#110 – Vagabond and psadmin-plus Updates

This week on the podcast, we share a database migration Oh No! story. Then Dan and Kyle talk about updates to the Vagabond and psadmin-plus projects.

Show Notes

#105 – Agile PeopleSoft

This week on the podcast, Charlie Sinks joins us to talk about the Upper Midwest Regional User Group. We talk about using Agile with PeopleSoft, our experiences with Elasticearch, the Idea Space for PeopleTools, and using Git with PeopleSoft.

Show Notes

  • Chatbots Demo @ 3:30
  • Agile and PeopleSoft @ 11:00
    • SCRUM
    • Kanban
    • SAFE
  • Elasticsearch Experiences @ 33:45
  • PeopleTools 8.56 Updates @ 43:30
  • Testing Effort for Certifications @ 45:30
    • AIX/Solaris: pspuppet.sh is used to prepare the environment. Need to invoke if the bootstrap or puppet failed and you need to re-run
  • Idea Space @ 50:15
  • Advanced PS Admin Talk @ 56:30
  • Orchestration @ 61:00
  • Using Git @ 67:30

#97 – Dozens of Us

This week on the podcast, Dan and Kyle discuss strategies to organize and manage Event Mapping code, writing code that other people will use, trying to work with Push Notifications and custom ACM modules. Kyle ends the podcast with a funny story about searching for images.
 

Show Notes

 

Using Puppet Environments with the DPK

Since the Deployment Packages were released with PeopleTools 8.55, one of my criticisms has been that the DPK is a bit of a sledgehammer. If you define multiple PeopleSoft environments on a server and you want to configure one web server, ALL the domains that the DPK knows about are shut down.

Puppet has an Environments feature that lets you segregate your code and data. While the DPK does not support Puppet Environments out of the box, we can use them to make the DPK less of a sledgehammer when managing our domains. (There is still some sledgehammering going on, so go vote for this idea).

While environments let you separate the modules, manifests and data folder, in this post we’ll separate just the data folder. This will let us share a common set of code (the manifests and modules folders) but the configuration of each domain will be different.

If you want to extend this to the modules and manifests folder, copy those into the environment folders with the environment-specific changes. This is useful for testing new code changes or if you want an environment to use a different DPK Role in the site.pp file.

Create Environment Folders

  1. Make a new dev and tst folders under c:\programdata\puppetlabs\puppet\etc\environments

You can have multiple environments under this folder – as many as you want. A strategy that I’m testing is using the database name as the environment name. For this post, I’ll stick with dev and tst

  1. Copy your YAML files from puppet\etc\data to puppet\etc\environments\dev\data and puppet\etc\ environments\tst\data.

Configure Puppet Environment

Under the puppet\etc folder, add (or modify) the puppet.conf file to look like this:

[main]
environment=production
parser=future
environmentpath=c:\programdata\puppetlabs\puppet\etc\environments
hiera_config=c:\programdata\puppetlabs\hiera\etc\hiera.yaml
basemodulepath=c:\programdata\puppetlabs\puppet\etc\modules

This file tells Puppet where to look for your environments, your Hiera configuration, your default module location, and the default Puppet Environment.

Last, we’ll modify the hiera.yaml file in c:\programdata\puppetlabs\hiera\etc to include environments:

---
:backends:
  - yaml

:hierarchy:
  - "environments/%{::environment}/data/psft_customizations"
  - "environments/%{::environment}/data/psft_configuration"
  - "environments/%{::environment}/data/psft_deployment"
  - "environments/%{::environment}/data/psft_unix_system"
  - "environments/%{::environment}/data/defaults"

:yaml:
  :datadir: c:\programdata\puppetlabs\puppet\etc

If you want to share some of the files, like the defaults.yaml or the psft_unix_system.yaml file, you could keep those under the main puppet\etc\data folder. Your hiera.yaml file would look like this:

---
:backends:
  - yaml

:hierarchy:
  - "environments/%{::environment}/data/psft_customizations"
  - "environments/%{::environment}/data/psft_configuration"
  - "environments/%{::environment}/data/psft_deployment"
  - data/psft_unix_system
  - data/defaults

:yaml:
  :datadir: c:\programdata\puppetlabs\puppet\etc

Test the Environments

Once our Puppet changes are complete we can test some builds. When we run puppet apply, we’ll add an additional paratemer: the environment. To build my dev environment domains, I’ll use this procedure:

cd c:\programdata\puppetlabs\puppet\etc\manifests
puppet apply .\site.pp --environment=dev --debug

Once the dev domains are built and running, you can kick off the tst build with:

puppet apply .\site.pp --environment=tst --debug

As the tst environment is building, your dev domains should stay up and not be affected by the Puppet run. If they are affected, you may have some YAML changes that need to be made. Make sure your configuration’s between the environment don’t overlap (e.g, same PS_CFG_HOME and domain names).

