Don’t SaaS Me Young Man!

Software as a service (SaaS) is a way of delivering applications over the internet, as a service. Instead of installing and maintaining software, you simply access it via the Internet, freeing yourself from complex software and hardware management. SaaS applications are sometimes called Web-based software, on-demand software, or hosted software. Whatever the name, SaaS applications run on a SaaS provider’s servers. The provider manages access to the application, including security, availability, and performance.

A simple example of SaaS is the “free” email (also called web-based email) systems offered on the Internet such as Microsoft Hotmail, G-mail and Yahoo Mail. Each program meets the basic criteria of an SaaS application: a vendor (Microsoft, Google or Yahoo) hosts all of the programs, servers, and data in a central location and provides end users access to this data and the software which is run and used over the internet.

SaaS customers have no hardware or software to buy, install, maintain, or update. Access to applications is easy: You just need an Internet connection.

Benefits of the SaaS model include:

# Easier administration

# Automatic updates and patch management

# Compatibility: All users will have the same version of software.

# Easier collaboration, for the same reason

# Global accessibility

So what does all this mean? You don’t need heavy duty hardware, lots of memory, and tera bytes of storage. It also means you have hardware independence, in other words it can run on a PC, MAC, Linux, or even a smart phone.

Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments

A Hard Drive is a Hard Drive Right. Well Maybe

Christian Haller from asks “So, are these new solidstate drives better than the mechanical ones?” Very good question Christian.

Hard disk drives have been a faithful servant to computing for many years. But with heads, platters, magnetic surfaces, spindles and an array of other complex moving parts, they are most certainly fallible. They can be slow, too; disks have to start spinning if they’re not already doing so, then they have to get the head to the correct position on the disk to read or write the data. Add this to the physical problems occurring when a piece of dust or other foreign object gets into the mechanism, or when an impact jolts the drive, and we have a distinctly imperfect system. Solid state drives (SSD) address many of these timing and structural problems inherent in the hard disk drive.

A solid state drive is a storage device that uses solid state memory to store data. While technically not a disk, a solid state drive will often be referred to as a solid state disk drive, or a solid state disk, in reference to the fact that, in some ways, it replaces the traditional hard disk drive.

This arrangement has many advantages. Data transfer to and from solid-state drives is much faster than electromechanical disk drives. Seek time and latency are also substantially reduced. Users typically enjoy much faster boot times as well. In general, SSDs are also more durable and much quieter, with no moving parts to break or spin up or down. SSDs do, however, have slower write times and a set life expectancy, as there is a finite number of erase/write cycles before performance becomes erratic.

When you look in more detail at flash SSDs there is just one dark secret hanging around the edge of this picture which makes you feel uneasy about a technology which in other respects is acquiring an untarnished reputation. That’s the prickly issue of write endurance.

Write Endurance: – The number of write cycles to any block of flash is limited – and once you’ve used up your quota for that block – that’s it! The disk can become unreliable. How long have you got before the disk is trashed? Glad you asked…

Let’s assume perfect wear leveling which means we need to fill the disk two million times to get to the write endurance limit. Two million (write endurance) x sixty four GB (capacity) divided by eighty MB/sec (throughput speed) gives the endurance limited life in seconds. That’s a meaningless number – which needs to be divided by seconds in an hour, hours in a day etc etc to give…The end result is fifty one years!!!

Yes, Christian solid state drives are better. They are more expensive however. Compare 128 GB SSD $250 to 1TB SATA $85

Below is a side by side comparison for speed.

YouTube Preview Image

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

A Little Hard Drive Info

The hard drive is what a computer uses to store all of its data and programs. Even when the computer is turned off, the hard drive is still able to retain the data. As computer systems become more complex, the roles that the hard drive plays have increased. In 1956 IBM invented the first computer disk storage system, the 305 RAMAC (Random Access Method of Accounting and Control).  This system could store five MB.  It had fifty, 24-inch diameter disks! Now let’s understand how the hard drive stores and retrieves data.

