PCI Compliance for MySQL & MariaDB with ClusterControl – New Whitepaper

We’re happy to announce that our new whitepaper PCI Compliance for MySQL & MariaDB with ClusterControl is now available to download for free!

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) is a set of technical and operational requirements to protect cardholder data and payment information. Any organisation that uses and stores such information is required to comply with the PCI standard.

Achieving full compliance with the standard is not easy. And even when it is achieved, one can easily fall out of compliance without the proper controls continuously in place. According to Verizon’s 2017 Payment Security Report, about half of businesses fail their interim PCI compliance assessment.

Access control, data protection and configuration management policies need to be implemented, and their continuous enforcement proven to auditors, in order to maintain compliance over time.

This guide discusses the essentials of a PCI compliance program from a database perspective. It will show to the reader how ClusterControl can be deployed to help address the requirements defined in the standard.

As a reminder, the PCI Data Security Standard Requirements (covered in this white paper) are:

  • Building & Maintaining Secure Networks and Systems
  • Vendor Supplied Default Settings
  • Protecting Cardholder Data
  • Encrypting Transmissions Across Public Networks
  • Protection From Malware
  • Maintaining Secure Applications
  • Restricting Access to Cardholder Data
  • Authentication & Access to System Components
  • Monitoring & Testing Your Network
  • Testing Security Systems
  • Maintaining a Security Policy
  • Onsite vs Cloud Storage

The whitepaper was written by Laurent Blume, Unix Systems Engineer and PCI-DSS expert and Severalnines CEO Vinay Joosery.

If your organization is or plans on performing payment processing on MySQL or MariaDB database infrastructures, this whitepaper will help you better understand what you need to do to stay compliant.

About the Authors

Laurent Blume, Unix Systems Engineer

Laurent’s career in IT started in 2000, and even before then, he was evolving with modern computing and the advent of the Internet: from POS terminals for a jewelry stores chain to infrastructure servers in a government aerospace R&D organization, even touching supercomputers. One constant throughout was always the increasing need for security.

For the past 6 years, he has been in charge of first implementing, then keeping up with the PCI-DSS compliance of critical transnational payment authorization systems. Its implementation for databases has been an essential part of the task. For the last few years, it has expanded to the design and productization of a MariaDB cluster backend for mobile contactless payments.

Vinay Joosery, CEO & Co-Founder, Severalnines

Vinay is a passionate advocate and builder of concepts and business around distributed database systems.

Prior to co-founding Severalnines, Vinay held the post of Vice-President EMEA at Pentaho Corporation – the Open Source BI leader. He has also held senior management roles at MySQL / Sun Microsystems / Oracle, where he headed the Global MySQL Telecoms Unit, and built the business around MySQL’s High Availability and Clustering product lines. Prior to that, Vinay served as Director of Sales & Marketing at Ericsson Alzato, an Ericsson-owned venture focused on large scale real-time databases.

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WordCamp Utrecht: Another Plesk Recap

The WordCamp marathon for Plesk and myself continued when Plesk proudly sponsored WordCamp Utrecht (Netherlands) last weekend. And there’s more to come! The Plesk team is now in Nashville getting ready to rock WordCamp US. 

Talks for WordCamp Utrecht

My own session was scheduled for the second day. So I got to enjoy some great, instructive talks from other speakers on Saturday (Day 1).

In total, WordCamp Utrecht had 18 talks and covered many diverse topics. Follow the link to check them out, in case you missed any! 

But for me, it was a pleasure to introduce old and new WordPress friends to our new Plesk Wapuu stickers – which everybody loved. Plus, we equipped our organizer team and volunteers with Plesk lanyards that matched their t-shirts perfectly. Even our beloved friend Elvis Plesky found his way to Utrecht – in the goodie bags of 250 attendees!

Plesk’s WordPress Toolkit

During the event, we shared info about our WordPress Toolkit in the guest blog post. So do give it a read – you can find on the WordCamp Utrecht site itself. Moreover, you can click below to discover more about the Toolkit for yourself. Or have a chat about it with one of our experts. We’d be more than happy to answer any questions!

My Plesk Journey Revealed on Stage

Then Sunday came and I was itching to share my own WordPress journey and how I became a Pleskian. It was so fun to interact with the audience, even on Twitter. Because my feedback was again heart-warming, it encouraged me to apply as a speaker during future WordCamps.

Contributor afternoon for WordCamp Utrecht

Finally, we all dedicated the last few hours of the event to the WordPress Open Source Project and everyone’s contribution. Different team leads helped onboard new contributors as more contributors worked on new and existing projects together.

