Tuesday Aug 07, 2007

N1 SPS 6.0 Goes Live

The N1 SPS 6.0 release is now available for download. This new release includes several features that a few of you have been waiting for, including:

  • User Interface Enhancements, including integrated task flows and wizards for creating plans, components, and containers
  • N1 SPS Modeler, a NetBeans module that enables you to create N1 SPS components, plans, and plug-ins in your NetBeans IDE
  • Plan Variable Sets, enabling you to capture plan execution information, as well as other common plan parameters, as a complete variable set
  • UNIX <reboot> Step, allowing you to include reboot instructions in your execution plans
  • User Name and Password Constraints, giving you the option to specify the minimum character length, maximum character length, and acceptable character set for you N1 SPS user names and passwords
  • Linux RPM Installers, allowing you to install the Master Server and Command Line Interface client as Linux RPM packages
  • Native Call Cancel on Timeout, enabling you to use the <execNative> and <execJava> elements to perform a remote procedure call (RPC) and terminate code that is running on a remote agent
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux Workstation 3 Update 5 Support
  • JDK Upgrade to include version 1.5
  • PostgreSQL Upgrade to include version 8.1

This new release also includes the new features first introduced in the N1 SPS 5.2 Update 2 release:

  • Import/Export Bundles, enabling you to copy N1 SPS artifacts (plans, components, etc.) between master servers as bundles
  • Dynamic Targetting, allowing you to use variable substitution on a component targeter.
  • Installed Components Display Commands, enabling you to list installed components and their dependencies with the cdb.ic family of commands
  • Unrestrictive Host Locking, enabling you to customize the locking behavior for your hosts while executing plans

Get Started With N1 SPS 6.0

  1. Download the software here
  2. Download the N1 SPS Modeler here.
  3. Install the software by following the instructions.
  4. Learn more about N1 SPS.

 

Friday Jul 27, 2007

Handy N1 SPS Import-Export Feature

The N1 Service Provisioning System just got a lot easier to use,
thanks in part to a great new import-export feature. Now, you can very
simply copy a whole raft of artifacts at once between your SPS master
servers. You can roll a bunch of SPS artifacts up into what's called a "bundle
template
" on, say, master servers your test environment. What SPS artifacts might these be? They might be things like host types,
components, component types, folders, and any plans you want. 
And you can then get access to these SPS artifacts from another master server. How is this done? Well, you declare a list of  "search criteria" that
represent these SPS artifacts. This list of search criteria forms the bundle template. For example, a bundle template might contain criteria for searching for component types and plans. Then, with a few simple clicks, you can save this bundle template, and export it into a bundle jar. On another master server, import that bundle jar. Once you've imported the bundle jar to a master server, the SPS artifacts are now held on that master server. This means of course that you can easily copy several SPS artifacts from one master server to another, which is great for testing things out before putting them in live environments. This new feature will make things easier for those customers who want to really be able to test complex things out on in one or several SPS environments before going live. Learn how to do this using the command line. This feature is already available through the command line in the recent N1 Service Provisioning System 5.2 Update 2 release. In the upcoming N1 Service Provisioning System 6.0 release, you can also use this feature through the new, improved browser user interface.

Tuesday Jun 12, 2007

Workaround for Installing N1 SM and N1 SPS on Same System

The latest sets of release notes for N1 System Manager and N1 SPS include a workaround for installing the N1 SM managed server and N1 SPS master server on the same physical host. Essentially, you install the N1 SPS master server in an alternate root directory by prepending the following to your N1 SPS installation script.

#!/bin/ksh
alias -x pkgadd='pkgadd -R $NEW_PKG_ROOT'
alias -x pkginfo='pkginfo -R $NEW_PKG_ROOT'
alias -x pkgparam='pkgparam -R $NEW_PKG_ROOT'

One limitation: You can't install the OS provisioning plug-in for N1 SPS on the master server.

This is a really brief description of what's involved. Take a look at the release note for the full details.

 

Friday May 04, 2007

More Buried Treasure: N1 SPS Developer Guidelines on BigAdmin

Digging around on BigAdmin can really pay off where N1 SPS is concerned. In my last post, I talked about the N1 SPS Usage Best Practices Guide (PDF). For this post, I'll highlight the N1 SPS Developer Guidelines (PDF) document.

This guide describes a lot of key information about how to work with the N1 SPS XML schema for containers, components, and plans. Personal highlights for me:

  • Pro/Con tables describing the advantages and disadvantages for using key features of the N1 SPS XML schema
  • Good section describing how to use variables in components and plans
  • Detailed discussion of how to use the <execNative> element to execute commands native to the target operating system
  • Command line samples for common or useful commands
Definitely worth a look, as is the IT Management Hub on BigAdmnin.

Friday Apr 27, 2007

Hidden Jewel: N1 SPS Usage Best Practices on BigAdmin

BigAdmin can be a tough place to find information. It's big, it's community driven, and it's trying to satisfy the needs of a variety of customers. It's your best friend -- and, sometimes, your best friend can be incredibly frustrating to work with.

 So let me be your BigAdmin search engine, and point you to a great document you might not know about -- the N1 SPS Usage Best Practices Guide (PDF). Peter Charpentier and Toli Kuznets, the authors, have compiled a bunch of great information here to help you get the most of out N1 SPS software. And it's short and sweet -- 31 pages total. Not even long enough to put you to sleep.

 The two sections of this guide that got me interested?

  • CLUI Command Deciphering (p. 12, despite what it says in the table of contents) - This section breaks down the N1 SPS command line syntax, mapping out the architecture of the CLI.
  • Modeling (p. 17) - This section describes two approaches to modeling your applications in N1 SPS -- essentially, how you break down your application into distinct parts, then capture those parts as SPS objects.
This guide's been available on BigAdmin for a while, and perhaps many of you have seen it already. But, for those who haven't, there's a lot of good information there, and on the IT Management Hub on BigAdmin.


 

Friday Apr 13, 2007

N1SPS and Sun OTP

What is Sun OTP?

Sun OTP is a Carrier Grade platform for NEP application development, deployment and hosting that leverages commercial off-the-shelf components. OTP is also about automating deployments, and also admin procedures and runbooks.

Where does N1SPS come into play then. Well, N1SPS is one of the foundational components inside Sun OTP to be the driver and to orchestrate software deployments, upgrades and rollbacks. It also facilitates the life-cycle-management of the software.

So imagine the following scenario. I am a large Telco and I develop a lot of software. I have a lot of customers but having a hard time controlling the deployments and the software life cycle. The installation requires a lot documentation and the chance of doing something wrong is pretty high. Having someone to read, follow and execture, a 200+ steps installation guide for x number of systems... Well something is bound to go wrong.

So we have then developed and produced some foundational work with N1SPS to facilitate this. The customer can then just click on the piece of software needed, and then N1SPS knows if it is an upgrade or fresh install. It can also split the deployment to keep track on progress and if the deployment needs to be restarted from a specific point in time. The customer only needs to fill out a screen with parameters and then these will be used when the software is deployed. This will get the errors down, like human mistakes but also keep track on all the different steps needed while deploying.

The other benefit is that all this data can then later be harvested so that I, as Large Telco, knows of how things are deployed, when and by who. I can also write collection plans and scripts through N1SPS that can be used to collect information regarding this.

This is just one of the recent areas where N1SPS has been used with great success, and N1SPS is now being used as a building block for large scale NEP solutions.

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