Alpha Cloud/TransForm Restart June 23, 2019 at 6:00pm Eastern Standard Time

On Sunday June 23, 2019 at around 6:00pm Eastern Standard Time, we plan to recycle Alpha Cloud for the first time since April 28, 2018. This restart will include Alpha TransForm. The time selected is intended to minimize the impact on subscribers and their customers in different time zones. Although we hope it will take less time, please plan several hours for this restart.

The primary purpose of this restart is to change the application server load balancers from the AWS "Classic" load balancer to the AWS "Network" load balancer. It requires a bit of reconfiguration as the two are quite different.

Although we would much prefer to make changes like this without interruption of service, we believe this is an important update and automated reconfiguration would introduce more risk.

Why switch load balancers now?

A key benefit of this change is that our deployed applications will now see the originating IP address of the requester. Over time, it will also facilitate other advanced features.

When Alpha Cloud was first introduced, the Classic load balancer was the only Amazon AWS offering. Unfortunately, the AWS Classic load balancer can only pass IP addresses using something called the Proxy Protocol; which IIS does not support. Later, the AWS Network and AWS Application load balancers were introduced by Amazon, but neither satisfied the technical requirements of Alpha Cloud.

Over time, the AWS Network load balancer has been improved. For example, it now runs across multiple availability zones.

The AWS Application load balancer still has some limitations with respect to certificate management that prevent us from switching to it.

IP Restrictions

With this update, you will now be able to allow or restrict requests based on the originating IP address. You can optionally filter on the x-forwarded-for HTTP header as well. These restrictions can be defined as Application or Deployment Properties using the Alpha Cloud "Manage Application Properties" and "Manage Deployment Properties" dialogs.

Test Databases

Alpha Cloud now allows you to create test database servers for MariaDB, PostgreSQL or SQL Server. The database servers are accessible from Alpha Cloud or the Alpha Anywhere development environment using an SSH2 tunnel. You can also manage your databases using third party tools.

The servers have limited disk space that can be used for one or more small test databases. You can backup and restore your own simple databases and install the "Northwind" sample into one or more databases you create on your server(s).

Please note that these database servers lack the management, security, robustness, recovery and performance characteristics required for production use. For the initial implementation, all data is stored in Virginia, USA. Each server runs in a separate Linux Docker container on the Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE).

The documentation for "IP Restrictions" and "Test Databases" will be added shortly after the features are enabled.

Thank you for your patience as we make what we think is a significant improvement to the security of Alpha Cloud. If you have questions about these or other features, please address them to alphacloudbugs@alphasoftware.com.