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Sunday, February 27, 2005

Iron Jack Racks 'em

rack_2005-02-26.jpg Finally living up to my pirate name "Iron Jack Rackham", today I took all of the components of the emerging Fourmilab server farm, jacked 'em up, and racked 'em in a big iron box.

Largely as a matter of pride, but also to validate the design of the server farm, the entire transfer between floors, installation of the boxes in the rack, and recabling to use new network components was accomplished without any outage whatsoever in access to Fourmilab. As is evident from the picture (click the image for an enlargement), things are still a tad tacky--the two bitmobiles parked to the right of the rack allow direct KVM access to the two servers, and the one in front has the laptop which acts as the debug console for the load balancer.

The cable roller in front of the rack is my homebrew 50 metre RJ-45 patch extender; I'm using it to connect the backup firewall to the cluster hub, since the nearest free network jack was farther away than any regular cable I have on hand. In the rack, the two boxes at the top are Dell 16 port Gigabit Ethernet switches which interconnect everything on the server farm--at the moment, only the top switch is used. Below that is the Coyote Point Equalizer E350 load balancer (soon to be joined by an identical hot spare backup), and at the bottom are the two Dell PowerEdge 1850 servers which run the site.

The gap between the switches and the load balancers is due to my having had it with the crap-weasel 3Con 3CR16110-95 firewalls I was foolish enough to install three years ago. I'm unhappy with everything else on the market (either it doesn't support fail-over if something goes down, or it costs as much as the GDP of the Gambia and has a manual so long you can watch your fingernails grow as you read it). So, I am building my own firewall based on a Dell server configured with three Ethernet interfaces (LAN/WAN/DMZ) using Linux iptables. When I get this working, I'll post all of the configuration code so other folks can do likewise.

Posted at February 27, 2005 01:27