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The Use of Big IP in Gamer.TV Essay Sample

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The Use of Big IP in Gamer.TV Essay Sample

Introduction:

The aim is to find out about a particular piece of software used in a Business and write a report on it. To start this I needed to find out about a company and what piece of software they use so that I can gather some information on what the software is and does, and also be ready to see it in action. I chose a company called Gamer.TV because it’s a large multi-national company that uses many different types of software, whilst also making some of the software themselves. Their most important piece of software that the company uses and keeps the company running is their Load Balancing Software called Big IP by F5 Networks. I thought this would be the best software for me to do because it there would be a lot for me to look at and therefore write about. Also I thought it would be the most interesting. Load Balancing is where you have a range of servers and as users make requests the software directs the user through one of the servers, it sends the user through a particular server if that server happens to be quicker than the others at that time. This service depends on the way the software and hardware has been set up.

Gamer hosts a large number of different features including, turn based games (TBG), Single player games (SPG), Forums, Private Messaging Buddy List. TBG’s are games that two or more players can play and they take turns such as Dinky Bomb. SPG’s are games such as chess against a computer etc. there forums are specially designed so that people can ask questions and get responses from other users; people in the NOC (Night Observation Centre) monitor this. Private messaging is a way for two players to communicate during a game they can talk about anything although it is monitored for abuse. This also allows you to have a buddy list but you have to sign up where you get a free 30-day trial and after that you start paying. Gamer use a program called web logic this stores the gamer’s previous scores and information, It also stores private information on all the users and on all the staff at gamer, some of the information the users can see such as the other users profiles, but addresses and card numbers can only be seen by specific individuals at Gamer.

They also host their own Website and maintain it whilst monitoring their parent company’s Website and a few minor companies along with it. They direct and produce a game review program, that is aired once a week on a Wednesday, this basically gives true gamers an insight into new games and cheats that are available.

Company Links:

The Company links to many other companies to help them with their Website such as monitoring or keeping it maintained. They also look after their parent company’s Website and equipment.

Their main links are:

* IMG (Parent Company

* Bravo

* IGDS

* Ceaso Furniture

System Administrator:

The Systems Administrator I followed was Dave, but there are more Systems Administrators in the company who look after everything they also advise on what software could solve particular problems within the company. The four Systems Administrators who look after the Website (Dave, Gary, Reece and Amy) do much more than just maintaining the website, if a problem occurs with the mailing part of the company, such as the weekly newsletter then these four will go and repair it, it depends on how big the job is and how long it will take and if they are already busy.

The Systems Administrator will research all of the competitors of a type of software before suggesting which one he/she thinks will be best to go for to use within the company. He’ll base his decision on whether everyone will need training to be able to use the piece of software, if it is compatible with every piece of software and piece of hardware in their company and if not if there is away of getting round the compatibility problem.

The System Administrators look after the network that includes the networked computers within the company and also, the network that links the branches together. It also includes the VPN (Virtual Private Network) and SSL (Secure Socket line) so that their employees can work from home or from another computer within the company and can still access their workstation but still have the security within the company.

This allows the System Administrators to go to the NOC where the servers and Cisco machines are and connect to their workstation under their desk and get vital information on particular parts of the NOC/servers without having to leave the NOC. This saves time and a lot of energy as the NOC is placed in a different building to where the main office is situated.

They also have to keep that the database correct, so they are like monitors as well like the people in the NOC who also monitor everything that is going on. If the database goes down then the whole web site would go down due to the fact that they only have one databases, they are reviewing this situation and trying to find a way that they can have another database with all the information on it like the one that is running at the moment but with the new one it would be just sitting there not actually being used and if the working one went down then a piece of software such as Big IP could then automatically change it over. The Systems Administrator will also repair all the faults and suggest upgrades and new and improved software that comes out, so they need to know all the new releases so that they can add this new software. This is half f what the role is of an Administrator, they look after the network, and they also create user accounts because not all the users need access to everything so for extra security they all have user accounts with certain allowances. This enables them to get on with their work and not to be playing with other things that they shouldn’t be playing with.

Application Function:

The function of the software is to process users requests faster. It does this by the way it is set up, say the Systems Administrator sets the software up to allow users to go through the server with the most processing power left, out of all the servers then that user will get to where he/she wants faster than if it was directed through one of the other servers without this process it also allows more servers to process the information therefore making the service quicker.

In Gamer.TV they use Big IP mainly in case a server goes down, this is because Big IP along with What’s up Gold can swap servers so that no information is lost and users already signed in can carry on without knowing that there’s a fault, this is helped by What’s up Gold the monitoring system used by gamer, which lets the Administrators swap the servers over. This is different for the users just signing in, it will basically say that the server is down, this is what the Systems Administrator will have put as an automatic message to the users. Big IP is also a good piece of software due to the fact that it runs alongside so much other software, such as What’s Up Gold and Gamers Lobby system etc. So many of the Load Balance software’s I have looked at during this project required certain software to run alongside. This is more complicated for the business and the Administrators.

Software Users and User Role:

They use XP Pro for their Operating system this is because it is easier to set up a VPN line because XP Pro comes with the VPN line built in. The Software is more of specialised software so there are not many users, plus it pretty much runs itself except for the monitoring part. It has to be monitored by the people in the NOC and he technicians/Systems Administrator, this is because if one of the servers does go down, then one of them can swap it over, and the software will e-mail the technicians to say that the server is down and needs repairing. Once this e-mail has gone out and the technicians have repaired the fault it will generally stay as the redundant server until the Systems Administrator decides to have the working server in for maintenance. This usually happens at Gamer about every 6 months where the working server gets swapped with the redundant.

