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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Three Cloud Strategies Every CIO Should Consider

In light of my recent post regarding Cloud Computing I thought I might share this article. It provides some interesting paths for CIOs to follow as they make the transition from in-house infrastructure towards Cloud based technology.

NetApp - Dave's Blog: Three ?Cloud Strategies? Every CIO Should Consider

What 'is' Cloud based Computing

What is the Cloud?

Is it merely a name for something we've already done for years? To a degree yes! Many argue its been around since the birth of the Internet itself.

Cloud based computing is the use of software, platforms or infrastructure offered by web based service providers or privately owned to perform tasks on the Internet often performed in house. It is generally linked to virtualized and very scalable installations based on the web offering services such as business collaboration tools.

A Cloud can be either be publicly owned as is the case with Google web tools such as Gmail and Google Docs or it can be privately owned and operated generally by a company.

There are types of services provided by cloud computing.The three types of Cloud based services are:
  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service like Amazon Web Services and SliceHost provide virtual server instances based on technologies provided by the Vmware and Xen etc.
  • Platform-as-a-service in the cloud is defined as a set of software and product development tools hosted on the provider's infrastructure. These are generally web APIs that utilize web technology to build web based applications. An example of this is GoogleApps.
  • Software-as-a-service cloud model leverages the vendor hardware infrastructure and their software product to provide a complete service to and end user such as mail via a web interface. An easy example of this would be Hotmail and Gmail.

Today there are many examples of cloud based services and technologies:
  • Storage - Amazon S3, Ubuntu One, Microsoft SkyDrive
  • Mapping - Google maps, Yahoo Maps, MapQuest
  • Telephony Services (VOIP) - Skype, Razortel
  • Business Tools - SugarCRM, Salesforce, Mail, Spam Filters
  • Hosting Providers - Slicehost, OpSource, Rackspace Cloud Sites
Whatever the offering the whole point of Cloud computing is to offer the following advantages:
  • Cost - Particularly in the case of Software as a Service (SaaS), costs can be greatly reduced because hardware maintenance, capital outlay etc are removed from the equation
  • Reliability - Generally speaking, cloud based technologies utilise the inherent fault tolerance of virtual technologies along with redundant systems within datacenters. The hardware and software used are generally very high end enterprise grade technology able to serve thousands, even millions of requests a day.
  • Easily scalable - The use of virtual technology and modern web based APIs makes Cloud computing very scalable.
  • Redundancy - Cloud based computing will often incorporate redundant systems within the cloud so end users are oblivious to maintenance and outages of individual machines etc. Many companies often replicate services to the Cloud as well in case of Disaster Recovery they can also switch their systems to the web based systems to continue working.
  • Centralisation - Moving datasets to the cloud often centralizes data which was once distributed. Many multinational companies are now realizing the benefits of placing data in the cloud rather than replicating numerous times around the globe to each remote office.
However given these advantages their is also a number of disadvantages:
  • Security is an issue as often the physical hardware and/or location is owned by a third party.
  • Political issues are numerous when it comes to cloud computing. Sensitive national data for instance can't be moved to the cloud especially in the case of services offered outside the Nation's borders. 
  • Legal issues arise when companies for instance store confidential records on third party systems.
  • End users are dependant on the Cloud Computing provider if they aren't administrating the service themselves. This dependance is absolute and is anything were to occur to the cloud based system's operating company/individual the end user may be left without recourse.
Maybe it's not a new new innovation, but rather the culmination of existing technologies to perform new tasks via the Internet.

Maybe the Cloud is just a good idea we've all had for a long time that has had time to become real.

Either way, if you are aware of the hype its been receiving over the last couple of years you will know, cloud based computing may very well be the way of the future, if not already!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Achieving Robust Clustered Storage with Linux and GFS

Detailed how to regarding setup of a clustered filesystem in Linux.

I've used GFS a number of times and recommend it. Wish I had a how to like this when I first set them up!

Achieving Robust Clustered Storage with Linux and GFS - www.enterprisestorageforum.com

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Worlds Oldest Blogger dies at 108 in Woy Woy NSW Australia

Olive Rilley, described as the world's oldest internet blogger has died at the age of 108. Olive Riley died this Saturday in a nursing home in Woy Woy, Australia. Olive Riley was born in the town of Broken Hill on 20 October 1899.

Read more here:

Thought I would post this as Woy Woy is my home town and I was totally oblivious to this!


