Showing posts from April, 2006

Dell Server Guts

So what's the first thing I had to do when shown a pile of servers to install? That's right, crack them open and see what makes 'em tick. I'll start out with the web servers.

Web Servers

These are 3 machines that were laid out pretty cleanly. You probably can't see it, but there are 4 fans in front of each CPU. Several fans on the power supply and another across the motherboard make this one noisy server. Of course, since heat is the natural enemy of computers, I don't really care that it has more fans than all of the PC's in my office combined. I think that's a good thing.
As you can see from the picture above, the memory is easy to get at, and the wiring is pretty straight forward. There wasn't even a need for an add-on board in these servers. Of course, pretty much anything failing means the motherboard needs to be replaced in a Dell, but that's the way most any name brand server is these days.

Mail Server

The mail server that we'll be using w…


Part of moving into a new location is rewiring the building. We ran Cat-6 throughout, but ended up using Cat-5 between the patch panels and switches. Now, we get the fun job (yes, that's sarcastic) of adding in wire management. They were already in place between each of the patch panels, so that's all pretty. But the bottom portion is what our phone system installers did, and the mid section is all of our switches. I suppose it could be worse. It could have been worse, though. We could be staring at a wiring closet like in our last building.

Yes, we've got data lines. Way too many of them... and the warehouse has their own patch panels with one cable between.

Load balancers are shipping

An essential part of any balanced breakfast... ok, so these ain't no Lucky Charms. We ordered load balancers from Kemp Technologies (no, not hemp... I said Kemp) yesterday and they've already shipped. Load balancers are an essential part of any highly available website infrastructure, allowing for multiple servers to handle the requests based upon rules set up ahead of time.

Example #1: Server down

The first example of when someone needs a load balancer is when a server crashes. For some websites, this means they're gone. For a load balanced website, this means that the traffic starts hitting the other server(s) and the users have no idea that something happened.

Example #2: Server slow

Sometimes, a processes goes in an unplanned direction and uses a ton of resources. This presents a more difficult problem - the server responds as if it is up, but it just doesn't perform well. That means that the load balancer needs to watch what's going on (response times) and not jus…

Database Servers Ordered

We ordered our database servers from IBM. These have less RAM than the Dell machines we ordered as web servers, but they have much more processor. I didn't even think about the Itaniums in the Dell's being 64 bit when I placed the order, so they were more CPU than I thought, but that's nothing compared to what I've got going on here.

Base Model

The base model is an Opteron powered 1U server with 1GB of RAM, 1 Gb card, and a SCSI adapter on-board.

Memory Upgrade

We upgraded the RAM on each of these to be a mere 4GB each.

Processor Upgrade

We went from the base model Opteron to dual Opteron 275's (dual-core) in each machine.

Hard Drive Upgrade

Databases are only as reliable as their drives, so we went with mirrored storage.

Another NIC

I also added in a second NIC for total redundancy (one for each switch).

Warranty Upgrade

IBM seems to have more confidence in their servers than Dell, because for a little less than what Dell's 3 year warranty was we're getting 5 years on…