Gamer.TV have one database and if it went down then all of their system would go down. Everything that Gamer has on their Website is in the database so nothing would work. This means that every week the database needs to be backed up, they do this by having two different arrays. An array is about 10 to 12 hard disk drives, the ones at Gamer are about 40 gig each, so that means that just one of their arrays is 12 X 40 = 480 gigabytes, this is just for the database, and they have two, meaning they have about a terabyte of storage or the database. The redundant system is very useful to the company, and with the growth of the company, because they are not thinking of getting another array with about 80 Gig per slot and make the redundant array into part of the working database.

Fault Logging:

Gamer’s fault logging is another part of Big IP it looks like MS DOS Prompts page but with a whole list of faults that have happened with date and time. This then get printed out each day and examined by the night technicians that are their every night. These night technicians then go round checking the system and see If the fault is still there and then fix it and the other side of Gamers fault logging is where the fault is logged and sent as e-mail to all the System Administrators. If Big IP had a fault then they would have to fix the problem and get everything up and running again. This could seriously effect their network and database, however they must have something to prevent this, unfortunately I was not allowed information on this particular part of Gamer.TV.

Application Choice:

The software was chosen due to the fact that it was compatible with all the other software that the company already had, it seemed the best to use with all the firewalls that they had set up and it was easy to monitor. They also read most of the reviews on load balancing to see which software at the time was voted best, and Big IP rated the best for the company’s needs.

The software must be able to be updated so that it can run better and have new capabilities, it also must be able to work just as efficiently if other programs that it links to have been updated Compatibility of this type of software is really important.

Training:

The training is very limited after you have learnt what and how to use a network, so basically you need Cisco without it not much will happen because you wont understand it. To train new staff they have to go on a special course, which the company pays for, however they would need Cisco to be able to be applicable for the job.

Licensing:

The licensing for this software is one that is agreed when registering the software over the internet, it also comes in the form of a sheet of paper, this is basically a carbon copy of the one that the Administrator will fill in over the web, it needs also to be filled in then filed.

Area Access and Restrictions:

Only some of the personnel at Gamer can go to the NOC and it is on 24 hours CCTV with the NOC personnel always they’re keeping an eye on everything whilst monitoring the system. All the personnel have certain restrictions except for the Administrator who can access everything. This is done to stop people playing with things that they don’t understand and also to stop them getting other people into trouble for whatever reason.

Whilst I was at Gamer I was given a user name and password with limited access, I could go onto MSN Messenger, and Microsoft Office and the Internet along with Gamer’s Intranet, but not much else. This was so that I couldn’t inadvertently cause any damage to their system. All the personnel at Gamer are given a special VPN line so that they can connect to their workstation from any other computer even from home. This allows them to check things and to work from home, the Administrators have two designated lines, one the VPN and another remote access, the difference is that the other connects through a black box, problem with Gamers one Is that it can only take 5 people at anyone time

Maintaining:

Each week they back up their systems by saving everything and putting it on a redundant array, and every day the save and print off the information on the monitoring system so that if any problems arrived during the day that were not fixed the night Administrators could fix them. They have What’s Up Gold, which is their monitoring software to observe the software/hardware in action and if it goes down immediately alerts the specified people. Every 6 months in the main, they will swap the redundant system with the one that is operating to allow maintenance to take place. They do this because it is easier to repair something that is not working, this also allows them to change things around for a better set up, It allows their users to carry on as they would normally without any problem.

Protection:

Gamer protect their systems by having up to date firewalls using software called IP COP, this enables them to use a few old PC’s to be a sub system whilst allowing normal traffic through. The idea of the subsystem is that the hacker who is trying to get in, will get confused because hundred’s upon thousands of pages with encrypted text which the best hackers in the world would still take about 2 days to decrypt. They also use Norton Anti-virus 2004 special, this works in conjunction with Gamers special Anti-virus software that was created by gamer, called virus packer version 4.8.

Moral and Social Implications

There is not really any social or moral implications except someone will have lost their job that would normally be watching over the network. He would act as a Systems Administrator, so basically it hasn’t taken jobs away it’s just taken some of their job description away, however as ICT grows, so does their work.

Data Protection Act

The data protection act doesn’t really count in this case because it’s about servers not about information that could be used in a harmful way, obviously inside the company there would be things set in place so that the privacy act is kept.

Security

The security is high at gamer, they have plenty of security guards and also to get into the building you have to have a special electronic pass. To get on to the computers or the network you need a special user name and password this is set up by the network specialist which means he deals with any problems with the privacy and the users who use the network.

How Big IP was brought into the company

Big IP was brought into the company after it was researched and found out to suite their system best. They installed the software onto their servers and they had some minor faults such as it was giving improper readings via their monitoring system, but they sorted out the bugs by going to F5 Networks and asking what they could do and they responded by sending an special upgraded version to them that would clear the problems that they were having.

Backing Up

It would be very difficult to back up Big IP but they do back up the days events and all the print screens of the monitoring system which would then incorporate some of Big IP’s information.

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