Maintenance – Don’t be a Firefighter!

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So you’ve got a new client who needs a complete network refresh. You’ve ordered a new server, new switch, a bunch of new workstations and everything is now installed and up and running. You’ve invoiced everything out, been paid, and now you’re sitting back thinking you can breathe easy, right ? Why not, the server is brand new, so is all the networking equipment, UTM, etc.

This is a common mistake that IT professionals make. Just because something is brand new, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t require maintenance. Think of buying a brand new car. Just because that car is brand new, does that mean you won’t have to do any oil changes for the first few years ? Of course not. IT equipment is no different. You have to be on top of maintenance and ensure that your equipment is running properly and optimally, in order to increase the likelihood of a trouble-free long life.

For our discussion here, we’ll look at servers. As you know, my business focuses on third party IT support for clients. A few months ago, we took on a client who was unhappy with their previous third party IT support provider. They had fairly new hardware, as this previous company had done a complete refresh of all their workstations and servers. When we completed our initial assessment of the network, we noticed that the server (Windows Small Business Server 2011) didn’t have a single update installed. No one. Ever. As far as we could tell, this server had its operating system setup, was deployed, and then no one ever bothered to check the Windows updates and install them. When we spoke with our new client, we learned that they were unhappy because they were having a lot of issues and downtime with the server. Long story short, a number of their complaints were actually addressed by various Windows updates that just needed to be installed. However, because of the lack of proper maintenance and oversight by the last IT providers, some detrimental things happened within the server’s operating system. In the end, we actually did a complete ‘nuke and pave’ and started from scratch, because it would have taken more labor hours to properly fix the existing installation.

The scenario above is a 100% real world situation we ran into. Remember, scheduling standard maintenance windows is nothing other than a best practice. Make sure you’re doing things like updates, checking on backups, and ensuring that applications / databases are functioning as they should be. As the age old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Author

Martin Lehner

Martin Lehner is an technology professional working for an IT services firm in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada). He has been working in the technology field for over a decade. With a degree in Business Admin and numerous industry certifications, Martin leads a team of IT professionals that provide third party support for clients. Originally starting a company to offer web development services, Martin quickly realized that clients wanted the entire spectrum of technology services. When Martin is not at work (which is not often, since his company offers 24/7 support), he is busy at home spending time with his family.

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