Posts Tagged ‘milestones’

2016 in review

Friday, December 16th, 2016

This post is meant to give you a short overview of what has been accomplished in D-PHYS IT by ISG this year. We’ve been hard at work to further improve and extend our services for you, our customers. Some highlights of 2016:

  • New team member: Sven Mäder joined ISG this year to replace Axel in our Linux server team.
  • Account expiry: you might have heard that D-PHYS decided to phase out old accounts in the future. We spent the last year laying the technical groundwork for a smooth and painless implementation of this policy change. One first visible result is our new account portal.
  • Printing: in summer we integrated student printing into the pia printing system which means that we now have a comprehensive printing solution for the whole department. The D-PHYS print server will be shut down in early 2017.
  • Storage: in 2016 the disk space occupied by data and backup grew from 929 TiB to 1.3 PiB, again increasing the yearly growth rate. We are now using 60-disk toploader chassis to maximize storage space-per-volume.
  • Outages: we scheduled two maintenance windows, on April 14 and September 5, in order to perform hardware and system upgrades. Together with a network upgrade by Informatikdienste on September 15, these were the only noteworthy downtimes in 2016.
  • Docking network: in fall 2016 we migrated most of the department’s network sockets to the 802.1x-enabled docking network. While there is little immediate benefit for most of us, this is a prerequisite for future network projects like the upcoming Unified Collaboration & Communication (UCC) project.
  • Wifi: in early 2016 we developed and installed a portable wifi probe that eventually led to the discovery of one of the underlying problems causing ETH’s wifi woes. Since then, wifi has been much more stable.
  • OS upgrades: 2016 brought new OS versions for almost every system: the Windows 10 rollout picked up steam, Sierra arrived on the Macs and Ubuntu 16.04 on the Linux workstations.
  • Cluster: we built and deployed a new high-availability cluster setup for our virtual servers this year.
  • Core services: a lot of infrastructure work has happened in the background to ensure smooth operation and seamless growth of our services in the future. Examples are: new ActiveDirectory servers for our Windows users, migrating our webserver certificates to Let’s Encrypt, a facelift for most of our websites to match the AEM design and an upgrade of our iPXE boot screen.
  • IT security: we participate in and support the ETH-wide IT security initiative and also worked hard to make the mandated n.ethz password change as humane as possible.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my whole team for their hard and dedicated work all year long.

Happy Holidays and see you in 2017!

2015 in review

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

This post is meant to give you a short overview of what has been accomplished in D-PHYS IT by ISG this year. We’ve been hard at work to further improve and extend our services for you, our customers. Some highlights of 2015:

  • new team members: both Christian Ringger and Christian Schneider joined ISG this year and have already made significant contributions to our setup.
  • new D-PHYS website: the department website moved from the self-hosted Zope system into the ETH-wide AEM/CQ5 content management system. While the hard work of migrating all the content was done by Andreas Trabesinger, we had to sort out a lot of technical details to ensure a smooth transition and to keep D-PHYS’s various web services operational.
  • Printing: the majority of the department’s printers have been migrated to the new pia printing system. We are now waiting for Informatikdienste to support student printing in order to complete the project.
  • Storage: in 2015 the disk space occupied by data and backup grew from 685 TiB to 929 TiB, further increasing the yearly growth rate. We are also preparing to keep an off-site disaster recovery copy of D-PHYS data on tape.
  • Outages: apart from a hardware failure of our mail server on December 2nd and a short interruption on July 2nd our system have been very stable this year.
  • System upgrades: 2015 brought OS upgrades for almost every system: Debian Jessie on many servers, OS X 10.11 for the Macs, Ubuntu 14.04 on the Linux workstations and the first pilot installations of our new Windows 10 setup.
  • Core services: a lot of infrastructure work has happened in the background to ensure smooth operation and seamless growth of our services in the future. Examples are: more IPv6 work, 802.1x / NAC in our network, a new network zone in the server rooms, an upgrade of our iPXE boot screen and enhanced monitoring.
  • IT security: we participate in and support the ETH-wide IT security initiative.

Happy Holidays and see you in 2016!

2014 in review

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

This post is meant to give you a short overview of what has been accomplished in D-PHYS IT by ISG this year. We’ve been hard at work to further improve and extend our services for you, our customers. Some highlights of 2014:

  • eXile: in order to be able to keep Windows XP machines that cannot be upgraded connected to the network, we have created the exile system of dedicated virtual firewalls. Currently there are 57 computers safely hidden in this network.
  • Security flaws: 2014 saw the disclosure of three rather severe and widespread security problems in quick succession: Heartbleed, Shellshock and Poodle. We patched all affected systems within hours of the announcements and also scanned the network for hosts that had been overlooked. If you’re managing any networked machines (not just servers!) yourself, please make sure those are not vulnerable.
  • Outages: we had a major incident on August 27 due to a failure of the server room cooling system. Fortunately we were able to repair the damage within hours. Other than that, our systems have been very stable in 2014 and we only had minor issues.
  • Storage: in 2014 the disk space occupied by data and backup grew from 535 TiB to 685 TiB, further increasing the yearly growth rate. Another 120 TiB are already in the pipeline.
  • Printing: in cooperation with Informatikdienste we prepared and introduced the new ETH printing system in D-PHYS. Several groups have migrated already, the rest of D-PHYS will follow in 2015.
  • IPv6: during the last 12 months we prepared the D-PHYS network for dual stack (IPv4 + IPv6) operation. The biggest step towards a working IPv6 infrastructure was the deployment of an IPv6-ready DHCP server. Beginning next January we will incrementally hand out IPv6 addresses in the D-PHYS network. Later on, we’ll make our services IPv6-ready.
  • Brain drain: two ISG group members decided to take on new challenges this year. In November, Thomas Berchtold left us after 3 successful years to become the new Head of IT of D-BAUG, and Elmar Heeb, the founding father of ISG D-PHYS, will start his new job in Informatikdienste in February. We thank both Thomas and Elmar for their dedicated work and contribution to the team and hope to stay in regular contact with them in the future. Christian Ringger will replace Thomas in January, while Elmar’s succession is still work in progress.

