(draft) The future of self-healing support in SuSE

How to improve security, reliability and performance in your datacenter with devops, self-healing and orchestration

Gustavo (capcom) Figueira - SuSE L3 November 2017

Glossary:

  • SR - Service request
  • DSRH - Default SR handler
  • ESRH - Escalation SR handler
  • CDR - Call detail record
  • SCC - SuSE Customer Center
  • RHCP - Red Hat Customer Portal

Prologue

supportconfig sca

Introduction

You've just deployed a new version of your application in your dev vms running SLES. After starting the performance tests you receive an email notification about a new bug filled in your Bugzilla project which reads:

  TID 3597 - MCE detected in host nfs_vm1, host group BZ: NFS Cluster

Made possible by OpenSUPPORT

Chapter 1 - OpenSUPPORT

According to Dyntrace, the only barrier to self-healing is orchestration, to be more precise the lack of it or the troubleshooting overhead of having it.

You are sure there is no SPOF in a new LUN by having double controllers in both ends and by sparing disks for your RAID 5, so perhaps you could spare nodes in your data-center to wake from LAN and start spinning your end-points.

With orchestration, it is possible to feed a "circuit breaker" in case any of your systems running SLES is having troubles. This moves your support to an automated system that deals with tickets and get you closer to problem resolution. Gone are the days a human is needed to open a ticket or upload support data.

Chapter 2 - SuSE's Operations API

The Operations API is the centerpiece of OpenSUPPORT, and allows your SLES servers to open service requests and feed data to orchestration software so your system can self-heal. This can be done via remediation agents, meaning evacuation of a cluster host or shutdown of a system and provision of a new one. Think of it as an enabler of a Self-healing Infrastructure.

                 <img OpenSUPPORT.png>

The SR Router, upon receiving a CDR from the Operations API will generate a new ticket in your SR tool of choice. Based on your host group and the type of incident (detected by needles or manual escalation), it will route the SR to the appropriate system.

Then the Self-healing and orchestration layer is responsible for the logic behind disabling and enabling hosts, acting upon events and rules. A good example of such layer is StackStorm.

Let's say one of your systems encounter a memory problem. You might want to disable this system so a hardware team can run a health check. If this is part of a cluster, the host can be evacuated at a time of your choice, and if this is an active/active instance in your OpenStack, the node can be shutdown. At the same time a ticket is being created in your Bugzilla/Jira/SCC, so the right people can troubleshoot the problem and release the server to be reused.

Chapter 3 - supportconfig --needles

OpenSUPPORT needles are the OS part of OpenSUPPORT. They run in your server or in your VM as part of SLES and upon detecting a known problem they will:

1) Create a CDR in /var/log/opensupport.log pointing you to the relevant TID

2) Send the CDR to Operations API

 201707121630|vm1|172.16.32.1|mce_needle|tid:3467|critical|has_attachments

Attachments can be generated (support-tool) before CDR is submitted to the API. You can even script what data you need to gather into a custom needle.

If no one acts upon the issue, you can escalate the issue by login in the affected system and issuing:

# opensupport escalate attachments

or

# opensupport escalate

This will generate another CDR and in case you have a ESRH in your host group, it will escalate the SR to one or more ESRH. The first example will also attach support data to the handler so the team can troubleshoot the issue.

 201707121630|vm1|172.16.32.1|escalation|no_tid|critical|has_attachments

Alternatively you can escalate the SR via the Operations API Interface:

    <img Operations_API_Interface.png>

Chapter 4 - Integrating the Operations API in your infrastructure:

  • Spin the OpenSUPPORT container in HA cluster node and assign a public
  • address
  • Add the Operations API IP to your DNS or /etc/hosts
  • Install OpenSUPPORT in your SLES and edit /etc/opensupport/config pointing to the Operations API hostname
  • Login to the Operations API interface and add a DSRH to the "unhandled
  • host group" and add the proper credentials. Upon registration hosts are automatically added to the unhandled host group.
  • You can also create personalized host groups with different handlers

Chapter 5 - Technical desings

  • 15 minutes max run, continue where it left off

Chatper 6 - Where's the industry going?

Facebook, LinkedIn, Netflix, and other hyper-scale operators use event-driven automation and workflows to automatically generate tickets, and they have built their own remediation layer to treat not only OS issues but also application issues. Facebook's Dapper, the orchestration layer, has 5% of the tickets being generated by automation. Hundred's of man hours are saved by automating the process.

Enterprise Linux will continue to grow, and some problems can be dealt with head-on approach. More novice admins will emerge, and leading customers to a more fault-tolerant infrastructure is paramount to keep a lean support organization.

OpenSUPPORT might be the solution for these needs

These inbound "proactive" tickets should be dealt in bundles, by automating responses broke down into 3 layers. The first touch should be a comprehensive message breaking down all the knowledge in small and simple parts. The next two layers should address more in-depth resolution to each particular problem.

The CDR is a fail-safe log in case orchestration and SR handlers are not in place. They can become notifications in Gnome or they could be redirected to the console output as a mean to simplify Linux troubleshooting.

Appendix A - DSRH and ESRH handling

Every host group should have a DSRH and alternatively many ESRH's:

Unhandled host group
Hosts: app1, app2, db1, db2
    DSRH: Jira - project MyEnterprise_nodes

Host group #1
Hosts: app_cluster1, app_cluster2
    DSRH: BZ - project MyAppDevNodes
    ESRH: SCC - user mycompany_level1

Host group #2
Hosts: mysql1, mysql2, mysql3, web1, web2, web3
    DSRH: SCC - user myproject_level1
    ESRH: SCC - user myproject_level2
    ESRH: SCC - user myproject_level3

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