Feb 062015

Network[1] Everybody hates servers going offline. Especially email servers. Or web servers. Or MY SERVER! Now I prepared for a lot of things with my home server, I prepared for power failures, storage failures, operating system kernel crashes, everything. I thought I can recover from almost any possible breakdown even remotely, all but one: My four bonded G.SHDSL lines all failing at once. Which is what just happened. After lots of calls and even a replacement Paradyne/Zhone SNE2040G-S network extender having been brought to me within the time allowed by my SLA, all four lines still remained dark.

Now, today the telecommunication company which is responsible for the national network fixed the issue in the local automatic exchange. I tried to find out what had happened exactly, but ran into walls there. My Internet provider UPC got no information feedback from the telecommunication company A1 either, or at least nothing besides “it’s been fixed at the digital exchange”. Plus, as I am not an A1 customer exactly, so they won’t answer me directly. The stack is: UPC (internet provider) <=> Kapsch (field technicians handling UPC branded Internet access hardware, via outsourcing by UPC) <=> A1 (field technicians regarding the whole telecommunications infrastructure), while UPC may also communicate with A1 directly to handle outages. Communication seems to be kept to a minimum though. :(

Bad thing is, for a “business class” line, an outage of almost two days or 47 hours is a bit extreme. In such a case, more efficient communication could easily fix it faster. But it is what it is, I guess. And now I have to send one of the two Paradyne/Zhone G.SHDSL extenders back to UPC, this little bugger here:

The actively cooled Zhone 2040 G.SHDSL extender

The actively cooled Zhone SNE2040G-S G.SHDSL extender (click to enlarge)

There is actually a HSDPA (3G) fallback option, which works by implementing an OSI layer 2 coupling between the G.SHDSL line and the 3G access, keeping all IP addresses and domains the same and the services reachable during times of complete DSL failure. But I won’t order that upgrade, because it’s a steep 39€ before tax per month, or 46.80€ after tax. That’s just too expensive on top of what that connection’s already draining from my wallet.

All in all, this greatly endangers my usual, self-imposed yearly service availability of >=99%. 47 hours is a lot after all. So to maintain 99%, the server cannot go offline for more than 3 days, 15 hours and 36 minutes per regular year, and now I already have 1 day and 23 hours on the clock, and it’s just the beginning of the year! Let’s hope it runs more smoothly for the rest of 2015.

[1] Logo image is © Kyle Wickert, Do You Really Understand The Applications Flowing Through Your Network?

May 292012

The deal has been made: 8/8Mbit/s are coming for XIN.at! That is, if there are still enough telephone lines available in the hub of this building. There might or might not be enough. Thing is, for symmetric G.SHDSL I need one line per 2Mbits/s, so that means I need another two for a total of four to reach 8/8. On top of that, the provider may instruct the local Telekom to add a fifth line in case bandwith scaling is not good enough. It will definitely take another few weeks for everything to be done though. First, a technician of the Telekom (or A1, as they’re now called here) will come to see if there are enough lines. If there are, the guy will patch them through into my flat.

When that’s done, another appointment will be made with the company KAPSCH for them to send yet another technician. Those guys are doing the actual on-site work for my provider, so they will connect my new four-port G.SHDSL extender and take the old one with them. Not that I couldn’t do that myself, but the on-site service was included or so the salesperson told me, so I HAD to take it. Meh, but ok. I suppose if everything goes as planned, I might have 8Mbit/s available for all XIN.at users including myself within the next three weeks. I’ll keep you updated on the progress.

Update #1: I have just been called by the A1 guys and the date for the line installation has been fixed to 2012-06-08. I will have to move that to another date in case I go to the Novarock festival (which is not sure yet), but basically that should be it. The guy also told me, that the line is supposed to be put online on 2012-06-13, which doesn’t leave too much time for the UPC technician to come and do the on-site installation, but I guess it should be ok. Maybe they do it exactly on the 13th? We’ll see. I suppose UPC will call me in the coming days, or send me an eMail with information about their exact procedure.

Update #2:  Another call, this time from Kapsch. Those guys are doing the on-site installations for UPC, so they will bring me the new G.SHDSL extender/router. I have fixed an appointment on monday, 09:00am, which is absolutely optimal, since I have taken both monday and tuesday off, additionally to friday. Novarock has now fallen through since my collegue can’t come. No fun alone. So I’ll focus on the installation now, which means all the appointments are finally fixed.

Update #3:  A1 has sent a young (though surprisingly competent) girl to install the two new lines. She allowed me to peek into the local distribution hub, revealing 10 free line connections. Since a dead one from my flat has been re-used, only one of those has been used up, meaning there are 9 free, which is quite a lot. That’s relieving, as it means that even a future upgrade to 8 lines is totally possible. But for now, a total of 4 lines / plugs has been successfully installed, now I have to wait for monday for the final installation of the new G.SHDSL extender. Could be a Cisco instead of Paradyne this time. We’ll see.

Update #4:  The Kapsch technician has now been here to bring up the new line. He told me that the link speed of the new Zhone 2040 extender (Zhone = former Paradyne, so it’s the same manufacturer as before) has to be set to 100mbit full duplex. That made some sense, als the older Paradyne 2020 had to be set to 10mbit full duplex to avoid weird connection problems. Also, the network card hooked up to the extender had to be set to that speed. Only that this time the technician was WRONG. The correct network interface card link speed setting for a Zhone 2040 in factory configuration is auto-negotiated. If I set it statically, the entire line becomes unstable. Dammit. Now that that’s done, there is another problem. Seemingly, the two old lines were not hooked up to the same DSLAM in the central hub. For the entire line to synchronize, all four links have to be hooked up to the same DSLAM in the central hub. Perfect. Now I have to wait for another week or so before i really get those 8/8mbits. Fuck it, how much do I love waiting games, eh? At least one good thing: The new 2040 extender box gives me considerably better upstream speeds for some strange reason. We’ll see how that goes when the missing two links are being brought online. In the meantime, here are a few pictures for you to look at:

Update #5:  Well guess what, today at 02:00pm – 04:00pm, A1 alias the Austrian Telekom was supposed to hook up the missing two lines in the central hub. Guess what they DIDN’T manage to do? Yeah, right. Plugging two fucking cables vom A to B, seems too hard for them! Best thing is, UPC never even received any feedback about what happened or why something didn’t work out as planned. I guess they never even WENT there. Such a simple task, yet they fail. God dammit. UPC support will try to find out what happened tomorrow morning. I’m slowly feeling the anger piling up here. Let’s see what they have to say tomorrow…

Update #6:  Wow. I don’t know what they’re thinking, but it seems that A1 suspects the local cabling to be the culprit. Let’s just say I don’t believe that, but they want to re-do the entire cabling now, replacing the cable conduits with screened ones. I doubt that’ll do anything, but I won’t let them slip away before the line is working this time, that much is for sure. The next appointment for another round of cable installations is next monday. Had to take another day off for that. :( Damn you, A1!

Update #7:

Zhone SNE2040G with all four lines upGuess what, A1 was wrong. The cabling is perfectly fine, so their assumption that the screening was to be blamed was incorrect. But the actual mistake wasn’t made by A1 still. It was UPC and/or the Kapsch technician who had the old two lines deactivated, but not re-activated after everything was hooked up. Beautiful. Now finally they did what was necessary and configured their DSLAM properly, and all of a sudden, all 4 bonded lines are up and running! Finally! :)