Automatic infrastructure installation and configuration by TSIU

In case of applications consisting of multiple distributed components, there is a great challenge when going in production with new applications or updating existing ones. This situation is typical for highly integrated applications that satisfy the modern needs. So either we return to the monolithic applications of the last century's '70s and '80s, or we face the above challenges.

A common problem is that the application installation in the test environment has been successful, but in a production environment there is always something a "little bit" different. If the production installation was apparently successful, you may find that the application operates differently in the production environment compared to the test environments.

Our experience shows that in most cases this is due to the fact that there are differences between the live and test/development environments, which affect the going live process on the one hand, and cause operational problems on the other hand.

We have identified several causes of the environmental differences:

  • During manual installation of the environment using graphical user interface or manually-edited response files, it's easy to make mistakes when providing the values for the required parameters.
  • When manually configuring test/development environments, often these configuration steps will not be documented and so will not be implemented in the production environment.
  • The order of installation/configuration steps of the various components can be interchanged accidentally, the consequences of which are often unpredictable.

The software upgrades also represent a very big task to maintain for the infrastructure operators: dependencies between products, tight deadlines. In fact, for each installable component an expert should be present during installation.

Thanks to the operating experience acquired over the years, we realized that our clients need a tool, methodology and support, which ensures that:

  • the test and production environments will be installed/configured with the same parameters (of course, the parameter values may be specific to their environment), and so they are the same in their structure.
  • the installation times can be planned, and of course less - at best an order of magnitude.
  • the appropriate installation documentation is available at any time and is guaranteed to contain the current state, facilitating debugging and installation repetition.

For this purpose we developed the appropriate tool, the so-called TSIU.

TSIU (T-Logic Script Install Utility) is an installation helper tool, which installs and configures the environment using the corresponding scripts, on the basis of a pre-written scenario. TSIU connects to computers to install to via SSH and runs the installation/configuration scripts locally.

The main benefits of TSIU:

  • the installations are repeatable.
  • the installation times are significantly shortened due to the parallel executable steps.
  • contains a huge collection of scripts, which can be expanded at any time (Jacl/Jython scripts for WebSphere AS configuration, operating system commands (installp, RPM, mkdir, mount, useradd, groupadd, chmod, chown, sed, etc.), installed product commands (ldapadd, apachectl, gsk7cmd), etc.
  • the installation scenario is XML-based, easy to understand, it serves also as the basis for documentation.
  • the environment variables can be managed easily, in one place.
  • the response and other configuration files are generated automatically from templates.
  • the presence of all relevant component experts is not required for each installation, once the installation scripts are made by them, the installation scripts can be used any number of times.
  • in sensitive environments TSIU encrypts passwords, SSH keys are used.
  • the log files generated during the installation are in one place, on the machine that TSIU is running on.
  • installable platforms: UNIX, Linux, Windows (Cygwin is needed).
  • installable product is any of the products which can be installed from the command line (silent mode). For example: ActiveVOS, DB2 products, Oracle RDBMS, WebSphere products, IBM HTTPServer, Tivoli products, JBOSS AS, etc.

Installation/configuration auditing can be assisted by integrating it with our TMON (T-Logic for monitoring SOA) product, which logs every step in the database and we can see at first glance that a specific installation process was successful or not, in the latter case, with a few clicks, we can find the erroneous step.

Related to TSIU we also recommend you our TRMT (T-Logic Release Management Tool for SOA) product which can be of great help not only to the operators but also to the developers. While TSIU is responsible for infrastructure installation, TRMT is performing the installation of web applications, also by scripts, complementing the TSIU. The TRMT is useful during the development of web applications by detecting dependencies between applications, the building of applications is performed by scripts.

TSIU has already been used since 2006 and continuously improved for the utmost satisfaction of our customers, who use it independently more and more.