Author Archive: Ric Moseley

June 30, 2011

Having a Computer Guy in the House

This SoftLayer Blog entry actually comes to us from Kate Moseley (Age 10), daughter of VP of Network Engineering Ric Moseley.

I think it is cool that my dad is a computer guy that works for SoftLayer because he is always able to fix our computers, TVs, and anything electronic. His job is to order and fix computer networks. He also likes messing with anything technical at home including iPods, iPhones, computers, TVs, etc.

My dad is always working so hard to earn money for our family. Sometimes he's so busy emailing people at work that when you ask him a question, it's like he can't even hear you. I also think that it's cool that he gets to travel to a different state almost every month it seems like. I love going to my dad's office because I get to see what it's like working in an office with so many people in such a busy place.

My dad goes to many meetings with his boss, Lance, and the rest of the staff. When he's not at his office, he's still working really hard at home! Sometimes he stays up till 4 o'clock in the morning to help fix things at his work. One time he got a call while we were on vacation saying that a router was down at the data center and he needed to come back ASAP! So he packed up his bags and headed back to Dallas! Sometimes we don't even get to sit down and have an actual meal as a family because he always misses dinner and sometimes he's on a conference call for more than 2 hours at a time.

My dad used to work at The Planet. He and 9 other people came up with the company called "SoftLayer." SoftLayer recently merged with The Planet, and now they are one big company. His company is always getting bigger, so almost every year they have to move offices to a different location. My dad loves his job because he gets to interact with one of his favorite things: Technology. SoftLayer has given my family an opportunity to do many things in life that we would not ever have had the chance to do.

Someday I hope to be a part of SoftLayer just like my dad is today.

- Kate Moseley

If you share Kate's hope to one day be a part of the SoftLayer team, visit the SoftLayer Careers page. We have more than 50 positions available in Dallas, Houston, Washington, D.C., Seattle, San Francisco and Amsterdam. As Kate explained, SoftLayer is growing like crazy, so whether your background is in Finance, Technical Support, Facilities, Human Resources, IT, Marketing, Sales or Development, we want you to join us!

December 24, 2009

The Power of Christmas

The Power of Christmas

Putting up Christmas lights this year was a serious beating. I kept blowing breakers due to the amount of lights I put up in response to my wife’s request for ‘more lights!’ It seems like every year things get bigger and bigger (like most things in America – trucks, combo meals, taxes, and the deficit). The problem is there is only so much power in convenient areas of my house and those locations don’t have enough power to run my lights because they are shared with things inside the house. My front porch outlet ties in with my garage outlets so every time we open up the garage door, the breaker blows and the Christmas lights on the front of the house go out. I got tired of resetting breakers and I ended up running 2x 20amp 110v dedicated feeds to my roof and to the front yard.

As I was putting the lights up, I found myself doing power calculations in my head. I multiplied the amount of lights I put up by the watts each bulb consumes to get the total watts. Then I took the total watts and put it into this conversion tool (http://www.mhi-inc.com/Converter/watt_calculator.htm) to calculate what they use in a Kilowatt hour. I have timers setup to turn on the lights from 6pm to 11pm (CST) so that is 5 hours a day. I plan to run them from December 8th through January 3rd which is 27 days totaling 135 hours of run time. Take the Kilowatt hour the lights generate times the hours of operation and you get the total Kilowatt hours used for the holiday season. I was then curious how much this was going to cost me (I am a cheap bastard) so I took out my electric bill (TXU, yes I am paying too much) and took what they charge me for a Kilowatt hour and got the dollar figure it costs to run the lights. I was surprised it is not as much as I thought considering how much light my house now generates. It lights up the neighborhood like the Griswold’s house in Christmas Vacation <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097958/> . I would not be surprised if you can now see my house from the space shuttle.

I don’t envy Softlayer’s operation guys because they do these types of power calculations (albeit on a much grander scale) on a daily basis. They have to figure out what types of servers with different components (CPU, drives, memory, raid cards) can go into a single rack to insure that power strips are not blown. Some people don’t understand that you can’t just fill a rack up with 44 1U (or 22 2U) servers and turn them on. You have to carefully plan down to the watt how many of each type of server can go into a rack without overloading circuits. You also have to take into account customer upgrades and make sure there is enough headroom for power spikes upon booting. The math involved in my yearly Christmas light escapade made my head hurt; I can’t imagine what Robert and Brad go though. Hats go off to them. My head would have exploded by now….

Here is the math (rounded):

15 ½ stands of C9 Christmas lights each with 25 bulbs = 385 bulbs
385 7 watt bulbs = 2695 watts
2695 watts = 2.695 Kilowatt hours (from http://www.mhi-inc.com/Converter/watt_calculator.htm)
2.695 Kilowatt hours multiplied by (5 hours a day for 27 days = 135) = 364 total Kilowatt hours
364 total Kilowatt hours times $0.12 = $44

So lighting my house for one month actually uses significantly more electricity than running a server in a SoftLayer data center for the same period of time.

