Archive for Network Administration

My Relationship with Dell is Ending

I am mourning the loss today of a very nice relationship.  I used to be a HUGE Dell fan and customer. . .but that will end today.  After what has to be the strangest interaction with the company, I am done with them.

I had a server die on Thursday morning. . .it is a production server and the power supply died.  I should have had redundant power, but this is a little server that sits in the Graphics department, maintained by a very capable man there, and went under my radar. . until now.  Our whole production process has halted because this computer is out of commission and not only won’t Dell ship me the part. . .they don’t know when or if they can!  They have one in stock. . but they can’t release it to me!!  I have a server down. . did I mention that?  Unbelievable.  I used to tell every and anyone who would listen to get a Dell, their service rocks!  No more.  Bye bye Dell.  I think I hear HP calling. . .

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Smartphone won’t sync with Exchange 2007

I really like Exchange 2007.  My most active smartphone user has a Motorola Q that uses ActiveSync and he called in a panic the other morning because for about 12 hours his phone would not sync with the server.  He could send mail out, but he couldn’t get anything new in.

My first response was to have him reset his device, but that didn’t help.  So I went to the server, not really expecting to find anything there.  What I found were two consistant error messages in the Event Logs:  Event ID 1008 and Event ID 4999.

Here is the exact error for MSExchange ActiveSync Event ID 1008:

An exception occurred and was handled by Exchange ActiveSync. This may have been caused by an outdated or corrupted Exchange ActiveSync device partnership. This can occur if a user tries to modify the same item from multiple computers. If this is the case, Exchange ActiveSync will re-create the partnership with the device. Items will be updated at the next synchronization. . .

So I went back to the server to check the settings under Manage Mobile Device and noticed that I could “Remove Mobile Device Partnership.”  Since it wasn’t working anyway, I gave it a shot.  What do you know, after the users next sync he was ready to go.  Seems the partnership had corrupted and removing it and forcing a new one fixed our issue. . for now.

A Big Move and Lots of Learning about Networking Fundamentals

I have been trying for a couple of months now to find good links and helpful information on what it takes to move a company, specifically the data center, as that is what I am responsible for.  As I move through this process though, I realize that I need to do a lot more than move some servers and routers. 

The past two days have been spent meeting with cabling companies trying to get a handle on what we need to get the the phones to ring and the computers connected to the internet and our servers.  It seems I need a cabling company to come and wire my building.  What they do is run all the wires from our server room to the rest of the building, but there is a bit more to it than that. 

There will be a demarcation point where the T1s will be dropped, I am most likely installing a T1 and a PRI, and the companies that drop those will only do that portion.  From there, I need to extend the demark to the MDF in our server room.  Because we are moving into a large warehouse, I also need to have them create an IDF and run fiber from the MDF to the IDF. 

While I am learning on the fly, I am finding it hard to find helpful articles on the web that explain this all.  Most sites focus on telephony or data networks but don’t explain how it all fits together.  If anyone out there knows of sites that explain all of this well I would love to see them.  I plan to share all I learn here, and hope that I expain it in a way that will make sense to me and others when I am done.

Firewall video and software – Systm and IPCop

I was surfing around looking for tools to help me learn more about networking and TCP/IP packets and I came across Systm.    It is a DIY show for geeks that has a bunch of shows on how to setup “geeky” stuff, like a home NAS and Media Center and yes, Firewall.  So after listening to the show on firewalls I decided that my very next project will be to setup an IPcop firewall system at home for testing and learning.  I understand from the show and by looking online that there are many people out there using it, so I should be able to setup it up and get help and learn a few things as well. 

Now if I can just dig out a complete system from my closet at home I will be all set. . .

Just Finished My First SANS Training Event

I just finished a week of SANS training in beautiful St Louis, MO and am still digesting all of the information.  I also want to hold off a full assessment until after I have actually taken the test for the GIAC certification in October, but I did want to share some general impressions.

I attended a SANS Community event, which is one of their smaller events that usually consist of just a couple of classes in a given city.  I attended the Security 401:  Security Essentials Bootcamp and got exactly what I expected from it.  I am fairly new to IT Management and even newer to IT Security and I found this class to be an excellent beginning source of information.  I have honestly found it hard to know where to start often in getting training and laying some network and security foundations, and this class did just that.  It was a very wide, or top-level view of IT Security.  I found that I learned a great deal, and came away with some tools that I am learning and will eventually use in my environment.