EDIT: Thanks Eric for pointing out the misspelt surname and the link below to your site. Excellent collection of Olive's posts can be viewed on Eric's site here -  http://www.mikerubbo.com/olive_blog_pages.php

More Nokia RX-5/N900 Tablet Details, First Maemo 5 Screens

Nokia's upcoming mobile that runs Linux. Larger form factor than iPhones etc but should be powerful enough to start running some decent apps. The future of personal computing right here.

More Nokia RX-5/N900 Tablet Details, First Maemo 5 Screens

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Ubuntu RAID Tweak

This was posted on http://forums.overclockers.com.au/showthread.php?t=740692 by FalconGT in reference to Ubuntu RAID default values. I thought I might share it here too, if only for my own personal reference in the future.

If your running Ubuntu. Want some more speed out of the raid 5 ? Ubuntu's default values are crap.

View the default cache size ( probably set to 256 )

cat /sys/block/md0/md/stripe_cache_size

Change the value on the fly

echo 16384 > /sys/block/md0/md/stripe_cache_size

Change read ahead on the fly
Values to try include

8192, 16384, 32768. Each time test with dd for write speed.

Now lets test read speed by adjusting the read ahead value. ( Note: 1536 is default value )
blockdev --setra 16384 /dev/md0
Rerun your tests and see how they go.

Edit /etc/rc.local

Add the entries ( so it's fixed on reboots )

echo 16384 > /sys/block/md0/md/stripe_cache_size

blockdev --setra 16384 /dev/md0
Values to try include

1536, 2048, 8192, 32768,65536,131072,262144,524288. Each time test with dd for read speed.

 I haven't tested these personally but I will do as soon as I get a chance and let you all know how I go!

VMWorld 2009 - Datacenter Video

A short video from VMWorld 2009 detailing the datacenter they built on the showroom floor.

Apparently nearly $35 million dollars worth of kit was used to create the 784 unit behemoth.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Virtualbox - Virtualization Technology for desktop users

This is just a short intro to Virtualbox. Hopefully will give a rough overview of virtualization for desktop users new to this kind of technology. I've chosen Virtualbox as its in my opinion the easiest to work with on all platforms and is likely the easiest for the beginner.

Sun's (Now Oracle but originally Innotek) VirtualBox is software that enables an end user to run multiple operating systems on their desktop. With VirtualBox, you can virtualize 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems on machines with Intel and AMD processors, either by using hardware virtualization features provided by these processors or even
entirely in software.
Vitualbox will run on many types of OSs. It is currently supported on:
  • Windows XP
  • Windows 2003 Server
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 2008 Server
  • Windows 7
  • Intel based Mac OSX all versions
  • Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 Sarge and above
  • Fedora Core 4 and above
  • Gentoo Linux
  • Redhat Enterprise Linux 4 and above - Likely CENTOS as well
  • SUSE Linux 9 and 10, openSUSE 10.3 and above
  • Ubuntu 6.06 Dapper Drake and above
  • Mandriva 2007.1 and above
  • Any other kernel 2.6 and above linux host should work fine as well.
  • Solaris hosts (32-bit and 64-bit) with restrictions
With VirtualBox, you can run unmodified operating systems – including all of the
software that is installed on them – directly on top of your existing operating system,
in a special environment called a “virtual machine”. Your physical computer is then
usually called the “host”, while the virtual machine is often called a “guest”. This means you can have two operating systems running at the same time rather than dual booting for instance.
Possible uses for virtualisation are:
  • Standalone development environment
  • Test environments - software evaluation for instance
  • Backup and recovery - Its easy to backup guest vms and recover as they are simply files on the host machine
  • Hardware utilisation - Having multiple machines running on the one set of hardware utilises more of the resources on the host machine.
  • Multiple OSs - You can evaluate multiple types of OSs. You can run a linux host on Windows or vice versa for instance.
VirtualBox has special software that can be installed inside Windows, Linux and Solaris virtual machines to improve performance and make integration much more seamless. These guest additions are similar to Vmware Tools and allow the guest OS to present higher display resolutions, better mouse support, time synchronisation and shared clipboards for example.
Virtualbox supports USB pass through which is a very handy feature. It allows USB devices attached to the host machine to be seen by the guest OS. Along with this Virtualbox supports audio and serial devices within guests as well. Many other virtualization technologies are yet to implement this. 

Next time, I will post a short blog detailing how to install and configure a Virtualbox installation on Windows 7 with an Ubuntu 9.10 guest OS. Stay tuned!

Links Section

The Virtualbox download candidate can be found here - http://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads

This list of Virtualbox HowTos will help you get on your way faster - http://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/User_HOWTOS

Virtualbox documentation can be found here - http://www.virtualbox.org/manual/UserManual.html


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