Last Good Quote: Son's are the seasoning on our lives. - Someone on Facebook

Thursday, July 9

CIFS, SANS and NAS for the Non-Techie

How to explain a CIFS, SANS and NAS to a non-techical person...

Be forewarned a lot is lost in translation, but I think I have the majority of it correct. Do your own research if it is that important. This was quickly written with a humorous mind.

CIFS are the next generation of SMB protocols. To understand a CIFS one must first understand SMB.

SMB is a way for networked machines (computers and printers) to talk and share files with one another. If a computer has SMB "turned on" it will periodically shout out on the network that it is available and ready. This is known as broadcasting. It provides a nice way for computers to find each other.

Think of a dark basketball gym, you and a few friends are standing in the dark and you have to find each other. You do this by shouting till you can find the one you want to talk to.

This works fine, until your friend list gets a little long, say 21 people. Suddenly you notice that when you shout it's hard to hear the reply amongst all the other shouts.

This is what happens with SMB when you have more than 20 machines on the network. It gets worse as you add more machines. There are ways around the problem, but usually the solution is not elegant.

Being the solution finders that we are, we (programmers) thought there had to be a better way. Thus CIFS was born. It was like SMB, think shouting in the dark, but had a number of features that made it easier, think flash lights and fire. Well maybe not fire.

The rules of CIFS live within a Microsoft application called SMB 2.0. The most interesting tool/addon that CIFS provides is the ability to share its file system and structure with other machines that could understand it.

Enter the SAN

Though you might be told differently, SANS are large dumping grounds for data. Anyone with proper access and authentication can dump a file in the playground. Anyone (or thing) with proper access could pickup the file and do things with it. The coolest thing about a SAN is that you can have multiple machines pick up the file at the same time, you can copy the data multiple times, you can backup a SAN while it is being used. All these things that make your system admin's life a lot easier.

Usually, though not all the time, SANS also have a plug and play feature to them. Plug and play sounds cool, but all that means is you can think of it as a flash drive. Except that the flash drive can be as big as a house. Very handy when your fortune 500 financial server dies and you have to move all the data to the next one.

SANS come in handy when you have 300 machines responsible for handing out the same document to a few million folks. Mostly cause you only have to store the document in one location.

SANs also come in handy when your not quiet sure how much data you will need to save. You can give a group of computers one SAN and say hey you can only save a few 1,000 GB of data in this SAN, I know you have to share but at least it's more than the silly 20 GB on your hard drive. Plus...well you can share your iTunes with everyone in the office. Oh that made you sit up huh.

Continuing...A SAN sits on it's own machine/computer that handles all of the a fore mentioned coolness. Using CIFS, or SMB 2.0, or as some folks call it Samba, allows the SAN to shout to other machines that it is available. The SAN can also hand out it's file structure, you can think of this as a Map of where and how to get to all of its goodness.

This communication is where CIFS comes into play. It easily allows all of the goodness of SANS to go cross network and enables multiple machines to easily access and consume data from the SANS.

As an FYI a NAS and a SAN provide similar to the same function but with different technical implementations. Personally, I think it ironic that one spells the other backwards; this suggests that one solution is worse than the other. If you had to buy one, I'd by a NAS...but that is a different subject.

Friday, July 3

The Snow Day - From the mind of a 6 year old

I write this in hopes that my two sons will read as they get older. Maybe it will help them understand the quirkiness of their father. I hope it puts a smile on your face boys. I love you both. Be Aware: Dad (me) has a faulty memory so while some things may not be factually acurate, this is how I remember them.

I was born in January and grew up in Tacoma Washington, a town near Seattle. At that time, and probably to this day, it snows a good bit. On my fifth or sixth birthday, lets just make it easier and say it was my sixth, we had a pretty good snow storm blow through.

It was the kind of day that a kid loves. Snowing outside, not a lot of wind, the snow is the soft kind that makes great snowmen and provides just the right amount of cushion to jump off the front porch. Which, by the way, I was forbidden to do but being six and knowing Mom was always wrong I did it anyway.

