There should be advanced technical forum(s) here

Discussion in 'OT Technology' started by Mike99TA, Apr 26, 2008.

  1. Mike99TA

    Mike99TA I don't have anything clever to put here right now

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    So I haven't really been to this site much in the last few years...in fact I forgot about it for a long time, but somehow when I was bored for a few minutes at work I remembered it and decided to come check it back out. I came into the Computers and Programming forum because I just happened to be working on some perl scripting at that moment and was a bit frustrated with it (not the perl itself, but I was trying to write a curses menu system and had never used curses before and the documentation is horrid and hasn't been updated since 1997 or so, and googling for curses gets you almost nothing worthwhile. I've already finished writing it now, gogo reading line after line of man pages since the perldoc for Curses is absolutely worthless).

    So anyway, I came in here thinking "Maybe I can make a post about it and someone will know where I can find more information"...except every post in here is about A+ certification and windows crashing or not being able to play movies.

    Why no advanced tech forum(s)? This board has enough members that I would think an advanced forum(s) could get populated with enough people to make it worthwhile. I mean there has to be quite a few people on this forum that have been doing this shit for a long time (11 years professionally for me, I'm a Sr. Unix/SAN Administrator for a company that I'd rather not name but lets just say they're huge, they're global, and they make expensive luxurious things that roll). Also, when I say advanced I mean advanced - people that have intimate knowledge of Operating Systems, Computer Hardware, Networking, etc, that can give each other assistance about stuff that is hard or just downright impossible to find on google.

    Has this already been discussed and shot down? I'm just curious if this is something feasible at all. It could just be a single advanced computer/programming forum, doesn't have to be diced up into little sub-groups.
     
  2. trouphaz

    trouphaz New Member

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    i think most advanced people tend to avoid the forum because of the pissing contests from the desktop support people. i still come around though to laugh at jolly pothead.


    oh, and i'm a sr unix and storage admin for about 11 years as well (well, 11 years of unix, about 4 years of storage). very knowledgeable of HPUX and HDS storage, know Solaris and EMC well also, but not my preference. no perl, but into shell scripting.

    in the meantime, where do you go now when you are looking for a useful forum for UNIX questions? i used to go to sysadmintalk.com, but that's been pretty much dead for a while now.
     
  3. Mike99TA

    Mike99TA I don't have anything clever to put here right now

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    Well it really depends on what I am looking for information about. First stop is typically google for everything. At my last job that actually got things done 95+% of the time, due to the fact that everything I used was open source and we were a low-budget shop.

    At my current job just about everything is enterprise, which would seem good because we have paid support contracts, except the vast majority of the people on the other end of the support line know less about their own enterprise products than I do. So typically I try google, which sometimes leads me to experts-exchange, and then if that doesn't give anything (it usually doesn't), I end up spending more time figuring it out myself (which I like doing, but I have way too much to do at work and spending hours finding out something that a quick google search could theoretically answer for me in 2 minutes is not an efficient use of time).

    An example... The last time I had to open a ticket with Symantec Enterprise Support (Netbackup compatibility issue with Storage Foundation HA), I had to have it escalated 4 times (started out with the basic helpdesk, then went to level 2, then to level 3 engineering, and then I got passed on to one of the Engineers that works directly with the developers) before I got to someone that was able to even start helping me with the issue. And even then I'm the one that figured out the problem and gave them the answer. Unfortunately there was no fix, it was actually a bug in the code with Netbackup. To be fair though we have a fairly complex netbackup setup and I'm sure these guys had never had a call on the issue. (We have a netbackup master server cluster on SAN storage and 8 attached media servers of varying OSes and the problem ended up being an incompatibility with Netbackup trying to create a shared database on the SAN disk with a VXFS partition - kept segfaulting and we had to use reiserfs instead).

    As an aside, right now on the hardware side our SAN is all brocade infrastructure (a bunch of Director 48000s, a few smaller switches), and the backend storage is all HP (StorageWorks and EVA arrays, a few HP rebranded Quantum ESLs), and a Sepaton VTL. As far as OS stuff goes we're a mixed HP-UX and SuSE Linux Enterprise shop, but migrating everything off of HP-UX currently onto Linux.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2008
  4. wizziebaldwin

    wizziebaldwin New Member

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    Years ago USENET was my choice for UNIX related questions. Does it even still exist?

    I have about 75 links to forums that i have used to find info for all sorts of things. So the list, is unsorted, and not specific to just programming.

    I anyone is interested PM me.
     
