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How Bad is it? Saga Continues

We’ll I had expected that today’s update on our SAN saga would conclude the drama, but that isn’t the case. 

Little frustrates me more than when vendor’s tech support doesn’t do their homework and tells you incorrect information.  When we talked with tech support on Thursday, when ordering the DOM, we were clearly told that the configuration of our array in our SAN would not be affected when the new module was installed.  I wondered about the accuracy, so we asked several times, and the tech reassured us that the SAN would power up and all would be well when the new DOM was installed.  Well… as you can guess we received the DOM Friday morning and all isn’t well.  Jeremie installed the DOM and hmm… the SAN powers up, but doesn’t display any configuration.   While I appreciate the correct diagnosis by the technician of the failed module, I don’t like being told the wrong information.

So, that means we just work with support to rebuild the configuration and get the SAN back online… If only it was that easy.

Jeremie spent most of the day camping out in our server room leaving messages and waiting for our buddy Ray at Intel to call us back.  Even our Channel Partner got in the mix of leaving messages for Ray. Mid-day I asked Jeremie to start the process with a new technician since Ray was MIA.  This new tech sent Jeremie a form to complete and drops off the call.  Jeremie receives the form, but with explanation of where to send the form or with what information to input (the old configuration or our current situation).  So we wait some more trying to contact Ray to find out where this form fits in the mix.

At 5pm Jeremie conferences me in to another call to Intel and guess who we get a hold of… or buddy Ray, who starts to explain that he was calling all afternoon but nobody answered…  (He was calling our main number vs. the DID we told him to call)  I quickly told Ray I didn’t care about the why… but we needed a resolution.

So Ray then instructs us with what information to complete the form, and gives us the email address to where we should send it… and we wait some more.  Ray informs us our issue requires transferring our case to the engineering department, which might be closing at 7pm.  How can support close at 7pm?  It’s at that point I start asking for a supervisor. (Which Ray says will take 60 minutes for a call back)

So as time ticks away to the possibly not so magic 7pm, we wait.  At 6pm I receive a call from Oscar the support supervisor and he says the email hasn’t come thru.  It’s been 60 minutes since Jeremie sent over the form, but they still don’t have it.  I put a little pressure on Oscar and 2 minutes later he is able to search the email account and the magic happens and suddenly they have our email.  But the craziness doesn’t stop, Oscar says that it is 2-5 days to transfer our case to engineering.  I about blow a stack at that point and again I request a supervisor.  So at this point I tell Jeremie to get some dinner and we wait. 

So about 50 minutes later I receive a call on my cell and the Caller ID displays a 916 phone number it must be Intel calling to help us resolve our case. The caller identifies himself as the supervisor of server support for the central region… you know this call isn’t going to be good.  He informs me that all our paperwork is in place and our account is ready to be transferred over to engineering.  So I wait for that hated word ‘BUT’ and here it is, But the engineering department closes at 7pm.

So… Now we wait.  We have weighed re-working the raid array without support, but I am not willing to take that chance.  There is too much data on the SAN to risk and the thought of a total recovery from backup of 14+ servers.. that just doesn’t sound like an attractive option for not being patience.  So the decision is made, we wait until Monday.


Oh where oh where did the little nav go?

So after pushing down the base ghost image to my workstation (which has IE6 installed) I noticed some strange stuff on my blog.. like well um…no navigation. 

no navThen I look at another computer in our office are and all is well and it looks normal… well the only difference is IE7 vs. IE6…. so for those of you who are frequenting my blog and have IE6 a little sorry to you… But really I am not going to worry about it since IE 6 is in the past. 

So, I guess I have some updating at my desk to do.


How bad is it? SAN issues updated.

Well, after 15 minutes of explaining to nice lady at first level support that I was calling about an Intel SAN and not an Intel FAN and about the 10th time of saying it’s a SAN model number SSR212MA things have started to look up.  Or Intel Channel partner told us afterwards there is a better support number to call in the future.. well, we will note that for the future.

 DOM

The technician has identified our problem as the DOM (Disk on Module). Its a little module that plugs into the IDE port on the motherboard. 

