Wednesday, March 26, 2008

WD and RAID????

So I was recently looking to put together a NAS box as part of a possible D2D2T implementation. My plan went the following way:

Get a case with a lot of drive bays
Purchase a cheap (but reliable) Mobo/Proc/RAM system (with lots of PCIe ports)
Install FreeNAS on a CF card
Purchase a RAID card (say this one) and hook up a bunch of drives

So when I was looking into this, I started looking at options like staggered spin-up and other reliability features, and e-mailed Highpoint to make sure the drives would play nice.

Here's what I got back:
"WD drives no longer support Staggered Drive Spinup.
In fact, some of their disks are reported to have serious problems with this option - if enabled, the disks will no longer be detected by non-RAID controllers.
Unfortunately, the disks do not actually support the setting, so it cannot be disabled.
This issue is not unique to our products.

NCQ should still function normally, but we would recommend contacting WD for more information."

To me, this is a little disturbing. WD drives don't supported Staggered Spinup, and there's no way to run in a "protected" mode?

For now this is a non-issue for me, as we've learned that we're not going to need the D2D2T strategy for the time being. If we re-visit this, we may need to look into how this shakes down.

SheldonS mentioned today in #citrt that he thought there was a firmware update that fixes this, but I would think that the Highpoint people would know about it.

Have you had any experiences with staggered spinup and Western Digital (or other drives)?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Cabling Clean-up: Phase 1

So in my previous post I mentioned adding some NeatPatch units to clean up the cabling. Well, today I got started. Here's the beginning of Phase 1, where I get a couple NeatPatches installed, and start trying to get the slack tightened up (and also allowing the patch points to move around).

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Network Messiness

I've been working here at Calvary for going on 2 years now. In all that time, we've had a pretty simple network: 1 Rack that is our IDF, server rack, everything. It's worked very well, and has been simple to manage.

Just one problem: we're growing!

As part of our growth, along with the addition of a 2nd rack (in another part of the building), we're getting things tidied up. So, first up is our current main rack (which is essentially full). Here are some before pics that I will let you gawk at before I get it all cleaned:

That's the front

That's the side/entry point for most of the cables through the drop ceiling.

To help combat this, I picked up a few NeatPatch units from Jason Powell.

More pics to come as I get started!

Monday, March 10, 2008

MozyPro: Update

So in case you haven't noticed lately, Mozy is increasing it's cost for storage.

I went to do some investigating (to see how this works for us), and finally got a clear answer:

Current customers will experience the change like this:

- On the switchover (the 11th of March), Mozy will introduce their "new" admin interface, which will allow you to consolidate (and I'm assuming) simplify your management.

- The "new" interface will have 2 modes for backup: Desktop and "Enterprise-y". I say Enterprise-y (is that a word??), because it appears they have 2 levels of Enterprise, "MozyPro" and "MozyEnterprise". Enterprise gets you guaranteed response windows, and a couple other features, whereas current MozyPro customers are getting the same as their used to with MozyPro.

- With the new interface, you can purchase desktop licenses and storage at their current rates ($3.95/license, $0.50/GB)

- With the new interface, there will be a "Grandfathered" section. This is where you buy storage for "Grandfathered" licenses at "Grandfathered" rates.

- If you have a license for the "MozyPro" type with the new interface/pricing structure, you can buy as much storage as you like for only $0.50/GB. Note that this only applies to storage for "Grandfathered" licenses.

- If you need more licenses or storage after March 11th (tomorrow!), then you will pay the new rates ($6.95/license/mo., + $1.75/GB/mo.).

SO, the moral of the story is, BUY MORE LICENSES NOW, and then add whatever storage you need as you need it.

I personally love this model. I think this is a home-run for Mozy also, because they get to keep their current customers, strengthen their current customers loyalty, and also do what they're trying to do: make money. Of course, I would rather them keep the prices the same, but that does not appear to be possible.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Vista x64 Volume: More egg on Microsoft's face

So I'm trying to install Windows Vista Business English x64 (64-bit), and realizing further why IT departments are frustrated at Microsoft: the product line is incomplete!

Being a Microsoft Volume Licensing customer, they make install images for most of their products available. This is part of a recent change they made, where you can download the needed installer, instead of having to pay for and get a media kit shipped. I've loved this recently, because it's a huge time-saver, and saves us money (media kit's are between $15-$30).

HOWEVER, it appears that Microsoft does not want to make this easy for Volume license customers. You can log-in to your eopen/MLVS account, and download 32-bit media for pretty much any version of Vista, but 64-bit is nowhere to be seen! This seemed a little odd to me, so I made a couple phone calls. First up was our reseller, SHI. My rep there, Brian Spence, mentioned that the only media kits available are done online through the eopen site. However, if you go and try to find the media kits for 64-bit, they're "invisible";) So, next I called Microsoft eOpen support. They at first were utterly confused what I was talking about, and then they tried it for themselves. Needless to say, they couldn't get it downloaded either, so they then told me that I must order the media over the phone (since that was the only way it was available). When I asked why it wasn't available for download, and when it would be available, they had no answer or timetable.

This all underscores one thing: lack of a consistent experience. As an administrator (and user), when you tell me that you're going to make it easier, and you're trying to promote your flagship OS, wouldn't you want to provide a positive experience? Apparently not. I really had to pry to find out why the 64-bit version wasn't available, and I also had to then spend more money! No one had an answer for my on why it was this way, no one apologized, and no one offered me a free media kit.

So, this makes me wonder: does Microsoft really care about their new flagship OS, and getting customers to care, or are they just trying to ruin their reputation?