Thursday, August 25, 2011

Third world networkers view on dealing cards - or dealing with the dealt cards!

My buddy Kevo tried to show me/us how to play poker. He didn't get very far. We were all drunk by the time he started explaining texas hold'em. I hope some day he completes that lesson.

But Im on a different set of cards. Life cards. See In the game thats life I started winning early.Lost some. But a win as seen by me was rarely seen by other people. We all had different cards dealt. I still have a great set of cards - I think. I lost some along the way. Big time.!!

I saw all kinds, related to all manner of people. I did/do feel isolated, sometimes by choice - try the ccie-, a little lonely - maybe, want something better out of life than the cards that had been dealt to me.

We all lose sometimes, I know I do. And so do you. We’re all in it together to try to be a little happier in a world that’s just a little too rough on us. I'd like to be kind against all struggles create art, friends, beauty, happiness.I want to grow things, see change I've created.

It's weird I'm using a farm for life lessons. Weirder still is the amount of things learnt running a farm that are transferable to another startup. In tech this time - that explains the limited posts here.
farmken's crop

Im happy the fruits are all grown on to another phase...get them consumed:-) yeah imagine thats what this was all about...fruits:-)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Third world networkers - how to disable annoying Itunes backup on windows

Locate your iTunesPrefs.xml file.

It’s usually located in C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes or C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes.

make sure that hidden files are visible in the Windows Explorer
Backup your iTunesPrefs.xml file
    Open iTunesPrefs.xml using a capable text-editor (e.g. Notepad++, Ultraedit, but not MS Notepad)
    Search for a section called User Preferences and paste the following snippet into the User Preferences Section after the first :


     Save the file and restart iTunes. Backups should now be disabled. 

To enable backups again delete the XML Snippet from iTunesPrefs.xml file.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Third world networkers view on the data center - again

So yesterday I wore a different hat for a few minutes. I was a scribe. I was requested to just sit in and later advice the business team after a meeting they were having with one of our bigger customers. The requirement was basic, they would like to move their applications to our cloud at some point. Cloud as its commonly known is an interesting service with an even more interesting support model.

The desire for designers to avoid single points of failure for critical applications so that catastrophic errors don't occur runs deep. Such failures lead to huge financial losses and a diminished corporate brand for all parties involved.

I hope their  admins/cio has adviced the business accordingly. Since in this case I was on the provider side, I figured it might help someone if I gave a few tips on what to look out for if coming or going for critical hosting services from one of the cloud providers: Also note I am more interested in storge and networking issues in the data center for now - we just begun). If you buy some virtual machines and run applications some tips follow:

Test disaster recovery. It is probably the most difficult one but ensure that you have a solid disaster recovery plan. So lets assume you want to port/move 10 applications to the cloud:

As a client; make a thorough analysis of each application before even engaging a provider. This analysis should give direction to the service provider on how to port and test the applications in the cloud, if you'll do it, the use it as a guide.

Your plan when executed should test the basic applications in the cloud, the service provider's configuration (what is needed for all ten applications) and also the additional functionality needed for a successful disaster recovery of those applications. Sadly no one in Kenya will do this for you. Well no one that I know of.

Use whatever you get from the tests above to build an SLA. Don't blindly walk into an SLA. And don't walk out without one. Confirm in any way you can that there is at minimum architectural reliability.

Interrogate the person selling the solution, do they look clueful? Ask if you can get independent audits of the cloud infrastructure. Good providers will let you do it. What should be analyzed first? How do you gain confidence that the SLA you come up with covers all the various types of failure by the service provider?  Performance metrics are still needed for each supported application. And please ensure you have before and after porting/migrating statistics to use for comparing whether things are better or worse off.

I'll throw in some sample questions to ask and maybe just maybe someone will benefit from them:

How many vendors are used for all application storage?
Is de-duplication addressed?
How is the SAN switching done?
Is only one SAN switch vendor used for all of the applications?
How many vendors are used for data replication, encryption to encrypt data for all of the applications?
which encryption algorithm is in use, for which tool?
how many PKI vendors to manage certificates?
and lastly where are the damn certificates stored?