Funny thing about the DOM we noticed after we unplugged it as instructed by the tech… a little notice that reads:  “Warranty Void if Removed”.
So now we wait, unfortunately with 16 of 18 servers offline.  The SAN is wonderful, except when its down we don’t have anywhere near enough hard drive space to run all the virtual servers we have…

Maybe we’ll throw a little celebration for the UPS man when he arrives before 10am tomorrow morning.


How bad is it?

So you arrive in the office to learn that none of the Virtual Servers are responsive… not good.
You visit the console of the VM_Host and it says the Drive from the iSCSI connection to the SAN is not responsive… not good.
You look at the console of the SAN and you see a screen full of errors… not good.
You send a screen shot of the errors to Intel… they have to call you back after they look into it… not good.

I thought i would share our lovely errors with you, maybe sharing the pain will help our frustration, your you would like to give your two cents worth.

SAN ErrorSan Error


SharePoint Training

SharePoint Training

- SharePoint Training Registration

- SharePoint Training Travel Info

- SharePoint Training Hotel Info

- SharePoint Training for Church Consultants/Vendors

- Travel Needs/Rides to Share (added 1/2/08)

Driving Directions (added 1/2/08)

                                  - Virtual PC Pre-Req, Syllabi, Monday Schedule (added 1/3/08)

                                  - Last Minute Info: Monday Start Time, Sunday Night Dinner (added 1/5/08)

                                  - Day 3 Photos (added 1/09/08)

                                  - Group Photos (added 1/11/08)


SharePoint Training – Hotel Info

The recommended hotel during the SharePoint Training is the Peoria AmericInn Lodge and Suites which is 2.4 miles from Northwoods.  When placing a reservation mention “SharePoint Training” and you will receive the discounted rate of $79.90 per night (2 Queens or 1 King non-smoking room)

AmericInn Lodge and Suites
9106 N. Lindberg Drive
Peoria, IL 61615
866-447-4897 or (309) 692-9200
E-mail:info@americinnpeoria.com

Other local hotel information can be found at the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.


Northwoods Community Church – Travel Info

Northwoods Community Church (Directions)
10700 N. Allen Road
Peoria, IL 61615

Updated 11/17/07: Please use this link for directions rather than plugging our address into Mapquest, GoogleMaps, etc.  Our Postal address displays as 1/2 mile south of our location on these mapping programs.  Please use 2210 W Wilhelm Rd, Dunlap, IL 61525 as the address when you look up your travel directions.

Local Airports:

  • Greater Peoria Regional Airport -  Airport code: PIA – 15 min from NWCC
    • Direct flights from Chicago (AA and United),  Dallas (AA),  Minneapolis and Detroit (NWA), Atlanta (Delta)  Denver (United) Las Vegas, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Phoenix, Tampa/St Pete (Allegiant Air).
  • Central Illinois Regional Airport – Airport Code: BMI  – 45 minutes from Peoria in Bloomington/Normal
    • Direct flights from Chicago (AA and United),  Detroit (NWA), Atlanta (Delta and AirTran), Orlando and Las Vegas (AirTran).

SharePoint Training – Registration

As Jason Powell mentioned over on his blog a few weeks ago, Bill English Co-Owner of MindSharp will be presenting free SharePoint Administration training on January 7th – 11th.  I am excited to announce the registration for the SharePoint Training is now Open.

Event Info:

