Finally, I have a Safari subscription!

After months and months (and months) of asking, FINALLY, my work got me a bookshelf subscription to O’Reilly’s Safari Online. If you’re unacquainted with this site, click the previous link. It’s an online library of IT books from pretty much every major publisher. With my bookshelf subscription, I can “check out” 10 books a month and put them on my “bookshelf”, so that they’re available to me. With the even cooler “library” subscription, you just go read whatever you want. Your bookshelf doesn’t have limits, and it just goes.


A few months ago, I know exactly what I would have checked out first, however I now own the most excellent tome The Practice of Systems and Network Administration. Let me just say that if you don’t have it yet, I give it my highest recommendation.

So my question is, what books do you recommend that I get first?

Progressing towards a true backup site

A while back, I moved our production site into a Tier 4 co-location in NJ. Our former primary site became the backup, and things went very smoothly.

Now we’re continuing on with our plans of centralizing our company in the northeast of the US. To advance these plans, I’m less than a week away from building a backup site into another tier 4 colo operated by the same company as the primary, but in Philadelphia. This will give us the benefit of being able to lease a fast (100Mb/s) line between the two sites on pre-existing fiber. I cannot tell you how excited I am to be able to have that sort of bandwidth and not rely on T1s.

The most exciting part of this backup site will be that it will use almost exactly the same equipment as the primary site, top to bottom. Back when we were ordering equipment for the primary site, we ordered 2 Dell PowerEdge 1855 enclosures, and we ordered 20 1955s to fill them up. Our SAN storage at the primary is a Dell-branded EMC AX4-5, and we just bought a 2nd for the backup site (though the backup site’s storage is only single controller while the primary has redundant controllers. We can always purchase another if we need). We’re using the same load balancer as the primary, and we’ll have the same Juniper Netscreen firewall configuration. Heck, we’re even going to have the same Netgear VPN concentrator. It’s going to be a very good thing.

I don’t know that I’ll have time to create the same sort of diagrams for the rack as I did before, but I should be able to make an adequate spreadsheet of the various pieces of equipment. When all of the pieces are done and in place, I am going to install RackTables to keep track of what is installed where. I mentioned RackTables before on my twitter feed and got some very positive feedback, so if you’re looking for a piece of software to keep track of your installed hardware, definitely check that out.

The rest of this week will be spent configuring various network devices. I knocked out the storage array on Monday and two ethernet switches & the fiber switch yesterday. Today I’ll be doing the Netscreens, one of the routers (the other will be delivered Friday), and the VPN box. Don’t look for extensive updates until next week, when I’ll review the install process.

The Goodwill Computer Store in Houston, TX

I’ve been to several Goodwill stores, bothing donating and shopping, and I always see an odd array of old used computer parts. It’s a walk down memory lane, usually. I never dreamed that there would be a Goodwill store entirely devoted to computers. Take a look at some of the pictures there. It’s unbelievable. I’d love to go there and just walk through. Definitely an old-computer-geek’s dream.