  5. trouphaz

    trouphaz New Member

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    yeah, i'm not a fan of vendor support only because they purposely set it up that you have to deal with inexperienced people for so long and most of the time when i'm calling i need the higher level people since i've already explored the internet.


    by the by, my switch experience is almost all with brocade. the only experience i had with mcdata was their smaller switch and it wasn't enough to even remember the model number. i always liked brocade.


    what are your current projects?


    wizziebaldwin, what is your background related to UNIX? are you a programmer, a sys admin, an app admin?
     
  6. Mike99TA

    Mike99TA I don't have anything clever to put here right now

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    Current projects...wow...

    Well, the company I work for employees a lot of contractors. There are usually only a couple "senior" level internal employees in each department (that would be me) and we pretty much run all the projects and delegate out individual tasks and projects as needed, so my project list is ridiculously large right now.

    In addition to that, we lease all of our hardware (servers, fiber switches, tape libraries, storage arrays, etc) on a 3 year schedule so we're constantly receiving new hardware that has to be swapped out.

    A couple of recent huge completed projects was the migration of our entire SAN infrastructure from our old switches and directors to our new directors which just involved new cabling for both datacenters, the migration of all servers to the new cabling, and (on the HP-UX side) the importing of all new disks (disk device is based on a combination of the port on the director as well as the port on the array).

    I also just recently migrated our entire backup environment. A few months ago we were on a single master server running HP-UX with a single media server (Netbackup 5.1), and 2 LTO2 HP tape libraries (684 tapes each). Now we have a master server cluster running Linux (netbackup 6.5.1) with 2 HP-UX media servers, 6 Linux media servers, 2 HP LTO4 tape libraries (684 tapes each), and a 54TB Sepaton Virtual Tape Library.

    Also our entire SAN infrastructure except our XP12000 storageworks arrays are 4GB now, including the tape drives and VTL (and server HBAs).

    Upcoming projects...lots of lease replacements, in particular both of our HP StorageWorks arrays are off lease in november (one is 40TB the other is 65TB), so we'll be replacing those, not sure if we'll go with another HP product. Right now we do all of our production critical oracle backups with a specific feature that the HP arrays have with a complex perl script, so moving to a different manufacturer would require a lot of extra work, but with a product thats running $3-4million, we really have to consider the price when we migrate.

    Aside from that, tons of server lease replacements, and I've reworked the entire company's monitoring infrastructure (still am) using Nagios, which I've been using for around 6 years now...we're monitoring hundreds of servers and thousands of services and I have it optimized so that a single Nagios server can be checking ~5000 services every 15 minutes with a check latency average of only ~0.9 seconds. Its pretty cool.

    Tons and tons of other projects I'm working on now but those are the ones I'm focusing on most. Also I've gone on way too long. The perl script I just finished writing, if you count the curses front end, is around 5000 lines of code, which is pretty large for a perl script. I love scripting/programming though so its nice when I get to take a break from sysadminning for a little while to write some.
     
  7. CompiledMonkey

    CompiledMonkey New Member

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    I'm not sure there are enough topics that would classify as "advanced". You see a lot of computer support questions here because that's what your average OT member uses this forum for. There are/were a number of people who discussed more details and technical topics. The number of those seem very insignificant compared with the others. I don't see a reason all of the discussions cannot take place in this forum. I do think you'll see interesting technical topics "rise to the top" as they come along.

    On a side note, it's rather common to find an empty "advanced topic" on any forum. Mostly because geeks/nerds/whatever shy away from a question if they don't know the answer. You'll rarely find someone that doesn't mind being wrong for the sake of conversation. Regardless, I would suggest posting any technical topics/questions/whatever here. You might be surprised by the response.
     
  8. crontab

    crontab (uid = 0)

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    What HDS san do you have? We have a 9990 V/lightning/tagmastore usp. What do you use to document the ldev's, rg's, lun's, disks, etc. We don't have HiCommand.
     
  9. trouphaz

    trouphaz New Member

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    well, where i am right now we have a 9970 that we're just about to migrate to a DMX4. i'm not sure what they use since i just started there and haven't really gotten my hands on the array yet.

    previously i worked on HP's XP arrays, 12000, 1024 and 512 which equate to a USP, a 9980 and a 9960. we didn't really use anything special to document anything which kind of caused problems for other people. it was easier for me to keep track of since i had a hand in the design and implementation. on the other hand, we tended to buy a lot of storage at once, configure it all for RAID-5 with dispersed luns so grabbing 5 luns in order would hit 5 separate raid groups. that worked especially well for LUSEs (mostly for Windows hosts). we also had Autolun from HP which allowed us to dynamically move a lun from one raid group to another in case we ran into hot spots.

    for our DMX, we used ECC (EMC Control Center) which provided all of the documentation and reporting that we needed. too bad that software is a nightmare to maintain. after a while, we started using the Symm CLI for lun management and just left ECC for reporting.
     