You can go deeper (sorry I've been working overtime trying to figure out data centers of late so this will be lengthy)

For the network find out what routers/switch are used within the data center?
are they redundant?
which firewall, IDS/IPS, load balancers, can they steer traffic between redundant data centers?
can you test this?
are the load balancers redundant?
who is/are the ISP's for internet connections, is it on redundant fiber?

As a client you at least need to know something about your apps:
what is the application's best user response time?
response time under load at a certain number of concurrent users, what is the peak number of users expected?
How long does the application need to recover from a failure before it affects your operations and leads to loss in any form? at what point do you lose your  job? get sued?:-)
Is there any component that could affect the application - eg an application tied to a mac-address?
etc etc....

Finally for each application, throw in a grid of information, maybe a row per application into the SLA. So here you probably want to have functionality requirements, performance metrics and financial penalties for the various types of downtime errors per application.

While cloud providers are not obligated to deploy identical architecture as the clients ie same products and software and models and releases as the client's, the provider must meet similar functionality and response times. Areas where this deviation is a risk needs to be documented and the risk of downtime calculated and documented. This also includes the risk of brand loss and potential for law suits.

Some performance data for each application also needs to be collected to complete the SLA. Just so you can say - hey it used to be like this, now its worse off....or better off...

This will be fun......

Monday, August 8, 2011

Third world networkers view on QOS for large capacity networks

see I've had very interesting debates on QOS. Having recently put up a +10G core, I found it hard to understand why QOS was such a big deal. We did do it, we have a very kickass QOS policy. It is even implemented and documented and alot of guys using our network mark packets appropriately.

While 'random surfing' today, turns out there's a weird phenomenon known as instantaneous buffer utilization/congestion.

This instantaneous buffer utilization can lead to a difference in delay times between packets in the same voice stream. This difference - jitter, is the variation between when a packet is expected to arrive and when it actually is received. To compensate for these delay variations between voice packets in a conversation, VoIP endpoints use jitter buffers to turn the delay variations into a constant value so that voice can be played out smoothly.

Hence the primary role of QoS in a network like ours is not to control latency or jitter but to manage packet loss. In 10GE campus networks, it takes only a few milliseconds of congestion to cause instantaneous buffer overruns resulting in packet drops. That single drop is what we take care of with QOS on a 10G core, its why we'll do it on the 40G's why we'll keep doing QOS....I still suck abit at QOS....its just too nuanced for my attention span..

Third world networkers thoughts on happy networkers

So I spent quite a bit of time last weekend with a girl I like - yes I occassionally 'hang out'. Unfortunately Im so me I ended up asking the usual 'does what you do every day bring you joy, satisfaction and happiness'.

I get really scared when answers to that question are structured areound 'things'. A house, a car, a person. Derek Siver writes:

"Most people don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing; they imitate others, go with the flow, and follow paths without making their own.  But only you are responsible for making your perfect world. No matter which goal you choose, there will be lots of people telling you you’re wrong. But it’s your dream; you’re personal dream that you’re responsible for pursuing."

When I sit with people, I listen to what they do, maybe you listen to what I do ; no  not for the 8-5 work. The discussions center around what we do after 'work' in pursuit of fulfillment. A few minutes into seating with me you realize how much I want to get into technical training.

Most of you will throw in ideas around that for me. Those aiming at cunsultancy discuss how we can work that in. So for this particular conversation the issue seemed to be how many Ideas I tend to have that never actualize. Or that I don't own a car (it never made sense to me for a long while), or a mortgage. There was visible annoyance. The answer was 'discussing them doesn't mean I want to pursue them all'. It means for the ones (ideas) I discuss with you, I'm happy if you use some or all of them to better your business or life.

This same thing happens alot when I look at someones configuration or design or code and offer improvements. It makes me happy. Having that conversation with this particular person made me yet again realize how different people are. And how much your way of thinking is shaped by school, media and well their personal fears/values.

