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Load Balancing SharePoint on Azure Virtual Machines

Make your patching process easier too

Andrew Walman

07/08/2013

Azure's default load balancing mechanism presents challenges for virtual machines running SharePoint. When load balancing is set up for the first time, it is using a simple TCP check on port 80 to see if the virtual machine responds on that port – if it fails to respond to two successive checks (which happen every 15 seconds) that machine is removed from the load balancer.

The problem with this configuration is that port 80 will respond pretty much all the time – even if your application pool is stopped, and users are receiving a “503 – Service Unavailable” error. So the Azure platform includes the ability to add http level load balancing probes, to check for a 200 response instead. This ensures the web server is actually responding with content, and you can even direct it at a particular page – e.g. health.aspx.

This is fine for virtual machines that run web services under the default web site, with a port 80 binding. However, SharePoint typically has a number of applications under IIS, all with different bindings – and SharePoint uses host headers to distinguish one from another. These map back to alternate access mappings, so when a request is received through an IIS application, SharePoint then responds with the correct content, served in the context of a particular security zone. Each SharePoint application will also have its own application pool, generally running as a distinct user account. The upshot is, even the http load balancing probe won’t know if a SharePoint application is having issues.

There is a way to bring all this together though. By changing the default web site to run in the same application pool as the SharePoint site(s) you wish to load balance, you can have the load balancer respond to issues with that application pool instead. The limitation is, you can only monitor one application pool, not a problem if all your SharePoint sites run in the same pool, but this won’t necessarily be the case. I suppose you could add further “dummy” load balanced ports/probes, with a corresponding non-SharePoint IIS application that responds on that port to get around this.

A useful side effect of this is that stopping the default web site on a server removes that server from the load balancing – useful when you need to perform maintenance for example. One thing to look out for – ensure your SharePoint application pool identity has access to the default web site’s content directory, and as always an IISReset seems to sort everything out when switching app pools on an active server.

The end result is that if/when SharePoint the application pool suffers an outage, or is recycling, the load balancing probe will pick this up and stop sending requests to that server. As soon as the application pool has recovered, the next load balancing check will add the server back. This includes the daily application pool recycles early in the morning – so it should be possible to achieve genuine 100% uptime using this solution.


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Clear out the ROT!140<p class="lead">​​They might give examples of damp rot or rotten food but ROT in the IT world is an acronym and if you apply the definition of rot to your data it's not far off what this blog is essentially about.</p><p class="lead">The acronym ROT when referring to IT stands for <strong>Redundant, Obsolete and Trivial</strong> and it's used when describing your digital data that your business keeps hold of when it has no value. Employees create ROT every day without realising how much this impacts your business.</p><p>ROT can be found on network and SharePoint servers, desktops, mobile devices such as laptops and mobile phones, on premise and in the cloud. Its impact can be huge and will become even more of a worry when the new GDPR* comes into force on May 25<sup>th</sup> 2018. </p><p>​ <strong>Reasons to clear the ROT out&#58;</strong></p><ol>​ <li> <strong>It decreases the need for extra storage.</strong><br>Funding extra storage, costs businesses money; not only having to pay for the extra storage but extra storage creates the need for a bigger IT infrastructure (and more IT support staff) and hardware which all rise costs.<br></li><li> <strong>Prevents data becoming a liability risk.</strong>​ <br>For businesses that are subject to audits, clearing out the ROT is an important part of the process. Businesses need to be able to demonstrate they are compliant within a whole range of regulations and legal guidelines dependent on the sector the business operates in.<br></li><li> <strong>Improves productivity in staff</strong>. <br>The need to quickly access the right information instead of wading through irrelevant documents will increase the delivery of projects and increase productivity on a day to day basis. This in turn increases productivity and profit margins.<br></li><li> <strong>Prevents data breaches.</strong><br>Clearing out the ROT can be viewed as time consuming and not a profitable use of time. The less information your company has that has no business or legal value reduces the chance of a data breach. If there is a data breach then you open yourselves up to costly legal action that is easily preventable.<br></li><li> <strong>GDPR is coming.</strong><br>May 25<sup>th</sup> 2018 is a date that you need to have etched in your brain if you are the owner of a business. The new regulations are replacing the outdated Data Protection Act and is a well needed reaction to the change in how data is stored, transferred and managed. Individual's now have far more rights and businesses will have to ensure that they have the legal consent to process data. All personal data that you hold, where it came from and who you share it with now needs to be documented. Getting rid of obsolete data will help to prevent any breaches of GDPR.<br></li> ​ </ol> <p class="small">*GDPR(The General Data Protection Regulation) is the European Union's new legislation to protect the personal data of all EU citizens and has evolved from the need to regulate data protection by updating the 1995 Data Protection Directive (DPD). This set of regulations is now out of date due to the increasing advances in the digital and technology world.<br>Organisations have been given a two-year lead in period to become compli​ant, ending 25th May 2018.​</p><p> <strong>How can Fuse help you clear out the ROT?</strong></p><p>Fuse is a specialist in SharePoint and has an in-house team of consultants. If you currently store terabytes of data held within an on-premise infrastructure and you are worried about GDPR because your data is unstructured and therefore unmanageable, Fuse can help. Fuse implements solutions that help to analyse the data held by your organisation; structure your data; identify unwanted and duplicated data. This is all done quickly and securely. </p><p>Once your data is in a manageable format we can provide the tools that will identify and collect GDPR personal information within documents. Workflows can be created to generate documents and automate your requests for &quot;the right to be forgotten&quot;. &#160;Not only are we good at it, it will give you peace of mind as you will be preventing any GDPR breaches. Become compliant by binning the ROT! </p><div class="well well-lg"><p class="lead">​If you have any questions or would like to speak to someone about your current system, call 01604 797979 for​ a no obligation chat!</p></div>l.ozier@fusecollaboration.com | Louise Ozier | 693A30232E777C6675736563735C6C2E6F7A696572 i:0#.w|fusecs\l.ozier24/07/2017 23:00:002017-07-24T23:00:00ZIf you were to ask most people what the definition of rot is, you are more than likely to get answers along the lines of "something that's damaged, something that you can't use anymore or something that is decaying or gone bad". 26/07/2017 10:55:54htmlFalseaspx

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