I once listened and nodded in agreement when an IBM Sales colleague related how sometimes she could not get out of her car on arrival at a customer site until the BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play had completed The quality of a play is of course very subjective, but I can say that I was thrilled to find two fantastic plays on offer within the space of this week:
By Robert Rigby and Nick Russell-Pavier. Householder Jonathan confronts a burglar with his legally-owned shotgun.
The Intruder ...... Alex Jennings Jonathan ...... Toby Stephens Police Officer/Matt Hughes/Colin ......Ben Crowe Tom Robbins/Commander ...... Jonathan Oliver Janet Robbins/WPC ...... Victoria Carling Julie/Sophie ...... Zoe King
Documentary drama by John Taylor investigating the complex anatomy of a crime and trial. The headlines were dramatic: a desperate car chase along winding country lanes, a vicious attack on two innocent lovers and the brutal murder of a young man. But it soon became apparent that the killing of Lee Harvey outside Keeper's Cottage was an incident even more astonishing than it first appeared.
Tracie Andrews ...... Sian Brooke David Crigman QC ...... Kim Wall DC Brian Russell ...... Michael Higgs Superintendant Ian Johnstone ...... Roderick Smith Pathologist ...... John Rowe Sister Hadley ...... Penelope Freeman Child witness ...... Brittany Skye-Parnaby
To those of us in the know it is not Radio 4 but Radio Phwoar
And of course I'm assuming you realise the fundamentals:
6 core processor PC's in a desktop or server environment are overly powerful for single application use. Therefore probably you would invest in Virtualisation technology to run a Host OS like MS Windows Server 2008 (or bare metal Hypervisor like VMware ESX) . Underneath that OS you would likely run regular applications and Guest OS partitions
Latest generation processors provide support for Intel Virtualisation technology (VT). This technology allows guest Virtual machines to perform at close to native performance.
In particular the latest round of features breaks down into VT-x, VT-d, VT-c
One of Apple's greatest selling points is the availability of their products. Most other manufacturers pre-announcements can be in the order of at least 6 months. However Apple are sensitive to the fact that consumers with money (an Apple customer pre-requisite) expect to buy and not just read about their technology.
Meanwhile, back in Switzerland things don't move quite so fast. In Europe we are already second in line (after the US) to the iPad ordering cycle. But we also have to wait for the Bun fight of who (if anybody) gets the all important DataPlan contract.
In Switzerland I am currently paying about 10 CHF (10USD) for 100MB of monthly data. And this "bargain" offer came only after signing a 12 month Swisscom contract. Perhaps this factor could be added to the following splendid iPad buying flowchart:
In times gone by perhaps there might have been one or two professional journals or online forums where a group of like minded "experts" might gather. For example the letter page at BYTE magazine for PC's, Linux Journal for Linux, or Usenet groups like comp.unix.aix for matters AIX.
Over time you might begin to recognise the helpful contributors. But in 2010:
The number of IT professionals has truly exploded. For example: In India the age of aspiration of being a qualified doctor has been supplanted by a desire to shine in IT, and since the countries internal IT requirements are minuscule (compared with the 1198 million population) these people are searching for work everywhere but India
The sources of IT via technical journals, blogs, enthusiast websites, and official manufacturers websites has also grown exponentially.
So if ever I'm asked to comment on a person I turn immediately to Google.
For me, all my Engineering papers, my undergraduate studies, even my O level coursework is online. My publications - online, my thesis - online, my full career history - online. All non proprietary software I've written - online. Perhaps I'm a little ahead of the curve, but if you're in IT and I can't find significant traces of you in technical forums, blog posts publications or papers then just maybe you are not so significant as you claim
Well, call me a perfectionist but when I found the above two holes in the rear tyre of my exquisite new Condor bicycle I was a little disheartened.
From the previous entry you may recall that human error has resulted in a somewhat delayed and imperfect delivery. So subsdquently finding a damaged rear tyre made it hard to hold a smile.
Then whilst out cycling and stationary at the traffic lights I noticed something astonishing. The front tyre also has 2 holes on the tread. What are the chances that two set of tyres are seemingly damaged in an identical way....
