eRacks Systems Tech Blog

Open Source Experts Since 1999

from The Open Source Newsletter – July 2008

Aside from all the usual green advice, what can a conscientious SysAdmin do to save money during this time of rising energy prices and a challenging economic situation?

Here is eRacks’ top-ten list of recession-proofing strategies:

    • 1 – Update the Linux OSes if they are older than kernel 2.6.21, to take advantage of the ACPI tickless idle. Install PowerTOP (on Intel-based desktops & notebooks) or other similar tools that examine power consumption by application.
    • 2 – Basic maintenance: vacuum the vents (from the outside of the chassis, with the computer off). The buildup of dust and dirt prevents airflow. After cleaning, the systems will cool more easily. The vacuum and/or the little bottle of compressed air are your friends. A word of caution though: don’t even think about reversing the vacuum to blow the dust inside the computer case. The household dust inside the vacuum is not a good thing for the computer (or you). In fact, don’t stick the vacuum inside the computer case at all, since vacuums create static electricity which can also damage your system.
    • 3 – Re-think your network diagram. Old systems are often wasteful of energy.
      • Consider consolidating systems; Own your own virtualization system:
        eRacks/SOLO and eRacks/SUITE are capable of running several virtual machines simultaneously.

        eRacks/SOLO Virtualization Server

        Your physical host server can be configured with your choice of a virtualization host, including the freely available version of VMWare or Linux-native KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine), as well as a large number of possible virtual operating systems and applications, including web, DNS, email, proxy and other infrastructure services.You’ll save power, save money, and also allow for more centralized administration and ease of backup. eRacks will even pre-install the targeted configurations of your choice. Just ask.
      • Or take advantage of a hosting solution like Libre Hosting. Get full (root) use of your own virtual server fast. This is a great way to test out a new project, minimizing both your financial investment and configuration effort.
      • Or use newer low power servers like the eRacks/LITE, eRacks/QUIET, and any of our desktop line. eRacks will happily customize a system for low power usage, with your requirements.
    • 4 – Plan for upgrades. Buy systems that use only industry-standard components (like eRacks!) so that you can upgrade without being tied to a manufacturer and higher prices.
    • 5. Plan for efficient scaling. This depends on the most likely way(s) your company/institution would require expansion in the future. An increase in number of users, production, machine power, etc would each create different infrastructure requirements. Planning longer term, could enable growth while minimizing costs. Using hosted virtualized servers could allow for more flexibility in scaling, up and down, – very handy in peak demand time.
    • 6. Rethink security and firewalls. Use preventive measures now, rather than costly fixes later. Read summaries of firewall logs to gauge how busy your firewall system is. Consider options like eRacks’ failover redundant firewall:


eRacks/TWINGUARD Redundant Firewall

  • 7. Update your sysadmin tools. Make a bootable DVD or USB drive with your favorite sysadmin utilities on it. Save time by setting up system monitoring and detect any issues before they become big problems.
  • 8. This one is for the marketing/sales dept: Find clients that are recession-proof. Where are your main profits coming from? Do you have a few clients in markets that are recession-proof? If not how can you attract those clients, now and get on their vendor lists? – Educational institutions like Trilogy Education Services are usually somewhat stable in their purchasing because people tend to return to school in times of a recession.
  • 9. Again to the marketing guys: Globalize your products and presentation. Keep in mind that a weak dollar may increase your international customers.
  • 10. Always wise: Keep notes – keep an internal company wiki. From our experience, this can be a great tool and reference, saving time, effort and money!

Remember, recession isn’t permanent, but can be long. And playing it smart now will help, and quite possibly make all the difference.

August 8th, 2008

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