– Scott Gordon Vice President, of AccelOps (www.accelops.net), says:
Why are data center server upgrades important?
1. Vendors often update systems to address known issues (RFCs) which means updating servers contributes to operational reliability
2. Given security vulnerability issues, many patches and releases address address known vulnerabilities that may be exploitable – updates thereby can reduce security risks
3. Depending on regulatory and industry compliance standards and service level commitments, system integrity and maintenance may be required – updates support compliance
4. Companies have purchased maintenance agreements – by not upgrades or updating, companies are not maximizing their investment
5. In the cases where a release is no longer supported, failure to upgrade or update may introduce operational and support risks
6. In other cases, the upgrade may be necessary to support needed functionality, throughput or operational management gains
What are the key issues to consider before embarking on the server upgrade project?
1. Understanding one operating infrastructure; deployed devices, systems, applications, patches and respective configurations – you can’t make resource commitments if you don’t know what you have
2. Understanding the criticality and mapping relationships of devices, systems and applications with regard to supporting IT functions and business services – you can just update all at once without knowing priority and impact
3. Understanding current business issues, technical issues and potential vulnerabilities so as to justify an upgrade expenditure
4. Prioritizing and phasing in the upgrades and providing project details, commitments and constituent communication
5. Documenting the justification (inputs, reasoning and expected outcome) and project scope (time, targets, owners, communication, test and deployment schedules, resources, etc.).
6. Verifying upgrade completion and the impact of the upgrade on other systems as well as IT functions and business services
7. Determination of disposal of unused equipment as they pertain to an upgrade (eco-responsibility).
8. Understanding the scope of an update/upgrade in terms of total costs, resource requirements and impact on business and respective IT, business unit, customer and partner constituents
9. Assess option – delay, don’t upgrade, alternative approaches, new systems
How can data center/IT managers ensure the success of the project?
1. Maintaining inventory and configuration information (ala network inventory or CMDB) –
2. Mapping of devices, systems and applications to IT functions and business services (Business Service Management)
3. Use of change management processes and project/process management tools to track update project input, commits, status and results.
4. If one can afford a test lab – testing the update impact on related systems and applications prior to production deployment
5. Implement on a phased, prioritized approach
6. Baseline operating norms prior to update and impact after upgrade/update – monitoring capability
7. Document justification, findings and areas for improvement in terms of process and technical results
8. Maintain change management and help desk records
9. Use of vulnerability assessment and help desk tools
What are the common mistakes/trouble areas related to the project (and what can be done to prevent them)?
1. Lack of operational visibility – unknown or not current environment details, known issues and known vulnerabilities
2. Lack of understanding of the project impact on other systems, applications and IT functions and business services
3. Lack of change management process and documentation
4. Lack of justification, target prioritization, resource allocation or costs associated with project
5. Lack of appropriate project management (also related to change process)
6. Lack of tools to track resources, baseline operational or validate change and monitor impact
7. Lack of documentation for auditing and to assess lessons learned for continuous process improvement
Integrated data center monitoring platforms (like AccelOps) now offer the means to automate many of the inventory, change verification, business service, baselining and operational impact metrics needed to support update/upgrade.