Convert the DPK to use Hiera Hash Merging

The way PeopleSoft delivers Puppet and the Hiera backend, is that everything you define in psft_customizations.yaml overrides configuration defined elsewhere. This is a useful setup when getting started with the DPK and Puppet. But when using YAML files to manage your configuration across multiple servers, you’ll quickly find that you are re-entering the same configuration in many files.

Hiera, the tool Puppet uses to read YAML files, has multiple ways to look up data. First, let’s cover what a YAML hash is. A hash is a key-value structure used in the DPK to store configuration. For example, this is the hash for PS_HOME information:

ps_home:
  db_type:    "%{hiera('db_platform')}"
  unicode_db: "%{hiera('unicode_db')}"
  location:   "%{hiera('ps_home_location')}"
  remove:     true

The main hash key is ps_home, and its value is all the configuration below it. The next level down has 4 keys with 4 corresponding values. The appserver_domain_list hash is a large one that contains all the configuration for one or more app server domains.

Under the delivered setup, if you want to change a value for a domain you need to copy the entire appserver_domain_list hash into your psft_customizations.yaml file and make the change. With Hiera hashing, you could define your domains in a file named appservers.yaml and any specific server changes can be defined in hostname.yaml. For example, the hostname.yaml file could contain this hash to override a configuration:

appserver_domain_list:
  DEV:
    feature_settings:
      SERVER_EVENTS: "Yes"
      DOMAIN_GW:     "Yes"

This provides far more flexibility when working with YAML files, but it does introduce some complexity. If you want to give this a try, here is how you can convert the current DPK to use Hiera hasing.

Find/Replace

I used VisualStudio Code to do the find/replace. Open up the etc\modules directory and do these against the modules\pt_profile folder:

  • Find: hiera('tns_admin_list
  • Replace: hiera_hash('tns_admin_list

I repeated this step for the following lookups.

  • tns_admin_list
  • appserver_domain_list
  • prcs_domain_list
  • pia_domain_list

You don’t want to replace all the lookups – that will cause errors. But, you can replace additional lookups if you want. Anything that is a hash in YAML files can use the hiera_hash() lookup function. If you wanted to make the ps_home: key support hash merging, you could replace hiera('ps_home with hiera_hash('ps_home.

Change the Hiera Merge Behavior

By default, Hiera will look at the top-level keys of a hash and not merge the underlying settings. Hiera hashing will merge all the values inside the hash. This means you can you define a hash with default settings in a common file (e.g, default app server settings). Then you can specify server or application specific settings in a YAML file for that domain or server.

To enable the hash merging, open the hiera.yaml file under c:\programdata\puppetlabs\hiera\etc.

Add this line to the file:

:merger_behavior: deeper

Hiera Lookup Order

With Hiera hash merging, we can utilize more than the psft_customizations.yaml file to manage our configuration. We can use multiple YAML files to control our configuration. For example, we could have:

  • [hostname].yaml
  • dev.yaml
  • hr.yaml
  • common.yaml

So, this setup would let us define common configuration that is shared across all applications in the common.yaml. Next, we could define anything related to servers that run HR applications in the hr.yaml. For any settings that are specific to the Development region, we can add them into dev.yaml. Last, for anything that is specific to the server, we can add into the [hostname].yaml file. This setup would let you re-use the common, hr, and dev YAML files across multiple servers, and anything specific to the server would be defined in [hostname].yaml.

In the hiera.yaml file, we can define this setup like this:

:hierarchy:
  - "%{::hostname}"
  - dev
  - hr
  - common

Test Hiera Hashing

On the command line, you can use the hiera utility to test lookups with Hiera. To do a normal Hiera lookup, use

hiera appserver_domain_list

To test a hiera hash lookup, use

hiera --hash appserver_domain_list

If you have multiple YAML files with the appserver_domain_list hash, the first option will only show you the results from the top of the list. The second test should show you a merged appserver_domain_list hash.