The Community Team, which I actually joined, was able to announce three new WordPress meetups in The Netherlands. In the end, we released tickets for the very special WordCamp Retreat Soltau in May 2018. 

Snapped Memories of WordCamp Utrecht

So this was my first edition of WordCamp Utrecht and all I can say is kudos. Organizers SjoerdManuela and all the amazing volunteers made the atmosphere really inclusive for local and international guests. 

Plesk WordPress Toolkit Course – Part 1 – Creating a Website [Videos]

Here by popular demand and coming to you fresh from our University catalogue, please welcome our Plesk WordPress Toolkit Course. After receiving tons of questions about WordPress sites, we felt we could give users a helping hand and created the Plesk WordPress Toolkit.

Like all of our Plesk courses, this one’s free and available to all users. So if you want to go ahead and get started just click below, or stick around for a few minutes and watch our 1-minute video tutorials.

Sneak Peak at WordPress Toolkit Course

So here’s the rundown of the course itself. You’ll learn how to deploy, secure, and update your WordPress website using our WordPress Toolkit Extension. Below is the first chapter in a series of five, where quick videos will equip you with what you need to get started on WordPress.

Today you’ll see that there’s more than one way to create a WordPress website with the Toolkit. We’ll show you how to deploy a new WordPress website and how to import a WordPress blog from another server. Enjoy!

1. Deploying a New WordPress Website

Video: 0:48 minutes

What’s Going on in this Video

  1. First quick-install WordPress on a website from the Websites & Domains overview screen.
  2. Then go to WordPress instance properties and change the title of the website in Preferences.
  3. Just click Login to open the WordPress admin interface and start creating your website.

2. Importing a WordPress Blog from another Server

Video: 1:20 minutes

What’s Going on in this Video

This is what you need to do if you have a WordPress blog on another server.

  1. Move it to Plesk from Website Importing found in Plesk itself.
    Important: For this to work, you must have the free Plesk Migrator extension installed.
  2. Enter your old website’s URL, FTP username and password. Click OK.
  3. The import tool detects the WordPress instance on remote server. Select it. Click Start Import.
  4. After import is complete, go to the imported instance’s settings. Reset WordPress admin password.
    This is necessary to be able to log in to WordPress directly from Plesk interface.
  5. Click Log In and continue working with your content.

There’s also an option of manually installing and detecting (Section “Adding existing WordPress Installations to WordPress Toolkit”) a WordPress installation.

Cool, huh? Now it’s your turn. Get started and discover more in our WordPress Toolkit Course below.

Cloud Hosting Platforms – Choose the right one for your business

Cost is often the biggest factor in the minds of business leaders when it comes to picking a Cloud Hosting Platform Provider. But is it right to focus so heavily on price when value for your business needs is clearly the primary focus?

For anyone looking to choose from the ‘big three’ cloud hosting platforms, it comes as no surprise that Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure are the dominant horses in this race.

The largest technology companies on Earth are locked in a battle for supremacy that’s forcing down prices for cloud computing. And this tussle has ushered in an age where businesses of all sizes can get access to top-tier, cloud-based services. Now major and minor players alike are free from the expense and practical difficulties of running their sites and apps. Moreover – on their own hosting infrastructure.

Cloud Hosting Platforms

A cloud hosting platform has become an essential part of the modern business landscape. Because it’s so convenient and scalable, it quickly became indispensable for businesses that rely on moving and storing huge amounts of data. Think streaming services like Netflix or Hulu. These services don’t want to be responsible for the huge time and money investment it takes to manage a hosting platform of their own.

But the scalability of a cloud hosting service means that even small businesses can benefit. Gone are the days where small-scale enterprises need to invest in their own always-on boxes that eat power and create heat. So, let’s take a look at the 3 biggest platforms:

Amazon Web Services

Going strong since 2006, Amazon was one of the first hosting platform providers to venture into the cloud market with AWS. As you might expect from such a huge, global company, they offer a wide range of computing services, including deployment and mobile networking.

Google Cloud Platform

Google came to market in 2011. But despite being late to the game, they’ve established a considerable market presence. They to be self-sufficient in managing YouTube and Google search, hence the impetus at the start. But thanks to Google’s investment and the experience gained, the platform side of the business naturally evolved to the point where they felt confident enough to provide enterprise services to other businesses.

Microsoft Azure

Started in 2010 and has quickly established itself as another top cloud services provider.

Distinguishing between Cloud Hosting Platforms

Each of these services is a little different from the others, so let’s take a look at the parameters we need to differentiate them.

