Friday, October 04, 2019

Free Oracle Cloud: 12. Create a 2nd Compute Instance and a Load Balancer

This post is part of a series of blog posts on the Best and Cheapest Oracle APEX hosting: Free Oracle Cloud.

In my blog post Create a VM Instance (Compute Cloud) we created a VM instance in the Free Oracle Cloud. The cool thing is that you get two VMs for free. In this post, we will set up the other always free compute instance.

Just like when we created our first instance, hit the Create a VM instance:


Give your instance a name and before I just hit the Create button, BUT this time you want to create the Show Shape, Network and Storage Options first:


The most important part of that screen is the "Assign public IP address" section. If you don't need this Compute instance to be accessible from the internet you can ignore it, but if you want to host a website, for example, you might want to check it. If you didn't do it, you can always add a public IP later, but I personally found it cumbersome and hard to understand the network piece. I had to do many different steps to get it to work to have an internet connection to that machine, while when you have a public IP address, Oracle does everything for you... anyway, it depends on your use case what you need, but I do want to highlight it. Also, it seems that the default changed from when I wrote the first post; by default, you don't have a public IP address. It might be that Oracle is trying to push you to use a Load Balancer (see later on in this blog post) and that might actually make sense.



Clicking the Create button will show that your instance is being provisioned.


When you go back to the overview you should see both of your Always Free Compute instances:


Clicking on the name, you will get the details. This screenshot shows when you don't specify a public IP address.


To access that machine, as it doesn't have a public IP, I connected to my first instance and from there, as I am on the subnet, I can connect to the Private IP Address:


An alternative for a URL to go directly to your VM instance is to front it with a Load Balancer.

Which brings us to the Load Balancer topic. With the Always Free Oracle Cloud, we also get a Load Balancer for free. There are different use cases for using a Load Balancer, but here are my own reasons why I have used a Load Balancer before:

  1. Distribute the traffic automatically over different machines. For example, when you use our APEX Office Print (AOP) Cloud you will actually hit our load balancer, behind the load balancer we have two to five different machines. It's not only to handle the large number of prints we get, but it also makes our lives easier when we want to upgrade without downtime. We upgrade one clone instance, and when done, new machines are brought online and old ones are shutdown. We patch our own service with zero downtime.
  2. The Load Balancer has the SSL certificate and handles the HTTPS requests while the backend servers have HTTP.
  3. On a Load Balancer, you have integrated health checks, so you can be warned when things go wrong, even when there's only one server behind the Load Balancer.

So lets get started to set up a Load Balancer in the Oracle Cloud:

Click on Networking > Load Balancers:


Click the Create Load Balancer button:


It will ask for a name and type. For the Always free instance, use Micro with Maximum Total Bandwidth.
By default Small is selected, so don't forget to change it:


Next you want to add a Backend to this Load Balancer, so click the Add Backends button:


In the pop-up you can select the instances you want to put behind this Load Balancer:


Furthermore, on the screen you can select a Health Check Policy:


In the next step, you can upload the SSL certificate, in case you want the Load Balancer to be accessible through HTTPS. You can also choose to just configure the Load Balancer for HTTP (which I don't recommend):


Hit the Create Load Balancer and you will get an overview that the Load Balancer is being created:


Once it's ready the icon turns green and you will see the Public IP Address of your Load Balancer:


Instead of putting the IP Address of your instance directly in the DNS of your domain name, you put the IP Address of the Load Balancer in.

A Load Balancer can do much more, you can have different Rules, SSL tunneling, etc. You can read more about that in the online documentation.

Hopefully, now you know how to set up a second compute instance and you have an idea what a Load Balancer can do for you.

We are almost done with this series... but you definitely want to read the next blog post, which is the last one where I give some important information to keep your Always Free instance running.

3 comments:

habib said...

As APEX almost fully runs inside the database, will load balancing the web server really make any difference in performance?

Also what if the database tier goes down? The web server will be running but APEX will not? How to handle that?

Will be thankful for your help.

Habib

Corner said...

Dimitri, thank you again - there are all timely and easy-to-follow tutorials.

My question is can we use LetsEncrypt's Certbot to manage SSL certificates in case of Oracle Load Balancer?

Dimitri Gielis said...

Hi Habib,

Doing load balancing at this stage isn't much of an effect.
If ORDS could be on the two compute virtual machines, it might help when you have a busy site.

The Loadbalancer is more to monitor or put something in maintenance mode more easily.

Hope that helps,
Dimitri