data center

This is a user contributed article.

Project management software is not just for managing software based project. It can be used for variety of other tasks too. The web-based software must provide tools for planning, organizing and managing resources to achieve project goals and objectives. A web-based project management software can be accessed through an intranet or WAN / LAN using a web browser. You don’t have to install any other software on the system. The software can be easy of use with access control features (multi-user). I use project management software for all of our projects (for e.g. building a new cluster farm) for issue / bug-tracking, calender, gantt charts, email notification and much more.

Obviously I’m not the only user, the following open source software is used by some of the biggest research organizations and companies world wild. For example, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory uses track software or open source project such as lighttpd / phpbb use redmine software to keep track of their projects.
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Unplanned downtime may be the result of a software bug, human error, equipment failure, power failure, and much more. Last week was a bad one. We faced three different downtime:

  • First, there was a fiber cut for one of our data center resulting into routing anomalies due BGP reroute. Traffic was rerouted but updating those BGP tables took some time to update.
  • Someone from networking team failed to follow proper maintenance procedures for network device resulted into 55 minutes downtime.
  • One of our SAN hardware failure – Many internal UNIX / Linux web applications use SAN to store data including file server, tracking apps, R&D apps, IT help desk, LAN and WAN servers failed. This one lasted for 12 hrs. It was stared around midnight. The vendor replaced entire SAN hardware. Now we have dual stacked SAN as a backup device for internal usage.

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MAC Filtering (layer 2 address filtering) refers to a security access control methodology whereby the 48-bit address assigned to each network card is used to determine access to the network. Iptables, pf, and IPFW can block a certain MAC address on a network, just like an IP. One can deny or allow from MAC address like 00:1e:2a:47:42:8d using open source firewalls. MAC address filtering is often used to secure LAN or wireless network / devices. Is this technique effective?
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The tail command is one of the best tool to view log files in a real time using tail -f /path/to/log.file syntax on a Unix-like systems. The program MultiTail lets you view one or multiple files like the original tail program. The difference is that it creates multiple windows on your console (with ncurses). This is one of those dream come true program for UNIX sys admin job. You can browse through several log files at once and do various operations like search for errors and more.
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I’ve three nameserver load-balanced (LB) in three geo locations. Each LB has a front end public IP address and two backend IP address (one for BIND and another for zone transfer) are assigned to actual bind 9 server running Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2 as follows:

LB1 - 202.54.1.2 -> Master BIND 9.x
LB2 - 75.54.1.2  -> Slave BIND 9.x
LB3 - 41.54.1.2 -> Slave BIND 9.x

So when a zone transfer initiates from slave server, all I get following errors in master BIND 9 server (LB1):

Jan  1 14:11:20 ns1 named[5323]: client 75.54.xx.xx#50968: zone transfer 'example.com/AXFR/IN' denied
Jan  1 14:11:20 ns1 named[5323]: client 75.54.xx.xx#54359: zone transfer 'example.org/AXFR/IN' denied

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Linux and other Unix-like operating systems use the term “swap” to describe both the act of moving memory pages between RAM and disk and the region of a disk the pages are stored on. It is common to use a whole partition of a hard disk for swapping. However, with the 2.6 Linux kernel, swap files are just as fast as swap partitions. Now, many admins (both Windows and Linux/UNIX) follow an old rule of thumb that your swap partition should be twice the size of your main system RAM. Let us say I’ve 32GB RAM, should I set swap space to 64 GB? Is 64 GB of swap space required? How big should your Linux / UNIX swap space be?
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NFS is pretty old file sharing technology for UNIX based system and storage systems. However, it suffers from performance issues. NFSv4.1 address data access issues by adding a new feature called parallel NFS (pNFS) – a method of introducing Data Access Parallelism. The end result is ultra fast file sharing for clusters and high availability configurations.

The Network File System (NFS) is a stalwart component of most modern local area networks (LANs). But NFS is inadequate for the demanding input- and output-intensive applications commonly found in high-performance computing — or, at least it was. The newest revision of the NFS standard includes Parallel NFS (pNFS), a parallelized implementation of file sharing that multiplies transfer rates by orders of magnitude.

In addition to pNFS, NFSv4.1 provides Sessions, Directory Delegation and Notifications, Multi-server Namespace, ACL/SACL/DACL, Retention Attributions, and SECINFO_NO_NAME.

Fig.01: The conceptual organization of pNFS - Image credit IBM

According to wikipedia:

The NFSv4.1 protocol defines a method of separating the meta-data (names and attributes) of a filesystem from the location of the file data; it goes beyond the simple name/data separation of striping the data amongst a set of data servers. This is different from the traditional NFS server which holds the names of files and their data under the single umbrella of the server. There exists products which are multi-node NFS servers, but the participation of the client in separation of meta-data and data is limited. The NFSv4.1 client can be enabled to be a direct participant in the exact location of file data and avoid solitary interaction with the single NFS server when moving data.

The NFSv4.1 pNFS server is a collection of server resources or components; these are assumed to be controlled by the meta-data server.

The pNFS client still accesses a single meta-data server for traversal or interaction with the namespace; when the client moves data to and from the server it may be directly interacting with the set of data servers belonging to the pNFS server collection.

More information about pNFS

  1. Scale your file system with Parallel NFS
  2. Linux NFS Overview, FAQ and HOWTO Documents
  3. NFSv4 delivers seamless network access
  4. Nfsv4 Status Pages
  5. NFS article from the Wikipedia

Linux target framework (tgt) aims to simplify various SCSI target driver (iSCSI, Fibre Channel, SRP, etc) creation and maintenance. The key goals are the clean integration into the scsi-mid layer and implementing a great portion of tgt in user space.

The developer of IET is also helping to develop Linux SCSI target framework (stgt) which looks like it might lead to an iSCSI target implementation with an upstream kernel component. iSCSI Target can be useful:

a] To setup stateless server / client (used in diskless setups).
b] Share disks and tape drives with remote client over LAN, Wan or the Internet.
c] Setup SAN – Storage array.
d] To setup loadbalanced webcluser using cluster aware Linux file system etc.

In this tutorial you will learn how to have a fully functional Linux iSCSI SAN using tgt framework.
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Wow, this is a large size desktop hard disk for storing movies, tv shows, music / mp3s, and photos. You can also load multiple operating systems using vmware or other software for testing purpose. This hard disk comes with 5 year warranty and can transfer at 300MB/s. From the article:

It’s been more than 18 months since Hitachi reached the terabyte mark with the Deskstar 7K1000. In that time, all the major players in the hard drive industry have spun up terabytes of their own, and in some cases, offered multiple models targeting different markets. With so many options available and more than enough time for the milestone capacity’s initial buzz to fade, it’s no wonder that the current crop of 1TB drives is more affordable than we’ve ever seen from a flagship capacity. The terabyte, it seems, is old news.

Fig.01: Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB hard drive

The real question is about reliability. How reliable is the hard disk? So far my Seagate 500GB hard disk working fine. I might get one to dump all my multimedia data / files 🙂