A friend of mine, lets call him Gigi, made me a very special present. He works in a Big Company, and they are swimming in money. I don't know how they internally manage their IT department but it seems that every now and then they throw away all the old hardware they have and buy new servers/routers/switches. Can't really understand why, but when the money is not an issue I guess is an easy way to plan the yearly budget.

Anyway, they were throwing away some Dell 2950 servers and he asked me if I wanted one of them. And the answer was something in the line: HELL YES!

So, right now I have an awesome 2U Dell 2950 with 4 SAS 10K disks of 300GiB, 2GB ECC RAM (but I'll probably end up with 8GB or 16GB ECC modules of RAM we have spare in the office), two power supplies, two 1Gb network adapters and two XEON 3.0GHz dual core processors (don't remember the model, I'll post it in a future post). And that machine, only for playing, is just FUCKING AWESOME!

Moreover, I told to the CTO of the company I'm working at (CAPSiDE) that I had this "little" toy and he allowed me to have it in our offices, where we have a few racks in a small CPD and we have very good Internet connectivity. So, probably I'm the luckiest guy in the World because everything has cost me less than 50€ and I have an awesome toy to play with.

My main idea is to install XEN and then I'll be able to create as many VPS as I want. Something I always wanted to learn is how to set up High Available platforms but in order to do that you need to have, you'know, different hosts for the DDBB, different hosts for the application layer, different hosts for the DNS servers, different hosts for the load balancing layer, etc, etc.... This hosts will be virtualized but for the sake of the exercise will be more than enough.

So, right now what I'm going to do? My first steps will be to test as much as I can all the hardware and play with it. I've never had the opportunity to "touch" a real server and now I have one just for me, so I want to test all different kinds of hardware RAID, I want my SO to send me an email if a HDD has failed, or if a power supply is not connected or has stopped working. I want to be able to configure RAID parameters or changing settings from the OS itself. to I also want to set up the networking interfaces using bonding.

The main idea is to have control over the hardware and set up all the possible notifications when something in the hardware is failing. Probably the final build will be a RAID5 with the 4 SAS disks and the network in bonding and nothing else.

After that, I'll install XEN, and mounting VPS with different stuff on them. I'll will explain that on the given time. Til then, expect some posts about RAIDs, SAS disk performance (when some of the drivers of the RAID has faild), etc, etc...

Any ideas about what can I do are welcome! Stay tuned!