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Life of a VB Programmer

  • November 19, 2002
  • By Sam Huggill
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Well, another day, and it is pouring downwith rain. The taxi driver didn't seem to have any change for a fiverwhen he was only driving me a few hundred yards.

Anyway, upon arriving at the building, I managed to wander throughwithout anyone checking my id! As I approached the office, I bumped intothe two guys who I was working with yesterday. They told me that we hadto carry on working with the network until it was sorted out. Apparentlythe boss had seemed a little surprised at out rapid progress that heasked what we were doing in the way of fault tolerance? (The other guyshadn't a clue, and I got the feeling that the boss didn't know either)

Fortunately I had read up on this subject before I joined (I readEnterprise Application Architecture from Wrox Press). The boss had founda package which he had forgotten to give to us when the boxes had beenin his office.

Upon opening it, I discovered a little cream coloured case - a ha! Itwas a RAID storage device that can be used for preventing data loss. Itworks by having three hard disks installed (this is for a RAID level 5system). Two of the three hard drives can be used for storage space -the other is used to automatically kick in when one of the disks fails.This way users get a constant flow of uninterrupted data.

Also in the box was a very heavy UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply).Armed with these two items, we headed down to the basement to get thingsgoing.

Setting up the RAID was very easy - although placing three 10GB harddisks in one box felt a little wasteful. The UPS was also easy toconfigure and provides a useful 20 minutes up time with a power downoption built in.

The clients were talking to the servers nicely, and so far everythingwas running fine. Our next step was to look at the software requirementsmade by each department, look at the resources we had and make decisionson how we were going to set things up - in other words, define thearchitecture that we are going to use.

Most of the software requirements were off the shelf packages and notcustom made programs - this fact alone makes things a lot easier. Theresources were mainly in front of me (the PCs) although I had been givena free hand to order new equipment if I deemed it necessary. As I sawit, the current applications didn't really require much. Possibly oneserver running a database system such as SQL Server or Oracle, butotherwise not much.

Apparently the users have been screaming for an all-in-oneapplication that combines email, contact management and otherdepartmental specific data handling. At the moment no such thingexisted, although I was looking forward to working on it. With that inmind, I needed to create an architecture that was scaleable - i.e. onethat could easily be added to. So, I decided to just keep the twoservers together and distribute the clients office by office. Then, asdifferent departments asked for different things, I could place theappropriate server (whether it would be running MTS, SQL Server or IIS)in that office.

After discussing it with the other two guys who seemed to agree thatit made sense, we relocated the servers to our office and then startedto setup the client machines. The problem was that people were stillworking and had their machines turned on. This meant that there was ashortage of power sockets so I suggested that we setup the ones wecould, and waited until people started to go home.

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