Hard drives record data by magnetizing ferromagnetic material, to represent either a 0 or a 1 binary digit. They read the data back by detecting the magnetization of the material. A typical drive design consists of a spindle that holds one or more flat circular disks called platters, onto which the data is recorded. The platters are made from a non-magnetic material, usually aluminum alloy or glass, and are coated with a thin layer of magnetic material with an outer layer of carbon for protection. Older disks used iron oxide as the magnetic material, but current disks use a cobalt-based alloy.

The platters are spun at very high speeds. Information is written to a platter as it rotates past read write heads that operate very close over the magnetic surface. The read write head is used to detect and modify the magnetization of the material immediately under it. In modern drives there is one head for each magnetic platter surface on the spindle, mounted on a common arm. An actuator arm moves the heads on an arc across the platters as they spin, allowing each head to access almost the entire surface of the platter as it spins. The arm is moved using a voice coil actuator or in some older designs a stepper motor.

So when you open a file, program or really anything on your PC, the hard drive must find it. So let’s say that you open an image. The CPU will tell the hard drive what you’re looking for. The hard drive will spin extremely fast and it will find the image in a nano-second. It will then ‘read’ the image and send it to the CPU. The time it takes to do this is called the ‘read time’. Then the CPU takes over and sends the image on its way to your screen.

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

SAN no NAS!!!

I talked about SAN before, now I want to talk to you about NAS. If you have multiple PCs on your network, you’re a candidate for a NAS (network-attached storage) device. NAS devices simply act as a shared volume for backing up and sharing files across your network. NAS systems contain one or more hard disks, often arranged into logical, redundant storage containers or RAID arrays (redundant arrays of independent disks). NAS removes the responsibility of file serving from other servers on the network.

NAS challenges the traditional file server approach by creating systems designed specifically for data storage. Instead of starting with a general-purpose computer and configuring or removing features from that base, NAS designs begin with the bare-bones components necessary to support file transfers and add features “from the bottom up.”

Like traditional file servers, NAS follows a client/server design. A single hardware device, often called the NAS box or NAS head, acts as the interface between the NAS and network clients. These NAS devices require no monitor, keyboard or mouse. They generally run an embedded operating system rather than a full-featured operating system. One or more disk drives can be attached to many NAS systems to increase total capacity. Clients always connect to the NAS head, however, rather than to the individual storage devices. Clients generally access a NAS over an Ethernet connection. The NAS appears on the network as a single “node” that is the IP address of the head device.

So what does this all mean? If you have SOHO (small office home office) network of some laptops, computers, or workstations and you need to share files between them. A NAS box is a great way to go.

YouTube Preview Image

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Going Off Net, Better Have a Router

Path determination and interface switching, that’s what a router does. It joins the two networks, passing information from one to the other. It also protects the networks from one another, preventing the traffic on one from unnecessarily spilling over to the other. Regardless of how many networks are attached, the basic operation and function of the router remains the same. Since the Internet is one huge network made up of tens of thousands of smaller networks, its use of routers is an absolute necessity.

Routers connect two or more logical subnets, each having a different network address. The subnets in the router do not necessarily map one-to-one to the physical interfaces of the router. The term “layer 3 switching” is often used interchangeably with the term “routing”. The term switching is generally used to refer to data forwarding between two network devices with the same network address. This is also called layer 2 switching or LAN switching.

The very first device that had fundamentally the same functionality as a router does today was the Interface Message Processor (IMP); IMPs were the devices that made up the ARPANET, the first packet switching network. The idea for a router (although they were called “gateways” at the time) initially came about through an international group of computer networking researchers called the International Network Working Group (INWG). Set up in 1972 as an informal group to consider the technical issues involved in connecting different networks, later that year it became a subcommittee of the International Federation for Information Processing.

As virtually all networking now uses IP at the network layer, multiprotocol routers are largely obsolete, although they were important in the early stages of the growth of computer networking, when several protocols other than TCP/IP were in widespread use. Routers that handle both IPv4 and IPv6 arguably are multiprotocol, but in a far less variable sense than a router that processed AppleTalk, DECnet, IP, and Xerox protocols.

What is incredible about this process is that a message can leave one computer and travel halfway across the world through several different networks and arrive at another computer in a fraction of a second!

YouTube Preview Image

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments