Data Center raised flooring

Looking to add some raised flooring to your data center?
http://dcstands.com/

If you want to read about the great data center debate of raised vs slab flooring.
https://switchon.eaton.com/plug/article/192/the-great-debate-raised-floor-vs-slab-data-ce

https://blog.equinix.com/blog/2011/03/02/raised-floor-versus-slab-floor-the-debate-rages-on/

https://www.upsite.com/blog/slab-vs-raised-floor-3-things-consider/

Soundproofing your server room

Recently I was asked techniques for soundproofing a server room to keep the noise down in a small to medium-sized office.  Before the discussion dives into the article, there are a few things to keep in mind

1. Don’t let the soundproofing aspect overtake the airflow aspect.  Airflow is critical.
2. Make sure your solution meets fire and building codes.
3. Mass always wins when it comes to soundproofing.

Now on to some ideas.
Acoustic Foam
https://www.thefoamfactory.com/acousticfoam/acousticfoam.html

Ceiling Tiles
Ceiling tiles are typically sound absorbent, but you can get some with higher absorption than others.

Soundproofing on the cabinet
For those of you familiar with high-end car stereos know products like Dynamat and other sound deading materials. The work in two ways.  The first is by adding mass to what the are applied to. Secondly, they are made of materials specially designed to absorb sound. There are many kinds of these on the market. One such product is here on Amazon

Other techniques
Keeping the air conditioner on a decent setting can cause the fans in the equipment not to work as hard. If the device is getting cooled the fans may not have to spin at higher RPMs to move air.  Proper airflow through your cabinets and racks helps greatly with this.  If you have your equipment taking cold air in from the front, where maybe a vent is in front of the cabinet door, this can greatly help.

Supplementing your cooling with a slow moving large fan.  Large fans spinning at low RPMs can move just as much air as smaller fans spinning at higher RPMs.  If your server room needs help this could be an option.

Proper cable management is also essential for airflow.  The better the air moves through the equipment the cooler the equipment will be.  As stated above, cooler equipment means fans are not spinning at high RPMs generating noise.

Precision screwdriver review


Recently I came across this nifty, and inexpensive, precision screwdriver set.  If you want to order your own: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CMVYDQ2

Being an I.T. guy and an avid G.I.joe collector I am always in need of a smaller sized screwdriver set for various reasons.  ANyone who has been at a Data Center trying to get the rack ears on or off a Mikrotik cloud core router knows what I mean. Let’s dive into some uses of this particular kit.

First of all the kit comes with the following bits.
10 x “✡” (Star hexagon Screwdrivers) (T2/T3/T4/T5/T6/T7/T8/T9/T10/T15)
5 x “+” (Cross Screwdrivers) (1.0/1.2/1.5/2.0/3.0)
4 x “-” (Flat-blade Screwdrivers) (1.0/1.5/2.0/3.0)
2 x “★”(Pentagon Screwdriver) (0.8/1.2)
1 x “Y” (Y-type Screwdriver) (2.0)
1 x “▲” (Triangle Screwdriver) (2.3)
1 x “⊙” (Point Screwdriver)(0.8)
1 x Screwdriver Handle

This covers most of the small things I come across on a regular basis.  For my purposes, the cross and flat bits are what I use the most. The rest are nice to have for those one-offs.

One of the problems I always have in the GI Joe World is the back screws on the “o-ring” figures.  For those of you who don’t know there is a little screw in the back which basically holds the entire figure together.

G.I. Joe was released in 1982 and the screw can rust or otherwise become almost impossible to get out.  With this set I am able to get several screws out I have been unable to get out with other kits.

Once the screws are out you can get replacements, but getting them out is the hard part.  If the screwdriver doesn’t work you have to go to extreme measures if you don’t want to damage the figure.

The handle is easy to grip. I like the flared design to it.  Some of the other small screwdrivers don’t allow me to leverage I need. On a small screwdriver, you might not think you need leverage, because, well it’s small.  Well, there are cases where you need that extra bit of “bite”.

The bits are held in but a unique system.  I both like this and am annoyed by it at the same time.  What I like is the bits are pretty secure.  However, getting them back into the holder can be a little of a pain.

Closeup of the locking “lug” for fitting into the case.

The case is small enough to have in your go bag or laptop bag. Close up, the case is about the size of a credit card.  I will be adding one into the tool bag I carry with me.

Where does Trill and VXLAN fit in your strategy?

As networking trends yo-yo between layer-3 and layer-2,  different protocols have emerged to address issues with large layer-2 networks. Protocols such as Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL), Shortest Path Bridging (SPB), and Virtual Extensible LAN (VXLAN) have emerged to address the need for scalability at Layer2.   Cloud scalability, spanning tree bridging issues, and big broadcast networks start to become a problem in a large data center or cloud environment.

To figure out if things like TRILL is a solution for you, you must understand the problem that is being addressed by TRILL. The same goes for the rest of the mentioned protocols. When it boils down to it the reason for looking at such protocols is you want high switching capacity, low latency, and redundancy.  The current de facto standard of Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) simply is unable to meet the needs of modern layer2 networks.  TRILL addresses the problem of STP’s ability to only allow one network path between switches or ports.  STP prevents loops by managing active layer -2 paths.   TRILL applies Intermediate System-to-Intermediate System protocol (IS-IS), which is a layer3 routing protocol translated to Layer 2 devices.