A visit to the Continental website later and I think I now understand what the bullet point "Tread wear indicators in the tread" means. So the two holes are intentional and I suppose somebody has calculated that the chance of a sharp object striking at exactly at either hole, where surely the lack of tread leads to a much more vulnerable area, is minimal.
At home, assuming you have a backup strategy the chances are that you use a combination of spare hard disks, DVD's and USB keys to backup your data onto.
But in the Enterprise business world; the use of tape is not only commonplace but often preferred. And so I am embarrassed to say that I quite overlooked the forthcoming availability of LTO-5 tape cartridges which I understand are now heading towards OEM warehouses right now.
First, why might I chose tape, over an equivalently sized disk array
Speed: Backup software like TSM can stream data from a Snapshot (i.e. FlashCopy) disk image of the database to multiple tape drives simultaneously. Consider writing to 5, LTO5 tapes in parallel without compression. 5 x 140 MB/sec. A 20 TB database could be backed up in less than 9 hours. (Compression should reduce this time definitively)
Cost: The cost is lower and the density is higher of an Enterprise Tape Library compared to a disk array. Power consumption of the tape verses disk array is orders of magnitude lower.
Offsite: Individual Tapes can be easily taken offsite, disks within a RAIDed disk storage array are usually designed not to be removed. (Note: Even if you had a companion storage array for offsite backup located 300Km away with a 1Gbit/sec link, Backup of my 20TB database would take over 40 hours And yes I tested this.)
So currently what are the Speeds and Feeds for LTO and their principle competitors i.e. IBM 359x tape storage:
That's nice dear Agata said briefly and then returned back to reading her latest novel
I refer to the momentus event (at least for me) as I completed the move of the static component of our website onto the new Intel server. I thought I'd document and explain the process
First, build the DMZ server which is based on Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Enterprise (with GUI)
Choose the most appropriate Virtualisation software for my needs, environment and budget: Eventually VMware
Build a container OS for the WebServer inside a VMware virtual machine
The process went quite well initially. It was using Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Standard Edition. I installed some usual components, updated all fixes and then found I don't have a valid license key! So ....
Rebuild the OS inside VMware using Microsoft Windows Web Server 2008 R2
I can stil barely believe that there is no offical Apache 64 build for Windows. Who is responsible for this travesty? Credit then to Jorge Schrauwen for his continued efforts in compiling it. His latest release 64 bit Windows release is now at 2.2.15
Create a separate VMware drive to hold entire static component of website.
Initially I tried putting the drive on the underlying physical OS, then sharing it into the VM using a command like this
net use x: \\126.96.36.199\staging
and using httpd.conf lines like
<Directory "X:/static"> Options FollowSymLinks MaxConnPerIP 2 AllowOverride None Order allow,deny Allow from all deny from long_list_of_tossers.com </Directory>
Now bizzarely httpd.exe would NOT start as a Windows service using this configuration. However it would start from the command line with commands like
httpd -k start -e debug
So I tried using native paths. But which one to use? Forward or backslashes? I tied lots of combinations ...e.g
<Directory "//188.8.131.52/staging/static"> Options FollowSymLinks MaxConnPerIP 2 AllowOverride None Order allow,deny Allow from all deny from long_list_of_tossers.com </Directory>
Alias /static/ "/184.108.40.206/staging/static/"
And, nothing worked. So admitting defeat I copied the 300GB static directoriesregion into a VMware virtual X: drive local to Webserver
Google provides a Python script which I run daily. This produces sitemap files which are used by Google to hint at what URLs to track. Check Google Webmaster tools of course
Install DokuWiki software
My wiki contains an ever growing structure of good AIX, SAN, SAP, Storage and other IT disciplines. Dokuwiki needs to be installed as well as 64 bit PHP for windows.
Of course the beauty of Dokuwiki is that no backend database is required making it robust, and easily transferable. (Did you see the amazing companion Dokuwiki on a stick? )
Allow access thru firewall
In the firewall of the VMware guest OS (obviously not the host physcial OS) add httpd.exe access thru the Windows firewall
There is a commented explanation saying that it does not need to be enabled. Unfortunately my Firefox browser disagreed.
Test access from localhost on this local VMware system
Test access from local subnet i.e. 192.166.5.x in our case
Test access from adjacent subnet i.e. 192.142.7.x in our case
Install DynDNS client on this VM and disable on existing webserver
Multiple routers in our network can do this from an option in their setup menu. However I think it's more logical for maben.homeip.net to be set into dns from the webserver PC right?
