Monday, June 23, 2008

Public Speaking

This weekend just past, I gave a presentation to about 20 odd people on the joys of Nagios, the open source server and network monitor.

This is probably the first bit of proper public speaking that I have done in a very long time.

Before I actually gave the presentation, I was so nervous, looking round, catching glimpses of other peoples presentations, vision based tracking, rapid web service development in rails.

I just thought, wow these people are really serious about this, should I even be here?

The answer was, hell yeah, the people in the room (including the authors of the two topics ^^^) obviously wanted to hear something about it otherwise they would be out getting coffee or something similar.

So a scary experience turned out to be really worthwhile and a great way to meet new people, BarCamp '09 here I come (just need to figure out a topic!)

PS once I started speaking I was fine, the most of the nerves left me, except of course when my remote started to misbehave....

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tech I Touch #1

This is a new series of blog entries about interesting tech (to me anyway) that I come across in my day-to-day life.

They will probably be sporadic entries as most of the tech that I come across, I've either used it already or it doesn't interest or intrigue me.

This one will be about the Dyson hand dryer. Please bear with me on this, I know this sounds like a deathly boring object but I found it interesting as it was a novel twist on existing technology that, to be quite honest, only did a passable job, usually resorting to rubbing hands on your trousers. Or trying to find not quite environmentally friendly paper towels.

They dyson machine is quite different, rather than a straight down heated airflow, it has a semi-enclosed area that you put your hands into and then draw them out slowly.
A high pressure stream of cold air pushes the water off your hands from the base of your palm up to your fingertips, 1 pass, maybe 2 is all that it took for soaking wet hands to be bone dry.

Here's a linky Dyson AirBlade

What I found interesting was that it used cold air rather than the usual heated airstream. This in itself has to be more environmentally friendly and safer as there is no wasteful heating element.

There are more details at the link above, including a cost-saving calculator.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Monitor Dell Servers Running Windows Server Using Nagios and SNMP

Things I use in this entry:

Nagios 2.9
Dell OpenManage Server Administrator
Nagios plugin
Windows Server 2003

At present, the servers that I am responsible for are monitored from a 30,000' view, its getting progressively closer to the ground and services or more precisely groups of services are being monitored. For instance, there are several services that our exchange server depends on but I don't want to and don't think it is necessary to report on each one directly, a better approach IMO is to use nc_net on each windows server to be monitored then have one service to view these as a single point of failure.

I had been asked to look at monitoring the physical hardware of each server and the only real way to do this would be using SNMP and the Dell OpenManage Server Administrator tools.

Installation Instructions

1. Windows Server has SNMP available as an additional built-in component, it can be installed using Add/Remove Windows Components under Management and Monitoring tools.
Feel free to install all of these as most of them are useful but for our purposes, only the installation of the Simple Network Management Protocol component is required.

2. Install the Dell OpenManage Server Administrator software found here

3. Open up services.msc and get the properties for the SNMP agent, click on the security tab, then untick the send authentication trap.
In the upper section, click on add an SNMP community (as read-only), remember this name as you will need it later.
In the lower section add the address of your Nagios as one of the accepted hosts. Make sure to leave in localhost, or if you aren't paranoid (AND WHY NOT????) you can tick the box saying accept from any host.

4. Go to Nagios Exchange and download to your Nagios server into /usr/local/nagios/libexec (default config assumed)

5. chmod +x that file and test your connection to the SNMP enabled server using snmpwalk -v 2c -c COMMUNITYNAME HOSTNAME .
It should return SNMPv2-SMI::enterprises.674.10892.1.700. = STRING: "CPU Planar"
SNMPv2-SMI::enterprises.674.10892.1.700. = STRING: "Ambient"
SNMPv2-SMI::enterprises.674.10892.1.700. = STRING: "BP Bottom Temp"

If that is successful, run this command
and this will return any critical errors on your server, for example
Power Supply 2 is critical

You can then set this up as a service command where you can have the SNMP community set already.