Microsoft Lync 2013 and Kemp Loadbalancers Part1

So, we run our own Infrastructure where I work, that includes our own hosted Lync Environment. Now let me say this up front: I HATE OUTSOURCING! you never get the same quality as if you had your own environment and I don’t see the point of paying someone else to save a little bit when I can have it myself and the Return on Investment is much bigger and I save more over the course of a year.

Anyway, ranting aside, this multipart series describes how to implement KEMP Loadbalancers for Lync. We got a good deal and they are recommended by Microsoft, plus their documentation on their website is good… until you need to use it.

So the Kemps arrive (we bought 2 to do High availability), and the initial setup turns out that they had 2 different versions of Loadmaster 7 OS. Great, except that the two were VERY VERY different. So, I had to contact support to get the laters firmware and update them both because they were actually BOTH out of date. Oh well, updating went smooth and is easy, that I have to give them.

Now we had both running and configured properly (I will post the configuration of it actually in Part 2) and off I went to fetch the Lync 2013 Templates from Kemp. They are great because you can easily set the Lync 2013 services up without setting all the nitty gritty details. 

Now, When you upload the templates they appear in a list and Kemp has really good documentation describing each template and setup. Except that the documentation does not match the templates… like AT ALL! you have to guess most of it. The templates are named differently AND described differently than in the documentation and deployment guide.

Not fun…. but in the end we prevailed. Watch for Part 2 in a day or two…

 

 

PS: great devices… I have to give them that.

Posted in Lync, Networking, Windows Tagged with: , ,

Why your users matter! – Passwords OMG!

Even though you might disagree that your user are important and I agree that a lot of times they certainly don’t behave like they should be cared for, they represent the one link in your organisation you cannot control.

In IT security there is a very, very , very fine line between security and generation insecurity. A lot of admins seem to think “me first, users follow”. Actually, gentlemen, you are so wrong it’s not even funny anymore. 

Your users are the variable that you need to be most careful with. The worst part is always passwords. I don’t know how many times I have seen and been told by users that they feel the multiple passwords and the weird complexity rules are just a burden that they have to deal with and that they need to find ways around for.

Simply said, the one thing that IT admins ALWAYS fail at is communicating to the users with PRACTICAL examples, why certain things are done and how they can overcome certain things.

For example, If you implement password complexity, most modern systems allow not use just SINGLE passwords but pass phrases. 

So, why not just tell your users to pick a favourite quote or a simple sentences with an explanation mark in the end? You also get the additional nicety that you introduce an empty space which makes password cracking even MORE difficult.

Try it.. users will have a completely different approach after that.

Posted in Management, People Management (IT)

Success!! Linux iTunes Server fully working!

As many people don’t have an OS X iTunes Server but plenty of CDs and ripped music (even if from questionable sources :)), My exercise was to set up an iTunes Server. I have a NAS system and a large Ubuntu server. First Choice: NAS…. forget it. Most NAS systems are hopelessly outdated and with newer version of iTunes it just doesn’t work properly, or they are so CPU limited that indexing takes days.

So, I decided I needed my own iTunes Server that works on all my Macs and PCs in the house.

In comes Ubuntu 14.04 LTS server… on a standard install, nothing fancy except ssh server so you can actually log in :), make sure you update and upgrade all packages so you are fully up to date.

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade'

After that is done, Executie the following:

sudo apt-get install forked-daapd

This will install forked-daapd and all its dependencies which is what we need. Bear in mind I am lazy so I am not in the mood to install all the dependencies with the newest not-in-repository version. So this will install everything you need.

When this is done, you should see something like this:

Starting forked-daapd:  OK 

Next download the pre-compiled version 21 of forked-daapd, otherwise all your songs will show up as “Movies” within iTunes.

You can find the pre-compiled version here: Click to download

(courtesy of sgbuz.com)

Now, before you install that deb file, you need to add one more library that wasn’t included in the original forked-daapd installation. You can do this with:

sudo apt-get install libavresample1

 

 

Once that is installed, simply install the version 21 with

sudo dpkg -i forked-daapd_21.0-1_amd64.deb
 

Now that we have that installed, go to edit the config file with

sudo nano /etc/forked-daapd.conf 

and edit the directory location. The rest you can leave as it is within the file.

 

Great, we are ALMOST done. I have noticed that once the service is running, some files won’t play and the only way I “fixed” it is to install miniDLNA

sudo apt-get install minidlna 

Now restart or start the service with

sudo /etc/init.d/forked-daapd restart 

or

sudo /etc/init.d/forked-daapd start

And fire up iTunes..you will see this:

Library Update

 

 

You can now play on any iTunes device the music from your Ubuntu Server 🙂

Posted in Linux/*nix, Mac OS X Tagged with: , ,

Making an Old HP DL380 G6 live again

DL380-G6

If you have a chance and you are a geek and you want to run a proper server at home.. there are ways. In our case we found a nice minimum specced HP Proliant DL 380 G6. On paper,  the machine is still quite a beast, even if its EOL (End of Life). Bear in mind that this is an enterprise class server and as such has really nice features:

  • Dual Power supplies
  • 18!!! Memory slots!!
  • 2 x QuadCore Intel Xeon Support
  • 4!! Gigabit Network cards
  • iLO 2
  • 8x  2.5″ SAS (serial Attached SCSI) drive places
  • Hardware RAID controller

DL380-G6

Now, at first we were a bit sceptical as SAS drives are quite expensive. HP support also states that the maximum drive size is 500GB. That gives us, in a world where we take a Raid 1 mirrored drive for system and a Raid 5 for data, a maximum of about 3TB storage.

However, we found out quickly that you can mix and match SATA and SAS drives as long as you have the drive trays. Well, drive trays are 5 bucks a piece and 1TB SATA drives are cheap on Amazon. So off we went and bought 6 Hitachi 1TB drives and left the 2x 146GB SAS drives as a mirrored system.

Drives arrived speedily, were installed quickly, server booted and all drives recognized…. AWESOME.. except one minor detail.. as soon as the server went into boot.. it started to sound like a Airbus 380 during take off… in our basement!

Fans were running at full speed and no matter what we tried… they wouldn’t calm down.

So after a very sleepless night and a very long time on HP support.. it turns out that HP Proliant DL 380 G6 (7 and 8 as well) have built in sensors that work with the sensors on the Enterprise class drives.

That seemed to be the end of it, until we disassembled one of the system drives and noticed it was a Seagate drive. Since we had a couple of spare Seagate 1TB Laptop drives we decided to pop those in, instead of the Hitachi ones.

Lo and behold, no Jet engine.

Off we went to Amazon and ordered the cheapest Seagate drives we could find, popped them all in, configured the RAID, rebooted and voilá : no noise!

So if you want to expand on the cheap on a server that still has more than enough whomp left, go get Seagate laptop drives, the cheapest will apparently do.

They work fantastic, now we have 6TB storage, 8 Cores and 72GB of Ram. The cost of this server was far, far, far less than building it ourselves or buying a new one.

 

Hopefully this helps someone else as well: use Seagate DRIVES!!! Oh and 500 GB limit.. don’t think so we had 2 drives on loan 2TB each and they worked perfectly fine, no noise.

Good luck

Posted in Hardware, Technical Tagged with: , , ,