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Archive for July, 2008

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog Ep. III

2008-07-18 Leave a comment

Whoa, what an ending.

Since it’s still early, and most people won’t have seen it yet, that’s all I’m saying.

Except for: J, J, M and Z: Please make more!

Categories: Neat Geek Stuff

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog Ep II

2008-07-17 Leave a comment

It’s out and it’s also awesome. There are even more Hi-larious lines and songs than in Ep. I. Go and watch it right now! I don’t want to be the only one watching it over and over.

“These are not the hammer.”

Categories: Neat Geek Stuff

Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog Ep. 1

2008-07-15 Leave a comment

I am a Joss Wheadon geek, due to Firefly. When I saw that Joss was producing a streaming video musical starring Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion called Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog I had to check it out immediately.

They are releasing three episodes for free streaming on the Internet, starting today and ending on July 20th. Episode 1 is out today, Episode 2 on the 17th, and Episode 3 on the 19th. Unfortunately, the official site for watching the videos is down right now.

You can still read the blog about the show and if you are willing to part with a couple of bucks, you can buy the whole thing on the iTunes Music Store and watch episode one right away and over and over. I am.

I’m buying the Captain Hammer t-shirt as soon as I find one online. The gloves are kind-of cool too.

Categories: Neat Geek Stuff

My First Commvault Pain

2008-07-14 2 comments

I have been working with Commvault in our lab environment. So far it does everything we need, backing up from Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, SQL Server, GroupWise, and whatever else we have. It can write backups to Windows, Linux, Solaris and others.

My first lab setup was to backup from some Windows filesystems and Active Directory to a Solaris 10 box with lots of ZFS SATA disks. That worked great, and installing it, other than some naming funkiness in the different components, was easy enough.

The next setup was to have a secondary disk server to have another location for backups to end up. In our real-world environment, that other disk server is an x4500 with Solaris Nevada build 89 on it, which appears as Solaris 11. Unfortunately, this is not supported by Commvault. I managed to get the media agent installed by modifying the installation scripts to fake the scripts out into believing the server is Solars 10, but when the media agent tries to register itself to the CommServe server, it uses some binary executable to tell the server what OS it is running on, which causes the CommServe server to reject the media agent and not grant it a license.

I can get it to work, I’m sure, by doing a live upgrade to the latest official Solaris 10 05/08, and run that instead of Solaris Nevada, but it involves a chunk of work to change out the OS on that x4500, which is not the most fun thing in the world. I guess I’ll start preparing a live upgrade partition.

Commvault Demo So Far So Good

2008-07-10 1 comment

We’re evaluating Commvault to replace our homebrew backup solution. Today I did some work with it in our Engineering lab. It is a straightforward architecture, with one server to manage everything, called various names in the documentation, but which I willl call the CommServe, and then media agents on each device you back up to and data agents on each device you backup from.

We use Solaris for mass storage, and there is a media agent for that, so that’s great. I’ve tested it and it works fine. There are also media agents for Windows, Linux, various Unices, and even NetWare, so you can store your backups on any of those.

We have Windows servers, Active Directory, eDirectory, NetWare, Linux, GroupWise, Solaris, FreeBSD, SQL Server and Oracle to backup. There are data agents for all of that, except they don’t have a data agent for GroupWise running on Linux, and they don’t have a data agent for our old version of Oracle that we use for internal web applications. That’s not too big of a deal, since we can do application snapshots to disk and then use the filesystem agents to backup the data.

Access to backups and servers integrates right into Active Directory, so that’s great, and there is very granular access control for backups and restores, so we’ll be able to assign the ability to do data restores server by server, without exposing sensitive data to admins from different operations, which was one of our requirements.

The only complaint I have so far is that various components of the product seem to refer to themselves and other components with a varying and inconsistent set of names. The box says Simpana, the documentation and the Windows pieces say CommVault and CommServe, and CommCell and various other things, and the UNIX pieces seem to call themselves CommVault Qinetix. I think there must have been some merging and product rationalization going on there that hasn’t been completed yet. It all works together though, despite the naming ambiguity.

Tomorrow I’ll list out all our stuff and get some prices. I expect it will be somewhat painful, but we’ll see.

Categories: Storage and Backup

New Backup Software

2008-07-09 4 comments

We’re working on some upgrades to various things around our network, and the time has come to start using some real enterprise backup software rather than our home-grown over-the-wire synchronization tools. We’ve looked at the market leaders for backup software, and so far at least on paper, Commvault looks to have the largest subset of features that we need.

We’ve been in touch with them and requested a demo set of software with a time-bombed license. Commvault were surprisingly taken aback by our request for demo software. They offered to demo their software to us on their lab over a WebEx. I expressed confidence that their demo would work great in their lab on their equipment, but I was more interested in how it would work in our lab on our equipment. They told me they don’t do many client pilots. Who the hell buys gazillion dollar software licenses based only on marketing glossies?

Commvault graciously agreed to send us demo software. I received a kit of software with eval licenses today, and already have the back-end server, called a CommServe with a CommCell console setup and running. That part was pretty easy.

The other things I like so far are that there are media agents for x86 Solaris, which is what we use for disk targets for backup already, so I can continue to use my existing large disk servers, and they have their complete documentation online with public access. That last one is a huge win for Commvault in my eyes.

Nothing turns me off more with enterprise software than when the website is strictly a marketing tool with no access to documentation, support information or anything actually important until after you’re a paying customer. This problem is endemic in the enterprise software world. See Tower Software for a great example of that, with nothing but white papers, brochures, and case studies out in the open. Hopefully the HP buyout will fix that.

If you really want to show off how good your product is, first, actually make it good, and then expose your documentation and support knowledgebase to the world. It’s easy to tell what kind of problems and issues to expect when you can see what kind of questions other customers ask of your support people.

I don’t even know why enterprise software companies hide their documentation from the public. What are they afraid of? That their competitors are going to steal their ideas? Any serious competitors already have the same ideas and they can easily get at yours anyways, so how about giving up the secrecy and making your products more convenient for your customers to use?

Sorry, I slipped into rant mode for a second there. Anyways, Commvault seems to at least do that part right, as do Novell and VMware, both of whom have excellent online documentation and support information.

Categories: Rant, Storage and Backup

Adrem Freecon Dead, Here’s “Litecon” for $500.

2008-07-04 2 comments

Whoa, two NetWare posts in one day. I must be making an effort to counteract what I was complaining about in my previous post about Novell news disappearing.

Adrem makes a remote console for NetWare formerly called Freecon, which was free. I just noticed via iDogg’s blog that it’s no longer free, and has been renamed Litecon. You can’t download the Freecon installer anymore. They’ve decided to start charging $500 for a product that they formerly gave away for free. Nice.

iDogg also makes a great point how a little third-party utility for managing a part of an OS that costs more than the whole OS it manages makes no sense.

Categories: Other Work Stuff
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