Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Cumulus attacks on Juniper (again)

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

I have a lot of time for Cumulus Networks – I think they’re doing some very cool and unique things with their Cumulus Linux operating system for switches and they genuinely have something different to offer, but when they publish blog posts like their one today ( I lose a lot of respect for them.

This seems to be nothing more than a thinly veiled attack casting FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) at a competitor – a knee-jerk reaction to a threat to their business. It actually reads pretty similarly to their blog post when Juniper originally announced the OCX range ( They’ve probably attacked other vendors in a similar manner.

For example, just by going to the main QFX5200 page on the Juniper web site (, I find:

Open access to the standard Junos Linux kernel, enabled by the disaggregated version of the Junos software, allows users to install third-party Linux RPM packages and create guest containers and VMs with central resource management and programmable APIs.

Yes that still needs a little more detail, but it answers at least some of the questions and all it took was a couple of clicks! Imagine what you could find out by actually speaking to someone familiar with the details…

I have a few questions of my own for Cumulus Networks;

  1. Did Cumulus Networks actually attempt to find out the answers to any of these points yourselves? If so, were you unable to find the details, or did you just not like what you found so decided to feign ignorance?
  2. Will Cumulus Networks put their money where their mouth is and make sure that Cumulus Linux runs on the Juniper QFX5200 series of switches (assuming that Juniper are willing to co-operate)?
  3. Does Cumulus Linux currently run on any switches powered by the Broadcom StrataXGS Tomahawk chipset? It doesn’t seem to be listed anywhere on the Cumulus Linux HCL that you so helpfully linked to from your blog post.
  4. Does Cumulus Linux currently run on any switches which support 25G, 50G or 100G Ethernet ports? These also seem to be conspicuously absent from the Cumulus Linux HCL.
  5. When will Cumulus Networks offer a fully featured MPLS implementation on their Cumulus Linux control plane?

The Zimbra merry-go-round

Friday, August 21st, 2015

I’ve been a big fan of the Zimbra email collaboration system for many years, using it since version 4.5 or 5.0 (I can’t remember exactly). However, in recent years the product has been falling further and further behind competitors such as Microsoft Exchange, particularly in the all important area of redundancy and availability.

Email and collaboration are critical to modern businesses and so every effort needs to be taken in order to ensure that they are always available. Microsoft clearly recognise this as Exchange has had Database Availability Groups (DAG) since Exchange 2010 and before that had a number of other High Availability options.

Zimbra however still does not have this as of the current version (8.6). Zimbra were supposed to be addressing this with a 9.0 release scheduled for the second half of 2015, however now that has been pushed back to the first half of 2017 at the earliest!

Instead, we aren’t getting any more releases in 2015 and all we are getting in the first half of 2016 is version 8.7, which will start to bring back the chat feature that was previously dropped! Zimbra aren’t even providing the chat server to start with – just an XMPP client and you will have to run your own server until version 8.8 arrives in the second half of 2016! This will also bring some much needed anti-spam improvements (although it seems that this will be by integrating an as yet unspecified third party product) and two factor authentication. This seems a long time to wait for not a great deal of new functionality!

I can’t help but feel that this is in a large part due to the constant change of ownership of Zimbra. Back in 2007 Yahoo bought Zimbra for $350m ( but then sold it on to VMware in 2010 ( The exact amount paid wasn’t disclosed, but it was generally reported to be around $100m.

VMware then sold Zimbra to Telligent in 2013 (, again for an undisclosed amount, who promptly renamed themselves to Zimbra Inc. ( with the products becoming Zimbra Collaboration (formerly Zimbra) and Zimbra Social (formerly Telligent).

Telligent then acquired Mezeo ( for their MezeoFile sync-and-share technology in 2014, with the MezeoFile product becoming Zimbra Sync and Share, which was then discontinued in 2015 (

Shortly after discontinuing Zimbra Sync and Share, Zimbra made the wooly statement of (

“As many of you know, Zimbra made a few strategic decisions over the past few months in order to ensure the company’s stability and achieve an increase in EBITDA”

Not long afterwards, the Zimbra Social product was sold off to a company called Verint ( and renamed back to Telligent, leaving Zimbra Inc. with just Zimbra Collaboration.

