In a recent blog about Serverless Computing, David Hut described several abstraction layers in services a cloud can offer. Most private clouds focus on compute, VM or container (orchestration) as a service with a IaaS offering. Modern services tend to go up the chain to supply more functionality as a service, where the underlying infrastructure is less relevant.
Nutanix is no exception to this trend, and delivers more services where the underlying infrastructure is “invisible”. One of those services is Nutanix ERA. Nutanix ERA delivers “Database as a Service” (DBaaS) offerings for existing database engines. Those database engines include Oracle, Postgres, MS SQL, MariaDB and MySQL. This “as a Service” relates back to the ability ERA delivers to deploy those above mentioned database engines fully automated and via the API. Without extensive knowledge about the underlying hardware, storage or operating systems.
Era 1.3 release
Recently ERA 1.3 has been released. Era is on a rapid release cycle with many new features and improvements in every release. This posts contains some of the most important improvements. All changes in this release can be found in the release notes on download page of Nutanix ERA.
Era 1.3 now supports the provisioning of, and the Time Tachine clones from, clustered database engines like Oracle RAC, Microsoft SQL Server AG, and PostgreSQL HA databases.
As part of provisioning a high available MS SQL cluster, Era creates a new database server VM, Windows failover cluster, always on availability groups (AG), database, and adds the database to the availability group. This database in this AG can be used as a source in Era’s Time machines functionality allowing easy and fast clones that use minimal diskspace (only changes).
For Oracle this means ERA can fully automated provision a Oracle RAC database consisting of 2 or more instances running on different nodes. Oracle RAC instances on different nodes can read and write to a single database. A single time machine for the database is created that collects information of all the nodes and uses any available node to quiescence and snapshot the database.
The automated provisioning for PostgreSQL creates a HA PostgreSQL instance with one master, where the other node(s) server as replica(s). The master nodes is both read and write, the replica nodes are read only but can be promoted to become master and accept writes when the old master is unavailable. The master node is used in the ERA time machine and changes in master node are detected by ERA. Besides the PostgreSQL nodes, HAProxy VM’s are deployed to act as a single High Available IP address for applications to send SQL queries to. Based on port number HAProxy detects if the SQL query is write or read and direct writes to the master nodes and other traffic is loadbalanced over the replica nodes.
MS SQL improvements
Besides the AG improvements there are 2 other improvements worth mentioning. The first is the ability to restore a database into a higher versions of MS SQL. This allows you to do very fast upgrades of the MS SQL database engine as the restore does not include a full copy of the database, but uses the smart clones of Nutanix for this. This allows a migration strategy with little to no downtime and includes roll-back options.
The ability to restore a source database from a point in time is added. This allows you to quickly restore a database to a known good state in the past based on the Time Machine data. This will overwrite the source database, so a little care should be taken. 🙂
For a customer that runs a database on a physical AG setup, with many replica’s on a Nutanix environment era was used to streamline the solution. We created a setup which uses AG to clone a database to Nutanix. ERA is then used to pick-up that database and quickly and efficiently create replica’s for many test purposes. This saved many TiB’s of storage and restoring a database came down from many hours to several minutes in a fully automated fashion via the API. Please read more on the API part here.
Try it yourself
If you would like to start your journey with Era, please read more about Era here, or run the “Test Drive” on that page to get some hands on experience with Nutanix and Era.