March 2010 Archives

Update From Fibrous Andorra

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Hola from the land of melting snow and enlightened fibre.

Had a problem with my termination equipment (no, I don't mean death devices, I keep away from superbikes and stick to my old Scooby)  that kept overheating - it was -10 outside, god knows what would happen in summer - and dropping my lovely FTTH Internet connection.

Anyway, I called my personal tech support guy - happens to be CTO of Andorra Telecom - and one new unit later I'm back to whizz mode. But just how whizzy? Well, I went down to see the guys at Andorra Telecom and discuss a few ideas - these guys even design and make their own circuit boards for pilot schemes such as temperature sensors and iPhone front-ends etc - and we got onto the subject of just how close to my 100Mbps FTTH "connection" can I actually get?

Well they showed a very fine 96.6Mbps in-house, connecting to their website test page, whereas I'd seen nothing close to that. So, we got onto the subject of low-cost routers and, basically, how crap they are. Now I happen to have a Netgear one that is probably as good as any other 40 euro device (last of the big spenders, eh?) that attaches to my FTTH unit, then via an Ethernet switch - Cisco Catalyst at the moment, but might just as easily be a ProCurve, D-Link, or even c.1999 Nortel Networks switches, just like the ones Avaya recently spent $900m on... Anyway, I'm rambling so - to the gist of the matter; I tested my connection directly into the FTTH termination unit (it has an 10/100 Ethernet port on it), then via the Catalyst only, then via the router, and also via the router in bridged mode, so I was picking up a DHCP address direct from Andorra Telecom.

And guess what - a best of 81.69Mbps when running in any kind of bridged  went down to a best of 41.57Mbps when routing. Of course, if you're using wireless then this isn't a bottleneck in itself, but with a wired connection it meant I was losing 50% of my (paid for) bandwidth. And when the monthly cost of the FTTH connection exceeds the total cost of the router, it does suggest that short-changing oneself in this way is not exactly the smartest investment strategy. As it happens I do have an enterprise-strength ProCurve router but it's bloody noisy. So can someone please provide me with a router that performs at "business" levels but is as silent as a very silent thing indeed (so not a Sky+ box then) so it doesn't drown out the commentary on Come Dine With Me as I write my blogs...

No wine tip this blog - other than keep the intake up - but some potential alcohol-related news; a mate of mine and yours truly in Andorra are looking at securing local funding to resurrect a micro-brewery just down the road from me that fell on hard times  - watch this space; Andorra Ale might yet appear down your local. And just think of all the "piste" jokes we can do on the pump clips and labels...

Magical Storage?

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IT is often accused, and rightly so, of being too "dry".

Some - well most - of the industry just begs to have to proverbial taken out of it. So it's good to see my storage mates Isilon - and American (ok - Seattle) at that - prepared to laugh at themselves.

Check out the link: http://ow.ly/1bfqf - and you'll see what I mean; the Isilon guy is good value and any IT/data centre manager will sympathise with his plight. Clue - there's magic and cables involved. I once tried the same trick with old 10base2 Ethernet and dodgy T-connectors, but to no avail. It brought an entire network down, rather than the house.

Meantime, more and more focus seems to be on virtualising storage and everything that revolves around that - security, management etc, so watch this space for updates on product tests etc in this area.