Nerd Stuff

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We do apologize for the extended maintenance, no one enjoys having the site down – we’re users too! Some of our backend storage acted cranky, causing a delay from our original time budget. I would like to note that this maintenance window was particularly satisfying for the Site-Ops team – signifying the end of a long cage move…

The best analogy to servers and their location tends to be housing. Shared servers are about the same as sharing a locker in the gym – usually temporary, unknown sanitary factors and very cheap. The next step up would likely be a dedicated server, similar to renting a room in a house with roommates. The downside here being lack of control outside of the physical server – the network routing, power infrastructure, backend storage, etc. After hogging up enough physical real estate with servers, routers & storage; folks tend to graduate to a “cage”. These are private suites within a colocation facility, that allow the tenant to customize the layout, power, cooling and network connections. VideoBox has lived in various cages over the years – Wednesday afternoon finalized our most recent move, up a single floor!

Unlike moving homes or even office buildings, large website moves are extremely complicated. In this case, planning began in the summer of 2007 – starting off with contract renegotiating. The last 2 months have seen a number of slow and methodical changes, particularly in the last 3 weeks. Growth support such as more racks, additional network capacity, more storage and numerous configuration changes to allow more redundancy in our systems. Most of this work was done in the background, with minimal user disruption.

A great example of the talent at VideoBox is software deployments. On average the development team deploys new code every two weeks, constantly fixing bugs and adding features (sometimes mixing them up too). These changes are done 90% of time with no disruption to downloads or site navigation. This is extremely rare for high traffic web sites, who systems usually require complete service outages for upgrades.

Both the Site-Ops and Development teams always love to hear the geek shout-outs and half-cocked theories on what software we use, how big our tubes are or which vendors we prefer. The public facing servers are Linux, with some BSD systems thrown in for good measure (Canadians are known to be tight security dweebs too ). Both MySQL & PostgreSQL are utilized – each with their own benefits. As for the small hand-crank lift, those come in handy when one’s storage systems pack 40+ hard drives in a single chassis.

Out of curiosity what other sort of technical geeky posts would you like to see? Cheers.

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24 Responses to “Nerd Stuff”

  1. justsomedude Says:

    Thats a lotta tech stuff.

    I like boobs.

    :)

  2. Giamessi Says:

    Gotta keep one eye open on those Canadians Matt!

  3. justsomedude Says:

    And by the way, I was just joking above. I think it is very cool you guys make such posts keeping the users involved. This site is top notch in every aspect.

    As far as tech stuff, I would like to hear what your opinion is on some companies like Time Warner who plan on capping bandwidth per month and charging extra for high use.

    Some people may get scared of using such a site. I myself may soon be affected by this. Even though I leeched the hell out of this site my first month I would currently consider myself to be a prime customer now who perhaps only DL’s 30 “transactions” a month yet I plan on keeping my subscription indefinitely.

    PS Make it easier to upgrade to the 10 month plan and I will click it today!!!!Add the option to the account page please!!!!

  4. CMoney Says:

    Well with this being one of the largest porn sites, something like this take a long time to complete. I want to know what is the total capacity of your hard drives. I’ll guess that it’s in the terrabytes. I actually wanted to go into the field of computers, before I decided on music production, which is why this stuff is familiar with me.

    Tell the tech staff to keep up the excellent work. If all goes well, they deserve a raise.

  5. dirtybirdy Says:

    Can we add geek stuff to the earlier poll for “boner killers?” JK!

  6. dizzle55 Says:

    from now on, lets refer to the extended maintenance as VB’s “awkward phase”.

  7. starfucker Says:

    dizzle, thats funny. Matt, you guys rule! VB!!!

  8. Wednesday Cooper Says:

    Jackie Treehorn: The brain is the biggest erogenous zone.
    The Dude: On you maybe.

  9. Strangepork Says:

    I agree with justsome dude – Many people assume that bandwidth capping only effects users who are doing illegal activity, but I only downloaded from here last month and still got a threatening call from my ISP. I’ve got no competition for broadband in my neighborhood, and they wouldn’t give me any specifics as far as what they would consider to be acceptable use. As streaming and downloadable content grow in popularity, I expect this issue to become more widespread. Thoughts?

    And on an unrelated note, it would be really nice if you guys could come up with a way for those who signed up with a non-recurring membership to renew before it expires. I’m not looking forward to losing all of my ratings and favorites.

  10. DucDriver Says:

    @dirtybirdy: no we can’t. if you don’t like it, don’t read it. there are no girls standing up in the middle of the scene, walking to a notebook and starting to compile and install a new linux-kernel. (on the other hand, this would definitely be an interesting girl…)

  11. Matt Says:

    So what about virtualization guys! How about a couple VMware ESX Servers on a few large SANS, so you can V-motion from physical machines to virtual with nearly zero downtime. Im not trying to sell you on Vmware, but you have got to admit virtualization is where most people are moving to.

  12. Rob Says:

    I’d personally like to know how the backup system works. You must have countless terabytes of information stored on these servers in movies alone. I’d imagine it’s take several hundred tapes to back them all up. And any good sys admin also has an off site backup. The logistics of the backup system must be astounding.

  13. tenbones Says:

    Lol..It’ all good..the extended maintenance is just an ED phases..The best cure for that YG(young girl)

    Love the blog..keep up the good work…

    More polls please!

  14. tenbones Says:

    VMware rules and so does stuff from Netapp and Compellant.

  15. Halin Says:

    Neeerds!
    The nerd in me wants more nerd porn!
    Hot chicks talking about fc-al storage, tablespaces and BGP routing. :)

    No worries about the downtime, all ops people have been there.
    Storage can be tricky.

    And ffs, get rid of that MySQL stuff and settle on Postgres!

  16. MasonSquelch Says:

    You’re doing an awesome job and I very much appreciate your professionalism in providing this high-performance site! I’ll second the concerns about net neutrality: this will become a major threat for every user and service provider who wants to consume great amounts of bandwidth.
    Since I’m also a server administrator, I’d like to know how your admin / server ratio is: that means, how many people care about the server farm and how do you organize that?
    The nerdgirl stuff… I once watched a video with a pretty girl who was telling something about data structures in Perl. Then she said: “And now it’s time to suck some cock!” And that was what she did! This was so utterly sexy!

  17. Chainsawbeer Says:

    I actually coproduced a nerd porn called haXXXor… we did volume 1 and 2 and they were sold exclusively at DefCon, Hope, and Toorcon. If you search wikipedia you can find some info on it. It was something of a misunderstood production but it had a ravenous fanbase no matter how scattered they were. I was actually curious what it would take to approach VB about a potential licensing agreement as a way to get more eyes on it.

  18. sexygeeks Says:

    g33ky stuff 0wns :)

  19. alison Says:

    Strangepork – We’re figuring out a way to do that in the very near future (membership renewal). If someone who doesn’t want to cancel is forced to, we both lose. No sense in that.

    Chainsawbeer – Is the email you entered in the comment form a good one to contact you with? If so, I’ll drop you a line about your movies.

  20. Strangepork Says:

    Another question I was wondering about: What’s the story on the videos without flash?

  21. justsomedude Says:

    Not many questions answered on this one.

  22. Chainsawbeer Says:

    yeah I’m totally reachable at that address

  23. robio Says:

    Is it still down? Or did I screw up my pc again?

  24. ak Says:

    I’d like to hear more about all the scalability problems that you’re facing day-to-day and how you manage to fix them. Scalability is always a hot topic, and that’s why it would be very interesting to hear about a site with a huge user base such as videobox.com (which is also on the absolute edge when it comes to video content management and streaming).