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In this issue:


   Never Again

      Stuxnet - The World's First Cyberweapon

   Best Practices

      HP Discover 2011

   Availability Topics

      Remembering Ken Olsen - An IT Icon

   Product Reviews

      Shore Micro's 100-Microsecond Link Failover



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What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You


In my availability seminars, I am frequently reminded that what is obvious to someone like me, who is immersed in availability theory, is not so obvious to even the experienced practitioner. Consider, for instance, recovery strategy. Would it make sense to you that a failover time of only one minute and an almost perfect failover success rate of 199 times out of 200 can lop a nine off of the availability of your redundant Linux system? Well, it can. I teach that the failover characteristics of your system govern to a great extent its availability.


I see several other misunderstandings. “If I have a replicated remote copy of my database, I don’t need to take point-in-time backups.” “Virtualization gives me whatever availability I need.” “I can put my application in the cloud, and let the cloud provider guarantee me uptime.” All of these, and many more, are misconceptions that can lead to disastrous consequences, as evidenced by many of the Never Again horror stories in the Availability Digest.


There is help. Study the educational articles in the Digest’s article archive. Let us educate you through our one-day or multi-day availability seminars. Integrate our consulting services with your availability team. Our mission is the quest for zero downtime.


Dr. Bill Highleyman, Managing Editor




  Never Again 


Stuxnet – The World’s First Cyberweapon


Cyber warfare has just taken its first step into the real world. The Stuxnet worm, discovered last June by a Belarus security firm retained by Iran, is designed to attack and sabotage systems that control our very infrastructure.


The power and flexibility of Stuxnet is evidenced by the fact that it evidently is focused on Iran’s nuclear efforts.  However, the technology behind Stuxnet is now public knowledge; and this leaves any computer-controlled facility open to hostile attack.


Computer malware has primarily affected PCs or the servers to which they are connected. These systems keep businesses running. Malware may do all kinds of software damage to a system; but it does not threaten life, limb, or property.


Stuxnet is different. It is the first malware that can infect control systems and physically destroy or disable our infrastructure. Safety systems can be switched off at a nuclear power plant; fresh water can be contaminated with sewage; the valves in an oil pipeline can be opened, causing immense contamination; railroad switches can be thrown to cause collisions; electrical substations and even an entire power grid can be taken down.


Cyber security has taken on a new importance.


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Best Practices


HP Discover 2011


New this year is the HP Discover 2011 conference, to be held in Las Vegas in June. HP is combining its two annual shows into a single event servicing all HP users. In the past, the Connect/HP Technology Forum, focusing on HP systems, and the Vivit/HP Software Universe, focusing on management solutions, were separate events. This year, everyone can enjoy education in all areas in one venue.


The five-day conference will include general-session presentations and track keynote speeches, over 700 breakout sessions, hands-on labs, and demonstrations. The conference content is organized into five major tracks – Solutions, Industries, Product/Services, Software, and Services.


HP’s CEO, Léo Apotheker, and other top HP executives will host general-session keynote addresses. Each track will be introduced by a keynote session. Free Prometric certification will be available.


The conference will wrap up with a live concert by Paul McCartney.


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Availability Topics


Remembering Ken Olsen – An IT Icon


Ken Olsen was my first boss. As a graduate student working as a research assistant at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory in 1957, I was assigned to Ken to work on the first all-transistorized computer ever attempted. I was under Ken’s supervision when he decided to start his own company using the transistor technology he had developed at Lincoln Labs. The company he founded was Digital Equipment Corporation, which was to become in the late 1980s the second largest computer manufacturer next to IBM.


Through the PDP and VAX series of computers, it was Ken’s vision of interactivity that was a powerful force in moving computing from centralized mainframes into the hands of people.


Ken Olsen left us on February 6, 2011; but his legacy lives on. He was indeed the father of the computer’s second generation - the transistorized computer.


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Product Reviews


Shore Micros’ 100-Microsecond Link Failover


How do you fail over to a redundant component in 100 microseconds? With hardware, not software or firmware. But isn’t this an expensive approach? Not with field-programmable-gate arrays. This is the secret behind Shore Microsystems’ Network Protection System (NPS) Link Protectors.


Link protectors are redundant transceivers that support a full-duplex link connection for a network-attached device such as a server, a storage subsystem (SAN or NAS), or a client terminal. They route traffic over either of two links that provide connection to the backbone network. One link is the primary link that is used during normal operation. The other link is a backup link that carries the protected device’s traffic should the primary link fail.


Shore Microsystems specializes in network devices that add significant fault tolerance to mission-critical Ethernet networks. Its Link Protector products offer 100-microsecond failover for redundant links to ensure data flow during network failures. To prevent network downtime due to inline appliance faults, such as those used for security, Shore Micro's Bypass Switches route around failed inline network appliances.


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© 2011 Sombers Associates, Inc., and W. H. Highleyman