Virtualizing NTP servers has been quite a hot topic for some time, but regardless of what some people say, you can actually virtualize NTP servers, as long as you know what you’re doing. If you examine some public NTP servers more closely, you’ll actually find that a lot of them are running on AWS, which should attest to virtualizing being a possible route to go down.
There’s some things though that you might want to consider before going down this route, and some special configurations you need to do to make sure everything works as intended.
After a couple of years in the IT infrastructure world, you’ll be faced with the greatest task of all, updating servers every month or so. This has always been the most brain dead task imaginable, but now with virtualization, we also have 10 times more servers to update. And almost every single week there’s another critical bug in some core service that has to be patched in panic.
So, instead of doing all that, why don’t we just do what we always do when we have a task that humans don’t like to do? We get a computer to do it for us!
Last week I spent close to 8 hours printing and applying labels to different cables in a packed and live rack. And it didn’t help that the rack runs our virtual servers, ie. our most mission critical servers.
The rack itself consists of 3 identical 1U servers from Dell, 2 Gigabit Dell switches trunk’d into each other running separate VLANs for iSCSI and “normal” traffic. The EqualLogic HDD-array that provides the storage for the servers runs 2 controllers, both with a connection to both switches. Then there’s 5 CAT6 cables for each server providing the iSCSI, server management, virtual server NIC etc.
All in all I think I labeled 5 cables per server (15), 3 per EqualLogic module (6), 3 iSCSI cables for some other servers and 2 trunk cables. In both ends. So if my math is correct, that amounts to 30+12+6+4= 52 labels on just network cables. Then the servers needed 2 labels each (6), the EQ-box plus labels identifying the controller modules (3), the 2 UPSs and the 2 switches. That’s 13 more labels. So all in all I did over 65 labels that day.
Now, I’m perfectly clear on why this rack needs labels just about everywhere. Imagine on cable comes loose when you’re fiddling with something. Then if that cable end is labeled with which port it goes into, then reconnecting it correctly becomes a very minor task, and can be done quite swiftly.
The problem I had with this task is that the week before, 2 technicians from Dell spent the whole week setting up the rack. It would have been a lot easier for everyone if they’d bothered labeling every cable as it went into the rack in the first place instead of me carefully tracing each and every cable in the operational rack.