The T in IT stands for Toys

A look at some of the gear used by the SparkFun IT department to keep the website and SparkFun HQ rolling along

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IT has been acquiring some new toys!  Things are expanding quickly around here and we're having fun trying to keep up.  Here's a look at some of the gear we use to keep the SparkFun website and our HQ rolling along...

Say hello to SparkFun's brand new servers!  These four beasts are Dell PowerEdge R410s each with a quad core Xeon processor, RAID-5 storage, and 6GB RAM.  Presently the SFE website is running on a couple of linked boxes and we're working on migrating to using Stego, Ankylo, Magyaro, and Psittaco here as our new cluster of web servers, database servers, and load balancers.

Side note - the fifth, as yet unnamed Dell showed up with the rest but the box looked like it had fallen off a truck and was gnarled by an irate bear.  Begrudgingly, we had to refuse delivery and are now waiting for a new one.  Can't have all your toys all at once, I guess.

The Rack.  The five big servers described above will live off-site at our hosting company but there's yet one more Dell R410 living in this steel blue blast from the past.  He's right there in the middle - Bronto, our email server.  A handful of other servers with much less inspired names and even less impressive hardware, yet to be rackmounted, have been doing all kinds of other stuff for years.  They're sitting on a wood pallette on the floor just out of frame (on purpose).

The *other* rack.  All the SparkFun offices are hooked into this patch panel... somewhere. They're linked to the outside world with an optical ethernet line through Chunnel, the 7U-tall clear acryllic box at the base of the rack.

Chunnel was a custom job that at one point had 4 NICs in it to support our patchwork of three WANs (while we waited for the optical line to show up).  It still has a 3.16 GHz dual core processor, 2GB or RAM and a 40GB HDD, arguably packing far more punch than a router ever needs.

Not all of our toys are shiny and new - some lost their luster during the first Bush administration. This is Brennen hard at work at his soviet command console.  At least, that's what we're calling the 486SX 33MHz IBM PS/1 we found in the wiring closet when we moved in here a couple years ago.  With a 170 MB hard disk, 4 megs of RAM, and DOS 6.2 this thing's ready to run Wing Commander (as soon as his mom brings the original floppies out from Nebraska).

So there it is, IT's toys in a nutshell... and where some of your SparkFun dollars were spent this summer!

Comments 17 comments

  • echoskope / about 14 years ago / 2

    The guy chillin in the background wearing socks has me convinced that after I grad with my engineering degree I need to work for sparkfun :P

  • Socoj2 / about 14 years ago / 2

    Im still in shock you guys are using a home grown router and SMC switches /boggle...
    Come on guys, live the life... Fortinet
    SMC switches Seriously?

  • schult / about 14 years ago / 2

    The "Soviet command console" has one thing going for it: it appears to have an IBM Model M keyboard attached.

  • xtat / about 14 years ago / 1

    Loved this post! Hey, how does the optical internet link work? FiOS? What kind of hardware? :)

  • David12 / about 14 years ago / 1

    Did you guys price Apple Xserves? Anytime I've done a comparison the Xserves have come out considerably cheaper and/or more bang for your buck compared to the Dell server offerings.

    • I have heard good things, but they are pricier, and I can't see much benefit in paying more for Apple hardware to run Debian.

      • philtrick / about 14 years ago / 1

        Could you guys do a writeup of your Server setup on Debian?
        Just curious, and hey the toys look nice and shiny....

        • We might do some kind of overview, eventually. It's all kind of in flux right now, so even we aren't all that sure how it's going to work in a month or three.

  • giantrobot / about 14 years ago / 1

    Get some vertical cable management for that 2 post rack. The bread ties aren't cutting it.

  • MattTheGeek / about 14 years ago / 1

    Lucky! I wish i had toys like that, especially that 486sx (I like old computers :D )

  • / about 14 years ago / 1

    GL SFE

  • mark4 / about 14 years ago / 1

    Would you mind sharing who you are hosting with? I'd like to move a site of mine from a dedicated server to a load-balanced cluster. It's a new concept to me and I'd be curious to know who's hosting it for you and if you like them. Thanks!

    • We're in the process of moving from our current host in California to Indra's Net, a Boulder-based company. That's where these new servers will live - a nice ten minute drive from SparkFun HQ.

  • nonegatives / about 14 years ago / 1

    I just bought a few items to start rebuilding my BigTrak based robot I built in 1985. It scary that a $3 PICAXE-08 can almost completely replace the Sinclair ZX81 I used back then! I'm glad to see the money I spend on new toys for me is going to buy new toys for you as well.

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