11 Replies Latest reply on Sep 29, 2017 1:27 AM by Donna Coles

    Upgrading Tableau Server and Service Interruptions

    Nick Corbin

      Hi, currently upgrading Tableau Server on a single node means making all the published content unavailable since Server is down until the upgrade is done. Also if the single node VM went down then again the published content would be unavailable until the issue was fixed.

       

      Is it possible to run 2 VM's concurrently that shared all the content, data sources etc so that if there was an issue or when Server was upgraded the service wasn't interrupted and we could switch between the VM's? So upgrade one whilst the other is available and then do the reverse?

       

      Thanks,

       

      Nick

        • 1. Re: Upgrading Tableau Server and Service Interruptions
          Matt Coles

          Yes, and setting up such a "failover server" should be covered under a "non-production" use of your licenses, so it should not cost you any extra other than in computing resources. We use an F5 BIG-IP to direct traffic to one of two Tableau Server clusters. Nightly we take a backup from the production cluster, then the failover cluster picks up the backup and uses tabadmin restore --no-config to synchronize that content. We make sure to disable Subscriptions on the failover cluster as well, so that people don't get duplicates. We let extracts refresh, however, to ensure they're as up to date as possible.

           

          When we have maintenance planned, we simply update the F5 and tell it to send traffic to the failover cluster. Everyone has a pretty seamless experience that way, though they'll lose their session info, and the structure of the vizzes are only up-to-date since the previous evening--so there can be some differences in what is there. We use a custom logo to try and help clue people in that they're on the failover cluster rather than the production cluster. We also disable publishing for all users on the failover cluster, as whatever work they do will be lost when we revert to pointing people back at prod again.

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          • 2. Re: Upgrading Tableau Server and Service Interruptions
            Nick Corbin

            Thanks Matt for your quick and comprehensive reply.

             

            Do you have any docs or or other info you could direct me to or is starting

            a conversation with internal IT and Tableau Support the next step?

             

            Cheers,

             

            Nick

             

             

            Actually this looks like what i'm after -

             

            Create a Backup Primary

            • 3. Re: Upgrading Tableau Server and Service Interruptions
              Matt Coles

              I don't have anything more comprehensive written up, unfortunately. But at some point we should really share how we do it, and the pros and cons. I do know that other customers use this approach, and at least one switches the active node with the passive node, so that they don't have to make one of them read-only. So the knowledge is out there.

               

              The "Create a Backup Primary" is not the same as what we're talking about here. That refers to the primary node of a Tableau Server cluster. It's just a way to have additional redundancy within a single cluster, along the lines of High Availability. You still have to stop the entire Server instance to do an upgrade or for certain config changes. What we're talking about it multiple instances of Tableau Server itself.

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              • 4. Re: Upgrading Tableau Server and Service Interruptions
                Nick Corbin

                Hi, apologies for reopening this but we're at the point where we've created a backup primary and i'm not getting very far with ascertaining the limitations of this set-up with Tableau Support.

                 

                My intention/hope was to make switching over to the backup primary as simple and quick as possible by continually restoring the latest backup file so that the backup primary was as close to 'ready' as possible. When I tried restoring a backup with the primary running despite the documentation for the tabadmin restore command saying that Tableau Server would need to be started after the restore (which I wouldn't want to do given that we only have an 8 core license) processes duly started which meant that the primary became degraded, obviously due to licensing restrictions.

                 

                Using tabadmin restore with the no-config option was suggested but that doesn't seem to make sense to me in this case; we want the config on the backup primary to be the same as that on the primary, if and when it needs to be used. I didn't get any answer on that...

                 

                So my assumption is that the best we can currently do is wait for the primary to go down and then do a tabadmin restore, rather than my (slightly) more sophisticated approach of continuous backup restoration. Would that be right.....?

                 

                Thanks,

                 

                Nick

                • 5. Re: Upgrading Tableau Server and Service Interruptions
                  Donna Coles

                  Hi Nick

                   

                  I believe the no-config option applies to the settings you see in the 'Tableau Server Configuration' dialog screens

                  We have a very similar set up to you (single 8 core licence, 2 servers - 1 primary & 1 backup 'hot spare' that use the same licence key) and perform a nightly backup & restore process very similar to that which Matt describes above.  We restore using the no-config option as there should be no 'adhoc' changes made to these settings so should they should be the same anyway.  If ever these settings are changed, we will have changed them on the back up server before we apply to the primary server (we have an internal change control process to manage this type of stuff).  Once restored, we do issue a separate restart command on the back up server as that's just our best practice to keep everything clean and healthy and we're only doing this around midnight each day.  The restore to our back up server happens while the primary server is running and I'm not aware of that degrading the service on the primary server in any way.  In fact we also have a PoC/Test server which is a lesser spec server but is what we use as the starting point for any upgrade planning/testing.  It also uses the same licence key (as you can use the same key for up to 3 instances  - 1 production (ie primary) and 2 non production (ie backup disaster recovery and/or dev/test environment)).  I'm currently planning a v10.4 upgrade and have just upgraded the PoC server and restored from a backup of the primary server with absolutely no impact on our production environment.

