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The Smoke and Mirrors of Server Upgrades

The Smoke and Mirrors of Server Upgrades

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Published by John Croson
This is a paper I wrote for my Technical Reporting class. The basic requirements was that it had to be technical in nature, with a general audience of probable non-technical persons, and cite several sources.
This is a paper I wrote for my Technical Reporting class. The basic requirements was that it had to be technical in nature, with a general audience of probable non-technical persons, and cite several sources.

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Categories:Types, School Work
Published by: John Croson on Mar 27, 2008
Copyright:Public Domain

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05/19/2010

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The Smoke and Mirrors of Server Upgrades
Prepared by John Croson
Contents
Introduction ...........................................................................2Environment Evaluation .......................................................2Hardware ...................................................................2Software ....................................................................3Server Services ..........................................................3Operating System and Hardware Selection ..........................4Server Editions ..........................................................4Server Licensing .......................................................4Hardware Considerations ..........................................5Server Selection Tips ................................................6Server Upgrade and Migration ..............................................7In-Place Upgrade ......................................................8Clean Installation ......................................................8Surrogate Migration ..................................................86 – Active Directory Preparation .........................97 – Active Directory Installation ..........................108 – Data Migration................................................1310 – Active Directory Migration...........................1312 – Internet Information Services.......................1413 – SQL Server....................................................15Post Installation .........................................................18Application Migration ...........................................................19Conclusion ............................................................................19References .............................................................................20Glossary of Terms..................................................................21Page 1 of 27
 
.: Introduction
As time and technology progresses, system administrators find themselves patching software, fixinghardware, installing upgrades, all to avoid the inevitable: THE UPGRADE. This will make managementcringe at the expense, users moan that their work day might be disrupted, and system administrators wipe thesweat from their brows realizing their existence for the next 3 to 6 months will be secure.This guide will provide information and tips on Windows 2003 Server upgrades and migrations to include:
Active Directory
IIS
SQL
ApplicationsWhile this is not a definitive guide on the subject of Windows Server 2003 upgrades and migrations, it willprovide consolidated information for systems administrators seeking upgrade guidance.
.: Environment Evaluation
The first phase of any type of migration is to evaluate your environment. In many cases, patch levels, runningapplications, and services provided are documented, but my not be complete. Depending on your role in theenvironment, you could be facing a dire situation.Jack Taugher [
9, excerpts from interview
], a colleague who is an IT consultant was asked to quote a serverupgrade. He was provided some information by the potential client, and drew up a quote. However, when hearrived to deliver the quote, he found the server with the front grill open revealing two IDE drives sitting un-mounted, stacked in the case. They were the systems sole drives in a mirrored configuration. Upon closerinspection, one had failed without warning, putting this client at great risk of data loss.Jack informed the customer of the situation, and was immediately hired to rectify the situation. This discoverychanged the scope of the migration project, and the quotation. Stabilization of the existing server is vital, andan initial evaluation would have revealed this.
.: Hardware
Whether you find existing documentation or not, a complete evaluation is imperative, especially if you areplanning to upgrade the system software on your existing hardware. There are a variety of tools available toinventory the server hardware. Belarc Advisor [
7, resource
] has an excellent utility for quickly evaluating thehardware, operating system patch status, and even performing a Center for Internet Security benchmark.Additional utilities for hardware evaluation are also provided by OEM support sites. For example, Dell has autility that automatically probes for the machines service tag number, and provides a detailed list of theoriginal hardware configuration, accompanied by the current hardware configuration. Microsoft provides theMicrosoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) that is useful for testing the patch status of both the server tobe retired, and the new replacement. There are also many vendors of enterprise level hardware evaluationutilities.If you plan to upgrade the system software on your existing server, use the hardware inventory to crossreference the Microsoft Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) [
6, resource
]. Most major manufacturers of server components will certify those components for use with Microsoft Operating Systems. You should usethe Evaluation Worksheet addendum for your inventory, or if you are fortunate enough to have an OEMsystem that is HCL certified, you need not pour through that extensive list Belarc and other utilities produces.Simply record the server make and model, verify it at the Microsoft HCL website, and ensure that any addedcomponents since putting the server into service are also HCL compliant. Print the results from your hardwarePage 2 of 27
 
inventory program and attach it to the Evaluation worksheet.It is possible that some components will not be HCL certified. When this becomes the case, check with themanufacturer for driver availability. They are usually available and reliable. If not, many times Microsoft willprovide generic driver support for those devices. Check Microsoft's website and failing that, Google it!
.: Software
The next step in evaluation is the software. Microsoft's MBSA and Windows Update do a fine job of identifying needed updates, but application software is another matter. Some manufacturers will provide amethod of checking for updates. Sun Java, Symantec's Live Update, and some Intel components are examplesof software that have automatic update features. Others require that you either run a utility from inside theapplication, or visit the manufacturer's website for downloadable patches. Use page three of the EvaluationWorksheet for recording all third party applications, their version numbers and patch status.Evaluating the workstations and software used that connect to the server is also important. Patches to theserver may impact workstations in many ways. Some server applications automatically update the clients;some require that the clients apply the same patch, but the client portion only. Other client/server applicationsrequire no patching on the client side. It's important to understand the applications that run on theworkstations, and how they interact with the server. Check the workstations in different departments forinstalled applications. You are more likely to find the greatest differences between departments and theirmanagers, than simply choosing a couple of workstations in the same area being used by people performingsimilar tasks. Record your findings on page four of the Evaluation Worksheet.Once this is complete, contact the application manufacturer's and inquire about any compatibility issues withtheir software and your missing Microsoft patches, and the proposed server environment.Lastly, ensure media or a download location is available for these applications. If the resource is a website,download these files for later use. The last thing you need during a server upgrade is missing software.
.: Server Services
Observe server load during normal operating hours. This will give you an accurate perspective into processorand memory utilization. If you observe abnormally high usage, identify those processes using the WindowsTask Manager, Performance Monitoring, SysInternals Process Viewer [
5, Marcin Policht points out these,and suggestswww.sysinternals.com  for free utilities
], or other process analyzing utility. Record your results,and use these findings to ensure your hardware selections are appropriately sized, if you plan to replace yourexisting server.Inventory the running services on your server as many Windows 2000 Servers have unnecessary servicesrunning, consuming resources. Disable any unused services, and note those services needed, since the defaultWindows Server 2003 installation has very few services enabled, unlike Windows 2000 Server. Use Xnetstat,or similar utilities to determine listening ports and the program associated with created the listening socket.They will provide clues to services that may not be listed in the Windows Services Microsoft ManagementConsole (MMC). Some services are run using scripts or other methods upon server startup. Once thoseprograms are located, check the file properties, and research the program. Again, Google is an invaluableresource for locating this information.The Microsoft Management Console can export its contents to a text file; doing so with the service list willrender a nicely formatted file, which can be opened in Excel. Simply right-click the Services object inComputer Management, and choose Export List. This can be either a tab delimited or comma separated valueexport. Attach this list to the Evaluation Table, noting any services not in this export on page five of theEvaluation Worksheet.Page 3 of 27

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