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September 3, 2005

Potpourri for $100, Alex

eBay is crazy
I figured I'd hit eBay, find an old and unwanted 1U server for cheap, and throw it in a colocation facility's server room. I stupidly underestimated the bizarre eBay economy, where untested servers go for more than refurbs do fresh from the manufacturer. Maybe I'll find something yet, but so far it's been good for staring in disbelief at.

Cacti is nice
For monitoring numerical data (e.g., server traffic), MRTG has been the de facto choice for years. MRTG and I couldn't come to an agreement on its working last weekend, though, so I replaced it with Cacti. Nice package. Lots of pretty graphs to choose from, and if you're feeling particularly inspired you could always add your own new graph styles.

As is true of many open source projects, the documentation leaves a lot to be desired, but if you can get it running and fake your way through, it works well. Only other real complaint is that it won't use SNMP MIB files, so instead of just getting a device profile from the vendor and slapping it in, you have to sit there and hand-code an XML file that will tell Cacti what the MIB file already says. That's particularly dense if you ask me, but hey, nobody did.

It's not hard to create the XML file, mind you, just time-consuming.

Deru is great
Continuing my trend of complimenting good businesspeople, local company Deru Internet likely gets to join the list currently populated by Apple, APC, T-Mobile, and Ranchero Software. I've heard nothing but rave reviews from people who have used their services.

Personally, I've only so far dealt with them in a pre-sales capacity, but they're working far harder at it than a lot of companies. Dell, for example, has always been worthless for me despite assigning a "Sales Manager" to every purchase (that person 1. Being available, 2. Giving a damn, and 3. Having a clue would usually all be helpful qualities, but Dell HR seems to be screening out employees with those qualities).

Deru's sales staff has an insane response time. And they're friendly. And knowledgeable. And they're willing and able to negotiate. I'm just looking for 1U of rackspace and a few gigs of bandwidth a month, but they're treating me like their only customer. It's a lost art in the business world, but it's nice when you run into someone keeping it alive. Hell, look at how many companies today do their best not to publish any way to contact a living person, be it telephone or e-mail or postal mail.

My initial contact was on a weekend, and my latest contact is this weekend. No matter when I've shot them an e-mail, I've had a response in short order. Their sales staff also writes in actual English, which is a nice change from companies whose correspondence could be put to shame by first graders (or is filled with IM-speak).

If Deru's half as great when I am their customer as they are when they want me to be their customer, I'll probably be hosting with them for years to come.

Posted by Colin at September 3, 2005 12:43 PM

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