#92 – Advanced Puppet with the DPK

This week on the podcast, Dan dives into some advanced Puppet configuration to use with the DPK. Dan and Kyle discuss Hiera hash merging, using Puppet environments, and using the ACM with the DPK. Kyle talks about a bug with the Interaction Hub and My Favorites and some odd finds in PeopleBooks.

Show Notes

Using Automated Configuration Management with the DPK

The PeopleSoft Cloud Architecture is built on two technologies: Deployment Packages (DPK) and Automated Configuration Management (ACM). On this site, we’ve talked about Deployment Packages quite a bit, but we haven’t discussed Automated Configuration Management. This post will introduce you to what the ACM is and how the DPK uses it.

Use Hiera to Turn ACM On/Off

In the past, I have created custom DPK roles without the DPK profiles that run the ACM. This was mostly to prevent ACM runs when we build a domain. It turns out that you can control the ACM (globally) with your psft_customizations.yaml file.

In the pt_tools_preboot_config and pt_tools_postboot_config profile, there is a Hiera lookup to see if ACM is enabled

$run_preboot_config_setup  = hiera('run_preboot_config_setup', true)

or

$run_postboot_config_setup  = hiera('run_postboot_config_setup', true)

If you haven’t defined these values, the default will be true. You can disable the ACM by adding this your psft_customizations.yaml:

run_preboot_config_setup: false
run_postboot_config_setup: false

There is a bug in the current DPK (8.55 and 8.56) if you set both values. In the modules/pt_profile/manifests/pt_tools_postboot_config.pp file, line 98 should be:

notify {"POST-Boot setup run is false":}

(Switch the message “PRE-Boot” to “POST-Boot”).

Building ACM Hiera Data

When the DPK runs Automated Configuration Management, it will take the plugins and properties you define in the psft_customizations.yaml file and build a template file on the fly. To define ACM steps to run, you’ll add hashes to one of two sections:

  • component_preboot_setup_list
  • component_postboot_setup_list

The labels are self-explanatory, but here is any easy way to know which plugs go in the post boot setup: If the setup requires IB to be running, it goes in post boot. That would include IB Configuration itself and Search Framework configuration.

Here is an example of setting up the Elasticsearch Search Instance via ACM. Unde the component_postboot_setup_list hash, we create a searching hash. (This name can be any string, but we’ll use that string later in the file). Then, we set the Run Control ID to use and the OS user who will run the App Engine.

component_postboot_setup_list:
  searching:
    run_control_id:                       searching
    os_user:                              "%{hiera('domain_user')}"`

Next, we define the database connection settings for the web_profile hash.

    db_settings:
      db_name:                            "%{hiera('db_name')}"
      db_type:                            "%{hiera('db_platform')}"
      db_opr_id:                          "%{hiera('db_user')}"
      db_opr_pwd:                         "%{hiera('db_user_pwd')}"
      db_connect_id:                      "%{hiera('db_connect_id')}"
      db_connect_pwd:                     "%{hiera('db_connect_pwd')}"`

Then we define the ACM Plugins we want to run. The acm_plugin_list is a hash of ACM Plugin names, and their repective configuration. To get a list of all the possible configuration, you can go into the PIA (PeopleTools > Automated Config Manager > ACM Templates > Template Definitions) and see the delivered ACM plugins.

Below is an example of the PTSFConfigureSrchInstance plugin.

    acm_plugin_list:
      PTSFConfigureSrchInstance:
        env.ptsf_search_instance:         PTSF_DEFAULT
        env.search_provider:              ES
        env.search_nodes:                 1
        env.node1_search_port:            9200
        env.node1_search_host:            psvagabond.psadmin.io
        env.node1_search_admin_user:      esadmin
        env.node1_search_admin_password:  esadmin
        env.node1_search_read_user:       people
        env.node1_search_read_password:   peop1e
        env.search_call_back_user:        PS
        env.search_call_back_password:    PS
        env.gateway_host:                 psvagabond.psadmin.io
        env.gateway_port:                 8000
        env.default_local_node:           PSFT_LM

    acm_plugin_order:
      - PTSFConfigureSrchInstance

Once you have filled out the plugin configuration vaules, and if you have multiple ACM hashes, you need to tell the DPK what order you want to execute the ACM plugins. You use the component_preboot_setup_order to specify that order. Below, you’ll see we have 3 ACM sections we want to execute. These names are the hashes we created under the component_preboot_setup_order section.

    component_preboot_setup_order:
      - searching
      - push_notifications

PeopleBooks has a good list of delivered plugins and what configuration options are available.

