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Am I Crazy, or is it the rest of the world?

By CIO at Alphabetas ·
Remember all the hype in the 80s and 90s about NOT using a
single point of failure like a mainframe or one server to do
everything? Remember all the studies that showed user
productivity was down when a server that did everything was
down? Now, many service providers are pushing business
owners into using SBS as a single server solution. Why do I
care?

The reason is, I am leaving a company that currently has 5
servers running either 2003 or 2000, and one that is an SBS
server.

They are being told by an outsource company to switch to SBS
premier server for everything, as that is the support model the
outsorcers can handle.

Current setup: Printserver on one low end machine, Accounting
program (8 bit DOS believe it or not- no they wont change) on a
new 1U Dell
Cadserver on a fairly robust box for user shares and CAD license
checkout (This unit WONT go to SBS as AUTOCAD won't work on
it)
SBS server has the intranet (in development) and a proprietary
Bid program that uses SQL, and we plan to use the sharepoint
and other servioces on it.

Another unit is the Master Antivirus server (Symantec 10) and
the anti spyware server (Counterspy) and finally a box as the AD
Domain Controller (the others are backup DC's per usual). These
are all really glorified desktops but run well with no issues to
date. Our backup solution is ntbackup to removable FW drives
that are capable of restoring documents in 17 seconds (and
have). All backups work and are verifiable. We can restore an
entire server in under an hour.

OK, so, since I came on and rebuilt the domain (hacked) I
installed a Symantec Gateway/IDS device and a remote control
solution from ENKOO for remote access to desktops through a
secure encrypted appliance. All licenses are current and all
desktops are managed by the AV and CS programs.

Not _ONE_ virus or spyware piece has made it in, there are
*never* any issues (no slow user authentication, no printing
issues, very rapid speedy network traffic and extremely few
issues in general), even stupid user tricks are phenomenally low
here. The fact is they dont need my services any longer and I
have trained a very bright subordinate to handle nearly anything
that comes up.
But- he is afraid of the servers and active directory, and has
passed that fear onto the rest of the executives, that if
something does go wrong they will be without support.

So enter these new guys who want to:
Rebuild the entire domain
Consolidate all server functions onto one SBS server
Take over maintenance and desktop support

They make me very nervous. The President wants Outlook
calendaring and other features made available. My
recommendation is to have our mail hosting company provide
that, or, use the SBS server to MX to the POP server, and use the
internal calendaring of the SBS servers Exchange program.

Tell me your feelings about this please.

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They are crazy

by Too Old For IT In reply to Am I Crazy, or is it the ...

Step away from the SBS, and no one will get hurt.

And I would try to get as much off of SBS and on to seperate boxes, preferably with remote backup to a off-site secure location as well.

If you have to have exchange, I always prefer it in a seperate box. Wouldn't free/busy service in a ftp share work just as well?

Intranet could be just as easily run on a CentOS/BlueQuartz box.

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Thanks, but can you elaborate?

by CIO at Alphabetas In reply to They are crazy

I appreciate the backup of my position and the validation of my
concerns, but could I get you to add a bit of depth to your reply? I
am encouraging them to read this so they feel fully engaged in the
process and are making a decision from facts.
Why exactly do you also believe that a SPOF SBS solution is bad?
Thanks again,
Bill

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um.. oh I would

by Jaqui In reply to Am I Crazy, or is it the ...

take a wild guess..

both!!

they are crazy for wanting to go with a single point of failure.
you are crazy cause you work in IT!!

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Well, I guess I had that coming...

by CIO at Alphabetas In reply to um.. oh I would

So Jaqui, is it just the single point of failure that is bad here? Am I
guilty of a kneejerk reaction? How would any of you folks structure
this?
Thanks

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Structure really

by Jaqui In reply to Well, I guess I had that ...

depends on traffic volume, very high volume systems you want to have each server/service on it's own machine, other than database servers, those you have constant replication of. read only queries on the copies, additions or edits being posted to the main server.

lower traffic levels I would group webserver and ftp on one box, intranet on another box, email on it's own box. application servers are always separate from the others, as they are as critical as can be.

Naturally, backup every server on it's own duplicate box, so a quick swapping of boxes gets the system back up, releiving the stress of the broken server.

editing to add:

I actually operate with the policy of plan for the worst, and hope for the best. then no matter what happens you are prepared.
I do not like any single point of failure in anything, including staffing.
I always try to have even staff able to cover for anyone who may be off sick, injured or on vacation.


