Saturday, October 21, 2006

Fun With Servers

I had a heck of a day today at a client's site. I wasn't able to fully complete either goal I'd wanted to get done.

The first thing was installing the new mail server. It's online but the SMTP service isn't listening on the network. I'm sure it's a simple Postfix config item but I obviously need to resolve it before I can migrate them off of their old box. I didn't have time to finish tinkering with it, because of job #2. (I can SSH into it from home and have a test account for myself on it, so I should have it squared away soon.)

The second goal I had was to extend the size of the RAID 5 array on their web server by adding two more disks. This will require breaking the array, adding the disks, and recreating the volume. Obviously, we need a good backup that we can restore from before doing this.

Unfortunately, their Dell PowerVault 124T tape loader decided to go tango uniform last night. So, no current backup. The PowerVault's Remote Management Unit is not recognizing the existence of a tape drive in the box, and the autoloader is stuck at "Initializing." I spent an hour and a half on the phone with Dell Enterprise Support this afternoon troubleshooting the problem. In the end, my client is going to get their money's worth out of their Gold Support plan. Dell is sending out a tech to repair or replace the tape loader. By the time we reached that determination, I'd been there for most of the day.

Note: If you have one of these PowerVaults, connect it to your LAN before calling Dell, so you can access the management web page. The factory default IP is

Their main reason for going with a tape autoloader was so that they could do backups of large amounts of data, and easily take tapes offsite. Considering how you can now buy 500 GB USB hard disks, I wonder how long it'll be until you can get a 1 TB USB hard disk. At that point it may make sense to switch over to disks rather than tapes. That's assuming that you don't give anything up in reliability, of course.

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