Going International!

A bit tongue-in-cheek but semi accurate.

ObsCanadaI’ve recently picked up a new server and it’s in Canada.  The part about it being outside of the US is purely coincidental, but its worth posting about for a couple reasons.  As anyone who follows me knows, I have a decent “home lab”/small business VMware ESXi cluster going.  It’s comprised of (2) Dell 2950 w/ dual Xeon E5450 (one 2950 is a spare that is only powered up for HA purposes) CPUs, and (2) Dell 1950 also w/ dual Xeon E5450 CPUs.  All of the machines have 32GB of RAM.  Some have internal storage but all point to about 4.5TB of provisioned datastores (with 11-12TB remaining unallocated yet) on a Synology DS1513+ using iSCSI:

vCenter ResourcesWith 71GHz available and 96GB of RAM, it seems like my setup is pretty robust.  However, one thing slipped through the cracks.  This past Sunday one of my ESXi hosts (one of the 1950s) inexplicably rebooted.  I was actually just logging into a DC early Sunday morning to check something and saw the famous Windows “this server restarted unexpectedly…” message.  Hrmph.  Right then, I jumped into my Observium portal and saw BridgetownESX3 had an uptime of like 45 minutes.  Uh oh.  The weird part – I never received any alerts about this.  Then I realized…  my SMTP service was running on my secondary domain controller which was on BridgetownESX3 at the time… which was down… which was unable to send out the alerts!  Doh!

A co-worker recently picked up a virtual private server on Cloud at Cost and had no complaints so I happened upon a 50% off coupon and ordered one of their $35* VPS (1 vCore, 512MB ECC RAM, 10GB SSD, 500GB monthly x-fer over a dedicated IP) – the asterisk is there because I said $35 – not per month, just $35.  Done.  Fixed price.  Crazy right?  On top of that, I had 50% off – so for $17.50 one-time I have a dedicated Ubuntu LTS server.  Best part?  It’s off-site and resilient.  So, after deploying Ubuntu and patching it up, changing credentials, etc., I setup OpenVPN and created another instance on my OpenVPN server and now have the cloud VPS on my network via VPN.

This opens two capabilities – I now use the box (appropriately called BridgetownSMTP) as a mail relay, and at the same time I run a simple script every 5 minutes on the server via a cron job that tries to ping my domain controllers and router.  If the router replies but the domain controllers do not, it sends an email that my VMware environment may be down.  If both do not reply, it sends an email that the VPN and VMware environement might be down.  Pretty neat!  Even though I monitor everything via Observium, I do not get alerts through that.  I do get alerts through vCenter but only if my SMTP relay is available.  Since my SMTP server was a DC on a host that just had an HA failover, it never sent the email.  Now I will be able to get notified if something goes down and it only cost me $17.50!

So – go check out Cloud at Cost – so far I have been happy and so has my co-worker who is using one of their bigger offerings.  You can only install Linux distro’s on their smallest 3 plans.  In order to get Windows installed you need to go to at least their smallest “Big Dog” plan.  Again, you can do this per month or you can simply pay once.  I will feature Cloud at Cost in another post shortly since I want to highlight their offerings and how they make it possible… but for now I am pretty pumped about having a reasonably priced off-site VPS with a full resilient infrastructure behind it for cheap.


Finally, above you see that ESX3 is up only 2d 15h while ESX2 is up 15d 20m.  Whoops.  You’ll also see that BridgetownSMTP is up 2d 22h – that’s the Cloud at Cost VPS.  I didn’t hesitate to figure out a solution!

Enjoy guys hope someone finds a deal at Cloud at Cost!

Author: Jon

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