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Date Tue 05 February 2008

Well, some more news. I’ve got some pay coming to me, and I also realized that I have literally a pile of Dell server rack rails, cable management parts, and front bezels/panels (that I got from Rutgers Unversity Surplus) to sell on EBay. So, aside from expenses (like $45/month for Verizon data service on my wonderful Treo 700p) and savings, I decided that I should make some infrastructure upgrades to

Just figuring out what to do was a task. I’ll admit that my administration techniques haven’t really scaled with the network, so I clicked into my Nagios installation, and remembered that I’m monitoring 17 hosts (and 165 services), I realized that this will end up being a big project, both in terms of infrastructure/hardware and software. The first decision was that I wouldn’t do anything with the hosts at the ambulance corps or my apartment (the apartment is all non-mission-critical), so that narrowed it down to the main seven systems at home.

Figuring out what I have running was also a major task, and highlighted some real problems. I found a Perl script that gathers hardware information on Linux-based systems from Ryan Twomey (everything is running some version of OpenSuSE 10.x except for the mailserver, which runs Sun Solaris 10). I had to scp the script and its’ two perl modules to five machines (not counting the one I was working on), SSH into them an run it, and then SCP the results back. Well, that’s something to worry about later. For Solaris, I just ran some commands and gathered the information manually.

The Results:

Needs Replacing:

  1. Router/Firewall - Old gateway mini-tower system, 400MHz Celeron, 192MB RAM, 6 GB IDE disk.
  2. SSH gateway and temporary storage for SFTP’d files - Old Gateway G6-350, 350MHz Pentium-II, 128MB RAM (!!!), 40GB IDE disk.
  3. Disk storage for backups - Old Dell tower, 500MHz Pentium-II, 256MB RAM, 250GB IDE disk for storage.

Still has a ways to go:

  1. Web Server - Compaq Proliant DL360-G1, 2x 1GHz Pentium-III, 1GB RAM, 2x 18GB SCSI disks, RAID-1.
  2. Backup Director (and mirrored disk storage for critical backups) - Compaq Proliant ML370-G1, 2x 750MHz Pentium-III, 2GB RAM, 4x 18GB SCSI disks in a 3-disk RAID5 with one hot spare.
  3. Monitoring (Nagios) box - Compaq Proliant DL320-G1, single Pentium-III 1GHz, 512MB RAM, single 18GB SCSI disk.

The one unfortunate about these (for me, “new”) machines is that they all have 10/100 Mb/s NICs, so an upgrade to gigabit will mean hardware changes.

And the rest falls somewhere in the middle. One option, if budget is an issue, is to move an older machine down to the apartment to use as a print server for print accounting, which is currently running in a Xen VM as the only load on a beautiful 1U Dell PowerEdge 650 (Pentium-4 2.4GHz, 762MB RAM, 2x 36GB SCSI disks, 3com 10/100 NIC and Intel Pro Dual-Gigabit NIC).

Other acquisitions on the list:

  1. New switch to replace the aged BayStack 450-24T that everything is running on now. I’m looking for something good, managed, with Telnet (or SSH) and SNMP for monitoring, as well as the easy ability to do a span port. The important thing is that I *never* have to be on-site to manage it. Maybe a Cisco if I can choose a model and get the cash together.
  2. A gigabit (even unmanaged, though SNMP monitoring and MRTG/Cacti would be nice) switch for a dedicated backup network, to move that load off of the little 100Mbps main switch.
  3. Right now, I just have everything crammed onto a Sears metal shop shelf unit. I’d really like to replace that with a nice little 24U (low ceilings in the basement) rack, especially since most of my stuff is rack-mount.
  4. I don’t have rack rails for any of the Proliants - none of them came with them, and they were all purchased before I had anything rack mounted (at the apartment).

Software Needs:

  1. Obviously, some better way of handling administration. Right now, software updates (via YaST/YOU) are run as cron jobs, and I have no easy way of distributing files or running commands on multiple systems without manually scp/ssh’ing to all of them
  2. I’m going to start testing some other Network Monitoring packages at the apartment. Since I’m going to have some scheduled downtime for all of this (especially with a router/firewall replacement), I might as well plan a move to a new monitoring system.
  3. At the moment, all of my web presence is on one Generation-1 (G-I) Compaq Proliant server. While it seems to have a lot of life left (especially under its’ current low load), I don’t like that. Especially given that I’m only home every other weekend, so even with nightly backups, if it gives up the ghost I’m down for a while. I’m going to think about mirroring this to a box at the apartment (see both items below), but there are still some technical issues to be dealt with:
  4. Both home and the apartment are on residential high-bandwidth connections (Verizon FiOS and Optimum Online, respectively) using with dynamic IPs. I still haven’t been able to get IPcop to VPN between the two (either with the built-in VPN or Zerina). If I wanted to mirror to the apartment, it would surely be easier to copy everything over a VPN, and not worry as much about security.

    1. I use DynDNS and GoDaddy (yes, this years’ Super Bowl commercial was a letdown) Domain Forwarding. As a result, I don’t have any control over DNS at all, so I’m not quite sure how I’d do a failover from home to the apartment automatically. It would be possible, however, to do the manual failover from home to the apartment, just for the downtime, if I mirrored the home server to a box at the apartment.

    While I don’t want to give up my email on my Treo, it is tempting that Verizon FiOS is now listing a business-class FiOS connection at 3Mbps down/768Kbps up at $80/month with static IP. We’re paying $30-40/month now, so dropping the data plan would cover it. I’d be getting slightly lower speed, but there would be so many fewer headaches with a static IP, not to mention that I could finally get my site on port 80 without nasty redirection, and get a real mailserver without relaying. Something to think about… 4. At the moment, I’m using IPcop’s builtin DNS cache for local DNS. That means I’m bound to a simple hostname<->IP pairing. I’d really like a real DNS server, so that I can have both hostnames and functional names. It would also help with VPN.

The biggest problem with all of this is that I’m only home 2 weekends a month, so I’ll probably have to have everything shipped here (to the apartment at school), do the installation and configuration here, and then bring it home and drop it in place (and perform final configuration).

I’ll keep everyone posted as work progresses.


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