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About rick

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  1. rick

    iSCSI, complete network upgrade

    I can't see how the solution you propose will help get your business back in minutes after the iscsi server fails. From my point of view you are going from having several servers where any one failure would be bad but wouldn't take down the whole business to a situation where a single failure of the iSCSI server will take out your entire network. SANs/iSCSI stuff is great as long as it doesn't fail. I wouldn't be comfortable with such a solution unless I bought a solution that was entirely redundant. You can get iSCSI solutions which redundant instant failover controllers, psus, fans, etc. Not that this level of redundancy is necessarily good enough depending on your needs. A colleague recently had his fully redundant SAN completely corrupt his exchange installation. iSCSI is still quite new and if you do want to go down this route I'd be very careful about the software you pick for the iSCSI server. I've not been involved in this sort of set up as yet, though I have considered it. If I couldn't get a controller based fully redundant solution my preference would be to go for two iSCSI servers and use the Windows/Linux/whatever mirroring features on your front end servers to ensure that even if one of your iSCSI servers completely fails your network will continue running. Remember to have redudant network links between the iscsi servers and your front end servers and this should be an entirely different set of switches to your client network (or at the very least a seperate VLAN with the appropriate security). With a dedicated storage network you should be able to run with jumbo frames to improve performance. If you are using exchange, etc, I'd highly recommend finding a solution that has VSS drivers to allow snapshots and faster backups.
  2. rick

    Switches: managed or unmanaged?

    I'm not sure about performance but for us the Procurves are far and away better than the 4400. We have a 4400 (a purchasing decision that we regret) and plenty of HP 2524's and 2650's. The easy of use of the software on the HP's compared to the 3com is staggering - the 3com interface seems very dated. HPs fault diagnostics are also worlds better. Can't fault the build quality on them either. I'm sounding like a HP fanatic here, I'm not, but I do find 3com really distasteful. Everytime we have bought something from them we have either been burnt or left disappointed. I agree that a managed switch can pay for itself very quickly but I also feel that a 3com will take significantly longer to pay for itself than a HP purely due to the quality of the software.
  3. rick

    Switches: managed or unmanaged?

    Having used both unmanaged and managed switches I would now never want to use an unmanaged switch again. Where I work (a school) the policy used to be to do things as cheaply as possible, i.e. buying unmanaged switches, etc. What we've found is that buying the cheap stuff only ends up costing us more in the long run. You buy the cheap stuff and then a year or two later someone wants to change something in the network and the cheap stuff isnt capable of handling it so you have to buy something new. If you'd bought the more expensive stuff to start off with the second purchase (and the time required to install/configure it) wouldn't have been necessary and money would have been saved. We now use managed HP Procurve switches all over (about 15 in all), they've been very reliable, HP's warranty is superb and no quibble (lifetime next day replacement). The thing that really makes the decision easy to justify is the fault finding on them. We installed the new managed switches and quickly discovered that a fair bit of our CAT 5 had been badly installed and had been causing major problems on out network. We had already manually debugged part of the network, which took hours and hours, the time taken to debug the rest of the network with the HP switches was minutes (we did the debug a couple days after installing the switches in order to make sure the switches had had time to see traffic over the cabling). The cost difference between managed and (good) unmanaged switches is not huge and if the managed switches highlight 2 or 3 problems with your network they will have probably paid for themselves. Remember decent managed switches will offer features like VLANs, Port based Authentication, SNMP reporting, Multicast filtering, broadcast control, and lots more. You might not need the features straight away but you'll need at least some within the lifetime of the product. I assume you're buying switches with the intention of using them for the next 5-10 years. One other point I would make is that I will never purchase 3com again. We have had nothing but trouble from 3com products. Their managed switches are far inferior to the HP ones (more difficult to use, do not provide the fault finding, not as good warranty, must pay for firmware updates, etc etc). I'm not saying HP are the best but for the price and small/medium networks they are highly recommended.