Managing the CQ5 Cloud

15 May 2012
Przemyslaw Pakulski
Frink_Cognifide_2016_HeaderImages_0117

Amazon EC2Adobe CQ5 WEMRackspace hosting

The Adobe CQ Cloud Manager allows you to manage the complete Adobe Web Experience Management (WEM) platform in the cloud and offers the advantages, a SaaS model has to offer over on-premise hosting including low entry costs, rapid deployment, easy cetralised access, automatic upgrades and scalability.

I’ve recently had a play with the beta version of the Cloud Manager and just thought I'd share some of my findings.

How do you start the first cloud ?

Register on www.adobecqcloud.com to get access and then, to create your first CQ5 cloud, you need to have two things,
 1 - valid Adobe CQ5 license and
 2 - an account on Amazon EC2.

 Once you have these two things, the basic setup is quite simple and consists of three steps:
  • configuring Adobe WEM service by uploading your license file
  • configuring Cloud Provider service by providing your Amazon credentials
  • creating the CQ cloud itself using the services configured in the previous steps
When creating a cloud, specify the cloud name and admin password to CQ5 instances.

add CQ cloud

Although the configuration seems to be simple, be careful and precise, especially when configuring the Amazon cloud provider. If you do falter, it can be hard to find out why and what does not work. The detailed, step-by-step description including video tutorials you can find on the Adobe forums.

If your configuration is correct, the cloud setup process will begin. It can take from 20 - 50 minutes to complete the installation of all environments, so be patient and do not perform any actions until the specified time has elapsed or setup is complete. If the setup procedure was successful, your cloud will turn into green and by clicking on it you should see the following screen.

Now, you can start playing with your CQ5 cloud. If you encounter any issues during setup check the forum and/or ask for help by raising questions.

Cloud environment details

As you can see on the picture above the basic cloud consists of 3 nodes - dispatcher, author and publish instances. For every node, a separate server instance is created on Amazon EC2. All the instances can be seen and managed through AWS Console.

These are small instances running on Linux/CentOS 5.4 which have:
  • 1.7 GB of RAM
  • 1 EC2 Compute Unit
  • 20 GB of EBS storage
It’s good enough for testing, while a wider choice of instance types will be available soon.

Dispatcher instance is running Apache 2.2.3 with dispatcher module in version 4.0.9. The dispatcher is preconfigured to work in front of publish and author instances. It’s worth to mention that default configuration has caching disabled. If you want to change the caching rules or any other dispatcher configuration you need to login into servers (using ssh) , update the configuration manually (which can be found in /etc/httpd/conf directory) and restart apache web server.

/etc/init.d/httpd {start|stop|restart|reload|status}

CQ author and publish instances are preinstalled with the latest available Adobe CQ 5.5 version running on Java 6. What is missing is configuration of replication and flush agents. You need to configure it by yourself to make content activation working. To change CQ startup parameters (e.g. JVM parameters) you need to edit /etc/sysconfig/cq5 file and restart the instance using provided startup scripts as below.

/etc/init.d/cq5 {start|stop|restart} {author|publish}

Cloud Manager features

In addition to setting up the fully working Adobe WEM platform, the CQ Cloud Manager offers a number of interesting features which allows you to manage, monitor and track usage of your cloud :
  • Basic Monitoring - to monitor resource usage on all instances including CPU utilization, memory and disk usage
  • Backups/Restore - to perform on-demand backups or schedule it to run on regular basis, it  also allows to restore the entire cloud from previously taken backup
  • Pause/Start/Stop – pause and start actions allows to temporarily stop the cloud if it is not needed at the time, then start it back, stop action terminates the cloud, terminated cloud can be restored from backup only
  • Scaling – allows you to add more author and publish instances to your cloud to ensure sufficient capacity and availability;  when I tested this did not work as expected yet, though - extra author instance didn't join the cluster whilst additional publish instance has not been configured to work with author and dispatcher
  • Packages tab – to easily install packages form Package Share on all instances within the cloud to extend the capabilities of platform
  • Services tab – to configure cloud services and install it across the clouds, except core services like WEM platform and Amazon Cloud, the Adobe SiteCatalyst service is also supported

What’s coming next ?

There are a lot of features on the roadmap, some of them should be available in relatively short time, others are long-term. The ones I find the most interesting are:
  • Support for public clouds – current version supports Amazon EC2 in Us-East only, EC2 is going to be supported in all regions, additionally support for Bluelock and Rackspace cloud providers is planned
  • Extended set of services – this include both Adobe Cloud Services for Test & Target, Search & Promote, Scene7 and 3rd party services including Cloud Providers, CDN
  • Advanced deployment topologies –  currently, it is only single dispatcher that is supported, future versions will support multiple dispatcher instances

Summary

As the Adobe CQ Cloud Manager has been launched today, I am confident that there are many improvements. If you do have a play, you can have Adobe CQ5 WEM platform running within an hour.