When I first began developing web applications, it was with .net 4.0, gridviews, formviews and the Microsoft Ajaxtoolkit. Since I was learning on the job, Google was my first resource when stuck on a problem and I would consistently come across unhelpful articles for RadGrid and other Telerik tools.
Now, I have Telerik ASP.NET AJAX controls at my disposal, purchased for the current web application I’m building and I’m finding them to be such an amazing resource.
Being able to quickly build something like the RadPivotGrid from scratch is an empowering experience. In some circles I’ve seen the Telerik tools get a bad rap for being buggy or heavy unnecessary code, but as a part-time developer they are quite amazing. These two screenshots show grids of information that took less than a day to build.
Writing code for all these features based on the Ajax GridMenu would have been horrible and taken a drastically long time.
The Telerik support and forums are fantastic as well. A couple of times I’ve had an issue trying to build something and submitted a support ticket. I had a response a few hours later, and it actually was a helpful response!
Overall, if you’re a web developer and are building ASP.NET applications, check out the Telerik tools, they’re worth the investment.
Lately I have been doing some planning for budget season, and thinking about the medium-term future and where I’d like to take my infrastructure
A big part of this is storage, and my company is in a bit of an odd place in that we’re growing so fast we need to add to our MD3220i SAN, but the MD3220i itself has an expiring warranty in December 2015. I feel like it would be a waste of money to add a disk shelf in 2014 to just have it go unused by 2015.
To address this I began with my Dell team, and had a product specialist in the office today to go over their mid size and enterprise storage products: Equallogic and Compellent. He did an excellent job in making it clear the advantages of a ‘frameless’ storage infrastructure over a ‘framed’ one like we’re in now.
Since then (only a few hours ago really) my mind has just been buzzing at all the possibilities and Projects that this meeting has kickstarted.
In the form of one long run-on sentence:
If we upgrade our storage next year to an Equallogic we can utilize the storage tiering to reduce rack space and power use while maintaining performance and increasing capacity, while at the same time decommissioning old hardware (our MD3000) and re-using our slightly old hardware (MD3220i) for purposes such as backup and disaster recovery, which we’re looking at something like AppAssure or Veeam of Unitrends to handle as long as we have the appropriate disk space, which needs to be shared with Hyper-V Replica for DR purposes, because I’m severlely lacking in that area right now which is dangerous but can be solved with a multi-tier backup and DR plan of having storage on the LAN AND offsite with replication of the backup database and Hyper-V Replica but this requires a cluster upgrade to Server 2012 R2, which would be nice anyways because then I can do live VHDX expansion to avoid having to disrupt my file server because the less off-hours maintenance I have to do the better so that I can use my time doing things like analyzing performance benefits and presenting to the Executive why we need to do all this stuff RIGHT NOW.
Since May I’ve been struggling with a very odd issue with the Sonicwall NSA 2400 in my head office. It was first discovered when our VPN’s kept going down without warning, multiple times per day.
After some internal investigation, my team noticed a pattern; one of us was trying to configure SSL-VPN for the first time, and every time they made a change to the settings, our X2 interface went down.
Only X2 went down though; we have X1 connected to an entirely different ISP, and it never had any issue. Unfortunately X2 was the interface providing connectivity for all our site-to-site VPNs, as we well as our external client-facing services.
I narrowed down how to replicate the issue, and discovered that any change to a NAT policy caused it, as well as other random settings changes. However firewall access rules did not impact X2 connectivity.
I could verify the issue by pinging my X2 gateway from the Sonicwall. Before enabling/disabling a NAT Policy, the ping was successful. However as soon as I made a change, ping timed out.
Connectivity was automatically restored after 5-6 minutes; there was nothing I could do to force traffic to resume.
I got in touch with my ISP but they confirmed that it wasn’t a problem on their network.
I had a ticket open with Sonicwall for quite some time, and diligently followed their directions, including wiping the Sonicwall and starting from factory defaults (that didn’t work).
Next they asked me to reconfigure the link on X5 to replace X2, but that didn’t work either.
After a few delays in troubleshooting, it was recommended to do a hard-reset; boot into safe mode, upgrade to 5.9 firmware and then reset to factory defaults. Apparently the first reset to defaults was considered a ‘soft reset’ and isn’t as effective. To be honest, I don’t understand how a hard reset could resolve an issue like this, but I was willing to give it a shot.
After planning a 2 hour maintenance window, I began the hard reset procedure. When the Sonicwall came back up in Safe Mode, I upgraded to 5.9 firmware and booted to factory defaults. Then I reconfigured the LAN and WAN interfaces, and tested my original issue. Success! X2 didn’t go down.
I was really hoping to avoid a full reconfigure from scratch, so after my successful test I imported my most recent config backup and crossed my fingers that the problem wouldn’t return. After the reboot I disabled a NAT policy, and determined that X2 stayed up the entire time. Success again!
Overall, I was very pleased with Sonicwall support. Despite the fact that they couldn’t pinpoint the problem to a resolvable issue, they were always quick to respond and understanding that I needed to schedule maintenance windows for any work on the device. Sonicwall gets a bad reputation in some IT circles but I will have no hesitation in purchasing additional units and recommending them to others.
I am by no means a “web developer“, however I have spent a significant amount of my time this year building web applications for my company.
I am by no means a “lego designer“, however I have spent a significant amount of my time this year building whatever my son asked me to build.
Through these two experiences I have learned that they are both very similar.
It starts with an idea; something that catches my attention, something useful or productive, or just fun.
From there I begin building, but rarely is the building linear. A piece here, a piece there, a section at a time, the building begins.
Building takes time, and during that time I always come up with enhancements and ways to make it better. The scope changes and grows but it is usually for the better.
Of course, even when the project is incomplete, I start thinking about how it looks. I smooth out the rough edges, inspect the symmetry, and makes sure it moves the way I want it to.
Eventually I begin looking at security; making sure the project won’t break, or be broken into. I test it again and again, and I get other people to look at it.
I take a lot of joy knowing that I’m creating something. That’s a little different than a typical System Administrator responsibility, and it is something I’m thankful I have the opportunity for. Whether it’s a line-of-business application that will be used by my entire company, or a 2 foot robot my 5 year old will play with for 30 minutes before destroying; it is a lot of fun.
I had a strange issue with one of my branch offices, where they would lose access to local resources and external Internet sites whenever our Site-to-Site VPN with the head office went down.
I spent around 3 hours troubleshooting this issue, desperately looking for a logical cause. It wasn’t until I paid closer attention to the DNS settings that were being received from the DHCP server did I notice that the primary DNS nameserver was a legacy domain controller within the branch office that no longer existed, and the secondary DNS was a domain controller in our head office, across the VPN.
When the VPN link went down, the clients had no resolvable DNS servers, and thus couldn’t access anything except by direct IP.
When I discovered this, it was a quick fix that brought services back online promptly.
Unfortunately it is all too often that I dive into a problem looking for a cause that is complex without seeing the simple issue right in front of me. I need to learn to be a little more methodical in my problem solving, and start with Layer 1 first.