Computing Power

Compute is the amount of processing horsepower that a customer can have at their disposal, on any chosen cloud hosting platform. Generally, the more computing cores on hand to crunch through a task, the better. But obviously, any extra power comes at an extra cost. This is ideal for companies with fluctuating requirements because they only need to pay for what they use. It’s also great for startups because it frees them from the need to invest in hardware and pay for maintenance and running costs.

AWS calls its compute services EC2(Elastic Compute Cloud). Its virtual machines come with preconfigured settings for ease-of-use. But you can also customize if you know what you’re doing. GCP calls it service GCE (Google Compute Engine), while Microsoft Azure named its service Virtual Machines and Virtual Machine Scale Sets.

All three cloud hosting services support containers, which are portable and easy to manage. Amazon’s EC2 Container Service(ECS), Google’s Container Engine and Azure’s container service let you manage instances more quickly. It’s also easy to add more stats to them or move them to new locations.

On paper, all three services look similar, so it makes sense to try and separate them by price and user experience. Take a look at RightScale for a cloud-cost analysis based on compute power.

Storage

The logistics of managing cloud storage on a cloud hosting platform without losing a single bit of data are complex, and even bewildering. Especially compared to what goes on inside a normal home computer. All our cloud hosting providers had to solve some very challenging problems, and all three excel. However, Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) edges ahead of the rest. Its documentation is extensive, it offers full community support. Above all, it’s a solution that has stood the test of time.

You’ll find that all three are reliable and perfectly adequate. But you need to be prepared to pay for what can be an increasingly pricey investment. The more storage space you need, the higher the costs.

Locations

As surprising as it sounds, your location can affect the cost of the cloud services you receive. Cloud services are built on massive data centres distributed around the world’s regions. So customers in the US have to pay more. Because building centres where land and local taxes are more expensive is going to have a knock-on effect on final cost.

Amazon has a physical presence in 42 zones, Azure 32, and GCP 33. Although as you read this, the numbers may have shifted as new centres prop up all the time.

Databases and Cloud Platforms

Handling a database is an ideal use for a cloud hosting platform, but we advise you to check your chosen provider’s data policies plus terms and conditions before you commit.

Different vendors provide database images to help end-users get started quickly. Google lacks this option, but with Azure and AWS, you get multiple options for this. Amazon’s RDS (Relational Database Service) supports major databases such as Oracle, PostgreSQL and others. You can automatically manage your updating and patching. And you can also find solutions to frequent database problems.

You’ll find offerings for database-handling features for Azure and GCP Azure SQL database on Cloud SQL and SQL respectively. Along with powerful database choices like Aurora for AWS and DocumentDB for Azure. These are just a fraction of the many tools and services offered by these major cloud service providers.

Plesk on Cloud Hosting Platforms

It’s no easy job to compare cloud hosting platform providers and their services, particularly for beginners. If you find yourself ready to invest but are feeling confused about which service to opt for, then it might help you to seek guidance from a professional adviser. There are plenty of cloud professionals out there that can guide you towards a right solution.

Managing cloud services is made easier by automation software such as Plesk. It works with Linux and Windows-based hosting service providers to give server administrators a much simpler route to manage and administrate websites and virtual machines. It automates a wide variety of tasks and integrates with top cloud platforms. So the end-user can harness their power more easily.

Now, which Cloud will cover you?

If you’re running applications that depend on the Microsoft ecosystem’s languages and products, Azure is going to be your platform of choice. Amazon AWS and Google Cloud Platform can be considered equally powerful and both will meet your needs most of the time. Although, now that you have an idea about each platform – your real requirements may vary depending on your tasks. That’s why you should always test the hosting platform service you intend to use before you commit. This will save you a lot of time and expense in the long term.

5 Excellent WordPress Backup Solutions

Imagine the unthinkable – you pull up one of your many websites and what the – it’s gone! What if you installed the latest update and a faulty theme or plugin stuck a spanner in the works? Maybe a laughing skull shows someone hacked you and slipped you some ransomware. Send money or lose everything – yikes! What if your client was dabbling with unprotected things and broke the site?

Without a WordPress Backup Solution to save your site, all ‘what ifs’ become plausible. Because at some point it’s happened to someone, somewhere. Your hosting service might provide regular backups. But is it enough? Back up before it is too late. Luckily, you’ll find plenty of functional and intuitive plugins created to make the process simple. Here are five of the best for you to consider.

1. BackupBuddy

iThemes offers this extensively featured WordPress Backup Plugin as a comprehensive solution for clients with lots of websites.

Pros

  • You can move sites (and staging sites with some of the developer plans) between domains, hosts, or servers using the migration feature.
  • A tool called ImportBuddy makes restoring your site from the backup easier.
  • Additional tools include malware, database, and server scanners.
  • You can back WordPress up to a compressed folder or to cloud facilities like Amazon, Dropbox, Google Drive.
  • WordPress backups, restorations or site migrations are achieved in just a few steps.
  • What gets backed up is up to you. It could be just the database or the whole WordPress installation.
  • You can decide on how frequently backups occur, anytime from every hour to once a month.

