Learning New Skills Without Access to Hardware
January 8, 2007 10:06 AM   Subscribe

How can I get some experience working with Veritas, SAN/NAS management, backups and more (on Solaris 10) without access to any actual hardware or spending a ton of money?

Hi guys. I am interested in learning a few specific skills but I am not currently employed. I have about 10 years managing UNIX and Linux boxes but I am not quite at the hire-able level for an actual UNIX administrator position because I lack experience with some specific that almost everyone uses. Specifically:

Veritas (volume management, backups, SAN)
Websphere / Weblogic

I would particularly like to get hands-on experience with these products but they pretty much require expensive hardware (SANs, tape libraries, and so-on) and even keeping my Solaris skills up to date is a challenge.

Classes are so expensive and books really don't give me any experience. I wish I could find a simulated environment to play around with.

Any ideas?
posted by jlstitt to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Veritas absolutely sucks in its Unix support, so I don't know how that would be a requirement for a Unix admin job. The number of SAN/NAS management utilities is about equal to the number of SAN/NAS hardware vendors, so I'm not so sure having specific knowledge of SAN/NAS software would help.

If you have a spare box, you could install FreeBSD and FreeNAS and play around with that. Learning how to create and assign volumes will likely go a long way towards bettering your NAS knowledge, and help with any future NAS applications you might use.
posted by stovenator at 10:31 AM on January 8, 2007

Our shop doesn't use the last two on your list, and have come perilously close to dumping the first.

Have you considered interning? Surely there are small shops who cannot afford a full-time system administrator, yet would pay you a pittance to have you help them with these. Or who are just cheap.
posted by adipocere at 11:21 AM on January 8, 2007

Have you contacted Sun or Symantec and asked if you could get an evaluation license for Veritas? Get that, install it on OpenSolaris, read the cuddletech guide, and you're off. I can't see any other option if you've totally ruled out certifications.
posted by cmonkey at 2:22 PM on January 8, 2007

On the veritas side, check out these links:

Get a clustered install of mysql going on a pair of Linux hosts. Bone up on XEN virtualization or on VMware.

Then also get savvy using opensolaris and setting up a couple of zones and ZFS. Check out the solarisinternals.com website and go through the LISA presentations they have there. Some really good info on that site.

Then for SAN stuff, check out the marketing white papers by vendors like QLogic, Sun/STK, Hitachi, EMC and some of the smaller storage vendors like compellant or equallogic. Then also check out the iSCSI stuff from Sun and also the stuff on Linux. The wireshark (ethereal) analyzer can decode iSCSI.

Then also check out the ever so exciting www.t11.org and t10.org websites to read about the low level stuff for FC and SCSI. You'll learn about the services that run behind the curtain on a SAN.

Pick up some manuals for FC switches and HBAs (free easy download from QLogic) to pick up a lot of ideas and concepts of what is possible with various products.

On the web stuff and MC/service guard, I have no idea.

Good Luck!
posted by chaska at 8:42 PM on January 8, 2007

Response by poster: Hi again guys. Some fantastic responses and all worth considering. I certainly appreciate it.

I am a little surprised by OpenSolaris. I got in touch with a couple of buddies and both had heard of it but I was in the dark. Learn something new every day.

I'm not entirely sure why Veritas is so popular where I live (Houston) but I have been asked about it several times. I am very comfortable with practically any Unix box but my biggest fear is that someone is going to ask me to set-up a backup (or DR) scenario or even manage a NAS. I doubt that I would have a hard time with the concept but if I sat at a console I wouldn't know where to start.

chaska, I do have experience with clustered MySQL, VMWare (and Oracle, Java, and other "involved" environments.) and I'm reasonably familiar with a few SAN products - I just haven't got any concrete experience in front of them. Again, understanding concepts and sitting at a blinking cursor are different realms.

The Veritas Cluster Server Simulator is a pretty cool find. Thanks for that too!
posted by jlstitt at 9:25 PM on January 8, 2007

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