At this point I was naturally wondering if Zimbra Inc. was running out of money and concerned as to what the future holds for Zimbra Collaboration and its customers given all these recent announcements, but I didn’t have to wait long as then a couple of days later Zimbra is sold to Synacor ( for $24.5m. Strangely this announcement seems to be missing from the Zimbra blog…

Back when Zimbra was owned by VMware, their answer to any questions about availability, redundancy or disaster recovery/business continuity was to run Zimbra inside a VMware environment and use their HA+DR technologies, but soon after being sold off to Telligent they started talking about a project “Always ON”. This was mentioned in a number of blog posts throughout 2013, but and were the most detailed.

Sadly, over 2 years later we are still waiting for this new “Always ON” architecture and it seems that we have to wait at least another year and a half! I’m not holding my breath that things are going to get any better under the new ownership, but right now I’m just glad that my company didn’t buy into Zimbra Social or Zimbra Sync and Share like we considered!

Misleading companies – part 3

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

The final part of my rant (see part 1 featuring ConnetU and part 2 featuring IX Reach as well as euNetworks) is all about C4L (A.K.A. Connexions4London), a company who are trying to take the take the practice of claiming to have PoPs which don’t really exist to a whole new level!

I should start this with a disclaimer. I have been a C4L customer, I have used their network services, I have experienced their technical support and their customer service. Equally, I have had both customers and friends who have used C4L’s services. Between these various experiences over a significant amount of time, I can safely say that I will never be a customer of C4L or knowingly use their services ever again.

Every time I have had anything to do with them, they have managed to reinforce my impression that they are an awful company with an old, unreliable, congested network, unhelpful staff, slow support and non-existent customer service. Suffice to say, I may be considered somewhat biased. Anyway…

On the front page of their web site, C4L state:

C4L is a Colocation, Connectivity, Cloud and Communications provider headquartered on the South Coast, providing access to over 100 UK data centres and more than 300 globally.

Now, this is not the only misleading thing on their web site, or even on the home page, but as the other items aren’t specifically relevant to this rant, I’ve decided to leave them out (for now).

These impressive sounding numbers of over 100 UK and 300 global data centres appear repeatedly on the C4L web site as well as in their email newsletters, press releases and other marketing literature.

The thing is, that C4L don’t have anywhere near that many Points of Presence (PoPs). If you take a look at their network map (, then you can very quickly see that the actual number is much smaller:

  • Telecity Reynolds House
  • Telecity Williams House
  • Telecity Kilburn House
  • “Manchester 1” (probably the M247 Ball Green data centre)
  • “Birmingham” (god knows)
  • “Derby” (Node4 Derby DC1 and DC2 – basically the same building)
  • “Enfield” (Virtus London1 Enfield)
  • “Milton Keynes” (Pulsant Milton Keynes, formerly BlueSquare MK)
  • “Slough” (Virtustream)
  • Telecity Soverign House
  • Level(3) Goswell Road
  • Telehouse Metro
  • City Lifeline
  • InterXion
  • “Brick Lane” (probably Easynet)
  • Global Switch 2
  • Telehouse North
  • Telehouse East
  • Global Switch 1
  • Telecity Meridian Gate
  • Telecity Harbour Exchange 6&7
  • Telecity Harbour Exchange 8&9
  • Telecity Bonnington House
  • “City Reach” (Tutis Point City Reach, formerly owned by QiComm, now Docklands Data Centre Ltd – DDCL)
  • “Greenwich” (the former BIS Anchorage Point data centre, now owned by 6dg)
  • “Bylfeet” (4D Data Centres Sirius II)
  • “Park Royal” (probably Telecity Powergate)
  • “Maidenhead” (Pulsant Maidenhead 1-3, formerly BlueSquare House and BlueSquare 2-3)
  • “Bournemouth” (C4L’s own data centre with their offices at County Gates)
  • Evoswitch Amsterdam
  • “Isle of Man” (Either Netcetera or Wi-Manx)

Now, that is still a fairly impressive PoP list, but at 31 data centres it is a lot less than the 100 that they are claiming in the UK, let alone the 300 that they are claiming globally – particularly when you consider that there’s only a single international data centres on there, and that is Evoswitch in Amsterdam!

