Thursday, November 29, 2007

Changed Service Providers once again

Changed from Internode to Comcen - mainly so I can access the Australian PIPE peering network unmetered again. There's simply too much useful content to be had. I'm on the Comcen 10+10GB 8000/386kbit/sec plan now.

Also because I was using Internode's NodePhone service I changed VoIP providers too. So I went with MyNetFone. No problems thus far - quality is fine and the price is good.

The transition from Internode to the latter services took no more than two days. I cancelled the accounts on Monday noon and was changed over and functioning by Thursday noon.

OpenDNS Media Release

Thought I'd link this here:

Australia Zoo Conserves Bandwidth, Enjoys 100 Percent Network Uptime with OpenDNS

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A new era of IT focused policy

Firstly I am excited at Australia's change of government, especially with fellow Queenslanders Kevin Rudd as PM and Wayne Swan as Treasurer. I'm sure they will do an excellent job of managing the country and will prove that QLD can produce what it takes. I found that this article gave words to my thoughts.

Now one of the most interesting topics of this election that I found was that Information Technology became a key policy area for all parties. Sure in the last few elections it was there but it was always one of those background things that parties flaunted so they could look 'modern.' However this time IT was front and center.

Labor brings with it the proposal to roll out a national broadband network that will provide Fibre to the Neighborhood (FTTN) to 98% of the population, and provide broadband services to the remaining 2% via wireless and other alternatives. More information about the policy is available on the ALP website here.

As part of my usual blogging I will be covering the progression of this new broadband network. To provide an industry perspective by offering my opinions.

For starters I believe the catalyst for this initiative is the selling of Telstra without splitting it up. In my opinion it was wrong to sell Telstra as a single entity. The government should have split Telstra's retail and wholesale operations first and kept the infrastructure at the very least. This would have provided exactly what this new ALP policy is going to provide - a state owned communications infrastructure that is accessible to anyone for cost price plus future investments.

If you want a example of a similar exercise you need not look further than Queensland where the state government have maintained ownership of the electricity network and generators while privatising the retail operations.

So what's done is done and the government won't get Telstra back. So this leaves the task of producing an alternative communications infrastructure in the hope of removing Telstra's monopoly particularly in rural areas where the private sector can not easily move into.

Going into detail; a key term used by the ALP in this policy is "in partnership with the private sector" as this is crucial for the success of this project. There are many organisations that are interested in the removal of Telstra's monopoly - reducing wholesale rates for network access suits anyone who is trying to compete in a tight market. With this support the ALP gain the additional funds necessary to build out the network nation wide - it has been said that it could cost an extra $20 billion on top of the initial $4.7 billion (I'll find the source of that claim...).

However I believe the policy is lacking detail with regard to Australia's international connections. Our links to other continents are already reaching their peak capacity and to increase the available bandwidth throughout the country will only make matters worse. These links are certainly not cheap and to simply rely on supply and demand to upgrade them will shift the monopoly from the access and distribution back on to the core supply. Its akin to building a million homes and running power to them all and not bother building more power plants until the demand, thus price, is through the roof.

Interesting times ahead.

Broadband: an election issue (Whirlpool, 23rd November 2007)
Federal Labor Broadband Policy (ALP Website, 21st March 2007)

Posting profile pic here so I can link it :/

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Now we're getting somewhere

It has been a hectic few weeks for me. Major projects for the period include the preparations for Steve Irwin Day, the roll out of the new Telstra Next IP managed WAN and the slowly but surely deployment of a campus wireless network.

I'm also feeding in various nifty services into the Zoo network - such as a OpenFire Jabber server, Twiki wiki, One or Zero Helpdesk and a few other things. Although I'm going to hold off on their deployment to users until I have a LDAP directory of some sort in place for all these things to authenticate against.

I updated the firmware on my Sony Ericsson P1i too - the difference in performance and stability is night and day - and it was pretty good to begin with! The Opera browser and unified messaging apps have been improved quite a bit. I'm actually encoding TopGear episodes to 3gp format on my MythTV box and watching them during my lunch breaks on it - I didn't think I'd be using it like that. nb: I could just watch the xvid/dvix encoded eps but they're a tad large...

Steve Irwin Day
Steve Irwin Day went well as far as the web servers went - they handled a doubling of traffic without a hitch. I will be sad to see the replication servers go, they've done their job well and I'm kinda proud of them. I'm starting an upgrade of massive proportions of the two main web servers this week - hopefully once I'm done they'll be more than capable of handling the load without the need for replicas. More on that later.

Telstra NextIP
I've cut everything over to the zoo's shiny new Telstra Next IP WAN (to use their marketing spin). Speeds are good, response times are awesome. I'm also using Telstra's Proxy Caches too as they're very snappy and are used by many - plus there's a discount on data used through them apparently.

As part of the WAN, each SHDSL connected site has a managed Cisco 1801 router and SHDSL TA, some yumcha device. The NextG connection is as per usual, but when it is connected it has a L2TP into the WAN and thus has access to all the same routes as the other sites. I've set up Mikrotik routers at each site including the NextG connection - the Zoo has 2 x Yawarra WRAP1-2s in a rack enclosure still, Mooloolaba has a Yawarra WRAP1-1 with wireless and WhaleOne has a Mikrotik RB133 in an indoor enclosure.

Campus Wireless
Not too much progress - the Admissions indoors area now as its own AP and the Taj (crocosium buidling) offices have coverage too. I'm waiting for a sparky to run new cabling to key points so I can locate a few more APs in good coverage areas. Also waiting on a $1k order for various bits and pieces from the RFShop so I can start making up tails and prepare the splitters for installation. Also getting some antennas from them that are cheap and appear to have excellent performance - looking forward to trying them out.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Symbol/Motorola WS5100

If you use these Wireless switches and are still running pre-3.0 firmware, UPDATE! Huge changes made and I suspect it's Motorola weaving its magic. I had all sorts of issues running with Spectralink VoWiFi sets and coverage - updated firmware to and everything is happy now.

Other benefits of the firmware is that the CLI now mimics Cisco's IOS in many ways and the Java/Web interface is greatly improved - information is readily available and the controls make sense...

It's changed my view on this kit I was almost about to turf it in exchange for some Cisco gear or even Mikrotik (but I didn't really want to configure each AP individually).