Server deployments and migrations can go bad in a hurry. Choose the wrong platform or configuration and you could find yourself with an incompatible setup. That can be an expensive mistake, in terms of both the time and capital required to repair the error. Deploying a new server is no time to discover that a client or department runs a critical application requiring a 32-bit OS. Nor is deploy day a good time to learn the box doesn't have the necessary spindles, drive arrays, or licenses required to meet application or business requirements.
Even if you get the server configuration correct, there's no guarantee you won't overlook a key step, like properly configuring DHCP, testing a new backup routine, or installing and configuring antivirus software. There's simply too much to remember. You can't commit it all to memory.
Like New York Times bestselling author Atul Gawande (author of The Checklist Manifesto), I'm a believer in the power of checklists. As Gawande points out, checklists need not be overwhelming, terribly complicated, or extensive to prove helpful. In fact, the best checklists are often quick, concise reminders of simple but critical steps.
The Server Deployment/Migration Checklist is designed to provide IT consultants, systems engineers, and network administrators with a single-page document to help ensure that a new server is configured correctly and properly deployed or migrated.
At the top of the list are several items in bold. They must be considered before placing an order for a new system. By reviewing bold items before ordering a new machine, you'll eliminate many potential surprises and avoid many incompatibilities.For example, take the first step: 32- v. 64-bit OS / App Requirements. I recently spent three or four hours simply reviewing whether a client's many essential business applications necessitated deploying a 32-bit operating system on a replacement server. In fact, that proved to be the case (two of five vendors stated that their software was supported only on a 32-bit server OS). Thus, my office was able to avoid having to return the system to the shop to wipe the intended 64-bit OS off the box in favor of the 32-bit alternative.
The remaining items on the checklist provide space to log any special requirements or notes and to record critical documentation as a new server is deployed.
Checklists are surprisingly powerful. By checking off deployment steps as they're completed, you can see at a glance whether any critical actions remain. Despite interruptions, unplanned problems, and inevitable glitches, it's easy to keep track of what steps have been completed and which remain. Follow the checklist, and it will be hard to overlook important steps, such as testing backup operations, enabling custom disk quotas, and configuring battery backup software.
Using the checklist doesn't mean a server deployment or migration will complete more quickly — but it will help you complete the process effectively and efficiently. Download the Server Deployment/Migration Checklist and let me know if you don't agree it helps simplify an otherwise complex project.
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.