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How do you do....it? Thread, Managing Downtime In A School Environment in Technical; Originally Posted by SYNACK Transferability is a big one, my Windows sites could be easily handed off to someone else ...
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    somabc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    Transferability is a big one, my Windows sites could be easily handed off to someone else who could get to grips with most of the config even without documentation in a reasonably short timeframe. Linux is simply so customizeable that it can very quickly turn into an undecypherable maze of interlocking systems with enough config files to comfortably wallpaper the infinite chasums of hell.

    Having gone into a school with a realitivly simple custom build of linux on it that had been built by one person then stumbled through by several others before I got to it the shear scale of the unknown elements is astonishing. That and the helpful linux community who take joy in just posting the man pages online make it a total horror show.

    Give me a supported and somewhat standardised solution any day as at least that will not absorb so much time not only to build but to document and so much longer to transfer.
    If you used a Configuration Management system such as Puppet with it's declarative language for expressing system configuration, a client and server for distributing it, and a library for realizing the configuration backed up by a Version Control System then you will have a full audit trail of what changes were made by who to which system and because you are writing recipes they will automatically be translated across platforms. Then whoever takes over your job should have no problem adapting!

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    Admitedly, the biggest barrier to having such a setup is probably the fiddlyness of installing Debian, Xen and DRBD - there's definatly a gap in the market there for a half-decent server management console built around the idea of mirrored storage. However, once you've built a couple of servers that way you realise it's actually dead easy - I reckon it should be possible to build a complete server, from scratch, starting from the point of going to the PC shop to get the bits and ending with a VM server added to the resources pool, in around 4 hours.
    And so we get back to the point of skillset, and there is also the position that for some sites this will be a complete change of strategy on technology that might not fit into their existing investment ... and making any changes would have to be done over a long period of time and with careful change management ... and so we get back to downtime again.

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    Ideally we have no scheduled downtime from 8:30am to 3:00pm however we have in the past had some, (2 occasions), where scheduled maintainance happens during this time, for different reasons. I think we all appreciate that 100% uptime is not financially viable for schools and discussing this with SLT is key.

    We have an IBM virtualised system being brought online this summer using vmware. I have designed the system with no single point of failure. It wasnt cheap, but neither was it extortionate. I took extended warranties to ensure replacement parts are with us the following business day. An engineer can be with us, but as I have setup 2 similar systems before, I am confident of fitting the parts myself.

    VM ware, as other virtualisation products, ensures that if there are any issues, there should be little/no disruption to service.

    An SLA is also key as mentioned before. This will be an agreement with SLT as to which services are most important and give details of how long there can be a disruption to a service. This powerful document gives you the leverage to buy in better equipment or spares and if they dont like it, then the SLA needs changing.

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    If you want to set it up yourself these best practices were developed at Stanford University with contributions from the greater Puppet community.

    Puppet - Puppet Best Practice - Puppet Labs
    Puppet Tutorial for Linux: Powering up with Puppet | Bitfield Consulting
    Pro Puppet: Amazon.co.uk: James Turnbull, Jeffrey McCune: Books
    Last edited by somabc; 13th April 2011 at 11:52 PM.

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    SimpleSi's Avatar
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    There is no simple or general answer for this one - totally dependant on attitude of SLT/ability of tech staff to be flexible/cost of minimising disruption.

    If SLT/tech staff working relationship is OK and both put themselves out at times to help the other then life is good

    Si

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    andyturpie (1st August 2011)

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    And so we get back to the point of skillset
    I guess that's what decent, user-friendly systems management software is there for, along with consultancy services to advise people getting started.

    and making any changes would have to be done over a long period of time and with careful change management ...
    Not neccesarily - these are virtual machines we're talking about here, you can change around the underlying hardware without noticing any difference. You maybe need a consultancy service that could come in and switch things over in a weekend, or maybe a week of the summer holidays.

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    I'm afraid I've not read all of the replies but I deal with downtime as follows:

    Just do the work.

    Obviously I don't plan any work during school hours and I try to do everything during the holidays, but if things break, they break. We've had two entire days offline here since Christmas due to aircon failure in the server cupboard, we had another day without any printers. If you explain to them why, there's not a great deal of argument for breakdowns. As for planned works, I definitely would not do it outside of my working hours. It's part of your job to do this work and it will improve the system. Try and do the high-profile jobs during time that people will notice, that way they will notice the improve and be able to accept the downtime was for a reason. Recabling a cabinet as you were saying is a tough one because you definitely need to do it but there's nothing in it for them, so they just see it as hassle. If there's an improvement that they will notice as a result then they will come around to your ways. As for the clubs during break and lunch, tell them to whistle. If there's an important problem that needs fixing then the club comes second! Personally I just weigh the situation, who's going to be inconvenienced, who's going to gain. Normal the latter is the whole school and that normally outweighs any single group.

    If they're not willing to give you the time to do it and complain even when you've warned them well, a) that's your job and b) they're teachers - they love a good whinge. To most staff your job is a COMPLETE mystery, or at least that's the impression I get. So if you ever say you're causing them hassle, they can't begin to comprehend it. Sounds nasty, but I think that's true in a lot of cases.

    Shuriken1.

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    Duke (29th June 2011)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shuriken1 View Post
    If they're not willing to give you the time to do it and complain even when you've warned them well, a) that's your job and b) they're teachers - they love a good whinge. To most staff your job is a COMPLETE mystery, or at least that's the impression I get. So if you ever say you're causing them hassle, they can't begin to comprehend it. Sounds nasty, but I think that's true in a lot of cases.
    Gave me a laugh, cheers!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Duke View Post
    Gave me a laugh, cheers!
    Haha, glad to oblige. :P

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