Cons

  • iThemes’s backup storage, Stash Live, is free. But for most of their plans, you’ll need to pay for it after year one.
  • It can be expensive to cover all your clients’ sites. 

2. BackWPup

This WordPress backup plugin comes in two flavors, free and premium. So you have nothing to lose. Try the free one first, you may find that it does everything you need. It only differs from the premium version in the number of sites it coveres and the type of support and updates you can get.

Pros

  • Has database optimization, repair and scanning features
  • It backs up your whole WordPress installation and can push them to your third-party storage service, directory, or FTP.
  • Quick response to customer complaints and priority support for premium service customers along with automated updates.
  • Can handle a number of sites

Cons

  • Bugs are evident here and there.
  • High price for the premium version considering what it does.

3. BackUpWordPress

If you don’t need restoration or migration assistance, then BackUpWordPress may be ideal for you. Simple, but powerful. And if you’re not sure, you can try the limited free version and then upgrade to premium later on if it’s a good fit.  

Pros

  • A year of priority support offered with premium plans.
  • You can customize backup frequency schedules to your requirements.
  • Different premium offerings mean you only pay for what you use. So if you’re a developer with just a few sites then that’s all you’ll pay for.
  • Free and premium editions available. Ideal for ‘try before you buy.’
  • Premium gives you plenty of choice about where you save your backup. File storage service, zip or even your own server. 
  • Troubleshooting yourself is easier thanks to a comprehensive knowledge base on the BackUpWordPress site.

Cons

  • Customers say that the free plugin can be slow or buggy when backing up. Devs state that this can happen when customers back up at times when server resources are low. So just be mindful. 
  • Restoration or migration services are not available.

4. UpdraftPlus

Like other WordPress backup and restore plugins here, this one’s available in both paid and unpaid versions. The free one does a great job, so much so that it’s highly rated by users. But the premium version’s worth going to straight away for its advanced features:

  • Bottom of Form
  • You can extend for multisite-compatibility using the UpdraftCentral plugin.
  • Developers can choose how the plugin handles clients’ sites, configuring backups to run without their awareness or intervention.
  • One-click backup of specific files or an entire installation. Minimum effort for maximum result.

For

  • The free plugin gives users the basics: backup and restore. The premium version is relatively cheap, and with that you can do migrations too.
  • Send your backups to yourself via email or to the usual third-party services.
  • The excellent migration tool automatically backs up your site prior to any core, plugin or theme updates.
    And you can use it to retrieve backed-up versions of your site if you were using another WordPress Backup Plugin with no restore capabilities.

Con

  • Although they respond to complaints quickly, UpdraftPlus seem to cause a great deal of frustration amongst users. It would be nice to see a few more apologies and offers of assistance.

5. VaultPress

VaultPress by Automattic is only accessible if you purchase the premium Jetpack plugin. So if you don’t like Jetpack or don’t want to spend time getting to know it, then it’s probably best to look elsewhere.

Pros

  • Some of the plans on offer include a set-and-forget backup, one-click restoration and options for site migration.
  • If you are a Jetpack premium user, then switch backups on and you’re done. With free Jetpack you can buy this as an add-on.
  • Security features include spam protection, brute force attack prevention and uptime monitoring.
  • You also get video hosting and Google Analytics integration.

Cons

  • Only your dashboard and content files will be backed up with this plugin. And not your full WordPress installation.
  • This isn’t an expensive service but it’s a shame that there’s no free trial version. 
  • This plugin’s tied to JetPack too. So if you don’t like this piece of bloatware but you like VaultPress, you have a hard choice to make.

Our Suggested WordPress Backup Solutions

Treat your WordPress site like your home’s front door – and keep it locked. Moreover, add to your safety with a reliable backup solution, like the above 5 offerings. Choosing the right one can be tough. So, here are our recommendations:

  • UpdraftPlus – This is a must-have plugin if you run a WordPress development business. Functionality, flexibility, and affordability mean that it ticks all the most important boxes. Developers are treated to some great features that give them extensive control over backups once clients have control of their sites.
  • BackWPup – If you’re taking care of smaller client websites and looking for something that doesn’t cost much money and is easy to use too, this does the job. Its ease-of-use means you shouldn’t encounter many problems, but if any should prove unavoidable then it’s good to know that you can count on a quick response from the developer.
  • Plesk Onyx Hosting Platform – The easiest way to do avoid the headache of choosing a WordPress backup plugin is to switch to this all-inclusive platform, backup included. You’ll enjoy the full might of the WordPress Toolkit – a single management interface that lets you simplify all management routines. Clone a WordPress site, including all website files, database and settings, without the need for any third-party plugins.