For those who say TRILL is not the answer things like SPB also known as 802.1aq, and VXLAN are the alternatives. A presentation at NANOG 50 in 2010 addressed some of the SPB vs TRILL debate. This presentation goes into great detail on the differences between the two.

The problem, which is one most folks overlook, is that you can only make a layer 2 network so flat.  The trend for a while, especially in data centers, is to flatten out the network. Is TRILL better? Is SPB better? The problem isn’t what is the better solution to use.  What needs to be addressed is the design philosophy behind why you need to use such things.   Having large Layer2 networks is generally a bad idea. Scaling issues can almost always be solved by Layer-3.

So, and this is where the philosophy starts, is TRILL, SPB, or even VXLAN for you? Yes, but with a very big asterisk. TRILL is one of those stop-gap measures or one of those targeted things to use in specific instances. TRILL reduces complexity and makes layer-2 more robust when compared to MLAG. Where would you use such things? One common decision of whether to use TRILL or not comes in a virtualized environment such as VSPHERE.

Many vendors such as Juniper, have developed their own solutions to such things.  Juniper and their Virtual Chassis solution do away with spanning tree issues, which is what TRILL addresses.   Cisco has FabricPath, which is Cisco’s proprietary TRILL-based solution. Keep in mind, this is still TRILL.   If you want to learn some more about Fabric Path this article by Joel Knight gets to the heart of Fabric path.

Many networks see VXLAN as their upgrade path.  VXLAN allows layer 2 to be stretched across layer 3 boundaries. If you are a “Microsoft person” you probably hear an awful lot about Network Virtualization using Generic Routing Encapsulation (NVGRE) which can encapsulate a layer two frame into IP.

The last thing to consider in this entire debate is how does Software Defined Networking (SDN) play into this. Many folks think controllers will make ECMP and MLAG easy to create and maintain. If centralized controllers have a complete view of the network there is no longer a need to run protocols such as TRILL.   The individual switch no longer makes the decision, the controller does.

Should you use Trill, VXLAN, or any of the others mentioned? If you have a large Layer-2 virtualized environment it might be something to consider.  Are you an ISP, there is a very small case for running TRILL in anything other than your data center. Things such as Carrier Ethernet and MPLS are the way to go.

Where does TRILL and VXLAN fit in to your network strategy?

As networking trends yo-yo between layer-3 and layer-2 centric different protocols have emerged. Protocols such as Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL), Shortest Path Bridging (SPB), and Virtual Extensible LAN (VXLAN) have emerged to address the need of scalability at Layer2.   Cloud scalability, spanning tree bridging issues, and big broadcast networks start to become a problem in large data center or cloud environments.

To figure out if things like TRILL is a solution for you, you must understand the problem that is being addressed by TRILL. The same goes for the rest of the mentioned protocols. When it boils down to it the reason for looking at such protocols is you want high switching capacity, low latency, and redundancy.  The current de facto standard of Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) simply is unable to meet the needs of modern layer2 networks.  TRILL addresses the problem of STP’s ability to only allow one network path between switches or ports.  STP prevents loops by managing active layer -2 paths.   TRILL applies Intermediate System-to-Intermediate System protocol (IS-IS), which is a layer3 routing protocol translated to Layer 2 devices.

For those who say TRILL is not the answer things like SPB also known as 802.1aq, and VXLAN are the alternative. A presentation at NANOG 50 in 2010 addressed some of the SPB vs TRILL debate. This presentation goes into great detail on the differences between the two.

The problem, which is one most folks overlook, is that you can only make a layer 2 network so flat.  The trend for a while, especially in data centers, is to flatten out the network. Is TRILL better? Is SPB better? The problem isn’t what is the better solution to use.  What needs to be addressed is the design philosophy behind why you need to use such things.   Having large Layer2 networks is generally a bad idea. Scaling issues can almost always be solved by Layer-3.

So, and this is where the philosophy starts, is TRILL, SPB, or even VXLAN for you? Yes, but with a very big asterisk. TRILL is one of those stop gap measures or one of those targeted things to use in specific instances. TRILL reduces complexity and makes layer-2 more robust when compared to MLAG. Where would you use such things? One common decision of whether to use TRILL or not comes in a virtualized environment such as VSPHERE.

Many vendors such as Juniper, have developed their own solutions to such things.  Juniper and their Virtual Chassis solution does away with spanning tree issues, which is what TRILL addresses.   Cisco has FabricPath, which is Cisco’s proprietary TRILL based solution. Keep in mind, this is still TRILL.   If you want to learn some more about Fabric Path this article by Joel Knight gets to the heart of Fabric path.

Many networks see VXLAN as their upgrade path.  VXLAN allows layer 2 to be stretched across layer 3 boundaries. If you are a “Microsoft person” you probably hear an awful lot about Network Virtualization using Generic Routing Encapsulation (NVGRE) which can encapsulate a layer two frame into IP.

The last thing to consider in this entire debate is how does Software Defined Networking (SDN) play into this. Many folks think controllers will make ECMP and MLAG easy to create and maintain. If centralized controllers have a complete view of the network there is no longer a need to run protocols such as TRILL.   The individual switch no longer makes the decision, the controller does.

Should you use Trill, VXLAN, or any of the others mentioned? If you have a large Layer-2 virtualized environment it might be something to consider.  Are you an ISP, there is very little case for running TRILL in anything other than your data center. Things such as Carrier Ethernet and MPLS are the way to go.