Saturday, August 20, 2016

Google Cloud Platform & Stackdriver Monitoring - First Impressions

I've been working with the Google Cloud Platform at work for a little over a month now, and I'm getting comfortable with it.  I haven't done an exact price comparison with EC2/AWS, but apparently its a bit cheaper.  Based on my last 6 weeks of experience, I'm pretty happy with the pricing so far.  Static IP addresses are free, and their dashboard tells you where you can make hosting optimizations to save money which I think is great.  There's lots of good documentation, and the libraries for adding software are full featured and work well.  While GCP not be as full-featured as AWS, I find their menus and dashboards easier and more intuitive to navigate than AWS.

Hiccups I ran into:
- I can't dynamically add cpu or memory.  I've got to stop the instance and restart it.  Same with disk space.  I'd also like to be able to make some of my disks smaller, but I can't seem to do that either without some kind of reboot.
- If an instance has a secondary SSD drive,  it seems that there are issues with discovering it on a 'clone' or a restart after a memory or CPU change.  I have to log in through the back end (fortunately GCP provides an interface for this) and comment out the reference to the secondary drive in the /etc/fstab file to get it going again.  This seems buggy.

I recently spent a couple of days configuring Google Stackdriver Monitoring this week, and after a
couple of frustrations with not being sure how to get started, I installed an agent on a server and I was off to the races.  Installing agents is definitely the way to get going.  I found that it was easiest to create Uptime Monitors and associated Notifications at the instance level, on a server by server basis.  Doing it this way allowed me to group the Uptime Monitors to the instance, something I couldn't do when I created the Uptime Monitors outside of the instance.  It was simple to monitor external dependency servers that we don't own, but need running for our testing.  I integrated my Notifications with HipChat in a snap.  I also installed plugins for monitoring Postgres and MySql - these worked great so long as I had the user/role/permissions set correctly.  I'm super impressed with Stackdriver Monitoring, and will probably use it even if we have to switch over to host with AWS.

Our biggest roadblock with the Google Cloud Platform currently is they don't have a datacentre in Canada.  That could be a big selling feature for many of my clients, and because they don't have it, we may have to consider other options (like AWS/EC2, which is spinning up a new data centre in Montreal towards the end of 2016...)  Privacy matters!  Hope you're listening Google...

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