, the script will start and the imaging process will begin.

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At this point on either Linux or Windows, your Image Sandbox will shut itself down. Return to the GoGrid Dashboard and wait until the icon that indicates that status of your server turns RED.

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Once your Image Sandbox has stopped, you are ready for Step 3 of the Image Creation process.

Step 3 – Save Your Image

Now that your Image Sandbox is in a stopped state, you can save it as a MyGSI which will load it to Cloud Storage for later use.

When you select your Image that you want to save, you will see a new action that you can do, either by right-clicking on the image:

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Or by looking at the menu on the dashboard:

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The action you would take is Save. Choosing this will delete the Image Sandbox and transfer it over to Cloud Storage. When initiating this process, you see Step 3.

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It is at this point that you should be sure that you have Cloud Storage mounted within your GoGrid Dashboard. Once you click Yes, Continue you are asked for an Image Name and Description:

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This process typically takes about 15 minutes to 1 hour to complete, depending on the Operating System and the amount of data you have loaded to the Image Sandbox. Once the imaging is complete, the Image Sandbox will no longer appear on the Grid Dashboard but will appear under the new Images section. The picture below shows the image being saved:

GG2_add_image_step3c_saving_image_tab

Once the process is complete, the State column will show “Available” meaning that the image can be used for creation of GoGrid servers. Note: the current release does not support the deletion of stored images, however, we will be releasing this functionality shortly.

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You can always see a history of all of the actions that take place within the Jobs tab.

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You are now ready to deploy new GoGrid Cloud Servers using your newly created MyGSI!

Creating Servers from MyGSIs

The process for creating a new GoGrid server from a MyGSI is the same as creating a standard GoGrid server. Simply click Add and launch the Server Selection widget:

GG2_add_server_from_image

Note: Some server image availability may change over time

You will see that the MyGSI created earlier appears with the Name that you entered when defining the MyGSI as well as has an Owner name different than “GoGrid”. In the example above, the owner is called “ServePath”.

GG2_add_server_from_image_details

Note: Some server image availability may change over time

Remember that you can Group columns within the Server Image widget, making it quite easy to find the MyGSIs you have created previously.

GG2_add_server_from_image_grouped_owner

Note: Some server image availability may change over time

Another nice thing is, if you want to create a new MyGSI based on a previously created MyGSI, you can do this the same way you would create a new MyGSI. This allows you to create different “versions” of your own images which is especially helpful if you are doing lots of performance tuning of your code or trying new configurations.

So there you have it, MyGSIs in a nutshell. I will bet you didn’t think it would be THAT easy to do!

Improved Server Deployment Times

While much of our engineering effort was focused on bringing MyGSIs to life, in that process we also completely overhauled the system that stores the base GoGrid server images, resulting in a dramatic decrease in deployment times. We have benchmarked the following:

  • Linux servers now deploy in less than 2 minutes and are accessible via SSH after 5 minutes
  • Windows servers instantiate in less than 5 minutes and are available via RDC after 8 minutes

Do note, however, server deployment times can vary depending on overall system load (e.g., if multiple “adds” are being processed in succession), but on average, users should see much faster deployment times as of this release.

IP Addresses in the Passwords Tab

Lastly, I want to mention a small but incredibly useful change. We have added “IP Address” as an additional column to the Passwords tab. With this change, you now have all of the required information to connect to your servers remotely in one place:

GG2_password_IPaddress

In Summary

Pretty exciting stuff if I do say so myself. We would love to get your feedback on all of the new features and the performance of GoGrid version 2.0 so drop us a note or leave a comment! Remember, more information can also be found on the GoGrid product site, within the GoGrid Wiki (for full documentation) and in the GoGrid Forums. We have some showcase videos posted to the main GoGrid site as well so be sure to review the “How It Works” section.

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Michael Sheehan

Michael Sheehan, formerly the Technology Evangelist for GoGrid, is a recognized technology, social media, and cloud computing pundit and blogger who writes regularly about technology news and trends.

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