A few months ago, our cable uplink to ECF / ITS data closet was damaged, dropping it down from gigabit to a measly 100mbit. And what an unsteady 100mbit connection it has been — already, it has oscillated up and down from gigabit a few times, but has also caused us disruptions and downtime grief as well.
That all changes this week! In mid July, we had installers come in an wire in a dual, redundant CAT6 ethernet drop. This one is located behind the secure door of the EngSoc data closet, and replaces the old drop that was located across the room, and required a second hop before it reached the data closet. This means far fewer chances for disruption (the wire is totally locked away & enclosed), and provides redundancy ( we have a 2nd wire, if one ever gets damaged again). To provide this redundancy, the new EngSoc router is dual-homed, and has both of the ethernet cards bonded together — if either wire breaks, we’ll be ready.
Just take a look at the new performance:
Where before we were struggling to push 80Mbit/s download and upload, we’re now well into the hundreds-of-megabits range. What’s this all mean? Faster website hosting speeds for clubs, less downtime, and improved internet speed for the EngSoc officers!
EngSoc is getting new servers — and what better way to start off than by replacing the crufty, decade-and-a-half old Apple XServe RAID server that had been the backing storage for all of the Club sites? Drawing 250W of power, and providing 1.2TB of space over 14disks, the XServer RAID is definitely due for replacement.
Our replacement: a hand-spun server, providing 12TB of RAID storage over only 6 disks. The power footprint is also under 100W at the same time — 10 years makes a large difference, doesn’t it? While the XServer RAID cost $5999 new in 2003, EngSoc’s solution cost only $1900 all told, all thanks to using off-the-shelf parts.
We’re using good old Gigabit Ethernet for all our datanet backbones, and this server has 4 network cards. That’s a lot of bandwidth — 500MB/s in fact, which is more than enough to saturate the 400MB/s write speeds of this new server. Going with commodity Gigabit ethernet is great, because it’s both cheap, well-established, and inter-operable with any computer than can connect to an ethernet switch. This gives us much more flexibility in our network design — previously, the fibre-channel network for the Xserve RAID meant it could only operate as a ‘slave’ to another box with with a fibrechannel card.
All of this means that EngSoc has lots of storage now for proper daily backups, and a proper CIFS/SAMBA share server with some redundancy. This will go a long way in giving myself (the sysadmin), the webmaster, and the EngSoc Officers a staging area for files, temporary backups, and shares.