This all comes back to my earlier question – what is the point of climbing more PoPs than you actually have? What do you stand to gain from it?

If you do somehow manage to deceive a customer into taking services from you at a datacentre where you don’t already have a PoP, then the likelihood is that you won’t be providing any kind of useful service – you’ll just be buying a single rack from the data centre, adding a markup onto it and passing it on to the customer. Now the customer has to go through you for access requests and remote hands, slowing them down and adding an unnecessary layer of complication.

Likewise with connectivity, you probably aren’t going to be able to build out a full scale PoP for a single customer, so you’re just buying a circuit from someone who does actually have a PoP in that data centre and then backhauling it to somewhere on your existing network. This adds a potential point of failure as well as complicating any troubleshooting as now three (or more!) parties are involved in any investigations.

In both instances, the customer could have got the same (or better) service from going direct and it would have cost them less. So all you have done is made it more expensive and less reliable for your customer!

There is no problem with reselling services, as long as you are adding some value to them. In these cases however, it seems that the only value being added is to the reseller’s bank account!

Misleading companies – part 2

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

In part 1, I wrote about my experiences looking for IP transit services in Telehouse West and an annoying encounter with ConnetU over a phantom PoP.

Part 2 of this rant covers a second requirement from the same project – this time for a pair of 1Gbps layer 1 (wavelength) or layer 2 (MPLS pseudo-wire or VPLS) circuits between two data centres – London Data eXchange’s LDeX1 in North-West London and Telehosue West in the London docklands.

This shouldn’t be such a hard task as both data centres are carrier neutral (with the Telehouse docklands campus being one of the most highly connected places in the UK, if not the EU!) and so have pretty good carrier coverage.

With LDeX1 being the smaller, newer site I decided to start with their carrier list ( as there was a good chance that any carriers on this list would also be present at the Telehouse docklands campus.

I contacted several of the carriers on this list, however this rant is specifically about euNetworks and IX Reach as both of these companies replied that they aren’t actually present in LDeX1.

IX Reach

IX Reach specifically list LDeX1 on their own PoP list ( as well has having put out a press release in August 2012 ( saying:

IX Reach, a layer 2 Ethernet carrier, is pleased to have become a partner of LDeX and added LDeX1 – a state of the art, network independent 22,000sq ft London data centre – to its PoP (Point of Presence) list and is able to offer their full range of services; capacity from 100Mbps to multiple 10Gbps over Point-to-Point/Multipoint connection, full colocation options and also a Direct Connect into the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud platform.

Now, I don’t know about you, but to me, that says that the PoP is open and services are available to order, so I was somewhat surprised when I got a reply back from IX Reach saying:

We are at Telehouse West but would need at least a 10Gbps/10GE requirement to consider to PoP London LDeX1 which is also quite a distance away.

I sent them a link to the LDeX carrier list, as well as IX Reach’s own PoP list and press release, but all they came back with was:

I’m afraid our PoP list and the LDeX1 carrier list has not been updated, we are currently not in LDeX1.

Eh? Why would the IX Reach PoP list and the LDeX carrier list had to be “updated”? I pressed the point and asked for clarification. Had the LDeX1 PoP been closed for some reason?

As far as I’m aware, IX Reach were intending to PoP LDeX1, for some technical reason this did not happen.

All very vague and noncommittal. Suffice to say, IX Reach now join ConnetU on my list of companies who can’t be trusted to tell the truth!


euNetworks particularly annoyed me, as they stung me along a took quiet a bit of time before eventually deciding that they weren’t going to be able to provide any services.

euNetworks had previously announced back in March 2013 that they were establishing a Point of Presence in LDeX1 (see and I had spoken to them at the time about the specific fibre route that they were using as I was interested in enhancements to redundancy and diversity that this might enable.