Testing ACM via DPK

To test the ACM with the DPK, we can tell Puppet to run only the ACM preboot or postboot step. Use the command below to execute a single DPK Profile:

puppet apply -e "include ::pt_profile::pt_tools_postboot_config" --trace --debug

This will run the postboot configuration you have defined in psft_customizations.yaml without running anything else defined in Puppet.

Validating ACM

If you use the --trace --debug options when running Puppet, you can see the output from the PTEM_CONFIG app engine.

########################################################### 
    ######## AUTOMATED CONFIGURATION MANAGER ######## 
###########################################################

PTEM_CONFIG:PTSFConfigureSrchInstance: Configure Peoplesoft system to talk to Search Server and assign roles

Configuring plug in : PTEM_CONFIG:PTSFConfigureSrchInstance 
STATUS: SUCCESS 
DESCRIPTION: NONE 
SEVERITY: NONE 
Configuration completed : PTEM_CONFIG:PTSFConfigureSrchInstance

****Completed environment configuration****

You can also get information about missing or invalid configuration from your ACM definition with the output:

########################################################### 
    ######## AUTOMATED CONFIGURATION MANAGER ######## 
###########################################################

Validation of variables failed : PTEM_CONFIG:PTSFConfigureSrchInstance 
Required property env.ptsf_search_instance is missing

Sample psft_customizations.yaml for ACM

Here is a gist with the Elasticsearch ACM Plugin configured. This Hiera data will configure an Elasticsearch instance in your environment.

#91 – Testing Metrics w/ Frank Dolezal

This week on the podcast, Frank Dolezal joins us to talk about how he measure user testing and how it builds confidence when deploying updates. We also discuss self-service and fast database refreshes, and what skills to look for when hiring a PS Admin.

Show Notes

  • Introducing Frank @ 1:00
  • Creating Metrics for User Testing @ 4:00
  • Getting Users to Test @ 11:00
  • Justifying testing through metrics @ 17:00
  • Data Sources to gather testing metrics @ 23:00
  • Self Service Refreshes @ 28:30
  • Planning Catch-up Projects @ 39:00
  • Changing PT Release Schedule? @ 43:00
    • Oracle said that there was no plans to change, so this is speculation only
  • Skillsets when hiring a PS Admin @ 48:00

#87 – PeopleTools 8.56

PeopleTools 8.56 has been released. This week on the podcast we talk about new features in 8.56 that we are excited about and dive into some of the changes to Deployment Packages.

Show Notes

  • 8.56 is out! @ 2:00
  • Platform Changes @ 4:45
  • Fluid Changes @ 7:00
  • Event Mapping API? @ 11:00
  • Searching Improvements @ 11:45
  • PUM @ 14:00
  • Portal Changes @ 18:30
  • Unified Navigation @ 21:00
  • PTSYS Database @ 26:30
  • Classic Plus @ 30:15
  • PSCBO @ 34:30
  • Role/PL Aliases @ 35:15
  • Event Mapping @ 37:45
  • VCD Still Around @ 40:00
  • Change Assistant @ 41:45
  • Deployment Packages @ 48:00
  • RECONNECT @ 68:00

#83 – DPK – What We’d Do Different Next Time

This week on the podcast Dan and Kyle discuss changes they would make if they started working on the DPK for the first again. They also discuss setting up Elasticsearch clusters, monitoring Tuxedo queues with Elasticsearch and an annoying Bash on Windows bug.

Show Notes

  • Bash on Windows VPN Bug @ 3:15
  • 9.2 Upgrade Process @ 10:00
  • Monitoring Tuxedo Queueing in Elasticsearch @ 13:30
  • Tuxbeat Project @ 17:00
  • Elasticsearch DPK @ 21:45
  • Elasticsearch Clustering @ 27:00
  • Puppet on Linux @ 32:00
  • DPK Extract Only @ 34:30
  • What we’d do differently with the DPK @ 37:30
    • Co-locating Regions
    • Admin-only Test Servers
    • Config Homes
    • Use Git for managing code and YAML changes
    • Integrate all Puppet code into Classes and Modules
    • DPK Course
    • Use ACM via DPK
    • Go Vanilla

App Capacity Visualization