ScriptRock GuardRail, First Take: Monitoring and Diagnosing Cloud-Based Servers

There is an old DevOps story of a developer who, when a member of the operations team asks why an app isn’t running on the live servers, responds “That’s fine on my laptop” . To which the only answer is “Okay, pass it on, we’re putting your laptop into production!” It has always been a problem to ensure that development and production systems have the same configuration, especially when deploying applications and services on automated cloud platforms.

ScriptRock’s GuardRail is designed to quickly identify configuration differences on servers and workstations, comparing states between systems and over time. With GuardRail, you can see exactly what’s changed, simplifying diagnostics and reducing downtime. If this developer and admin had used GuardRail, they could have compared the laptop and the failed server to see that, perhaps, a key configuration file had been changed, or the developer had used a different version of it. ‘an application or service, then make the necessary changes without fighting for the hardware.

Guardrail’s visual approach to configuration testing makes it easy to see changed and updated items.

Part of a new generation of corporate startups, ScriptRock focuses on the issues that new development and management methodologies expose. Effective monitoring is the key to a successful DevOps implementation because it gives you a source of truth that can be shared among everyone involved: developers, operations staff, and system administrators. GuardRail’s graphical dashboard can show you what’s changed day by day, across a range of different operating system platforms, and even desktop devices.

Operating as a cloud service, GuardRail uses local agents or SSH connections to capture configuration information from a server. It tracks the version numbers of running applications, services and processes, and configuration files, with the results displayed as a pie chart. You can compare different systems, as well as the current state against previous scans, with the option to view only the features that have changed.

Explore for details on installed components and services.

The scanned systems are grouped into environments, so you can separate the systems by role or function. Need to monitor web servers only? You just have to group them together in an environment. You can do the same for any systems that make up your e-commerce process or that host an ERP system. Responsibility for monitoring environments can be assigned to users, with only administrators authorized to add new systems and create environments.

Monitoring for changes is only part of the GuardRail toolset. Strategies can be created from analyzes, so that you can define specific tests for an application. GuardRail provides a basic framework for designing tests, using a selection of predefined test types, for example showing that a service is running or that a specific directory exists. Test scripts can be added to policies and shared with other users, along with descriptions of possible fixes. Some script templates are extensible, allowing you to create your own custom templates.

Choose from a library of models to add tests to analyzes.

Tests are run as part of scheduled system scans or can be triggered manually. In practice, most scans should be run daily, although you can choose to run a scan more often when you install a new system. If a test fails, you can email the results to the appropriate people, making sure the issues are resolved as quickly as possible.

A useful feature of GuardRail is the ability to take any saved configuration and save it for use with open configuration deployment tools such as Chef, or through automation tools such as configuration. Microsoft’s desired state. Once you save a configuration as a policy, you can export it to the automation package of your choice, ready to run your systems.

Save configurations for use with configuration management tools, such as Microsoft’s DSC.

The price is competitive. Basic scans for up to five servers are free, with additional servers costing $ 3 per node. More advanced features are available in ScriptRock’s Plus and Enterprise plans, which allow you to store scan data for longer and add role-based access control.

Developers working with agile methodologies are used to a test-oriented way of working, with unit testing ensuring that everything works as expected. As operations become more flexible and we move to continuous delivery models, operations and DevOps teams need to take a similar approach. This is where GuardRail comes into its own, giving you the tools to create and build infrastructure-level unit tests – and see the results visually, making it easy to quickly explore the real problem and operate your systems. services.

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