At the time, euNetworks had told me that they weren’t using the existing Geo (now Zayo) or Virgin Media fibre connections, but were instead digging their own fibre in, so I got in touch with them again on the 22nd of May 2014 to ask if this was live yet (as it had now been over a year since it was originally announced) and they eventually got back to me on the 27th of May 2014 to say:

Unfortunately euNetworks aren’t digging in to LDex, the dig is a large one which is financially big and the customer have taken a decision to not pop the building.

We will be able to provide a quote like from our 3rd party team.

This was somewhat disappointing, but at least it looked like they would be able to help in some way, I mean, they must have some kind of presence in LDeX1, otherwise they wouldn’t have announced that they were providing Amazon Web Services (AWS) Direct Connect services in LDeX1 only a couple of months ago ( in April 2014 surely?

I followed this up on the 29th of May 2014, only to be told that they were still waiting for their partners. I then chased it again on the 5th of June 2014, only to be told that they weren’t going to be able to provide any kind of quote at all:

Unfortunately, we are not going able to provide this service. We are finding it hard to pin down a supplier for managed services from LDeX and consequently the pricing we are receiving is just not competitive.

Sigh! Two weeks of waiting, only to be told that they’re not going to be able to help at all. So much for an LDeX1 PoP!

So, there we go, two companies who can’t seem to decide whether they have opened a PoP or not, but apparently that doesn’t stop them putting out press releases about it and getting themselves featured on carrier lists…

Now, on to the third and final part of my rant – C4L!

Misleading companies – part 1

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

Something that I’ve never understood is why some companies feel the need to lie on their websites. I’m not talking about ambiguous marketing twaddle about being “a leading provider” etc. but flat out deception. This seems to be particularly prevalent in the hosting/network/data centre industry for some reason.

This specific rant was triggered by a recent project which required an IP transit connection in Telehouse West.

This shouldn’t be such a hard task – Telehouse West is carrier neutral and the Telehouse docklands campus is one of the most highly connected places in the UK, if not the EU!

I did a bit of Googling for companies claiming to have network PoPs in Telehouse West. One of the companies which came up was ConnetU, who I’ve heard of, but never had actually any dealings with before now.

On the front page of their web site ( ConnetU state:

With over 15 London data centres on our network, we cater for a full complement of project requirements including location, cost and performance, from being in the heart of low-latency Internet to high-density computation.

and if you follow that link, then you get to a page talking about their London network that contains quotes such as:

Enterprise metro Ethernet spanning 15 London data centres

Now, if you click on the network map, then you actually find 19 data centres (although I didn’t bother to count them at the time):

Telecity Harbour Exchange (HEX) 6&7
Telecity Harbour Exchange (HEX) 8&9
Telecity Meridian Gate
Telecity Sovereign House
Telstra London Hosting Centre (LHC)
Tutis Point City Reach (formerly QiComm, now Docklands Data Centre Ltd – DDCL)
Global Switch 1
Global Switch 2
Telehouse North
Telehouse East
Telehouse West
Telehouse Metro
Level(3) Goswell Road
City Lifeline
InterXion London
Croydon (I’m guessing Pulsant’s Croydon data centre)
Greenwich South London (I’m guessing the former BIS Anchorage Point data centre, now owned by 6dg)
London Bridge (I’m guessing the former Safehosts data centre, now GSDV)
West Byfleed (I’m guessing 4D Data Centres Sirius II)

Now, Telehouse West is clearly listed on there as a network PoP with 10Gbps fibre/wavelength connections to Telehouse North and Telehouse East. If you click on the IP transit link, Telehouse West is listed again under “Available PoPs” with a link to it’s very own page ( detailing a few key facts about the data centre as well as a list of which services are available there (“IP transit” and “Interconnects”).

So, from all this, it’s fair to say that ConnetU are clearly advertising that they have a Point of Presence (PoP) at Telehouse West (THW) are are able to provide IP transit services there. So, I filled out the “Request Quote” form on the IP transit page, which again feature Telehouse West on the drop down “Delivery in” list

Now, imagine my surprise when I receive an email from ConnetU saying:

we’re still looking for a decent reason to PoP West as there hasn’t been much demand in there to date.