Change the VDSL router rules to point to new server on ports
Until this point all inbound web traffic is diverted to the old Webserver. Here we now change the VDSL router to tell it to forward HTTP ports 80 et al to the new internal webserver address.
Test access from Internet and back out if it does not work
With the router changed we can test the website using an internet address. From experience it's also good to check it from a non home network, so with iPhone in hand, leave apartment and run as far as is needed to gain legitimate free Wi-Fi access. Lausanne, our home town has free Wi-Fi access, (NB:We are responsible adults in Switzerland, free Wi-Fi is perfectly legal) I had to run about 1Km!
Install Softperfect Bandwidth Manager
Whilst bandwidth limiting of the Webserver won't stop it being vulnerable to DOS attacks it might at least prevent uncontrolled uploads from trashing my Internet download connection.
A variety of tasks need to be xml exported from the existing Webserver and then xml imported on the new one. After importing each task change the domain/userid and password for each task. For security paranoia, all passwords are changed!
Restart and test Google maps
After manually running tasks to refresh index pages, refresh Google Site Maps, Check with Google webmaster tools that all is still working. In my case I need to revalidate the website but logging onto webmaster tools and cut pasting the verification line into the toplevel index.html file.
Check backup strategy
Make a windows network share of the total static content with a random password. From the master server (which is 2 firewalls away) setup a Syncback pull schedule to retreive using that password the static content daily and store it locally.
For security rules the entire DMZ server and all VM's inside it e.g. this Webserver can't open any connections to more secure parts of the the home network. This might sound obvious, i.e. the only way to copy content is to pull it from a more trusted part of the network, you can't push it.
Benefits of New Config Predictability: Use of VMware allows one to allocate as much processor and memory as required to the Webserver instance. Previously when the Webserver ran on a physical machine it competed with all other running tasks resulting in varied performance.
Security: This is an isolated VMachine. It's Network card is not shared with any other Virtual machine. All passwords are random. This server can't push its data to anybody. If compromised you gain control of this Webserver only.
Backup: I can snaphot the OS using VMware, or (with VM partition down) do a file copy backup of OS partition .vmdk file is about 5 minutes
Portability: I can duplicate the VM configuration, make a few changes and experiment in a parallel VM with better settings, then when tested flip to that new VM configuration
Future Create a VM based on SUSE SLES (my favourite enterprise Linux) and experiment with hosting the website under Linux based Apache 64. Path lengths are supposed to be shorter, and support for a plethora of useful security modules commonplace (unlike the Windows 64 bit version)
+ Great Driver support Since this is essentially a free version of Micosoft Windows 2008 server R2, the out of box driver support is as for windows server 2008 R2 ... great.
+ It is free Commonly misunderstood. This product is free. There is no charge, even though it is essentially Microsoft's best server Operating System under the covers.
- They forgot the GUI Yep, the GUI is missing. Boy is that frustrating! You manage it therefore from another computer on which you install the Hyper-V Remote Manager
Microsoft Hyper V, Virtual machine definition frrom the remote manager GUI
Windows 7 virtual machine inside Hyper-V
Windows 2008 Enterprise R2 with native Hyper-V In this scenario you install Windows 2008 R2 server and then configure the Hyper-V role. This installs extra software allowing you to create (from the management MMC) and then run/manipulate virtual machines. As with other products you can run 32bit or 64 bit Windows or Linux operating systems as guests.
- Only up to 4 virtual machines running (assuming you bought the Enterprise 2008 R2 server edition) I have bought all of the Web, Standard and Enterprise editions, so using the latter 2 I could run 1 or 4 Virtual machines respectively. I still think 4 is too few, well in the long term.
+ Best driver support As with the bare metal Hyper-V Microsoft offering, driver support is brilliant. I am even going to try and use the Gigabyte overclocking utilities
To use any realistic Hyper-V implementation under Windows 2008 you will need the Enterprise of DataCenter editions. You see for example that the Standard edition allows only a single Hyper-V session.
