AWS Introduces Service Backups

Currently to backup EBS volumes on AWS, CF Webtools, and many other organizations, rely upon either custom Lambda script that can be buggy or a hard to figure out solution that’s deployed from a package AWS supplies.

Today AWS announced a centrally managed and automated solution for backing up multiple AWS services, including AWS: “AWS Backup

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This appears to be a backup solution that seeks out tags for different services. But the key here is this appears to be a well-thought-out solution that we don’t have to dick around with to make it work.

Service levels backups are provided for Amazon EFS and Amazon DynamoDB. Service-level snapshots are provided for Amazon RDS Amazon EBS and AWS Storage Gateway.

You can also backup your on-premise data via the AWS Storage Gateway.

I look forward to implementing this service to provide our clients with a much more reliable backup solution.

New AWS Windows and DR Services

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On January 7th, 2019, AWS released the AMI for Windows Server 2019. This comes a few months after the October 2nd, 2018 release of the new Microsoft OS.

Some highlights include smaller and more efficient Windows containers, support for Linux containers for application modernization and App Compatibility Feature on Demand. It comes under the standard AWS Windows pricing model.

On that note, Windows Server 2008 R2 (SP1) is at end-of-life in about one year, while Windows Server 2012 R2 End of Mainstream support was back in October of 2018. Don’t let technical debt put you into a predicament. CF Webtools operations team can assist you with upgrading your operating system to a more recent version, whether it be the weather tested Windows Server 2016 or the most modern version of Windows Server 2019.

CF Webtools uses CloudEndure to provide disaster recovery (DR) services to our on-premise and data center clients. The service is low impact and gives you the security your organization demands. We investigated multiple DR services and chose CloudEndure to be our primary solution.

Amazon has recently acquired CloudEndure. The company was backed by Dell, Infosys and others. They have been an AWS Advanced Technology Partner since 2016. More details have yet to surface.

If you are interested in Disaster Recovery Services for your organization, please contact us and we’d love to help you.

Estimating AWS EC2 EBS Snapshots

Estimating and understanding what AWS EC2 EBS Snapshots will cost you can be more difficult than you may think.

Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Snapshots are not compressed. Therefore your first snapshot will be equal to the GiB used in the source EBS volume.
  • Additional snapshots are incremental. Each incremental snapshot uses pointers, pointing to the prior snapshot’s blocks that have not changed. New blocks are recorded.
  • You can use the AWS Cost Explorer to view past usage. Today is not available. Filter down by “Usage Type Group” and set the value to “EC2: EBS – Snapshots”. Narrow down further by region and/or tag.
    • Usage (GB) are measured by “GB-Month”. So if there are 30 days in that month, multiple the metric by 30 to get that day’s actual usage.
  • As of 12/10/2018, the cost of a snapshot is $0.05/GB/mo

The hard part is estimating the amount of change per snapshot. The most lenient method would be to use a 100% change value. But that’s not practical.

Let’s say you estimate that 3% of your total volume size will be modified per snapshot. Therefore plan on an additional cost of $.15/mo for every 100 GiB of used volume space on every snapshot produced..

How Many Hours In A Month?

When estimating the monthly cost of a per hour service, over the course of a year, you need to know how many hours in a month. For some reason a simple “average hours in a month” Google Search yields unhelpful results.

730.5 AVERAGE HOURS IN A MONTH

There are 365.25 Julian calendar days per year (366 days in a leap year), 24 hours in a day and 12 months.

365.25 days X 24 hours / 12 months = 730.5 hours

So now you can estimate monthly cost for hourly services, such as Cloud Services.

example: $.10/hr * 730.5 = $73.05 average cost per month over a year

SQL Server Agent Jobs on AWS RDS Multi-AZ

When running AWS RDS Microsoft SQL Server you may run into a configuration issue that may trip you up either during failover or instance upgrades.

This is taken from the Microsoft SQL Server Multi-AZ Deployment Notes and Recommendations section under the “Multi-AZ Deployments for Microsoft SQL Server with Database Mirroring” document:

If you have SQL Server Agent jobs, you need to recreate them in the secondary, as these jobs are stored in the msdb database, and this database can’t be replicated via Mirroring. Create the jobs first in the original primary, then fail over, and create the same jobs in the new primary.

This is one of the weaknesses in the Multi-AZ for RDS Server Server service.

They use mirroring to keep two RDS instances loaded with identical user table data, but they can’t mirror MSDB because it’s a system database.

One of the reasons jobs are so confusing on Multi-AZ SQL Server is, if you start off as Single-AZ, and move to Multi-AZ, all of your jobs are copied as part of the move to Multi-AZ. That’s because AWS takes a snapshot of all your data (including MSDB) and recreates it on the mirrored instance. This is where it can get confusing: people who look at a multi-AZ instance, and at a “was Single-AZ, now is Multi-AZ” and see inconsistent behavior in the jobs. But it can all be understood if you apply two rules:

  1. Jobs created when you’re Single-AZ will be copied when you move to Multi-AZ, because AWS takes a snapshot of all databases (including MSDB), but
  2. Other than that, no changes to jobs will ever be copied to the mirror unless the changes are done manually on both servers.

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AWS Database Migration Service Endpoint Connection Issue

When setting up an AWS Database Migration Service (DMS) endpoint to an EC2 instance, within your VPC, you may get the error stating the connection could not be established and there’s a login timeout.

Test Endpoint failed: Application-Status: 1020912, Application-Message: Failed to connect Network error has occurred, Application-Detailed-Message: RetCode: SQL_ERROR SqlState: HYT00 NativeError: 0 Message: [unixODBC][Microsoft][ODBC Driver 13 for SQL Server]Login timeout expired ODBC general error.

This may be due to lack of ingress into your EC2 instance. Create a security group that allows the appropriate port into your EC2 instance, for example 1433 for SQL Server, limited to the private IP address of the DNS instance. Then attach that security group to the EC2 endpoint (database).

That’s the easy part. But how do you find the private IP? It’s not listed anywhere in the DMS console.

  1. Go to your DNS Replication Instance and copy the VPC and public IP address listed.
  2. Go to Network Interfaces inside your EC2 console.
  3. Look for the network interface with the copied public IPv4 address and VPC ID.
  4. Copy the Primary Private IPv4 IP.
  5. Go to Security Groups.
  6. Select or create on that is associated with your database endpoint instance.
  7. Add the copied IP into the source field of an inbound rule.

Elon Musk on The Joe Rogan Experience

Elon Musk is one of my favorite people to follow. I’d love to own a Tesla as well. From SpaceX to The Boring Company to Tesla, I find them all interesting.

Here’s some pretty interesting insight into Elon’s mind.