This seemed somewhat odd based on the description on their web site, so I queried this and they replied with:

We’ve been waiting for a good excuse to break-out West – it’s a fibre run away, which can be done fairly quickly upon order. However, enquiries to date have been so small they’re just not worthwhile.

So basically, they don’t have a PoP in Telehouse West, but they’re listing it on their site anyway and if they get a big enough order for it to be worth their while, they will have Telehouse run fibre from their existing PoPs in order to service it…

Not only is this completely misleading, but as someone looking for services in a particular data centre it’s also utterly frustrating as it makes my job so much harder and just wastes my time.

I don’t understand how companies think that they will benefit from this sort of behaviour. Surely it’s pretty obvious that all you are going to end up doing is annoying prospective customers because you won’t be able to provide the services as the requirement is too small for it to be worth you while building a PoP, or the price will be too high because you’ll pass all the costs of building the PoP onto the client or the lead time will be too long because you need to order space, connectivity, equipment etc. and get it all set up.

I would certainly think twice before considering taking services from ConnetU at any of their other locations due to this experience. Why waste my time getting in touch with them again? Who knows how many of their other PoPs don’t really exist? Plus, do I want to do business with a company which behaves in such a misleading manner publicly?

Owing to the size of this rant, I have split it up into three pats so that it is easier to read. Part 2 focuses on IX Reach and euNetworks whilst part 3 is about C4L.

RIP Steve Jobs

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs, you have truly changed the face of both computing and society in general. Few people have had such a great and positive impact on the world as you did. You will be sorely missed.

Apple have a brief tribute to the great man over at

Apple iTunes quality checks

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Some time ago I purchased Mythbusters series 6 and 7 on the iTunes store and downloaded several gigabytes of episodes. I was watching one of the last episodes yesterday and it reliably skipped significantly at a couple of points with a complete loss of audio and video for 10 seconds or so.

I managed to finish the episode and more or less understand what was going on, but made a note to drop Apple an e-mail at some point asking for a fresh copy of the episode as it was obviously rather annoying.

Imagine my surprise this evening when I received an e-mail from iTunes saying that they had noticed that the item had “noticeable quality issues” and so they had placed another copy on my account and I just had to fire up iTunes and get it to check for new items available for download.

Sure enough, a quick trip in to iTunes and the store showed that there was indeed a download of the episode in question available and in a few minutes later I had a pristine new copy (the joys of 50Mbps broadband!).

Undoubtedly some privacy groups somewhere will complain that iTunes sent this data back to Apple, but in the end why should I care? The transmission of this data doesn’t really infringe my privacy in any way and I benefitted as a consumer as a result.

What’s more, my view of Apple as a consumer has gone from potentially irritated or even annoyed to very impressed with the customer service. How better to stop complains than to respond pro-actively?

It lives!

Friday, August 8th, 2008

The brand new, all singing, all dancing Don’t Dump That web site is online!

It’s been a lot of hard work but it’s worth it for a good cause (and to get rid of the horrible old set-up…)
Kieran and I have only just finished the last bit of work on it (merging the hundreds of separate user databases into one) and I must have been back about 10-15 mins when the SQL server decided to take a nose dive!

Luckily, it seems it was due to my fiddling with the server’s clock (trying to get the Xen domU system clock, Xen dom0 system clock and the hardware clock to say the same thing!) so it’s all back online now and nothing to do with the new code that we’ve unleashed on the world… phew!
Go check it out and start advertising all that old junk that you’ve been meaning to get rid of. In the mean time, I need some much deserved sleep

On the warpath

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

Hey, guess what? In typical Edward style, it has been ages since I updated this thing and I still haven’t got the site working fully or using a custom skin. I have an excuse… I am busy/lazy (take your pick!) 😉

I got back from going to see “The Dark Night” a couple of hours ago. It’s a bloody good film but ‘m annoyed that I saw the plot twist coming right from the start – being a bit of a batman fan, I recognised the character as soon as a bloke called Harvey showed up with what correctly I guessed a double headed coin that he uses to “make his own luck” 😉

When I got back I set about unlocking Naomi’s old Sony Ericcson phone that she kindly gave me to replace my ageing Panasonic GD67 (circa 2003 and a hand me down via Matt) that does interesting things including randomly turning itself off.