My GigaByte iRam disk works fine with Windows 2008 R2 server. Not only that but I can also see my USB 3 ports and my 6 Gbps SATA2 ports. IMHO Microsoft Windows Server 2008 is a really slick and superb product.
The Enterprise and Datacenter 2008 Server release have more features but these are unlikely to be useful in a home enthusiast environment.
Sun's VirtualBox In this scenario I first installed Microsoft Windows 2008 Server R2 and then installed the VirtualBox virtualisation application.
= Simple but elementary interface
- Focus Issues when viewed the Windows Remote Desktop The server on which VirtualBox is running is remote. So you would normally use Remote Desktop to view it's screen. However when installing Guest Operating systems inside VirtualBox focus of the mouse does not work correctly. This forces you to go to your server console and do installation from there. This is a pain!
- SUSE SLES11 install failed twice
Virtualbox installation of Windows 7 My tip is to remap the (right control) pointer escape key before you start. This default neglects the fact that many keyboards don't have this key :-(
Virtualbox. Getting to the Control Alt Delete key is easy.
Overall this is a low function, workable product.
VMware Workstation 7 I download the latest trial version and installed this on top of a clean Microsoft 2008 R2 Enterprise Server.
+Polished User Interface
+Make use of exisitng VMware machines All my current machines are based on VMware (I migrated over my old Microsoft VPC images some time ago).
+Snapshots, copy of VM using simple file copy With a native disk read write speed over over 100 MBytes/second I can simply filecopy a (say) sample 100GB SAP image to backup area in less than 20 minutes.
- Speed reduction, not running native on hardware, but above OS When loaded with multiple Virtual machines Workstation7 should be slower than native ESX/ESXi. In practice though I felt it was faster than ESX, but a little slower than ESXi.
Under VMware workstation copying files from the base system into a partition is twice as fast as ESX
Click to enlarge: On the left physical system with 24GB memory and on the right a 10GB memory, 1TB disk SAP test system I made earlier in a VMware workstation partition.
ESX and ESXi Okay, I really wanted to use ESX or ESXi as my solution. ESXi is a free, but lightweight version of ESX. ESX is VMware premium virtualisation platform based internally on Red Hat 64bit Linux.
+ Best use of hardware in theory - bare metal hypervisor Subjectively though I found ESXi to be faster than ESX. I cannot understand why. In my tests I was unable to bring the actual hardware to its knees. Therefore my results are probably biased and subjective!
+ Able to precisely control memory and CPU usage You can regulate the amount of memory and CPU to use, in a VM or creating an application group in which a set of VM's can run. All fancy stuff.
As I understand it, there is no such control of network adapters. The solution is to use multiple Network cards and dedicate one or more of them to particular groups of VM's.
- Very restricted network card and disk controllers My native Asus Dual 1Gb Realtek LAN ports are not supported with ESX so I had to buy another card for testing. Overall the Hardware compatibility list should be taken seriously since you can't add in Red Hat 64bit drivers you find, you need special VMware ones are there are not many.
- No 6Gb SATA or any Audio or SATA support
-some screens text does not fit in display boxes That is just ridiculous!
- overhead: 2 partitions a) vCenter Server, b) Update Manager You should run 2 additional systems other than the ESX server and really not as virtual partitions inside ESX! vCenter comes with an MS SQL database adding to the complexity. Besides buying this extra system(s) you have to figure out how to recover this extra computer in the event that it crashes. In a home environment this is a high overhead in terms of complexity even if cost is not an issue.
- Datacentre like backup is ineffective for home installations There is some support for LAN free backup.
Again, low or zero downtime backups are not so much an issue for my DMZ server, particularly if their implementation relies on having another ESX cluster and network attached (e.g. iSCSI) storage.
-- You will need to at least buy the vCenter essentials a 1K USD outlay This broke my 500 USD software cost I initially envisaged. But I kept going by telling myself that I could stretch to it if the ESX product was perfecto.
- Cascade failures: How to recover : Did you really test it? Recovery from the failure of the vCenter server, the update Server or the ESX system hard drives looks complicated. In particular I'm not sure how to import back ESX VM's say after a re-install of ESX due to a failure of the OS disk.