Mom kept the hot cocoa coming, so I remember alternating between the running in the snow and sipping hot brew at the fireplace. The easy life of a kid.

At the time my father was in the army but was on leave so was home. This was a highly unusual event, but made for a great day even better. Because as all six-year-olds know, when Dad is home all rules are open for new interpretation.

Dad and I spent the better part of the morning building a snowman. I gotta say Dad knew what he was doing. This snowman must have been 6 feet tall and about 4 feet wide at the base. We actually carved arms out of some icy snow and put them on thing. It come out pretty muscular and hulky looking. I remember being a tad bit frightend as it was so very very big. Remember I was six so I was still coming to grips with how tall adults were. (Side Note: Do you remember in 1st grade, how big the 5th graders seemed...giants they were. Or maybe that was just me.)

As I was saying before, it was my birthday and we had our little family celibration in the living room. After the cake my mom wipped a bed sheet off of my present, which was sitting in the corner. HOLY MOLY, I had gotten a Green Machine.

Now, let me enlighten you as some of the newer generation may not know what this awe-inspiring vechicular man-child toy is all about. Back in the day, big wheels were the state of the art way to travel for a six year old. (I still think they should be, but times change). A big wheel is like a tricylce except it has a huge wheel in front and was a low rider...sort of.

Well, the Green Machine, was the cadalliac of Big Wheels. Green and slick, it did not have a true wheel, instead you used these levers to spin the beast left and right. It was as tall as or bigger then me, and I could bareley touch the peddles. It was great for donuts and drifting though.

Now my Mom and Dad were never well off, so Mom had gotten a used one from the thrift store. (remind me to tell you some of my thrift store stories). So yeah, it was a little used. But hey this beautifull, speed demon of a machine was MINE and mine alone.

About 10 seconds after the un-vieling I was out the door. Now, use your imagination and paint a picture for yourself...Your looking at a street, covered in about 2 feet of snow. The side walks are sholved, but some of the snow has melted on them so thier pretty slick. We also lived on a pretty good sized hill. The hill stretched about 5 blocks and was probley at a 20+ degree angle. We were about 75% up the hill, so there is a long way down.

I'm slipping and sliding all over the side walk, my Dad's trying to show me how the levers work, but I won't stop peddling so he can't quite show me what I need to know. But I'm a clever kid so eventully I think I have the hang of it. Sorta.

I think at this point Dad got a little disgusted and figures he would let me do my own things. He goes to play with my younger siblings.

I in my infinite wizdom as a six year old, think that all I need is some momentum. Speed and momentum and then this Green Machine has to go stright.

So I push this thing, which is almost as big as me, up the hill about a block. Now this is the part that I remember most vividly about this day. I'm sitting on this thing, I can barely see over the levers and the wheel. I'm in the middle of the sidewalk and I'm looking down the street. The sidewalk looks like some type of roller coaster. A dark, icy wet rollercoaster ... with snow bumpers on the side to keep me on the track. At this point I begin to have second doubts.

But then I see my Dad, he's just noticed that I'm not "in the yard". He turns and yells "Markus", this startles me a bit, I lift my feet and ....... we ........ are ......... OFF!!!!

Fast and faster, At T minus 4 seconds I'm going to fast to bail out. I grab a lever. The beast scoots towards the road. Dad runs out waving at me to stay out the road. I pull the other level. The beast scoots toward the yard. I'm thinking "nice, this might work"...then I glance stright and realize that the sidewalks goes on for about 3 blocks, an eternity, and it is .....all .... down... hill!

A moment of panic sets in...I grab both levers and pull at the same time. The beast of a machine goes into a spin, throwing me out like a snowball shoot from a sling. I hit the snow bank and kinda... sorta... launch over it. Only to see the 6 foot tall GIANT CHILD EATING SNOWMAN looking to eat me. Screaming, I face-plant into it's enourmous stomache.

Dad's running over, but slips and falls and I guess he nudges the snowman because at this point it's arms fall off. Suddenly it wasn't quite so scary a snowman.

I remember laughing a lot, Dad not so much.

I don't know what happend to the Green Machine.

But to this day, I love the snow and I love birthdays.