Previously I had mentioned how we were having problems with Seagate drives. On the flip side, I’d like to point out two exceptional companies, HP and Sleepycat Software. In production, we use several HP Procurve switches. These are devices that connect the various machines in the Bloglines cluster. Like some other aspects of our cluster, we’ve bought several of these off eBay, which even several years after the bubble burst, is still a good source for cheap computer hardware. Recently, a newly purchased used HP switch died on us. There were two exceptional things about this. First, the switch continued to operate, but in a reduced way. Specifically, we couldn’t access the management functions of the switch.So even though the switch had ’lost its brain’, it continued to do the basic functions of keeping the network going. This highlights exceptional design on HP’s part. The second exceptional thing about this event was HP’s support. They overnighted us a replacement switch, no questions asked, no receipt needed. The switches have lifetime warranties, which apparently apply even to secondary owners. Amazing. They made true believers out of us. At least for our networking gear, we’re HP purchasers for life. The second company I want to mention is Sleepycat Software. Sleepycat makes the database software that powers large parts of Bloglines. Sleepycat perhaps isn’t as well known as MySQL or Postgres, but their software is very fast, bulletproof, and their support is top notch. They deserve more attention. Some people dismiss their database because it doesn’t have a SQL query engine. SQL is fine for ad-hoc queries. But I can guarantee that not a single query that we run on our databases is ad-hoc, by definition. We have a defined set of database APIs, and we want them to run as fast and reliably as possible. So why take the 10x or more performance hit of a SQL engine or risk the bugs inherent in a more complicated system? You get a fully ACID compliant database system, with hot and cold backup capabilities, as well as a full replication system. And it’s open source. I don’t want to start sounding like a commercial, but I thought both of these companies deserved to be highlighted based on my experiences.