By Jerry Bujaucius
This week, IT Manager Republic will feature the daily diary of Jerry Bujaucius, an IT manager fora Fortune 100 retailer/wholesaler of commercial products. Bujaucius’ divisional office is set to move 1,500 miles away in six months, and he’s overseeing the transition of an IBM AS/400 computer system and 14 PC servers running various business applications that are vital to his organization. His main goal is a smooth transition that minimizes downtime.
This morning is oddly quiet. I visit CNET’s News.com for tech industry news. As part of my regular weekly operations/support report to my boss (with copies to my staff), I include a subset of news items that are appropriate for our industry as well as our various hardware platforms and software tools.
It seems there’s a new worm that affects older Microsoft SQL Servers that do not have a password on the administrator account. We use Microsoft SQL and have not upgraded to SQL 2000 yet. But we have passwords on all our production admin accounts. I start to wonder about our test system. Better have the staff double-check this.
We have our scheduled meeting on the new facility in Memphis that we need to get up and running. In addition to closing our division office, we have also closed some of our manufacturing facilities that have been poor performers. Although a lot of the work can get moved to other facilities, we occasionally find a particular operation or task that cannot be performed at an existing location, so we have to outsource that task.
We have to set up network connectivity at a new location in Ohio that has the capability of handling these operations. We determine what hardware and software it will need to access our corporate systems. Also, the WAN connection requirements and timeline is laid out for everyone. We find that much of the equipment left over from the closings is not under any sort of a maintenance contract and, generally, is more trouble to get operational than it’s worth.
Another problem has come up concerning our tape library. I pull a couple of the AS/400 staff members in to talk about it. We presently use three different media for our regular AS/400 backups. We have both an IBM 3570 and a Memorex Telex 5441 tape subsystem. One is used for nightly backups, and the other is used for weekly backups. Each system uses cartridge tape. We also have a 1600/6250 magnetic tape drive that we now use rather infrequently. Finally, the AS/400 has a CD-ROM which is used to install most of the software delivered to us now.
We discover that the new location for the AS/400 has standardized its backups on an IBM 3590E tape drive. So, we have to put our heads together and figure out how the new location will be able to read our large inventory of backup tapes. The options appear to be 1) buy a 3590E and convert all library tapes to that media type or 2) ship our tape drives down to the new location—along with our entire tape library—before we close the office. I ask one of the staff members to research the time, effort, and cost to do the conversion.
I spend a little time reviewing updates to the Lotus Notes database for our AS/400 move. The project leader in charge of moving our AS/400 system has created a database that logs such items as the project plan, meeting agendas, meeting minutes, action items, and other documentation. Although it’s a Notes database, the project leader has all of the documents included as attachments in Microsoft Word rather than native Notes documents. That makes searching for information a bit more cumbersome. So, I replicate the database to my desktop and create an index that also handles all the attachments as well as any Notes documents we create.
We have a conference call regarding the AS/400 move. One of the big discussion points from prior weeks has been how to handle the equipment migration. We had four options:
- Upgrade an existing AS/400 at the new Memphis location using new parts, such as memory and hard disk capacity.
- Upgrade the existing AS/400 at the new location using memory and hard disk capacity taken from the AS/400 located at our current divisional office.
- Lease an AS/400 at the new location.
- Physically move the existing AS/400 at our Memphis divisional office to the new location.
Our existing AS/400 in Memphis has 4 GB of main memory and 460 GB of storage, 70 percent to 75 percent of which is in used. The AS/400 at the new location has .5 GB of main memory and 29 GB of storage. No, there’s no missing zero there. That’s 29 GB and not 290 GB.
We decide to eliminate option 1 because it’s just too expensive. Plus, we would have to somehow unload the existing AS/400. We eliminate option 2 as too convoluted. How can we remove equipment from a production AS/400 to build up another AS/400 without performance repercussions on the production machine? Answer: we can’t! Option 3 has possibilities, but we would still have to somehow unload the existing AS/400. Option 4 is workable but would probably cause the largest amount of business downtime. Cost versus downtime. We will have to approach the business decision-makers with options 3 and 4.
After the meeting, we continue to wonder about option 4. Putting the AS/400 on a charter plane to get to the new location seems very risky. Doable, but risky.
In addition to the physical issues involved in closing a division office and moving equipment to other facilities, I also have to plan the support migration path. I decide to put together a matrix that identifies key tasks that need to be supported for all the systems we support.
I take a quick peek out on my My Yahoo account to see how the market did today. I also pick up on some news headlines as well as some afternoon sports scores. I don’t spend as much time out on the Web as I would like to.