~gone for late lunch - early dinner with hot looking blonde friend~

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Need 1 spare of each critical resource

by stress junkie In reply to Am I Crazy, or is it the ...

There's nothing wrong with consolidating services into fewer servers. The trap that most people make is to purchase one server that is so expensive that they can't afford to purchase a second. That is exactly the opposite of a high availability configuration. You need to have one spare of each critical resource. If you have one server then you need another one in case the first one breaks. If you have ten servers then you need a total of eleven. See? You should have the number of a resource that you need plus one. You can use the spare. It's not just sitting around doing nothing. The only thing is that it needs to be big enough to keep doing what it is doing plus take over the job of one of the other servers. Having one more server than you absolutely need also makes it possible to perform upgrades during business hours. You can take down any one server and perform the upgrade and test it before putting it back into service. You just do that for each server until you have upgraded or patched all of your servers. In the case of this business it would seem that having one required server and one spare is the solution. You just have to keep in mind how you would migrate the job of one server to the other in case one server broke down.

It seems to me that purchasing some "big iron" hardware to do everything, plus purchasing the SBS software, plus the time to reconfigure the entire IT environment is going to cost a lot of money and take a lot of time. Naturally the outsource support firm thinks this is great. It is great ... for them. They're just thinking of all of the hours that they will charge to do this work. Of course they will want to do some work after hours or on the weekend, at twice their normal hourly rate. I don't see how this is going to help your employer. It helps the outsource support company. I would NEVER change an environment just because a support service ONLY KNOWS THAT PLATFORM!!! Are you kidding? That is so Mickey Mouse retarded I can't believe that anyone would accept such a ridiculous idea.

I've always said if you have the technology to do the job then keep it. Rephrased: if it works don't fix it. Why buy anything if your current situation is working? We all know that advancements in hardware are coming so fast that you should always delay a hardware purchase as long as possible to get the most performance for your money.

I'm really interested in the politics of your situation. If I understand you have been the lead tech support and you have had a somewhat less skilled helper. This helper hasn't bothered to keep up with the technology but your employer wants to get rid of you. So your helper told your boss that he couldn't handle the situation. Your boss then decided to outsource your support. Is that an accurate description of your situation? Are you being forced to leave because you are being paid "too much"?

If that is accurate then it seems that your employer still needs you. They could fire your helper and hire someone who is worth a damn and who would learn what he didn't know. If they MUST get rid of you then there is the problem of the support service. This outsourced support provider is obviously only thinking of themselves. They want your employer to spend a ton of money just to fit the limited knowledge of the support company's employees. THAT'S UNBELIEVABLE!!! If nothing else your employer should find a support service that can do the job as it stands.

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I am leaving on my own, mostly...

by CIO at Alphabetas In reply to Need 1 spare of each crit ...

The politics of the situation aren't really that dramatic. The guy
Ive trained is pretty good, he simply has no advanced experience
in servers, and no MCP of any kind. He does have a BA in CS
though.

I have my own consultancy and a ski company I am restarting
(an old family business) so I am unable to give them a fulltime
solution. They did ask that I cut back to half time as they found
me too expensive for this 50 person facility (to be fair, I do get a
high rate, due to having worked at fortune 1000 companies and
performing as a key contributor at those places. This is also a
family business and they are related to me, so when they had
trouble, I left my other job to work here. They also provide me
with a rental deal I cant get elsewhere for my companies in the
same building).I have offerred to exchange rent for consulting,
and I was suprised they didn't take it.
I figure they could use a guy like me who wants to do only this
and make around 50k. They actually dont want to spend that
much, and have been told they will spend far less on an
outsourced solution.
So, no, not forced to leave... encouraged is the right word.

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Disagree, but only in part ...

by Too Old For IT In reply to Need 1 spare of each crit ...

Consolidation is generally always a bad thing. You lose redundancy, you lose the ability to ramp up to meet new demand. (Tho maybe not in Bill's situation,) you also run the risk of losing talented and gifted network/server/system admins who may come back to haunt you at your competition (or if you need them, expensively through a consulting agency).

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missing some info..

by msklizmantas In reply to Am I Crazy, or is it the ...

how many workstations are in your network?

and probably the bright one is not bright enough and they do need your services after all ;-)

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thanks

by CIO at Alphabetas In reply to missing some info..

That may be, but I am definitely moving on anyway, so it's not an
issue. We have about 50 users wkstns attached to the network,
which counts the laptops that are out mostly.

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