  10. Coottie

    Coottie BOOMER......SOONER OT Supporter

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    I think it would be great if some of the more experienced members would write up some EDUs that then get either stickied, archived or linked in a sticky for easy access. An advanced tech forum would be cool also....I'd lurk, a lot.
     
  11. trouphaz

    trouphaz New Member

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    man, that has to be insane that you have to replace your systems every 3 years. i've done it with arrays since the cost of a new array is quite often cheaper than keeping an array that is out of warrantee, but many of the servers and even SAN switches are fairly cheap to keep on support and are functional beyond the 3 year mark.

    did you ever look at HP's VLS? if so, is that how you ended up with a Sepaton? at my last job, we brought an HP in house for testing in comparison with an EMC CDL. i was amazed at how similar the Sepaton and HP units were. i figured HP would have done a little more to make their interface distinct.


    at my new job, i'm working on a project to migrate a bunch of Sybase databases into a VCS cluster as well as a project to consolidate a ton of our systems to a big VCS metrocluster with clustered Solaris LDOMs. LDOMs are a virtual domaining technology from Sun that is similar to VMware or HP-UX's vPars. It is weird though because the cluster doesn't run within the virtual host. Instead, it runs on the control domain and the LDOM virtual servers themselves are what is clustered. So, instead of clustering an app so it can be failed between two running hosts, the entire LDOM OS is clustered. There are some huge limitations right now so I'm hoping I can convince my management to switch to Solaris Zones/Containers or even just a regular VCS application cluster.
     
  12. Peyomp

    Peyomp New Member

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    I field whatever Perl questions people post. The problem is not that there is no advanced forum. There aren't... advanced questions or answers. If thats what you want, post em. Most of the tough questions we get are 'do my homework for me.'
     
  13. Mike99TA

    Mike99TA I don't have anything clever to put here right now

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    We did look at an HP VTL and in fact had a strategy meeting with them, since we were already using their ESLs. At the time Sepaton promised that we'd have fully functional data de-duplication when we received our VTL and HP said theirs was a year off, so we went with Sepaton. Well surprise surprise, the sepaton unit has de-dupe but its very flakey and they recommend not using it until the next version comes out (in a year). So HP is actually providing us with a free 54TB VTL in hopes that if we like it, we'll expand the HP unit instead of the Sepaton (likely).

    Also in regards to organizing LUNs, LDEVs, etc, on the XP12000s we have, we have multiple ways. First, HP pre-carved both of our XPs up the way we asked them to ahead of time with a standard LUN size, leaving a bit of extra space for "unique LUNs" later. They gave us a huge excel spreadsheet with the CU/LDEVs that we can edit as needed. We also use a special text file every time we secure a LUN to a server. The text file already has every CU:LDEV in it along with "FREE" next to it. When we secure the LUN we mark it with the application that uses it, the volume group name, and any other special details. This works really well, we've never accidentally removed a LUN or re-secured a LUN to a server that shouldn't have it. We can also use it to easily grep out information.

    We don't use the XP command view GUI at all to do anything. We have a command view CLI that runs on HP-UX we use to do it. We generate text files filled with the commands we want to do and then use the execute command to have the command view CLI program run everything. Its quite a bit more tedious I'm sure but it lets us keep an audit trail of everything we do and it really prevents a lot of mistakes.
     
  14. trouphaz

    trouphaz New Member

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    that sucks about the Sepaton stuff, but i guess that is what you are paying for when you go with HP. yeah, they will generally be behind on features, but it is partially because HP has to verify everything again after Sepaton hands them the software and i'm sure HP is a bit more conservative with what they put out in terms of features vs reliability.

    i always wanted to try out the Command View CLI, but never really got into it. since storage administration was always considered secondary (even though the storage functions that i did almost always surpassed the UNIX functions in terms of immediacy and criticality since almost all critical projects hinged on the SAN in one way or another), i didn't get enough time to play around with it and the Command View GUI was always good enough for my needs. actually, what i really like about the GUI is that it is very obvious when a lun is already provisioned and very easy to find out what host group it is provisioned to.

    one thing i don't like about Command View was that it is limited entirely to what you enter with no agent to keep the info up to date. now, it was easy to keep the UNIX info up to date since i knew what was coming in and going out and what i had retired, but the Windows systems were a problem. we never had any formal process for decommissioning a system which should have included reclaiming any storage allocated, so they would shut down servers and never tell me. when i was migrating from an XP1024 to a DMX3, i ended up finding quite a lot of storage that was abandoned. it was nice to have less migrating to do, but annoying to have to do a ton of work tracking down what was allocated. the other thing they loved to do was rebuild a machine with a new name and function and start using the storage again. that meant that HOST1 being gone didn't guarantee that the host group i named HOST1 was no longer in use, so we had to trace cables and track down mac addresses.
     