I for instance hold very interesting views on education and what makes for a good one, home ownership, religion, politics, relationships (human relations confuse the heck out of me) and pretty much everything else. It is on a very rare day I agree with people on most issues.

The focus for me tends to be me being my best self, defining success and goals !for me, then being around people that challenge me, are better than me. They however do this after 'getting' where I'm headed. I hate arguments that feel 'text book' or main stream something like you should be married with two babies by this age, or you should own a house by now raely go down well with me. The same way you should have visited at least 10 countries by now, mastered a musical instrument, climbed at least one mountain, had a pilgrimage rarely gets understood.

And if you ever have a wonder about my worst nightmare: it is living your joyless of joyful dreams as mine goes unaccomplished.....I prefer failing at my own makes me happy - yours suck:-) because they are not mine now are they.....

Friday, August 5, 2011

Third world networkers thoughts on internet governance

So I got an invite to participate in this years IGF.I heard of the IGF last year and going by the amount of heckling, noise and politics that goes with governance especially when Kenyans get in the mix, I was not really interested. After going through previous sessions just to know what I am getting into, I was wrong on that assesment. Completely wrong.

This year it will be held in Kenya, at the UN headquarters Gigiri, this year I might just get a chance to steer debate, a chance to actually make a mark and interact with policy makers from all over the world, a chance to speak again, this is a good year.

Since an IGF is attended by a very diverse group of stakeholders, from different countries, you can expect alot of learning to happen.

So what is internet governance:
According to the Tunis  agenda:  Internet  governance is  “the  development  and
application  by  governments,  the  private  sector  and  civil  society,  in  their  respective
roles,  of  shared  principles,  norms,  rules,  decision-making  procedures,  and
programmes  that shape  the evolution and use of  the  Internet.”
(Paragraph 34, Tunis Agenda).

This year will focus alot on mobile devices and there is an IPv6 agenda. Thats probably where you'll find me making the most noise. I however am lucky in a very random aspect: I work at Safaricom and have access to data and people that analyze it. I see first hand the effect of our product in the market.

Imagine raising more than 120Million shillings for the hunger striken from several Million subscribers selflesly giving (MPESA,shortcodes, tshirts), imagine how much the internet has penetrated society just by use of cheap mobile handsets, imagine mobilizing community/county development using these devices.

At the rate we're going, we as a community can for instance vote using the internet, using our handsets, using sms for what development we want to see, we can then partner with local councils and actually use the same medium to raise money (shortcodes, mpesa etc)....

on IPv6 I have ideas on how this is likely to change things, make it more effective to use the internet, break application barriers that IPv4 imposes on application writers. Since the management of critical Internet resources is at the core of these discussions, IP obviously comes top on the list of things to be discussed. Is electricity a critical internet resource?

The internet operates in a global  space  without  a  formal  constitution  and  established  procedures, changes in the governance arrangements or the introduction of new resources almost always require experiments. Today we have had successful experiments (arpanet), silicon valley. With this in mind each  new  task  in  the  area  of  critical  Internet  resources  turns  out  to  be pioneering work with uncertain outcomes.

On IPv6, I believe the way forward is to just get on with it; all of us together. The teachers should teach it, networks should provide it to users, policy makers should ensure IPv6 is embeded in their decision making. We all need to jump together then deal with the issues as they come along. Thats how the internet grew, thats how we should move it forward.

So why is why is  the  uptake  of  IPv6  is  so  slow  and  what  are  the obstacles  that  prevent  vendors  and  operators  from  offering  IPv6? I work for an operator, I work with vendors. Apart from ignorance, the other obstacle as far as I can tell is fear.I think one of the things I hope to bring in is that:
- IPv6 works, the transition can be painless - I have some experience with this and don't mind working with whoever requires the know how.

Tunis agenda

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Third world networkers guide to a party

well the key to a good party is to ensure one of your closest friends, preferably a ccie is a DJ/musician/in marketing so you get free VIP tickets and the right to go goofy infront of a camera:-) Occassionally we do right now Im working.....zzzzzzzzzzzz