Once upon a time, being a network admin was simple in the same way life in a medieval village could be considered simple: Things could be difficult because we didn't have the modern conveniences of fancy monitoring tools and decent hardware, but no one seemed to be up to much, either. The packets flowed, squirrels gnawed through the occasional cable, we crawled around in ceilings trying to figure out what we were thinking when we'd hung that node off of that switch, and that was that. For entertainment we tailed the name server logs and figured out who was visiting all the wrong sites.
Lately, the idyllic life of net admins has taken a turn for the complex. If you see a naughty domain name scroll across the DNS logs, you're probably expected to help someone else in the shop enforce an acceptable use policy, black-hats have turned the 'nets into their playground, and if a squirrel gnawed a cable, you'd probably welcome a vacation from eye-watering network diagrams to go climb around in the ceiling to figure out where the beast did its damage. Worse, habits you used to abhor in your users are being legislated.
Take, for instance, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which mandates thorough archiving of e-mail and instant messages. If the executive you answer to hasn't come to your cubicle for a little face time about this yet, you might want to go ahead and fill the candy dish, anyhow: In about six months, the act's provisions kick in, and CIO Update reports that while 86% of companies expect they'll be fully compliant by year's end, a third of them still have a long way to go. Worse, because an admin's job is never made easier by too much attention from the executive suite, about a third of the companies surveyed say they expect "significant negative impact on [...] profitability during the next two years.
So if you haven't already taken up the cause of maintaining terabytes worth of messaging archives, there's a good chance you'll be hearing about it soon enough. One place to get started assessing solutions to the problem might be here at Crossnodes, where we consider the basics of message archiving.
» Also on the message archiving tip, Microsoft announced the general availability of its feature pack for consolidating data from Exchange Server 2003 on network-attached storage (NAS) devices running Windows Storage Server 2003. HP followed up with its own product announcement, rolling out support for the feature pack: "HP said its StorageWorks NAS 1200s and 2000s will now support Microsoft's Exchange Server 2003 Feature Pack. Prices begin at $2,495 for the 1200s and $5,800 for the 2000s."
» Iomega is set to announce a pair of entry-level network-attached storage devices starting at $1399 for a 320GB model and working up to $1999 for a 480GB model. Each model will have 10-1000 megabit ports (the higher-end model will have two), and both will have four USB 2.0 ports for attaching other storage devices. The company's pitching the software as a way to get around Microsoft's Storage Server 2003 licensing costs.
» There are two approaches to spam-fighting gaining in currency. The first, which got a shot in the arm last week when Yahoo! announced the submission of the DomainKeys specification to the IETF, involves forcing a server to prove that it's legitimately passing mail for the domain it claims to be passing mail from. The second is whitelisting. There are, Datamation reports today, two fast comers in the whitelist game: Habeas (which utilizes Haiku, of all things, to authenticate mails), and Bonded Sender, which just requires mass mailers to take out a bond worth hundreds or thousands of dollars and then make sure they don't annoy more than one person per million messages per month to avoid additional penalties.
Of the two approaches, it seems whitelisting has broader support at the moment (Hotmail is behind Bonded Sender, the popular spam filter SpamAssassin is backing Habeas). DomainKeys and its competitor, Sender Policy Framework (SPF), don't seem to have as much momentum or have implementation problems that make them less appealing for complex operations.
The Week in Crossnodes
» AirDefense Secures the Wireless Perimeter
In the rush to go wireless, administrators will find that they must supplement standard security measures with serious reporting and policy-enforcing products. Count AirDefense among them.» WiMAX Bridges the Last Mile in Broadband
WiMAX is slated to provide high-speed connectivity over distances that dwarf 802.11's effective range. Of course, it also promises to keep things interesting for network administrators just coming to grips with Wi-Fi.
Don't guess when it comes to creating a wireless network at your company. LANPlanner SE lets you design and deploy a wireless network with confidence.
If hogs are gobbling all your bandwidth, throttle them with a squid. The squid caching proxy, that is.