There’s a sliding scale of fates that could befall your site, from lost functionality in one area to wholesale destruction and data loss. Whatever happens, it’s up to you to get your site back online as fast as you can. You can wait for your hosting company to sort things out, wade through mountains of advice from the WordPress community. But your best option is to prevent rather than cure.

Managed Hosting Services – Your Golden Opportunity?

It’s becoming more and more difficult to grow your business by offering traditional hosting products. Today, the way customers buy technology is at odds with how most hosters have sold it up till now. Moreover, hosting has become a commodity. The market is dominated by a couple of global players who are competing on price – because they can.

So, what do you do if you don’t want to – or simply can’t – compete on price? Then you compete on value, of course.

How Managed Hosting Services boost your value

Add managed hosting services to your standard hosting product portfolio and your strategy quickly becomes feasible and valuable. Here are the top three reasons why.

Short Time-To-Market

A lot of technical expertise already exists inside hosting companies so this will undoubtedly lead to a reduction in the time it takes a product to move from conception to being available for sale.

High Demand

Both enterprises and SMBs often struggle to evaluate the right digital transformation strategies, migrate workloads, manage and secure infrastructure and networks and also have the time to identify a suitable backup and recovery plan.

Growth Opportunity

According to Markets and Markets, the global market for managed hosting services will grow to $193.34bn by 2019 at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 12.5%.

Additionally, according to 451 Research, users of SaaS and application hosting services will spend 59% on managed services. Enter – you and your business.

Why you should offer Managed Hosting Services too

Offering managed third-party cloud services is a very popular trend with huge growth potential, no doubt. But don’t limit your business to this trend alone as there are more exciting opportunities to stand out. You can add value through managed services, grow your business and make your customers extremely happy.

Here’s one top example from ZNetLive, one of our hosting partners in India. In our ZNetLive/JeetInfo Case Study, we see how they’ve been successfully adding managed hosting services to their bundled offers for quite some time now. Enjoy this inspiring story and consider the same for your business. If you’re ready to give it a try, get in touch with one of our experts today.

WordCamp Cologne 2017: A Special Plesk Recap

WordCamp Cologne was one of the biggest WordCamps in Germany for the year with 250 attendees. I was one of this year’s co-organizers, putting heart and effort into it for weeks. Colleagues Patricia, Jan and Jörg couldn’t wait to be in the beautiful city, that welcomed us with wonderful weather.

Contributing to WordPress

Before the actual WordCamp event, we held a WordPress Contributor Day in the stylish Microsoft premises where 80 people contributed to the open-source project. We had WordPress Core, Meta, Accessibility, WP-CLI, Hosting, Polyglots, WordPress TV, Design, and Community.

Jan and Jörg joined the Hosting team and connected the community with hosting companies to improve WordPress hosting. Amidst organizer duties, I also took part in discussions and Q&A at the Community table.

A Heartwarming WordCamp Start

Saturday early morning, we set up our brand-new Plesk booth and arranged numerous giveaways.

And we just had to spoil our WordPress friends with delicious sweets to power their day:

I was honored to co-host with Marc Nilius, this year’s lead-organizer. The most special and emotional moment was when the community surprised me with a personalized community Wapuu. I almost burst into tears.

BarCamp, Talks and Speakers

This year’s WordCamp Cologne was a BarCamp – no session or speaker in advance, but attendees interested in giving a talk presented their topic in under a minute. If the audience was interested, the session got scheduled. Plesk CTO Jan Löffler pitched two sessions and both got a slot. See the slides (German) for WordPress auf Speedand Web Trends in Zahlen und wie sich Hosting verändert.

Altogether, 39 sessions were scheduled on website performance, design, accessibility, web security, Gutenberg, web development, mental health, digital law and digital nomad lifestyle.

WordPress Toolkit and Plesk Courses

The attendees were super interested in WordPress Toolkit demos. They asked how they can use Plesk for their private or business purpose. If you missed this part, don’t worry, find out more by clicking below or get in touch with our experts.

Feedback from the community was more than valuable for us – a company always trying to improve. They also loved that we offer free courses on how to use Plesk in Plesk University. Take some time to check them out.

WordCamp Goodies and Atmosphere

It wouldn’t be a WordCamp without swag. WordCamp Cologne gave attendees a t-shirt and branded scarf in soccer-fan-style.

We couldn’t keep a straight face – it was just so much fun.

Of course, we also joined the social events with the community while discovering the lovely German and “Kölsch” culture.

Plesk gets its own official Wapuu!

An international delegation of WP community members official released Plesk’s Wapuu:

We’re still looking for a cool name that will fit this little guy. Help us out by leaving your suggestions in the comments below.

Wrapping up WordCamp Cologne with captured memories

While overwhelmed by the positive feedback, I need to mention the 9 organizers, 16 volunteers, 42 sponsors & community-sponsors who made this event possible. It was hard to leave.

But we went home with lots of inspiration and positive energy. Here are some special moments captured below. Can you spot yourself?

Cyber Monday Web Hosting Deals, Discounts, Offers upto 80% Discount

After a tremendous and huge response for our ThanksGiving and BlackFriday deals, we have Cyber Monday web hosting deals, ready to kick in with a bang ..!

We are offering discounts upto 80% with our exclusive Cyber Monday discount coupons on web hosting services such as Shared Hosting, WordPress Hosting, Reseller Hosting, Cloud SSD VPS servers and Managed Dedicated servers.

The exclusive Cyber Monday discounts are valid on our web hosting plans in both UK and USA datacenters:

  • Web Hosting : FLAT 80% Discounts on all Shared and Reseller Web Hosting plans:

Coupon Code : CyberMonday-Hosting

Web Hosting plans : https://www.rshosting.com/web-hosting/

WordPress Hosting : https://www.rshosting.com/wordpress-hosting/

Reseller Hosting plans : https://www.rshosting.com/reseller-hosting/

  • Managed VPS Servers : FLAT 30% Discount on all Managed SSD VPS servers :

Coupon Code : CyberMonday-VPS

Managed Cloud SSD VPS Hosting : https://www.rshosting.com/vps-servers/

  • Managed Dedicated Servers : FLAT 15% Discount on all Managed Dedicated Servers :

Coupon Code : CyberMonday-Servers

Managed Dedicated Servers : https://www.rshosting.com/dedicated-servers/

Our Cyber Monday web hosting discounts are another way to help you get over your Monday blues and enjoy the shopping spirit this festive season.!

Deploying & Managing MySQL NDB Cluster with ClusterControl

In ClusterControl 1.5 we added a support for the MySQL NDB Cluster 7.5. In this blog post, we’ll look at some of the features that make ClusterControl a great tool to manage MySQL NDB Cluster. First and foremost, as there are numerous products with “Cluster” in their name, we’d like to say couple of words about MySQL NDB Cluster itself and how it differentiates from other solutions.

MySQL NDB Cluster

MySQL NDB Cluster is a shared-nothing synchronous cluster for MySQL, based on the NDB engine. It is a product with its own list of features, and quite different from Galera Cluster or MySQL InnoDB Cluster. One main difference is the use of NDB engine, not InnoDB, which is the default engine for MySQL. In NDB cluster, data is partitioned across multiple data nodes while Galera Cluster or MySQL InnoDB Cluster contain the full data set on each of the nodes. This has serious repercussions in the way MySQL NDB Cluster deals with queries which use JOINs and large chunks of the dataset.

When it comes to architecture, MySQL NDB Cluster consists of three different node types. Data nodes stores the data using NDB engine. Data is mirrored for redundancy, with up to 4 replicas of data. Note that ClusterControl will deploy 2 replicas per node group, as this is the most tested and stable configuration. Management nodes are intended to control the cluster – for high availability reasons, typically, you have two such nodes. SQL nodes are used as the entry points to the cluster. They parse SQL, ask for data from the data nodes and aggregate result sets when needed.

ClusterControl features for MySQL NDB Cluster

Deployment

ClusterControl 1.5 supports deployment of MySQL NDB Cluster 7.5. It’s done through the same deployment wizard like with the remaining cluster types.

In the first step, you need to configure how ClusterControl can login via SSH to the hosts – this is a standard requirement for ClusterControl – it is agentless so it requires root SSH access either directly, to the root account or via (password or passwordless) sudo.

In the next step, you define management nodes for your cluster.

Here, you need to decide how many data nodes you’d like to have. As we previously stated, every 2 nodes will be part of a node group so this should be an even number.

Finally, you need to decide how many SQL nodes you’d like to deploy in your cluster. Once you click deploy, ClusterControl will connect to the hosts, install the software and configure all services. After a while, you should see your cluster deployed.

Scaling of MySQL NDB Cluster

For MySQL NDB Cluster, ClusterControl 1.5.0 supports scaling of SQL nodes. You can access the job from the Cluster jobs dropdown.

There you can fill in the hostname of the node you’d like to add and that’s all you need – ClusterControl will take care of the rest.

