Stable V5 Is Now The Default Stack

As mentioned in a previous announcement, Engine Yard has released our latest stack, stable v5. With many feature enhancements and stabilization in the past three months, we are thrilled to announce that we have made stable v5 the default stack for the Engine Yard PaaS platform.

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Building Rails Applications in Docker

Docker images can provide a powerful interface for deploying your Rails applications. Everything your application needs in order to run can be packaged inside a Docker image. The Docker images can then be deployed from your laptop, staging and to production. This greatly increases the parity between your development and production environments when making a Rails application.

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Monitoring & Alerting for your app, Improved!

When you build, run, and scale an application, being able to monitor it and alert accordingly is a core need. At Engine Yard, side by side with our leading Platform offering, we do also include monitoring & alerting as well, with a Support Team backing it all up.

What do we watch for you

Our Platform monitors a series of indicators on each running instance, like CPU, memory, swap, and disk usage. Additionally, our Backend monitors events from AWS’s CloudWatch, including system level issues and CPU credits on t2 instances. When it comes to database instances, all of the above is included plus the monitoring of db specifics such as replication state, connectivity, connection limits, and the presence of long idle transactions.

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Faster Database Transfers

Sometimes it becomes necessary to move your database from one environment to another. Common reasons for this include:

  • Updating a Testing or Development environment with Production data
  • Migrating from one stack version to another (e.g. Stable-v4 -> Stable-v5)
  • Upgrading to a newer major version of your database (e.g. MySQL 5.5 -> MySQL 5.6 or Postgres 9.2 -> Postgres 9.4)
  • Upgrading storage to Encrypted EBS
  • Upgrading the filesystem to EXT4

The traditional method involves three database related steps:

  1. Creating an on-demand backup in the source environment.
  2. Downloading the most recent backup in the source environment.
  3. Transferring and Restoring the backup from the source to the target environment.

This results in some time and processing inefficiency since using eybackup uploads the backup to s3 and then it needs to be downloaded as a separate operation. For a small database this works just fine; unfortunately, for large databases this extra step could add hours to your migration plan. A better way to approach this would be to use the database-native backup tools to backup the source database to a file, and then transfer that file to the destination for restore.

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What Engine Yard Learned from the 10/26/2016 DNS DDoS Attack, and What You Can Too

The DDoS attack that happened on Friday, October 21st 2016, took a massive number of websites offline and caused widespread outages. Even if your application wasn’t affected, you more than likely noticed that some of your favorite sites were completely inaccessible for a period of time. The attack made one thing very clear: there are single points of failure all over the Internet, even in this day and age of hyper-conscious networking security.

Even Engine Yard, which prides itself on being an incredibly secure platform, was affected negatively by the late October attack and suffered platform downtime. Although these attacks are a scary display of Internet insecurity, they present a great opportunity to make your application and offering stronger. Studying what happened and learning from these attacks is an important piece of getting better and stronger. Here’s what we learned to harden our platform, and what you can too.

Through detailed investigation, Engine Yard identified the individual components of our platform that failed as a result of the DDOS attack and has implemented changes that prevent recurrence of these events; specifically, Engine Yard has set up alternative DNS service providers. At a moment’s notice, Engine Yard is now able to switch among multiple providers in the event of a similar DDoS attack in the future.

Engine Yard highly recommends that all of our customers also look into solutions such as this. In addition to setting up multiple DNS providers, creating a well documented process to switch from one provider to another in the case of an emergency is also important. Ensuring your documentation is clear and easy to follow will allow almost anyone within your organization to assist in an emergency. We also suggest that you undertake a series of simulated dry-runs, so that when the moment comes, you’ll be ready.

These types of attacks present a hidden opportunity to learn and develop safer systems. Our mission is to not only harden our own platform, but help our clients reduce their own risk as well.

If you have any feedback, please contact Engine Yard at customersuccess@engineyard.com.

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