January 5, 2009

Like Santa, DOS Does Not Take Christmas Off

One would think that on holidays, DOS attacks (Denial of service attacks) would be lower than usual. Historically speaking, holidays and major events such as the Super Bowl, traffic patterns and ticket activity are typically lower than usual. Based on that statistic, one might think that the number of DOS attacks, port scans, and general mischief / hacking would be down as well. Such is not the case unfortunately. Here during the joyful holidays, the Internet brings us yet another present… one of DOS attacks and HTTP floods. Below is a breakdown of DOS attacks greater than 500 Mbps or 100Kpps (packets per second):

12/23 – 8 attacks

12/24 – 6 attacks
12/25 – 12 attacks

12/26 – 7 attacks

12/27 – 8 attacks

Based on the information above, we can surely see that Christmas, the day of giving, has presented us with a variety of attacks to break down into detail. If we look at them based on time, we find the following:

3:45am – 1.64Gbps (1638.5Mbps)
12:20pm – 2.56Gbps

12:40pm – 2.56Gbps

1:20pm – 2.35Gbps

1:35pm – 193Kpps (193,000pps) 

2:10pm - 2.04Gbps 

2:20pm – 2.26Gbps

6:00pm – 186Kpps

6:20pm – 804Mbps

6:55pm – 552.9Mbps

7:11pm – 212Kpps

7:11pm – 578.8Mbps

DOS Attacks

One can deduct that this is due to the fact that the people initiating these attacks do not celebrate Christmas or have excess time on their hands because of their time off. They might also do this on a day that they think you are most vulnerable like a holiday or off- hours. Fortunately here at Softlayer we have an extensive automated DOS system comprised of multiple Cisco Anomaly Guards driven by an anomaly detection system using Arbor Peakflow SPs, flow-tools, and a variety of internally developed defense protocols. We have three (3) 24x7 Network Operation Centers (NOCs) that that are prepared to handle these situations as they arise. So what is my point… not really sure because I am not trying to sound like a commercial. But you need to choose your hosting provider wisely and make sure they have the ability to react to DOS attacks at any time, any day, during any event. DOS does not take time off… neither should your provider.

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July 25, 2007

The OSI Model - Reworked

The Open Systems Interconnection Basic Reference Model (OSI Model) or 7-layer model has been around for decades. It was actually developed in 1977 by the ISO as an abstract model of networking protocols which is divided into seven layers. Each layer interacts with the layer beneath it or above it depending in the directionality of the conversion. The 7-layer model was written from a broader point of view and in today's world is not really used as it was intended. The most common protocol and the one most of us have heard of is the Internet protocol know as TCP/IP. The TCP/IP model only uses four of the layers to more simplify the architecture making it streamlined and easier for most to understand. Here are both models and a brief description and example of each.

OSI Model (7 layer)

  1. Physical – The electrical and physical connections for devices (example: wires, electrical signals, hubs, network cards)
  2. Data Link – Functional means of transferring data between network devices via switches and protocols (example: Ethernet, Token-Ring and switches)
  3. Network – This layer is responsible for transferring data between multiple networks via routing protocols (example: Internet Protocol (or IP), ARP, and RIP)
  4. Transport – this layer provides a reliable transparent transfer control of data between hosts (example: TCP and UDP)
  5. Session – This layer controls the connections between hosts. Establishes, maintains, and terminates connections between hosts. (example: NetBIOS and DNS)
  6. Presentation – This is the layer the data is transformed and formatted to provide a standard interface for the Application layer (example: ASCII to XML conversion)
  7. Application – Provides services and data to user defined applications (example: RPC, FTP, HTTP)

 
TCP/IP Model (4 layer)

  1. Network Access – This is the physical layer like cables, hubs, switches, and routers necessary for communications
  2. Internetworking – This is the IP address and layer that allows hosts to be able to find one another on the Internet
  3. Transport – Connection protocols like TCP and UDP operate here. This layer deal with the opening, maintaining, and closing connections between hosts
  4. Process/Application – High level protocols like HTTP, FTP, SMTP, POP3 operate

Back in the day when I got started in the networking field for a small ISP in Dallas, I had to study the OSI model for Cisco exams. I had to use anagrams to remember the different layers such as (P-D-N-T-S-P-A) "Please Do Not Throw Sausage Pizza Away" or in reverse (A-P-S-T-N-D-P) "All People Seem To Need Domino's Pizza" so I could keep them all straight. Once I was actually starting to get my hands wet in the field, I found the OSI model to come in handy when trying to troubleshoot networking issues. I had to morph the definitions of the layers to fit my needs, and used them as a daily reference on how to isolate issues and come to a resolution by stepping up and down the layers. Here is what I used to simplify my life when troubleshooting a dial-up connection (analog, ISDN and sometimes a T1).

Network Troubleshooting (7 layer/step)

  1. Physical layer – Is there good working cable between point A and point B? (the router and switch let's say). Have you tested the cable to make sure it works?
  2. Data link layer – Is there a link light on the router or switch? Is it plugged into the correct ports on both ends? Are the port speeds and duplex settings on either end matched up? (10/full, 100/full or 1000/full)
  3. Network layer – Can I ping across the link from the router to the switch? Am I using the correct IP address information?
  4. Transport – Am I able to get out of the local network? Is there a firewall that might be blocking something? Is the default gateway setup correctly?
  5. Session – Am I able to reach (ping) the end host I are trying to reach? (the web server in this case)
  6. Presentation – Is the service I am trying to reach installed and running? (like IIS or Apache) Is there a firewall blocking inbound requests? (hardware or software)
  7. Application – Is there actually content on the server to present? (HTML pages) Does the web server config have the appropriate permissions applied and pointed to the correct directory for content?

I know this might seem a little simplistic, but sometimes getting back to the basics is the best way to solve problems. It is also an effective way to teach people interested in networking how to troubleshoot issues that come up in our industry on a daily basis. I hope you find this approach useful and apply it in your environment.

A funny little known factoid is that when we started this company a couple years ago, the OSI model actually came up when designing our logo. When brainstorming and jotting down ideas one of our founders (guess who?) used the 7 Layer theme to design our current logo. Shows you how influential the OSI model has been in today's Internet driven world.

Let's see what anagrams you can come up with for "P-D-N-T-S-P-A" or "A-P-S-T-N-D-P" Give me your best shot. (keep it clean though!)

-Ric

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