New Toys

New Toys

I’m a computer hardware geek by preference, and while my job is being a systems admin for the contract I’m working on nothing makes me happier than being given permission to start planning out hardware improvements.

My partner-in-crime and I have been considering what to do with the backup implementation that he was handed when he first started on this contract almost two years ago. I joined up ten months ago and have been working on getting up to speed, implementing a couple cool applications, troubleshooting some stuff, and planning out a few things. But our backup situation has just been getting worse. You see, our backup system is a tape drive. Yes, I can hear the groaning now, and believe me my response was exactly the same. Unfortunately we didn’t get a whole lot of choice in the matter, and besides, it was in place before I ever came along.

But the other day my co-worker and I were told that we were likely going to have some money to spend on improving the backup situation and to consider alternatives. I was as giddy as a schoolboy and my co-worker was ecstatic. We began considering the options, but the idea we both liked was moving to a disk-based backup rather than tape-based. The plan my co-worker devised was to get a server with as much local storage as we could find and use it for hourly, daily and weekly backups, then kick off a monthly archive to the tape system for the mandatory off-site backup.

I started combing my usual hunting grounds and found a sweet SuperMicro server with dual 8-core processors, 128 GB of ECC RAM, HBA controllers, and sixty 3.5″ drive bays. I populated them with thirty 10 TB drives, and when all was said and done it was a bargain at $25k (in case you were wondering, yes I am a government contractor, and when I say it’s a bargain, I mean it. Dell wanted $55k for the same setup).

My co-worker has done miracles on this contract, but the moral of the story is that the six-Ps could have prevented a lot of the headaches we’ve encountered – “Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance”. Before we ever got started on this contract there should have been a lot more planning. Unfortunately the way the contract is worded, whenever the Program Manager (who outranks the Project Manager) comes up with some whacky idea, as long as the council that oversees things agrees to try it out, it then becomes a requirement of the contract and three merely mortal men have to try and make it happen.

In the meantime I still get to play with hardware. Small price to pay. Sometime soon I’ll talk about a project I’m working on at home. That will be fun!

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