I was also pleasantly surprised at the knowledge level of our instructor.  I have been to many IT training classes where I have felt that the instructor did a quick reading of the material and knew only a bit more than I did on the given topic.  That was not the case with the SANS Instructor we had.  He definitely knew his material backward and forward, and had used it in the field at a consulting level and on the job.

I will know for sure how well the information was presented when I sit for the GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC) test in a couple of months, so I will post again at that time.  I will be studying for this for the next couple of months by going over the printed material that was handed out at the bootcamp in addition to going over the on-demand class material and taking the practice tests.

Must Have Book for New Admins

I have been reading a book the past couple of days called The Practice of System and Network Administration by Thomas A. Limoncelli, Christina J. Hogan and Strata R. Chalup that I really want to recommend to any new system or network administrator. I have really felt like I am all alone out there a lot over the past year and a half that I have been a new admin, and I wish I had this book a year ago. It looks to be a top level, yet very practical step-by-step guide on how to get your IT Department (no matter how big or small) into to shape. It also focuses on those areas which are important no matter what your industry. I really can’t recommend this book highly enough. I got it for the move I am planning, but I already see that it will help in many other areas as well.

Exchange Trouble Leads to Learning

Why is it that I always learn best by fire?  Why can’t I sit down with a tech book and read about issues, problems and tools BEFORE I have a fire to put out?  Oh well, I don’t.  I usually only learn tech tricks by  having to put out fires on the job.  This was the case last week when our main Exchange server stopped sending mail and started to hold all the messages in the queues. 

I had not had to track anything in the queues before this, so looking at and using the Message Tracking Center Tool was new to me.  I found some useful information on how to do this at two sites; Computer Performance and Amset.info.

But for quick information on how to get to your queues, what you should see, and some quick troubleshooting tips I recommend these sites to get you started.  And by all means, check out you queues, see how messages normally flow so that when you do  have a problem you will know how things should work and may just be able to quickly resolve your trouble.

I’m Going to Community SANS!

I am going for training finally.  I have only been in my current position for a year and a half now slugging my way through, figuring everything out on my own for the most part before finally getting approved for training.  To say that I am excited really is an understatement.

I did think that my first training would be Microsoft Certification training of some sort, but it turns out it will be SANS Institute training, and I am sooooo jazzed about it.

I will be attending the SEC401: SANS Security Essentials Bootcamp Style, which looks pretty intense, but does cover a bunch of topics that I have been trying to study and work on for the past year and a half.  I am going to be a facilitator at this event, which is really exciting and is honestly the only way my small company can afford to send me.  I will help the instructor and the people at SANS for a reduced tuition price.

Adding a Secondary Server to Symantec Corporate Version 10

Someone mistakenly made one of our oldest, most ready-to-die servers the Secondary Server at our location a year ago, so I needed to rectify that quick this week since that server is really ready-to-die now.  I could not find any great documentation really on how you go about doing that, but was able to get it working anyway.

I logged into the Symantec System Center that installed on my main server and really did almost everything from there.  I first had to unlock my server group, and then I chose Tools -> AntiVirus Server Rollout.  I followed the wizard that came up, basically I had to choose my new server, identify the group I wanted to associate with it, and then install it on the new server.  After restarting the server it was installed on, I only had to drag and drop my clients from one server to the other.  It couldn’t have been more simple.

Based on some instructions I found, I could have also installed it from a CD, but since I don’t have those here at our location, this was the way to go for me.  I am off now to disable the old server and then uninstall Symantec from that system.

Security Certifications Are the Way to Go

I read an interesting article this morning over at NetworkWorld.  It seems that while the value of many certifications is dropping, security certification value is on the rise.  For that matter, it seems demand for security related skills in general are on the rise.  For most of us in IT, that is no big surprise.  It seems there is a new data breach scandal weekly, and most of our managers are clammoring for risk assessments.

There are some specific certifications mentioned, like the Certified Information Security Manager and the GIAC Security Expert, both of which I have been thinking about myself, since my boss wants me to delve into the risk assessment process here.  I will be looking into both of these in the coming days.  I believe I have to get in a couple of years of practical experience before I really tackle either of these certs, but it is still something I can set as goal.

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