Management of MySQL NDB Cluster

ClusterControl helps you manage MySQL NDB Cluster. In this section we’d like to go through some of the management features that we have.

Backups

Backups are crucial for any production environment. In case of disaster, only a good backup can minimize the data loss and help you to quickly recover from the issue. Replication might not always be a solution that works – DROP TABLE will drop the table on all of the hosts in the topology. Even a delayed slave can delay the inevitable only by so much.

ClusterControl supports ndb backup for MySQL NDB Cluster.

You can easily create a backup schedule to be executed by ClusterControl.

Proxy layer

ClusterControl lets you deploy a full high availability stack on top of the MySQL NDB Cluster. For the proxy layer, we support deployment of HAProxy and MaxScale.

As shown on the screenshot above, deployment looks very similar to the other cluster types. You need to decide if you want to use an existing HAProxy or deploy a new one. Then you need to make a choice how to install it – using packages from repositories available on the node or compile it from the source code of the latest release.

If you decide to use HAProxy, you will have the possibility to configure high availability using Keepalived and Virtual IP.

The process is the following – you define a Virtual IP and the interface on which it should be brought up. Then, you can deploy it for every HAProxy that you have installed. One of the Keepalived processes will be determined as a “master” and it’ll enable VIP on its node. Your application then connects to this particular IP. When a current active HAProxy is not available, the VIP will be moved to another available HAProxy, restoring the connectivity.

Recovery management

While MySQL NDB Cluster can tolerate failures of individual nodes, it is important to promptly react to these. ClusterControl provides automated recovery for all components of the cluster. No matter what fails (management node, data node or SQL node), ClusterControl will automatically restart them.

Monitoring of the MySQL NDB Cluster

Any production-ready environment has to be monitored. ClusterControl provides you with a range of metrics to monitor. In the “Overview” page, we show graphs based on the most important metrics for your cluster. You can also create your own dashboards, showing additional data that would be useful in your environment.

In addition to the graphs, the “Overview” page gives you insights into the state of the cluster based on some MySQL NDB Cluster metrics like used Index Memory, Data Memory and state of some buffers.

It also provides monitoring of the host metrics, including CPU utilization, RAM, Disk or Network stats. Those graphs are also crucial in building a view of the health of the cluster.

ClusterControl can also help you to improve performance of your databases by giving you access to the Query Monitor, which holds statistics about your traffic.

As seen on the screenshot above, you can see what kind of queries are running against your cluster, how many queries of a given type, what are their execution times and the total execution times. This helps identify which queries are slow and which of them are responsible for the majority of the traffic. You can then focus on the queries which can provide you with the biggest performance improvement.

ClusterControl 1.5 – Announcing MariaDB 10.2 Support

Announced as part of the ClusterControl 1.5 release, we now provide full support for MariaDB version 10.2. This new version provides even greater integration with Galera Cluster, MariaDB’s HA solution of choice, and also features enhancements to SQL like window functions, common table expressions, and JSON functions.

MariaDB is the fastest growing open source database, reaching more than 60 million developers worldwide through its inclusion in every major Linux distribution, as well as a growing presence in the world’s leading cloud providers. Its widespread use across Linux distributions and cloud platforms, as well as its ease of use, have quickly made MariaDB the open source database standard for the modern enterprise.

MariaDB Server was listed in the recent OpenStack survey as the number one and two database technologies in use today.

What’s New in Version 10.2?

MariaDB Server 10.1 brought the default built-in integration of Galera Cluster to allows its users to achieve the ultimate in high availability. Severalnines was an early adopter of this clustering technology and was excited to see MariaDB embrace it for HA.

Here are some of the enhancements included in the new 10.2 version as announced by MariaDB

  • SQL enhancements like window functions, common table expressions and JSON functions allow new use cases for MariaDB Server
  • Standard MariaDB Server replication has further optimizations
  • Many area limitations have been removed, which allows easier use and there is no need for limitation handling on the application level
  • MyRocks, a new storage engine developed by Facebook, has been introduced, which will further enrich the use cases for MariaDB Server (NOTE: This new Storage Engine is also now available for MariaDB deployments in ClusterControl, however ClusterControl does not yet support MyRocks specific monitoring.)

Window Functions

Window functions are popular in Business Intelligence (BI) where more complex report generation is needed based on a subset of the data, like country or sales team metrics. Another common use case is where time-series based data should be aggregated based on a time window instead of just a current record, like all rows inside a certain time span.

As analytics is becoming more and more important to end users, window functions deliver a new way of writing performance optimized analytical SQL queries, which are easy to read and maintain, and eliminates the need to write expensive subqueries and self-joins.

