I manage a fairly large colocated file server for a small business who uses the site as a geographic dump location for video content that gets encoded and delivered to users on the fly through a web interface. The content is all hi-definition material and is unencoded in Transport Stream media format. They keep the content in this format so that they can dynamically serve an array of different encodings depending on the client’s preference. They have a desktop application that their clients can use to connect to the content delivery server and specify what encoding types, aspect ratios, and resolutions that they desire. Anybody who has ever worked with transport stream media knows how large some of these files can get when working with hi-definition content… Some of the files are 100GB in size. The content is typically advertising material for clients and needs to be able to be delivered fast to users across the globe. This is a pretty hefty requirement for a small business, so as a method of management, they decided to get a souped up colocated server located in Europe that will essentially mirror the production content server here in the US. This allows them to have near-real-time availability of content to their three or so clients located in Europe, and with a bonded dual gigabit connection, delivery also occurs in near real time. The idea is really a genius, homebrewed, poor man’s proprietary CDN, and I wish that I could take credit for having thought of the idea. Continue reading »

The situation goes as such, if you can visualize it, where you have a dedicated server hosted at an off-site location (disaster recovery, branch office, etc…), you have your primary location, and then you have a third party location somewhere in the middle — perhaps cloud hosting… From your primary location to your secondary site your transfer speeds are terrible and, if you’re using this for a DR site, it quickly becomes agonizing when off-loading backups or other important data. However, from your tertiary location you get great routing, great speeds, to your secondary location, and from your primary location to your tertiary location it’s as fast as you can go. At your DR site, you have an FTP server connected to a NAS, a SAN, or some other mass storage unit, and you need to be able to quickly and securely ship backups and other sensitive data over the line. With the routing problems from your primary site, you find yourself spending way too much time trying to figure out the best way to get the data from point A to point B rapidly. Somehow, you ponder, there must be a way to utilize the tertiary host as a hop in the trip from your primary site to your secondary site… Continue reading »

During my time as a system administrator, I have come across a lot of things that I feel like other people should have seen at some point, but for one reason or another the answer is never exactly what I need… So, my intention with this blog is to post these things as I find them, and the solutions related. Maybe it will serve as more or less a consolidated documentation area for my own personal reference, but I would believe that somebody out there can find some of this stuff useful. I’m talking about general sysadmin-type stuff,  a few things programming related (see the “About Me” link for more detail on my professional background), and maybe some people and project management. A lot of the time what I see are sysadmins keeping their own close-at-hand documentation around for reference as they need to do things, but not necessarily sharing that knowledge with the world as they’re figuring it out. I guess that some of us feel like the next guy will be able to use google better, or will have a better support network for figuring out problems — I know that I’ve thought that in the past and usually wind up jumping back to my own reference sheet when I need to do it again — or worst, figuring the whole thing out again. Some of the stuff that I post will be 101 type stuff, but that’s good information to keep handy too. Also, I’m going to assume that most of you guys out there have the background and understanding necessary to do a lot of this stuff without a lot of hand holding, so don’t expect me to spend a lot of time focusing on theory… I’m a bare-metal kind of guy when it comes to this stuff.

Another thing… I hope to keep this blog mostly technical related, but I have a strong passion for best-practices in management (both project and people), so I hope that somehow I can build a bridge between that world, and our technical world (in some aspect).

Please don’t hesitate to email me with stuff that you find or come up with — I’m a big fan of community involvement, and credit where credit is due. Thanks for landing here and reading this — I hope that this helps somebody.


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