Thursday, August 18, 2011

Maintenance Windows

Subtle admonitions, Strict adherence to SLA's or boldface demands...

Ever try to convince an entire enterprise that you need to take down their servers for a weekend?  There's always resistance and even if you get your time window somebody's going to complain that they can't get to their stuff. 

Maybe somebody higher up in the organization will make you postpone your maintenance window just because they can.  "No, we can't send our satellite office of 3 people home an hour early.  It will impact our performance!"

Ah, office politics.  The great monkey wrench...

It's understandable in this day and age of 24/7 everything that users expect zero downtime.  That's reasonable given ideal circumstances. My experience has yet to show me an enterprise where that ideal exists.

In fact, it's impossible unless the enterprise is based on IT.  Think online universities or Large software companies.  Unless IT is at the core of the business it's not a priority.

Strangely enough, IT is at the core of most businesses whether the business knows it or not.  Your users just take it for granted.  "It worked yesterday so it'll work tomorrow so there's no need to inconvenience me."

There's a few approaches to deal with this.

You can just ignore the necessary maintenance and wait for something to blow up.
Then you get all the time you need to take care of things.  The downside is you're probably going to lose a weekend, the department will be blamed for being incompetent and somebody's going to get shown the exit.

You can force extensions to maintenance window by ignoring the predetermined time limits but you won't make too many friends and that exit door is likely to be in your future.

You can make the argument that 24/7 availability is unrealistic without putting resources in place to make it possible.  That's reasonable but will likely fall on deaf ears.

Seems like a no-win scenario. 

Unless you can get support from someone other than your IT director it is.

Unreasonable maintenance windows and a lack of proper resources is a systematic problem outside of your ability as an IT professional to fix. 

The fact is, if you're in an organization that won't allocate resources to meet demands then you need to get out.  It's really that simple so don't overthink it.

Discovery Channel's Mythbusters may have been able to successfully polish cow patties but in the end they were still cow patties.  Take a lesson from that...

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