Common Table Expressions

Hierarchical and recursive queries are usually implemented using common table expressions (CTEs). They are similar to derived tables in a FROM clause, but by having an identification keyword WITH, the optimizer can produce more efficient query plans. Acting as an automatically created temporary and named result set, which is only valid for the time of the query, it can be used for recursive and hierarchical execution, and also allows for reuse of the temporary dataset. Having a dedicated method also helps to create more expressive and cleaner SQL code.

JSON Functions

JSON (JavaScript Object Notation), a text-based and platform independent data exchange format, is used not only to exchange data, but also as a format to store unstructured data. MariaDB Server 10.2 offers more than 24 JSON functions to allow querying, modification, validation and indexing of JSON formated data, which is stored in a text-based field of a database. As a result, the powerful relational model of MariaDB can be enriched by working with unstructured data, where required.

Through the use of virtual columns, the JSON function, JSON_VALUE and the newest indexing feature of MariaDB Server 10.2 on virtual columns, JSON values will be automatically extracted from the JSON string, stored in a virtual column and indexed providing the fastest access to the JSON string.

Using the JSON function JSON_VALID, the new CHECK CONSTRAINTS in MariaDB Server 10.2 guarantee that only JSON strings of the correct JSON format can be added into a field.

Binary Log Based Rollback

The enhanced mysqlbinlog utility delivered with MariaDB Server 10.2 includes a new point-in-time rollback function, which allows a database or table to revert to an earlier state, and delivers binary log based rollback of already committed data. The tool mysqlbinlog is not directly modifying any data, it is generating an “export file” including the reverted statements of the transactions, logged in a binary log file. The created file can be used with the command line client or other SQL tool to execute the included SQL statements. This way all committed transactions up to a given timestamp will be rolled back.

In the case of addressing logical mistakes like adding, changing or deleting data, so far the only possible way has been to use mysqlbinlog to review transactions and fix the problems manually. However, this often leads to data inconsistency because corrections typically only address the wrong statement, thereby ignoring other data dependencies.

Typically caused by DBA or user error, restoring a huge database can result in a significant outage of service. Rolling back the last transactions using point-in-time roll back takes only the time of the extract, a short review and the execution of the reverted transactions – saving valuable time, resources and service.

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Why MariaDB?

With several MySQL options to choose from, why select MariaDB as the technology to power your application? Here are some of the benefits to selecting MariaDB…

  • MariaDB is built on a modern architecture that is extensible at every layer: client, cluster, kernel and storage. This extensibility provides two major advantages. It allows for continual community innovation via plugins and it makes it easy for customers to configure MariaDB to support a wide variety of use cases from OLTP to OLAP.
  • MariaDB develops features and enhancements that are part of its own roadmap, independent from Oracle / MySQL. This allows MariaDB to accept and attract broader community innovation, as well as to add internally developed new features that make it easier to migrate from proprietary systems to open source MariaDB.
  • MariaDB is engineered to secure the database at every layer, making it a trusted general-purpose database used in industries such as government and banking that require the highest level security features.
  • MariaDB offers support for a variety of storage engines, including NoSQL support, giving its users several choices to determine the one which will work best with their environment.
  • MariaDB has deployed many performance enhancing improvements including query optimizations which, in several benchmark tests, let’s MariaDB perform 3-5% better than a similarly configured MySQL environment.

ClusterControl for MariaDB

ClusterControl provides support for each of the top MariaDB technologies…

  • MariaDB Server: MariaDB Server is a general purpose database engineered with an extensible architecture to support a broad set of use cases via pluggable storage engines – such as InnoDB, MyRocks and Spider.
    • Built-in asynchronous master/slave replication
    • Dynamic columns that allows different rows to store different data in the same column
    • Built-in encryption
    • Query optimization
    • Improved schema compatibility
  • MariaDB Cluster: MariaDB Cluster is made for today’s cloud based environments. It is fully read-write scalable, comes with synchronous replication, allows multi-master topologies, and guarantees no lag or lost transactions.
    • Synchronous replication with no slave lag or lost transactions
    • Active-active multi-master topology
    • Read and write to any cluster node
    • Automatic membership control, with failed nodes dropped from the cluster
    • Automatic node joining
    • True row-level parallel replication
    • Direct client connections, native MariaDB look and feel
    • Both read and write scalability
  • MariaDB MaxScale: MariaDB MaxScale is a database proxy that extends the high availability, scalability, and security of MariaDB Server while at the same time simplifying application development by decoupling it from underlying database infrastructure.
    • Includes Database Firewall and DoS protection
    • Read-Write Splitting
    • Data Masking
    • Schema-based Sharding
    • Query Caching