                   

                  Hope that helps a bit....

                   

                  Donna

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                  • 6. Re: Upgrading Tableau Server and Service Interruptions
                    Nick Corbin

                    Thanks for taking the time to look at this Donna, that does help and gives me more confidence with using the 'no-config' option. The 'hot spare' is exactly what i'm looking to provide so i'll try that out. I presume the tabsvc service is always stopped on the hot spare, unless you need it to replace the primary?

                     

                    Upgrading was also a bit of a concern since I wasn't sure whether Tableau Server would automatically start on the hot spare once it was upgraded and cause issues with the licensing call as the primary was running. I assumed that it would but given what you say with your PoC server it sounds like that isn't the case?

                     

                    [Nick]

                    • 7. Re: Upgrading Tableau Server and Service Interruptions
                      Donna Coles

                      Hi Nick

                       

                      No the service is always running on the hot spare ( I could navigate to it directly now).  We have both the primary server and the back up server exposed to F5 servers.  All traffic comes via the F5 and hits the primary server only if it is running.  In the event something unexpectedly happens to the primary server and the service is unavailable, the process will 'fail over' and the F5 will direct the traffic to the back up server automatically.

                       

                      The upgrade process does automatically start the service, but as I've said, we've never experienced that to cause an issue when using the same licence key.

                       

                      Donna

                       

                      PS - I hope my reference to F5 makes sense.  While I'm server admin I typically just manage the users/project permissions etc via the server admin UI and 'dabble' a bit with the PoC server. I understand the concept of our set up but I have colleagues in my department who are much more knowledgeable with the infrastructure and terminology involved.

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                      • 8. Re: Upgrading Tableau Server and Service Interruptions
                        Nick Corbin

                        The reference to F5 does make sense, we set up something similar yesterday.

                         

                        I'll have to revisit the hotness of the spare and use no-config when I test restoring a backup.

                         

                        Thanks again for your help, it's really appreciated 

                        • 9. Re: Upgrading Tableau Server and Service Interruptions
                          satish.parvathaneni

                          Hi Nick,

                           

                          I have a single node installation of tableau server without failover .

                          Do you recommend it's a good practice to have tableau server without failover ,we are growing in size tough.

                           

                          Would it be safe to upgrade to tableau server 10.4 from 10.3 ,do you recommend any steps that needs to be taken care here ?

                           

                           

                          Thank you !

                          Satish

                          • 10. Re: Upgrading Tableau Server and Service Interruptions
                            satish.parvathaneni

                            Hi Donna,

                            I have a single node installation of tableau server without failover .

                            Do you recommend it's a good practice to have tableau server without failover ,we are growing in size tough.

                             

                            Would it be safe to upgrade to tableau server 10.4 from 10.3 ,do you recommend any steps that needs to be taken care here ?

                             

                             

                            Thank you !

                            Satish

                            • 11. Re: Upgrading Tableau Server and Service Interruptions
                              Donna Coles

                              Hi Satish

                               

                              Firstly - just a comment - you don't need to have posted this question twice to me & Nick - we're both on the thread, so would both have seen the question anyway.

                               

                              As for a failover server, its very much down to what you/your company's approach to risk is and how critical the usage of Tableau server is seen in your business.  If your business are happy that in the event the server unexpectedly fails for some reason, they won't be able to access their reports for an unknown amount of time, then you don't need a failover.

                               

                              As for upgrades, again, if you've only got a single production server, then you run at risk that if something goes wrong with the upgrade, you won't have a working server and the business won't be able to access reports.

                               

                              IMO, best practice at the minimum is you have another server that's running the same version as your production server and contains the content you have on production (you'd restore a backup from production on it).  You'd then perform the upgrade on this server, and test everything works ok. Once you're happy, then upgrade your production.

                               

                              I'd suggest you discuss all this with your business stakeholders and then engage with your Tableau Account Manager as to the most appropriate route to take given your size, appetite to risk and budget etc.

                               

                              Donna