Cutting it fine, Rackspace warns customers about Xen reboot

Rackspace has given customers two days notice prior to a major reboot in what appears to be an effort to patch a critical flaw in Xen that will be made public this Wednesday.

Following Amazon’s maintenance alert to customers last week detailing that it would reboot certain instances to patch a Xen hypervisor flaw, Rackspace has warned customers that it too will begin a "cloud server reboot" at its data centres.

Rackspace kicked off its reboot on Sunday in the US and Europe, which will be followed by its Sydney data centre on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Recently, an issue that has the potential to impact a portion of the Public Cloud environment was reported,” Rackspace said.

“Our engineers and developers continue to work closely with our vendors and partners to apply the solution to remediate this issue. While we believe in transparent communication, there are times when we must withhold certain details in order to protect you, our customers.”

Amazon didn't initially tell customers why or exactly how it would do the job, however, prompted by customer concerns, it confirmed on Thursday the reboot was to fix a Xen security flaw and that it would impact around 10 percent of instances running on its Elastic Compute Cloud(EC2).

Details of the bug will be published at midnight, Wednesday October 1, after an embargo is lifted.

The two companies have basically given customers two days notice of the impending maintenance, however Amazon started earlier and should be complete before the embargo is lifted on the Xen bug.

Rackspace said that it was anticipating “a reboot will be necessary for all Standard, Performance 1, and Performance 2 Cloud Servers within our Cloud Servers infrastructure”.

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Ahead of the maintenance, Rackspace told customers to:

• Verify all necessary services (Apache, IIS, MySQL, etc.) are configured to start on server boot • Ensure that you have up-to-date server images and file-level backups enabled, and confirm that you have backups of all critical data • Confirm that any unsaved changes, such as firewall rules and application configurations, are indeed saved

Like Amazon, Rackspace will reboot affected servers “one region at a time” in a move that should help customers’ services remain available throughout maintenance.

The Sydney data centre is the last on Rackspace’s list scheduled for maintenance. The reboot at data centres in London, Chicago and Dallas commenced on Sunday. So far the company hasn’t reported any major problems with them.

This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.

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