Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Three reasons to consider Windows Home Server

In homes today multiple computers are commonplace. The children may have laptops for school work while each parent has their own desktop. When it comes to storing files and media sharing among computers, a family may want to look into having their own dedicated home server. With Windows Home Sever, it is easier then ever to set up a server for a family home. Below are a few qualities of the Windows Home Server OS that make it desirable for home use.

File sharing made easy

With Windows Home Server every computer in the house can access the server, all the way up to ten PC's. The network administrator will have access to all of the files as well as a secure password protected folder for storing personal media and files. PC's will read the server as a regular network-formatted storage device, making it easy to clear out clutter on personal PC's.

Connect to an Xbox or PS3

The latest version of Windows Home Server includes Windows Media Connect UPnP, which makes it easy to connect to video game consoles such as the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, and once connected, movies and other media can be streamed from the home server to the consoles. This makes it a breeze to watch a movie stored on the server on a television, or play a music play list without burning it to a CD. Window Home Server's Power Pack 2 update added support for MP4 files and metadata as well, so it is even easier to share among other devices no matter what the file format.

Backups are simple for everyone in the house

Usually the main reason for having a home server is to be able to have all files backed up, and Windows Home Server makes it simple to keep all files from being lost. Daily backups can be scheduled for the whole drive on each computer connected to the server. There is also the option to exclude single folders from the backup. All files are stored as they were originally, not as backup image files, so a Word file will remain a Word file, and a jpeg will remain a jpeg. Windows Home Server also lets the administrator view the statuses of the firewall and antivirus on all computers linked to the server.

With these features, plus many more, Windows Home Server is something to look into for households with more than one computer. It helps keep all files backed up, in case of hard drive failure, and makes sharing and streaming very easy.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Quit Dealing with Old School Server Management

Server RoomHearing somebody talk about walking up to a server system to install an operating system may sound the same as somebody saying they had to get up and turn the channel on the actual television set instead of using a remote. To many, this concept may seem aged and outdated but it isn't, it is still going on today. It's actually more prevalent than you might think.

Contemporary data centers nowadays brag about high security with retina scanners, powerful magnetic locks and temperatures cold enough to make ice cubes. However, in a lot of cases these systems lack the necessary connectivity to manage all those systems remotely. Thankfully it isn't too late to fix this situation thanks to out-of-band management.

Out-of-band management involves using a dedicated server port connected to an IP network that allows administrators to work with a system regardless of the power state. To put it more simply, out-of-band management allows you to work with a system as if you had physically walked up to the actual console. You can power the system on and off, change BIOS settings and set up RAID devices using this remote management option.

It used to be that you packed up your collection of CDs, floppy disks and your laptop and headed for the data center in search of the needy server system. You would typically waste an hour gaining access to the data center floor and finding the system you needed. It also used to take a few minutes to figure out if the server you were working on was in fact the correct one and if it was cabled correctly.

Once you got started, it would generally take you around three hours, including reboots, to install the OS, patch it, configure it and ready it for remote access through VNC or Terminal Services. It was only after all of this that you could head back to your desk to finish the project that would most likely suck out the rest of your day.

Integrated Lights-out Management (ILOM) removes the need to walk to and physically touch every server system in the building. ILOM provides an integrated, free and powerful management method. ILOM comes standard with most contemporary racked and blade systems and delivers remote keyboard, video and mouse. This allows you to completely manage your system from power up, through the whole boot sequence and into the operating system.

Setting up ILOM is pretty simple although it does require a slight bit of planning. You will have to decide on a static or dynamic IP addressing for the service and if the ILOM network will be isolated or open. A static IP address requires more setup and more management but does have the advantage of having the IP address tied to a specific system for the life of that system. Dynamic addressing requires less management and setup on the system side, however, you will need a server dedicated to assign and track those dynamic addresses.

An isolated ILOM network prevents any unwanted connections by anybody who is not an administrator. If you isolate your ILOM network, it will also prevent IP addressing confusion with primary production, secondary production or backup interfaces. Data center management should only require the configuration of your server's built-in ILOM ports, so save yourself the physical trouble and get integrated lights-out management.

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