Migrating an Application Based on Backbone.js, Node.js, and MongoDB from Amazon Web Services

This scenario describes the migration of a Backbone.js, Node.js, and MongoDB application from Amazon Web Services (AWS) to the Rackspace Cloud. It takes an estimated 30 minutes to complete, if you follow the instructions step by step.

These steps assume you have provisioned the Rackspace Cloud services your application will require.

The topology of the application in this scenario is presented in the following figure:


  • Application stack on AWS with root access or appropriate privileges for individual instances and services
  • Valid and enabled account on Rackspace Cloud


  • Identify the resources to migrate, including application and database resources.
  • Create a list of all the necessary software packages that are installed on your EC2 instances other than Backbone.js, Node.js, and MongoDB.
  • Create a list of all additional Amazon services that are being used in your application-for example, SES for email or RDS for database.
  • If you have not already, create a Cloud Server instance and any supporting Rackspace Cloud services.

Install software packages

  1. Install Git and curl, which are needed to get dependent components such as Node.js.
    sudo apt-get -y install git curl
  2. (Optional) Install Python.
    Ubuntu 12.0.4 LTS includes Python 2.7.2. If you need a different version or an alternative version, you can install it. Instructions for installing a different version are located at http://www.python.org/download/.
  3. Install OpenJDK as follows:
    1. Using SSH, connect to the Cloud Servers instance by using the PublicNet URL and the root password.
    2. Install OpenJDK 7.
      sudo apt-get -y install openjdk-7-jre
    3. Determine JAVA_HOME.
      ll /etc/alternatives/java

      Following is example output in which JAVA_HOME is /usr/lib/jvm/jre-1.7.0-openjdk-amd64.

      /etc/alternatives/java -> /usr/lib/jvm/java-7-openjdk-amd64/jre/bin/java*
  4. Install Tomcat 7 on the cloud server.
    1. To install Tomcat 7, use apt-get.
      sudo apt-get -y install tomcat7

      Alternatively, to install a different version of Tomcat, or install it manually, select the version from http://tomcat.apache.org/download-70.cgi.

    2. Copy the URL of the tar.gz file (for example, http://www.us.apache.org/dist/tomcat/tomcat-7/v7.0.39/bin/apache-tomcat-7.0.39.tar.gz).
    3. Change directory to /usr/share(or your directory of choice) and download the binary.
      cd /usr/share
      sudo wget http://www.us.apache.org/dist/tomcat/tomcat-7/v7.0.39/bin/apache-tomcat-7.0.39.tar.gz
    4. Change permissions.
      sudo chmod 775 apache-tomcat-7.0.39.tar.gz
    5. Extract file contents.
      sudo tar zxvf apache-tomcat-7.0.39.tar.gz
    6. After Tomcat is extracted, remove the tar.gzfiles to save space.
      sudo rm apache-tomcat-7.0.39.tar.gz
    7. Set environment variables in catalina.sh.
      cd /usr/share/apache-tomcat-7.0.39/bin
      sudo vi catalina.sh
    8. Add the following line immediately after #!/bin/sh:
    9. Save and exit.
    10. Automate the startup of Tomcat.
      cd /etc/init.d
      sudo vi tomcat
    11. Add the following information to the file.
      Ensure that JAVA_HOME, TOMCAT_HOME, START_TOMCAT, and STOP_TOMCAT refer to the correct directories.
      # chkconfig: 234 20 80
      # description: Tomcat Server basic start/shutdown script
      # processname: tomcat
      export JAVA_HOME
      start() {
      echo -n "Starting tomcat: "
      cd $TOMCAT_HOME
      echo "done."
      stop() {
      echo -n "Shutting down tomcat: "
      cd $TOMCAT_HOME
      echo "done."
      case "$1" in
      sleep 10
      echo "Usage: $0 {start|stop|restart}"
      exit 0
    12. Save and exit.
    13. Set file permissions, set up Tomcat as a system service, and test the setup.
      sudo chmod 755 tomcat
      sudo /sbin/chkconfig --add tomcat
      sudo /sbin/chkconfig --level 234 tomcat on
      sudo /sbin/chkconfig --list tomcat

      The expected output looks as follows:

      tomcat 0:off 1:off 2:on 3:on 4:on 5:off 6:off
    14. Because Tomcat is running on port 8080, ensure iptables will not interfere with connectivity.
      To learn about iptables, see Introduction to iptables.
    15. Test Tomcat by looking up the cloud server IP from the Rackspace Cloud Control Panel and opening the URL in a browser (for example, http://<ip_address>:8080/).
      The Apache Tomcat landing page should appear.

      Note: You can start and stop Tomcat with the following commands:

      sudo /sbin/service tomcat stop
      sudo /sbin/service tomcat start
  5. Install MongoDB on your cloud server.
    Instructions for installing MongoDB on the Rackspace Cloud are located at http://docs.mongodb.org/ecosystem/platforms/rackspace-cloud/. Note that for a production deployment, you should use at least a 3-node replica set.

