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Sunbelt W2Knews™ Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Thu, Apr 5, 2001 (Vol. 6, #23 - Issue #258)
Is Your Disaster Recovery Site On The Same Power Grid?
  This issue of W2Knews™ contains:
    • Sunbelt Primary WebSite now on a T3 / Q1 sales 38% higher.
    • Is Your Disaster Recovery Site On The Same Power Grid?
    • Windows XP - Some more detail
    • Third Party Vendors To Stratify Their Pricing
    • Top Management Demanding Flat Data Storage Budgets?
  5. W2Knews 'FAVE' LINKS
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
    • Exam 70-220, Designing Security for a Windows 2000 Network
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Sunbelt Primary WebSite now on a T3 / Q1 sales 38% higher.

Some short 'good news points' about Sunbelt this time.

1) We got our Cisco 7100 series router in yesterday, configured it with our ISP and last night we hooked it up to two coax cables. These two went straight to a DS3 box in Verizon's wiring closet. The DS3 is connected with fiber via the phone company's Central Office straight to our ISP (again via fiber) so that we now have an optical point-to-point T3 connection to the Net. T3 is the same as DS3 and is 45Mbps. And BOY it makes a difference. It's smokin!

2) The media is rife with all kinds of dire news about economic slowdowns, layoffs and the like. While in reality the economy is actually still growing, admittedly a bit slower. Consumer confidence went up again, so most of us are not buying the media hysteria. In Sunbelt, our First Quarter sales were 38% over the Q1 sales of last year, so all of us would like to thank you for your continued confidence in us. And hey, if we -do- screw it up, you write ME an email, and I'll personally jump in to make it go right.

UNDO DEPT: TYPO in the last newsletter. It was CCIE, not CCIA.

Warm regards,
Stu Sjouwerman (email me with feedback: [email protected])

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Is Your Disaster Recovery Site On The Same Power Grid?

The Wall Street Journal just wrote an article about power shortages in California, and also said it might spread this summer to states that surround CA. Part of the cause is the current draught, resulting in not enough water to drive the hydro-electric turbines. And two days later they said power shortages might hit states in New England as well, I'm not sure why yet but I'll find out. Rolling blackouts ain't funny.

I was just thinking that your Disaster Recovery site might be on the same power grid. Especially in New York that is a possibility. You should call your power company and check into that as Step #1. The result of course would be both sites go down at the same time and data loss and/or disk corruption could ensue. It would be better to have your DR site on another grid all together. For example, Sunbelt's primary site is in Florida, but our backup site's in Texas.

When you pull the plug on some boxes, it is not sure the apps are built robust enough to take that gracefully. Also, improper shutdowns could cause disk corruption. Let me quote one paragraph from MS Knowledge base item: Q160963 (I have added the emphasis)

"It is always advisable to run chkdsk on volumes that have been improperly shutdown, however, there may be some situations in which running chkdsk after every improper shutdown is not possible or practical. In some cases, chkdsk may take several hours or even days to completely check the volume or may hang while checking the volume. In these situations, it is more practical to postpone the chkdsk until a more convenient time".

And one more paragraph from another KB-item, number Q187941.

"It should be pointed out that NTFS does not guarantee the integrity of user data following an instance of disk corruption -- even when a full CHKDSK is run immediately after corruption has been detected. Thus, there may be files that CHKDSK cannot recover. Also, files that are recovered may be internally corrupted even after CHKDSK has been run. It, therefore, remains vitally important that mission critical data be protected by means of a regimen of periodic backups or other robust disaster recovery methodology."

So, basically your power is still a very important bit of the whole uptime equation. Of course with Y2K behind us, all of you have been giving this some thought already. Most of us have some sort of UPS equipment in place. That will buy some time. But how much? Some of the recent blackouts in CA lasted several hours. Microsoft is right in strongly suggesting you need a robust disaster recovery system in place. We can help you install it, implement it, and train you on site.