Installing ESX 4.0 is a hidden Red Hat Enterprise Install. Unlike its lightweight ESXi counterpart you will need about 10GB of space for Linux giving you the benefit of a real LINUX command line including man and standard UNIX utilities
Startup of ESXi 4.0 Certainly very fast, this is indeed a lightweight hypervisor. ESXi hidden console access is possible but there is nothing there i.e. full Linux facilities are missing in ESXi
Installation of ESXi did not find my eSata disk or any disk on the 6Gbps SATA2 adapter.
ESXi. Various Virtual machines installed. Nice summary panel showing memory and CPU usage
My DOS5 installation initially worked but then just destroyed itself. The inscruitable filenames spell trouble in a recovery situation.
Summary panel from ESXi of a Windows 7 virtual machine
You can use vCenter to stage your .ISO OS images to a user created directory in a Datastore. Then to install the Virtual Machine point to to that image instead of a physical DVD. However for me large .ISO to Datastore uploads (over 2GB) failed.
ESXi: Configuration of datastores on 2 disks. Plan might be to have Virtual machines split across both disks. Then keep a copy (clone) and a machine on the other disk for fallback purposes. I found however that using the Clone command from vCenter was a very slow operation.
ESXi: Copy speed Local Disk (hosted inside VMFS partition) TO external LAN disk over 1Gbps LAN Good speed, much faster than local cloing using vCenter!
Copy FROM Lan disk over 1Gbps LAN to Local Disk which is hosted on a VMFS filesystem inside ESXi Good Speed.
ESXi: Creating a Virtual machine
You will need a vSphere license at least in order to manage your system
Warning messages after which time your system will become difficult to manage without payment of large cash sums to VMware.
Universal Gotchas - Licensing When moving a virtual machine, be it a group of files with a filecopy from workstation 7 source to workstation 7 target, or using the VMware converter, Microsoft partitions detect the hardware change and require re-activation. This might also require relicensing, so if you have mislaid your license keys this could be a real issue.
Possibly Ideal Solution Rejected The hoped for solution was to continue to use VM Workstation on my master server (which is also a desktop workstation). And to have VMware ESX deployed on the new DMZ server.
When environments are suitable for deployment to the public facing DMZ server I would use VMware Standalone converter to move the image over the admin network and various firewalls to the DMZ server.
But the overhead of ESX or ESXi is just unworkable. It does provide finer granulatity and protection of CPU/memory resources for environments but at the expense of:
No power management (disks always on for example)
Reduced Driver support (cannot use my Gigabyte iRAM for example)
Crude Facilities for VM local copy (clone was as good as I could get and it was sloooow)
Terrible Backup Solutions (Enterprise LAN free solutions not suitable in a home office)
Depends on vSphere client computer and vCenter server with SQL database. For disaster recovery this adds complications of restoring the vCenter server at minimum.
Over budget (At least 1000 USD for a vCenter license)
When any environment is ready simply filecopy it to server or use VMware Converter Standalone Then relicense the target virtual machine.
Layout all virtual machines on the new DMZ server over 2 disks, being careful to have a Virtual Machine on one disk and a backup on the "other" disks. If any disk fails, you have a backup (this relies on you manually shutting down a VM occaisionally and doing a filecopy)
Please show a moments respect for our proud Dymo Labelling machine which after several years of service is being prepared for Silicon Heaven. For just the cost of about 3 Starbucks Coffees you could have invested in a portable, compact and quite sophisticated labelling machine.
Like many consumer devices (Nespresso, Gillette, any computer Printer) the cost of the unit is trivial, whereas the cost of the consumables ... labels in this case is not!
After labela developed a fault we set out to find a superior replacement. The Dymo range divides into Personal, Professional, and Industrial ranges. These are for the respective: Sensible, Loads-a-money and Clumsy market segments.
Whether it is putting IP address labels on your servers, or marking the contents of those mysterious cupboards and boxes in the cellar, believe me a labelling machine is worth so much more than a few cups of coffee.
In the OS reinstall of Agata's laptop I may have overlooked some file transfers. In particular her paid iTunes music collection.
No problem I said, just goto iTunes and re download your music. Well no. Read this article, oh and this one. To my astonishment it is true, they would like you to buy your music all over again. Lost music may not be redownloaded. How incredibly mean is that? I guess it is back to the paranoia VMware Physical to Virtual image that (of course) I made.