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High Availability Drupal 8 on Microsoft Azure

In this blog post we will take you though all the components required to provision a high availability Drupal 8 stack on Microsoft Azure. This is an extract from the demonstration given at Microsoft Ignite on the Gold Coast in November 2015.

 

by nick.schuch / 

What is Drupal?

Drupal is content management software. It’s used to make many of the websites and applications you use every day. Drupal has great standard features, like easy content authoring, reliable performance, and excellent security. But what sets it apart is its flexibility; modularity is one of its core principles. Its tools help you build the versatile, structured content that dynamic web experiences need.

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aGov for Drupal 8

aGov is a totally free, open source Drupal CMS software distribution developed specifically for Australian Government organisations. Easy to install and configure, this pre-packaged Drupal CMS complies with all Australian Government standards and provides a full suite of essential website management features. It can be used out of the box for basic websites, or customised with any standard Drupal 8 module to deliver large scale, complex government platforms.

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Preparation

To replicate this demo you will need to following tools installed:

Architecture

So why do we want a high availability (HA) architecture? Why can’t we just deploy a single Virtual Machine (VM) application? Both of these questions come down to Azure’s service level agreements (SLA), to get a 99.95% SLA on Azure you will need to implement an architecture which implements 2 hosts at a minimum. But don’t fear, because our site is deployed in a high availability architecture doesn’t mean we have to make things difficult. For this demo we are going to stick to the following 3 principles:

  • Use services instead of custom deployments of services eg. Databases and file storage.
  • Keep our complex areas as simple as possible eg. Scripts over tools. You may choose a tool that suites your need in the future eg. Deployment tools, but for now we will keep it as high level as possible.
  • Implement as much open source as possible.

The diagram below illustrates the areas which we are going to focus on for this demo and how they interact.

  • Resource groups
  • Database
  • File storage
  • VM’s
  • Networking (endpoints)
  • Scaling and Availability sets

 

 

Resource Groups

Azure is very focused on providing the high level tooling for deploying applications, without the requirement for the end user to know anything about the low level architecture eg. networking and replication. The core fundamentals that resource groups provide us are:

  • Access control
  • Billing management
  • Global architecture management

So how do I create a resource group? These are easily created via the Azure UI when creating new resources. For the purpose of this demo we will create one at the same time we create our database backend, then add resources to it via the same UI as we create additional resources.

Database

The database is the primary storage backend for persistent data of the application, this component is responsible for storing all our content. Drupal 8 core ships with database drivers for Mysql, Postgres and Sqlite. In this demo we are going to use a Mysql backend implementation, on Azure we have 2 options:

  • ClearDB
  • MariaDB Enterprise
  • Install your own Mysql backend

 

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