  • January 7th – January 11th (Monday through Friday) 9 am- 5 pm.
  • Location: Northwoods Community Church (10700 N. Allen Road Peoria, IL 61615)
  • Attendees:
    • Slots available for up to 100 attendees
      • Small teams are encouraged (Director/Project Manager + IT/Web)
    • All participants must be directly employed by a church or ministry and he/she will not profit or further a for-profit business by this training.
    • If you are the IT Volunteer for your church and not a consultant please shoot me a email and we’ll discuss options.
    • Participants should be technically-oriented and are expected to understand and/or perform the following administrative activities: 
      • DNS – including creating alias records and A records in the Hosts File
      • IIS – creating new web sites, host headers and working with site security
      • Active Directory Users and Computers – create new user accounts, reset passwords and general user and group account activities
      • SQL Server – basic understanding of how to apply permissions to a database
      • Windows 2003 Server – basic understanding of Active Directory
      • Networking – basic understand and abilities in assigning IP addresses, host names and general connectivity issues. 
    • Each person must have his/her own laptop with 2GB Ram and 20GB free Disk space
      • 1.5GB of the RAM will be completely used by the image that will be provided to you.
      • UPDATE 11/14/07: Bill English has ask that we note it is extremely important that the system you bring to the training have the 2GB of Ram and 20GB of free space or you will be very disappointed with the performance of your workstation during the training.
      • Laptop Rental is OPTIONAL as part of the registration process: Weekly Rental Rate: $185.00 (includes 2 way shipping).
  • Event Registration: Fee $125.00 
    • This includes snacks and lunch each day, and event costs.
  • Training: Will be focused around the SharePoint Server 2007 product.  An understanding of SharePoint Server 2007 will allow users to also implement Windows SharePoint Services (the free version).

Register Now


New SonicWall SSL VPN Firmware

Well SonicWall continues to impress me… Since we have implemented multiple SonicWall appliances my approval rating of SonicWall has sky rocketed.  15 months ago, I don’t think you could have convinced me to trust SonicWall, why exactly I don’t know but I thought of them as an inferior vendor to the rest of their markets… (Firewalls, SSL-VPN, Email Security)

But have to admit my opinion was unwarranted primarily by my lack of knowledge of what SonicWall brought to the table.

Well you ask what has changed my mind… well more things than I can write about in one post so I’ll just share the latest love and joy SonicWall has tossed our way.

A little history:We provide remote access to our network with SonicWall’s SSL-VPN 2000, which is proving to be a solid appliance and provides two interfaces for our users to gain network access… the first, the NetExtender which is a locally installed application that gives VPN access to our network via the SSL VPN 2000 appliance.  (We have elected to only use the NetExtender for laptops that the church owns).  For everyone else we are in the process of deploying the SSL VPN web portal.  This gives access to OWA, two terminal servers and our TimeClock web application.

Ok.. So that is what you expect from a SSL VPN product right… So what is new? 

  • Until Oct 27th there wasn’t any Linux or Mac NetExtender support… well now there is a NetExtender client for both operating systems in addition to the pre-existing Windows application.  Not to mention this little beni is free with your support contract.
  • A subscription service called SonicWall Virtual Assist: Virtual Assist as I understand it will give you similar remote support tools to the likes of WebEx, Gotomeeting.com or other remote support applications.  The supporting technician(connected behind the SSLVPN appliance or NetExtender) can send email invitations to those needing support or connect to a client requesting support in the queue.  And the cool part is list price is below $1000.00, I already have an email into our trusted SonicWall vendor to find out the discounted Non-Profit pricing.
    SonicWall’s description: SSL VPN 2.5 allows a technician to remotely diagnose and fix issues an off-site computer may be experiencing. The technician can remotely take control of the machine through secure control of mouse and keyboard to repair the problem while the customer is watching. This feature allows IT to support users off-site as if they were physically there. Requirements: Virtual Assist can only take remote control of Windows based operating systems. The technician needs to be behind the SonicWall SSL VPN appliance or running NetExtender in order to utilize the Virtual Assist feature.

So I say, if you haven’t given SonicWall a good lately, you should… If you have a SonicWall SSL VPN download the new firmware and check it out.


Goog411

I have recently been using Goog411 (800-GOOG-411) from my mobile phone rather than traditional 411 service…  Why? Its free (not counting the use of airtime).  You can either have the information sent via SMS to your handset or they will connect you to the merchant at no cost. 

I have had great success with the voice recognition, and have only gotten one dead number when I used the service… A lot better than 800-Free-411 where the voice recognition often can’t figure out the name I am trying to look-up.

But the question is, how are they making it free?  800-Free-411 has you listen to several silly advertisements, but not Goog411…

I decided to look at the privacy policy to see exactly what  info they might be selling to make money… I think the list is acceptable for free 411 service, what say you? 


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