Happy Holidays and see you in 2015!

2013 in Review

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

This post is meant to give you a short overview of what has been accomplished in D-PHYS IT by ISG this year. We’ve been hard at work to further improve and extend our services for you, our customers. Some highlights of 2013:

  • New apprentice: As of August 14, Anastassios has started his apprenticeship with us and is already deeply involved in a complex PHP/Ajax/PostgreSQL project. Keep it up!
  • Mailserver: This year saw a massive increase in spam and especially phishing attacks. They’re getting more and more sophisticated and now include valid logos and even personal names. We were forced to tighten email policies and further fortify our mail server in order to battle those waves.
  • Backup: For the data on our file servers we provide one month of nightly backups. Now our powerful backup system based on COW BTRFS snapshots allows us to extend this period to up to one year in exponential intervals for most file systems. Note that anything beyond 30 days is best-effort only and we might have to cut back again in single cases. A new web frontend shows the status of all backup runs.
  • Windows server: Several Windows server installations have been moved to a new powerful virtualization server and the Active Directory setup has been improved.
  • Printer portal: All information regarding our printers can now be found on one website. You might want to check there if you have issues with a particular printer or just to get an idea about printing volume.
  • Portal for managed workstations: Our new Chic! frontend shows the software status of our managed Windows and Mac workstations and allows you to request additional software packages. This service will be officially announced in January 2014.
  • GitLab: We run a GitLab instance to facilitate collaborative programming projects and sharing of code. Get in touch if you’d like to use it.
  • System upgrades: 2013 brought another round of OS upgrades, also for our servers. We updated most servers silently and combined all critical systems into one migration on September 11 in order to minimize downtime for our users.
  • Windows XP exile: As reported previously, Windows XP will be end-of-life in April 2014. Since there’s still a substantial number of XP machines out there (most of which cannot be upgraded due to soft- or hardware constraints), we’ll provide a locked-down exile network that will allow a limited and well-controlled survival of those machines under certain conditions. We’ll post an announcement when the system is ready.
  • IPv6: This year we laid the groundwork for the slow migration towards IPv6 connectivity in our networks. In particular, we got our monitoring system IPv6-ready and prepared a NFSv4 rollout. We’ll keep you posted about our IPv6 progress.

Apart from these highlights, of course there have been numerous small projects and improvements to our setup, making both your and our life easier.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my whole team for their hard and dedicated work all year long.

Happy Holidays and see you in 2014!

2012 in Review

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

This post is meant to give you a short overview of what has been accomplished in D-PHYS IT by ISG this year. We’ve been hard at work to further improve and extend our services for you, our customers. Some highlights of 2012:

  • Integration of IGP’s IT into ours: as you might recall, our coworker Thomas is actually paid by D-BAUG‘s IGP institute in exchange for us providing our IT services to their users. For the last 12 months, we have migrated their servers, data, users and software into our setup so that in future we can all profit from a unified solution
  • File servers and backup: after some difficulties earlier this year our file server and backup infrastructure is now rock solid and ready for the fast growth in data volume that we expect in the next years. All disk backends have been intregrated into our SAN setup and are connected via either Infiniband or 10G ethernet for maximum speed. Just yesterday we passed the 1 PB mark in file server disk space. Yes, that’s 1024 TB.
  • Mail server bottleneck: also in spring, the sporadic performance bottleneck on our mail server could be found and fixed. The server is now running on full steam again
  • Personal user groups: probably completely unnoticed by our customers, all user D-PHYS accounts have been migrated to personal user groups this year. While this has been the standard behavior on modern Unix systems for many years now, our LDAP directory dates back to SunOS which combined all user accounts into one ”staff” group. Not a big deal for you, but makes life much easier for us.
  • Group share reporting: in order to provide a better overview of space allocation and usage on our group shares, we introduced a periodic report email containing the link to an interactive usage graph.
  • Mac OS X 10.7: the Mac workstations have been migrated to OS X 10.7, building a unified setup to facilitate software distribution
  • Ubuntu 12.04 LTS: the Linux workstations were upgraded to Ubuntu 12.04, a long-term support (LTS) version that benefits from an extended support cycle.

Apart from these highlights, of course there have been numerous small projects and improvements to our setup, making both your and our life easier.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my whole team for their hard and dedicated work all year long.

Happy Holidays and see you in 2013!