Windows XP - Some more detail

Last Monday I attended a web-seminar held by Microsoft and ZD-net for more than an hour where they went into some more detail about WXP. Arrival dates for Release Candidate 1 is planned at end Q2 this year, and Release to Manufacturing envisioned Summer 2001.

If you run on Windows NT or Windows 2000 already, this is more an evolution than anything else. WXP will play well with both on a domain. If you are running W9x, this is of course a revolution in the sense of major change. WXP will likely trash the hardware you have, as you need a more powerful box to run it. I recommend a P300 with 128 as a bare bones minimum. P500+ and 256 will be comfy.

The performance will be about the same as W2K, do not expect major speed increases. The GUI is pretty nice, it's the result of countless hours of studies of people using it, and has a new look to it. Even IT people will like some of the changes. One of the neat features I found was the compatibility settings. You can right click on the properties, and indicate for that app, which OS it "runs" on. Then WXP will fool the app to make it think it runs on whatever flavor of Windows (e.g. 95/98/ME).

The remote control feature will only work between WXP and WXP boxes, so that is a limited use for the moment. Unless you are wall-to-wall WXP in a business environment, you'll not be able to use that for a helpdesk-type function.

The Windows Product Activation (WPA) is going to be a headache. Think about the following scenario. You decide to trash all your old work- stations, and upgrade to 1,000 new Dell Optiplexes. You have Dell preinstall everything, and all the apps you need as well. But this is an OEM installation, and that means you need to individually touch each one of these 1,000 workstations to activate the OS via the web. I don't like it a bit. If you want to send some one an email with your vision, here's one: [email protected]
This is MS's PR agency and they will make sure it gets to the product managers for sure. [grin]


Third Party Vendors To Stratify Their Pricing

Since I'm one of the people that gets to hear these things first, I thought to send you a heads-up as it will influence your budgets for the coming years. Ed Lacey just sent me an email to remind me of the results of MS trying to standardize all W2K Server users to Advanced Server.

More and more third party vendors are starting to charge more money for their tools if that tool will be running on Advanced Server or Datacenter server. Just as an example, Veritas has a sizeable price difference between Backup Exec 8.5 Standard Server and 8.5 Advanced Server. Many other tools have similar price tiers.

So, if you upgrade to W2K Advanced Server, you'd better do the upgrade- math for all the third party apps that are running on that puppy as you might need to upgrade those too!

Top Management Demanding Flat Data Storage Budgets?

In many organizations, the data storage budget consumes up to one third of the total IT budget. That means billions of dollars per year that are spent on storage and storage management which is way more costly than the hardware itself. If your top management dictates that the budget needs to stay flat, as for instance the Meryll Lynch top dogs just did, you have an interesting problem to solve: Storage still expands rapidly, but you cannot spend more cash.

So, that gives you -two- approaches, and I suggest you indeed use the following two-pronged attack. 1) Aggressively negotiate lower prices with your storage hardware vendors, and 2) Aggressively control any all storage utilization by the user community.

With NAS devices coming available for ever lower prices, 1) above is relatively easy to implement. The price per Gig is ever falling. But solving 2) above is another story. Making sure users are not hogging all that space is often a political issue that can get you burned. I suggest you have a chat with top IT management that very well knows the management of storage costs about 5 times (or more) the cost of the initial hardware purchase.

So, you need some top management air cover to implement a company storage management policy. This is the time to ask for it! Once you have that, you can much easier implement tools to monitor, control and curb disk space usage. A great tool to do that is StorageCeNTral. It allows you to do a host of things like graphing disk consumption, capacity planning, monitoring per user what storage they consume, and set either completely automated soft or hard quota's for them.

Having your storage consumption under control will help keeping those storage budgets flat as well. Here's a great tool that will do the job.


This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

  • The Proxomitron is a cool free tool to filter web traffic. Useful.
  • Confidentiality of user information using Passport/Hailstorm? Fuhgeddit.
  • The new Ghost V7.0 is pretty powerful. Admin's will like the specs!

    Exam 70-220, Designing Security for a Windows 2000 Network

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