Monday, February 18, 2013

QT003: Migrating from a Pre-IBM Version of CIOS

Quick Tip 003: Migrating from a Pre-IBM Version of CIOS

In this post we will review some of things that you need to know if you are moving from a Dell based Cast Iron Solution to the latest IBM WebSphere Cast Iron.  We will cover some differences in terminology as well as the new choices available in the latest version of Cast Iron.  First, if you are still running a legacy version of CIOS and are looking to upgrade, there are a couple of new alternatives to the standard hardware based appliance:
Hypervisor Edition:  IBM Cast Iron offers a virtual appliance that is designed to run on VMWare or the open source Xen virtualization platform.  The Hypervisor Edition is a good solution for customers who are already making an investment in virtualization, it provides a simple solution for high availability as well.
Cast Iron Live: IBM Cast Iron also offers a cloud based solution for customers who don't want or need an on premise solution.  Cast Iron live does support a hybrid cloud solution with the Cast Iron Secure connector which is an agent that users can run within there private network to allow Cast Iron live to interact with local databases, web services, CRMs etc.
DataPower Appliance: The most direct upgrade path is the XH40 DataPower appliance which is the new IBM hardware based solution.  It works much the way the Dell based product worked, its a physical box that is for the most part a direct replacement for the Dell based solution.  HA Pair configurations continue to be supported by the DataPower appliances as well.

Upgrading Orchestrations

Cast Iron Studio automatically performs upgrades when you open a project from a prior version of CIOS.  Although its not strictly required, we do recommend stepping through major version upgrades to ensure maximum compatibility.  For example, when going from say version 4.5 to version 6.1, you can open and save the project in the latest version 5 studio before moving to version 6.1.
Some new features may not be available in upgraded projects until you refresh your connectors.  For example, the Salesforce connector was upgraded in version 6 to allow foreign key upserts.  For upgraded projects, you will not see the drop down for external id fields until you refresh the connector schema in studio.  This is because studio needs to connect to salesforce to discover and leverage external id relationships.

Going Cloud and Using the Secure Connector

Cast Iron Live is the cloud offering from IBM Cast Iron.  For the most part, projects and orchestrations built for other versions of Cast Iron are compatible with the cloud version.  The main exception being the obvious fact that on premise systems cannot be directly accessed from the cloud.  In order to connect to on premise systems, you will want to install the Cast Iron Secure connector.  (We will cover more about the Secure Connector, how to install it and how it works in a future post.)  Connector operations work much the same way in a hybrid Cloud / On Premise solution you simply need to tell the connector which secure connector to use when connecting to the resource.

Web Services in the Cloud

Cast Iron Live provides several new ways of exposing web services:
  • you can provide web services to your internal private network via the secure connector
  • you can also provide external web services authenticated using a query string in the Url. ( this will be covered in more detail in a later post on using Salesforce Outbound Messaging with Cast Iron Live.)
  • webapi.castiron.com is the latest tool from IBM Cast Iron for exposing web services to third parties. ( This will also be covered in more detail in a later post.)

Hypervisor Edition and High Availability

If you are migrating from a High Availability Pair you may want to consider the new virtual appliance as it is fully compatible with VMWare vCenter High Availability.  With HA and vMotion it is possible to load balance and provide high availability in your virtualization cluster.  VMWare High Availability continuously monitors both host and guest operating systems in a virtualized environment and will detect failures in real time and move virtual machines to a healthy node in your cluster.  CIOS also provides a persistence layer which allows it to seamlessly recover in the event of such a failure.  When VMWare moves the CI appliance to a new node in the cluster, CIOS will attempt to resume all jobs from their previous state. Do note that ability to recover in flight transactions does require support from the endpoint and varies by connector. It is therefore advisable to ensue that interactions with your endpoints are idempotent because if a transaction is in process when a fail over occurs it will likely be restarted.  (We will cover configuring VMWare for the CI Hypervisor Edition in a future post.)

Notes for Power Users

If you have ever used the the system shell command on the Dell based appliance you may be disappointed to know that you are no longer allowed to access the linux shell.  There are some new commands in the CLI to access the system logs, however for security reasons, there is no longer access to the shell.  See the online help for the CLI for more details on the new CLI commands for Debugging.
Also, somewhere along the way, there was a change in CIOS to use the internal persistence layer as a paging store for large documents, it is therefore not advisable to turn persistence off for any orchestrations unless you really understand the consequences.  If you had been running with persistence off in a legacy version, you will want to turn it back on when upgrading to avoid potentially dramatic performance degradation.

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