6 weeks ago I requested a NUC (network unlock code) from Vodafone which they said would take between 5 days and 6 weeks to generate. So I patiently waited and when 6 weeks rolled around on Friday, I sent them a very angry e-mail telling them to pull their collective fingers out. This morning I got a reply telling me that they had generated a new code on the 24th of June (4 days after I had e-mailed them jumping through numerous hoops to prove that I hadn’t stolen the phone from Naomi) but that they “forgot” to e-mail it to me.

Incompetence or company policy not to co-operate with NUC requests? I’d go for the second one personally.

Phone unlocked, I set about learning how to use it and telling Naomi it was finally working. It seems quite nice but it’s such a change it’s going to take a lot of getting used to. At least it’s well built (unlike the Panasonic) and has fairly intuitive menus (unlike the Panasonic). It’s still not a patch on my 2G iPhone though 😉

My good mood was destroyed shortly after my unlocking success when I attempted to order a pair of power supplies from Rapid Electronics (you don’t get a link you bunch of incompetent tits!). My order was very simple, 2 power supplies delivered to one address but billed to another. Yet, despite providing a text field for your billing address, it’s not editable. At first I thought this was a browser issue so I changed from Safari to Firebox but still it didn’t work, They seem to want me to call their sales line for what is clearly a complicated procedure for them (instead of standard everywhere else) so instead I sent them an indignant e-mail telling them to learn how to build web-sites. I don’t expect that it will make the blindest bit of difference but it calmed me down somewhat.

If anyone from Rapid is reading this, the solution to your problem involves a 9mm bullet and the head of everyone in your web design department 😉

In an attempt to restore my mood (or possibly swing me ever deeper into a pit of despair) I set about the task of conducting a post-mortem on the two RouterBOARD 433AH boxes that were playing up when I tried to put them in Node4 almost a month ago.

At the time, one of the power supplies decided to fry itself and then the box running on the remaining power supply started behaving erratically. When setting it up I had been able to log into it fine but now my SSH session would hang as soon as the management shell spawned after authenticating.

Because of this we made the decision that we couldn’t trust any of the equipment and aborted the install until we had been able to examine what the problem was.

After about five minutes I managed to work out the really stupid and annoyingly simple reason for the SSH sessions hanging… there is an incompatibility between Mac OS X’s and the management shell in RouterOS version 3.x. The simple fix for this is to re-seize the Mac OS X terminal window as soon as you log in. This forces some kind of refresh which fires the RouterOS management shell back into life.

It seem that MikroTik have no intention of fixing this annoying bug and are blaming it on Apple instead 🙁

With that fixed (or at least explained), as soon a I can order some power supplies from a slightly more competent supplier than Rapid then maybe we can finally get this equipment installed.

One good thing did come out of the problems with the RouterBOARDs, I stumbled across the wiki page detailing the new support for Xen virtulization in RouterOS 3.11, a fantastic feature that I’ve been campaigning for for a long time but somehow missed the announcement for! I will have to have a play with it some time, but for now my bed beckons as tomorrow, more DIY awaits… 🙁

Hello and welcome

Monday, April 14th, 2008

Welcome to the brand new, my sparkly new web site pretending not to be a blog. As even Naomi has her own proper website/blog now I decided that it was about time I pulled my finger out and got one. It just felt like I was letting the side down without one and since I own this domain it seemed like the perfect opportunity do something with it.

The site is still very much a work in progress. The Gallery more or less works but is looking a bit bare. I’ll flesh it out with pictures as well as uploading some more stories over the coming days. As soon as I am feeling slightly more creative I will have a go at skinning the site, until then you’ll have to put up with the default Drupal skin.

In the mean time, check out some of the sites in my links in the menu on the left. Rob’s Foon ("still not a blog" in his own words) is a great source of endless entertainment and Kieran’s recent post on the future of pancakes is an interesting and thought provoking read.

By the way, congratulations to Naomi and Kieran who just got engaged. Head over to to take a look at the beautiful ring on her midget hands.