  15. Mike99TA

    Mike99TA I don't have anything clever to put here right now

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    Yeah...we have a similar problem. We do both Unix and Storage so we can manage our own usage easily enough, but have no good way to keep track of the windows LUNs and if they've been re-used or not. Fortunately since all of our servers are on a lease schedule and we have a large IT budget ($350 million globally), its very rare that a server gets reused for something else, so I don't think it happens too often.

    As far as the CLI goes, its fairly easy to determine what host a LUN is presented to, it just feels clunkier, but after trying the GUI out a bit, I definitely prefer it. It also makes securing hundreds of LUNs at a time a lot easier (We have quite a few systems running multi-terabyte databases and all of our LUNs are 20GB, on the XPs).

    Our EVAs we typically use the GUI because the command line is...well its pretty sucky. The only time I've used it is to present a bunch of LUNs at the same time but even that was a pain compared to the XP. Also the UUIDs for vdisks on the EVA are a pain to keep track of compared to the XP. Fortunately the EVAs have a lot less storage and fewer LUNs so we dont have to worry about it too much, but we still try to record the Unique portion of the VDisk UUID in a file for future reference.

    At the company I work for (just like yours), storage is the backbone of the company and has the most urgency the majority of the time...but because of that we tend to get the most respect in the company because people always need things from us ;)
     
  16. CompiledMonkey

    CompiledMonkey New Member

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    So I guess the advanced discussion isn't overly important?
     
  17. Peyomp

    Peyomp New Member

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    People talk about fucking SANs all the time here. I find it utterly boring, but it does seem advanced. I don't know why we would need a forum for that shit.
     
  18. critter783

    critter783 OT Supporter

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    I agree with Peyomp. A lot of the stuff that comes in here is typical desktop support stuff, which is pretty dull. The sys admin stuff is pretty much the same as the desktop stuff, except it has more buzzwords. It really comes down to your idea of advanced. I'd personally rather see a separate forum for the programming stuff, but realistically there's not enough interest to justify a whole subforum for it.
     
  19. Mike99TA

    Mike99TA I don't have anything clever to put here right now

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    The point was a forum for all advanced stuff, not just SANs. I suppose the forum would be everything that isn't currently on the front page of this forum (ie: no desktop software or hardware threads, no homework threads, just sysadmin and advanced programming threads). But if there isn't enough traffic to warrant it then its really no big deal.
     
  20. trouphaz

    trouphaz New Member

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    i do agree with your statement that there isn't enough to justify a whole different subforum, but there is a significant difference in desktop issues and server issues, especially once you realize that desktop is pretty much going to be exclusively Windows with a little bit of Linux thrown in. Server stuff could be some very complicated environments involving UNIX, SAN and clustering which is a whole different ball of wax.
     
  21. crontab

    crontab (uid = 0)

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    The Autolun moving sounds interesting. I was looking at the HP XP12K at my old employer's and they offer a lot more utilities than what Sun offers with their variant of it, the 9990 V. It's really frustrating at times. When I ask how much the EDU price is for HiCommand CLI, "$110K". WTF? For a command line util? Oh well. Currently I am just dumping the config on the SVP, taking that floppy from the SVP sticking it in a machine with an offline tool, exporting it to csv's. Then massaging the csv's and my format/fdisk/iostat/vxprint/vxdisk/vxdg/vxassist output. It's been a real pita.

    I prefer the sssu over the Command View GUI for managing the EVA. It's a lot easier when creating and manipulating multiple luns like someone said before. Although I never interacted directly with the cli, I created scripts to generate commands that I input into the sssu and it works great.
     
  22. critter783

    critter783 OT Supporter

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    I don't consider it more advanced just because its server admin stuff. To me, its all just support topics, and I find it to be a snoozefest. I'm not trying to say its not a more complicated environment than desktops, I'm just saying its all a bunch of computers talking to each other and that I find it boring. I just find the software creation topics much more interesting.
     
  23. mondaynightmike

    mondaynightmike New Member

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    for advanced topics i just post on other forums.

    too much bs on here.
     
  24. trouphaz

    trouphaz New Member

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    ah, ok. so ultimately you don't like how programming doesn't have its own subforum. yeah, it is weird that this one forum is sort of the catch all for anything computer related that isn't strictly about Apple products.
     
  25. Peyomp

    Peyomp New Member

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    Its also weird how the Apple forum sucks. All that happens in there is group masturbation at images of Jobs bent over an Apple II.
     

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