High Availability - Scalability (ASG)

Scalability vs High Availability

  • Scalability
    • Application / system can handle greater loads by adapting
    • Scalability is linked but different to high availability
    • Elasticity
      • System can adapt to workload changes by provisioning and de-provisioning resources automatically to match current demand as closely as possible.
    • Two kinds of scalability
      • Vertical Scalability: scale up & down
        • Increasing the size of the instance e.g. from t2.micro to t2.large
        • Common use case
          • Distributed systems, such as database
          • RDS, ElastiCache can scale vertically
        • Hardware limits how much you can scale
      • Horizontal Scalability (= elasticity): scale in & out
        • Increase number of instances / systems for application
        • Common for web applications / modern applications
        • Easy with e.g. Amazon EC2 through right-clicking
          • For EC2, you can use Auto Scaling Groups or Load Balancers for horizontal scaling
    • Improves resiliency as failing components can be easily and automatically replaced.
  • High Availability
    • Goes hand in hand with horizontal scaling
    • Running application in at least 2 data centers (= Availability Zones)
      • Goal is to survive a data center loss
    • Can be:
      • Passive e.g. RDS Multi AZ
      • Active e.g. for horizontal scaling
    • For EC2, you can use Auto Scaling Group with multi AZ enabled and Load Balancer with multi AZ enabled.

ASG: Auto Scaling Group

  • Scale out (add EC2 instance) and in (remove EC2 instances) to match load.
  • Specify & ensure minimum (scale in down to) and maximum (scale out up to) of machines running.
    • You also specify desired capacity: actual size before any scale in/out rule triggers.
  • Automatically Register new instance to a load balancer
  • It’s across AZ’s & you can specify AZ’s but ❗ region locked.
  • Health checks
    • Own health checks: ASG terminates unhealthy instances (based on EC2 status) and replaces them with new.
    • ELB health checks: You can get health data from ELB
  • IAM roles attached to an ASG will get assigned to EC2 instances
  • Pricing: ASG are free. You pay for the underlying resources being launched.
  • ASG restart if its instances get terminated to ensure always one application is running.
  • Can send SNS notifications: when instance is launched/terminated, fails to launch/terminate.
  • Components
    • Size e.g. start with X instances.
    • Network, subnet information.
    • Load balancer (target group) information
    • 📝 Health check grace period
      • An EC2 instance needs to warm up before it can pass the health check.
      • ASG waits until the health check grace period ends before checking the health status of the instance.
      • Status checks / ELB can complete before grace period, but ASG does not act before grace period expires.
    • You need to first create Launch Configuration
      • Answers to how to launch EC2
      • Update an ASG by providing a new launch configuration
        • 📝 Existing EC2’s are not configured, only new instances are created using updated launch configurations.
      • Includes such as:
        • AMI + Instance Type, EC2 User Data, EBS Volumes, Security Groups, SSH Key Pair, assign public IP or not.
    • A Scaling Policy
      • What’ll trigger scale out and in
        • E.g. can be CPU, Network, custom metrics or based on schedule.
      • Scale between X and Y instances.
      • When to auto-scale in or not can be based on:
        • Auto Scaling Alarms
          • Scale based on CloudWatch alarms.
          • CloudWatch monitors metrics of instances and triggers based on threshold e.g. Average CPU.
          • Metrics are aggregated i.e. computed for the overall ASG instances.
          • Auto Scaling Custom Metrics
            • E.g number of connected users.
            • You send custom metrics from application on EC2 to CloudWatch (PutMetric API) and set & up CloudWatch alarm & use it.
        • Auto Scaling rules
          • Easier to set-up than auto scaling alarms
          • E.g. target average CPU usage, number of requests on the ELB per instance, average network in, average network out.
  • 💡 You can attach running EC2 instances to an ASG
  • 📝 Scaling Cooldowns
    • Ensures your ASG doesn’t scale before the previous scaling activity takes effect (metrics goes down to normal)
    • An ASG has a default scaling cooldown
      • You can create cooldowns that apply to a specific simple scaling policy (overrides default)
      • You can reduce costs by terminating additional instances quickly e.g. 180 seconds cooldown instead of 300.
      • 💡 Default is 300 seconds (remember, CloudWatch default interval 5 minutes = 300 seconds)
    • If your app is scaling up and down multiple times each hour ->
      • Modify the ASG cool-down timers
      • Modify CloudWatch Alarm Period that triggers the scale in.
  • Instance termination
    • If any health check (EC2 or ASG) returns an unhealthy status the instance will be terminated.
    • It will mark the instance for termination, terminate it, and then launch a replacement.
      • I.e. it terminates existing instance before launching a replacement instance
    • ASG Default Termination Policy
      • 📝ASG Default Termination Policy
        • Balances number of instances across AZ by deciding which instance gets terminated first.
        • Priority:
          1. Find the AZ which has the most number of instances.
          2. Delete the one with the oldest launch configuration.
          3. If all has same, delete the one closest to its billing hour.
        • Always terminates unhealthy instances.
  • Rebalancing: Auto Scaling can perform rebalancing when it finds that the number of instances across AZs is not balanced using default termination policy.
  • You can enable Instance Protection to protect a specific instance in an ASG from a scale in action
  • Performing updates/changes/troubleshooting
    • You can suspending scaling processes to suspend invoking scaling processes.
    • Set standby state on instance
      • Auto scaling does not perform health checks on instances in the standby state.

Auto Scaling Types

  • Comparison

      AWS Auto Scaling Amazon EC2 Auto Scaling Auto Scaling for Other Services
    Resources you can scale EC2 Auto Scaling groups, EC2 Spot Fleets, ECS services, DynamoDB provisioned capacity for tables & GSIs, Aurora Replicas EC2 Auto Scaling groups EC2 Spot Fleets, ECS services, DynamoDB provisioned capacity for tables & GSIs, Aurora Replicas, EMR clusters, Appstream 2.0 fleet, Sagemaker endpoint variants
    Scaling method Application-wide scaling using a unified interface One Auto Scaling group at a time One resource at a time
    Predictive Scaling Yes (EC2 Only) No No
  • In EC2 with ASG
    • Scheduled scaling
    • Dynamic scaling
      • Target tracking scaling: Based on a target value for a specific metric, e.g. CPU at 40%.
      • Step scaling: based on a set of scaling adjustments
        • Scaling adjustment has
          • A lower bound for the metric value
          • An upper bound for the metric value
          • The amount by which to scale, based on the scaling adjustment type:
            • Change in capacity e.g. increase by 5
            • Exact capacity e.g. set to 5
            • Percent change in capacity e.g. 10% CPU increase = 1 instance
      • Simple scaling: based on a single scaling adjustment
      • ❗ Step scaling & simple scaling is only available for EC2 Auto scaling
    • Predictive Scaling uses machine learning models to forecast daily and weekly patterns.
      • ❗ Only for EC2
      • 💡 Good to combine with target tracking scaling
        • Predictive scaling for minimum
        • Target tracking scaling for desired
  • In Application Auto Scaling (ECS, Spot Fleet, EMR, AppStream 2.0, DynamoDB, Aurora, SagMaker, or even custom API-compatible APIs)
    • Target tracking scaling: Based on a target value for a specific CloudWatch metric.
    • Step scaling: Based on a set of scaling adjustments that vary based on the size of the alarm breach.
    • Scheduled scaling: Based on the date and time.

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