The best laid plans

Things have been a little quiet on the blog recently.  This was mainly down to a project that was being planned for a client.  The project consisted of a transition from a Windows 2000 Active Directory running Exchange 2000 over to a new Exchange 2007 server running on Windows 2008 server and to make things a little more fun there was a 110 mailboxes to move.  Not really a major job as the process is more about step-by-step processing but none the less it still needs to be fully planned to ensure that all the bases are covered.  The reason for the work being done in the first place is mainly due to the current server being 8 years old, the HP LC2000 had really served them well, but more importantly one of the drives in the RAID5 had failed.  So while the hardware was ordered from Dell and awaiting deliver we put together a full plan to handle the transition from the old server on to the new one. As you may know, the transition can not be done directly as there needs to be a Windows 2003 domain controller in the active directory so the plan would be to make the new 2008 server a directory controller on the domain to overcome this issue.

The first job when we got onsite was to get a full backup of Exchange as the client had not done this for sometime due to technical issues they had faced with the tape drive but had not dealt with previously. While the backup job was running and copying the data to a USB drive I set about configuring the new server for use. Unfortunately Dell had seen fit to pre-install the server with the 32bit version of Server 2008 despite knowing it would be installed with Exchange 2007 so I had to get the server re-installed with the correct version.  Then we had to prepare the directory for the insertion of the new 2008 directory controller as the forest needed to be prepped in order to accept the server. Once the server was finally running as an active directory controller for the 2000 Active directory it was time to get Exchange 2007 server installed on the new server and integrated into the existing Exchange Organisation. Sadly during the backup of the old server another drive in the RAID5 failed and that was the end of the Exchange 2000 server. In most businesses this would have been a complete disaster however due to the way that they have worked for some time, most mail is saved to PST files on the server, this was a real pain and caused a little hassle but it was not a massive disaster. It was a case of removing the legacy mailboxes from the new Exchange 2007, which were non-existent, and replacing them with new Exchange 2007 mailboxes with the same details using the PowerShell.

Now while the failed drive was always a consideration with this process but unfortunately they did not want any action done on the issue. The fact is that regardless of how much planning is put in to a job, no matter how detailed the project checklist is and more important how much effort you put in; sometimes shit happens! The important thing is not what happens but how you cope with the event and ultimately how you recover from it.

The outcome of this is that the client is now looking to put in our latest BDR solution that gives near-seamless fail over in the event of a server failure for up to 5 servers.

The lesson of the day is do NOT neglect your backups, if they fail or if you fail to do them you are screwed. No two ways about it; ask yourself how long could you business survive without its computers or its client information? Does £100 for an external USB drive to backup your data real sound so expensive now? Contact JPT Solutions to discuss backup and business continuity solutions in more details.

– Rob

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