    For a simple single-node installation, perform the following steps:

    1. Add the GPG key to apt-get to create a "trusted" source.
      sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv 7F0CEB10
    2. Create a custom 10gen repository file containing the location of the MongoDB binaries.
      sudo sh -c 'echo "deb http://downloads-distro.mongodb.org/repo/ubuntu-upstart dist 10gen" | tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/10gen.list'
    3. Update apt-get to pick up new packages.
      sudo apt-get -y update
    4. Install MongoDB.
      sudo apt-get -y install mongodb-10gen
    5. Verify that MongoDB is running.
      ps aux | grep mongo

      Tip: MongoDB uses /var/lib/mongodb as the default data path. If you want to change this path, you can shut down the MongoDB instance and update /etc/mongodb.conf.

  6. If your services are backed by Node.js instead of Python, use the following steps to set up a Node.js server on your cloud instance:
    1. Install Node.js.
      sudo apt-get -y install nodejs npm
    2. Test the installation by getting the version of Node.js that you are running.
      node --version
  7. (Optional) Install OpenStack Swift. If you will use Cloud Files to transfer your data, install the swift client to enable access from your server.
    sudo apt-get install python-novaclient glance-client swift
    1. Set the necessary environment variables by running the following commands, substituting your username and API key:
      export ST_USER=<your-login-username>
      export ST_KEY=<your-API-key>
      export ST_AUTH=https://identity.api.rackspacecloud.com/v1.0/

      You might want to define these variables in .bashrc or .bash_profile, then reload the file with the "source" command.

      source .bashrc
    2. Type swift list and ensure that you can see the container you've created to hold your data.

Back up data from AWS to Rackspace Cloud Files

Retrieve your data from EC2. You can transfer the data directly via rsync or sftp, or you can use the OpenStack Swift client to transfer your data to Cloud Files, and from there transfer to the Cloud Server.

To use Cloud Files, follow these preparatory steps (for this example we'll use an existing container named "AppData"):

  1. Using SSH, connect to your EC2 instance.
    ssh -i your_private_key.pem user@ec2-xxx-xxx-xxx-xxx.compute-1.amazonaws.com
  2. Perform a dump of MongoDB.
    Use the -host and -port options if MongoDB is running on a different instance.
    mongodump --host mongodb1.yourdomain.com --port 3017 --username $USERNAME --password $PASSWORD --out ~/backup/mongodump-2013-05-03
    tar czvf backbonedb-2013-05-03.tar.gz ~/backup/db/mongodump-2013-05-03/*
  3. Back up your application and any other resources needed by the application, including logs and other directories of interest.
    # Backup backbone resources
    sudo tar cvzf ~/backup/app/backhone.tar.gz /usr/share/tomcat/webapps/YOURAPP/*
    # Backup node.js resources
    sudo tar cvzf ~/backup/app/nodejs.tar.gz /usr/local/nodejs/YOURAPP/*
  4. If you are using Cloud Files to transfer your files, use one of the following methods to perform the transfer. If you will transfer directly via rsync or sftp, skip to the final section of this article after the transfer.
    • Upload your archives to the Cloud Files container via the swift client.
      swift upload AppData backbonedb-2013-05-03.tar.gz
      swift upload AppData backhone.tar.gz
      swift upload AppData nodejs.tar.gz
    • Upload your data into Cloud Files through the Cloud Control Panel.
      1. Open your container (Cloud Control Panel > Files > containerName).
      2. Click Upload Files.
      3. Click Browseand select the files to upload.

        Note: When you click the Browse button, you can select multiple files.

      4. After you have selected the file or files, click Open or Select (depending on the browser and system).
      5. Click Upload File.

Restore data from Cloud Files to Cloud Servers

If you uploaded your data to Cloud Files, transfer it to your Cloud Server with the following steps.

  1. Using SSH, connect to the Cloud Servers instance by using the PublicNet URL and the root password.
  2. Install and configure the Swift CLI as described in the "Install software packages" section.
  3. Ensure that you can execute swift list and see the new container that you created in the results.
  4. Download the database dump from the backup that you took in the "Back up data from AWS to Rackspace Cloud Files" section and restore it locally.
    swift download AppData backbonedb-2013-05-03.tar.gz
    gunzip < backbonedb-2013-05-03.tar.gz | mongorestore --host mongodb1.yourdomain.com --port 3017 --username user --password pass
  5. Download the data (Backbone.js and Node.js) and restore it.
    sudo service tomcat7 stop #stop tomcat server
    swift download AppData backbone.tar.gz
    # restore / deflate backbone
    cd /usr/share/tomcat/webapps
    sudo tar xvf backbone.tar.gz
    # restore node.js
    swift download AppData nodejs.tar.gz
    sudo mkdir -p /usr/local/nodejs/YOURAPP
    cd /usr/local/nodejs
    sudo tar xvf nodejs.tar.gz
  6. Start the application services.
    sudo service tomcat7 start
    cd /usr/local/nodejs/YOURAPP/
    sudo node server.js

Test your application

Browse to http://<cloud_server_ip_address>/<your_app> to access and test your application.

Before making your migrated application available to the public, we recommend weighing some post-migration considerations like the security of your setup, monitoring its availability, and ensuring your data is regularly backed up.

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