Network Servers: Everything You Wanted to Know but Were Afraid to Ask
It's important to start testing a server immediately after it arrives. Most vendors have different
replacement versus repair policies depending on how long you've had a piece of hardware.
For instance, many vendors will simply replace a server with an entirely new one if a failure is
discovered in the first 30 days, but after that, they'll go through the normal repair process. If an error
does appear during testing, you'll probably be more confident with a new server than going through
a repair process. (Plus, the repair process will take more of your time for troubleshooting and such.)
After finishing the testing, you can install the NOS. During this phase, pay careful
attention to any peculiarities of the server and to any error messages reported by the
NOS or the server during the installation process.
You must resolve these errors fully prior to going live with the server. In particular,
watch out for any intermittent messages, such as a message that there was a parity
error in the system's RAM or an unexpected lockup of the server during installation.
Even if those problems don't recur, consult with the maker of the server. (Be sure you
carefully write down any messages or other things that you notice if this happens.)
Servers have a tendency to fail at the most inopportune times, so make sure that you
have complete confidence in the server before making it available to users. It might
make sense also to let the server run its production software configuration for several
days as an added test before putting it into use.
In particular, make sure to have all potential NetWare Loadable Modules (NLMs),
Windows services and processes, or UNIX/Linux daemons running together as part
of the testing. When you combine third-party software for these platforms, there
are numerous opportunities for bugs or incompatibilities that the vendors did not
anticipate (despite a NOS vendor's stamp of approval).
Most server manufacturers have made it easy to install their server and to install
the NOS onto the server. Companies such as HP and Dell even ship their servers with
special CD-ROMs that mostly automate the process of installing various NOSs onto the
server and also install any needed support files that the NOS needs to work optimally
with the server hardware. Prior to installing a NOS onto a server, make sure to read
the server's documentation carefully and to take advantage of any automated tools
provided by the server manufacturer.
The top-tier server makers (IBM, HP, and Dell, for example) maintain e-mail notification
systems that let you know about any new patches they release or any serious problems they have
with a particular model. These e-mail services are extremely useful, so you should plan on signing
up for them immediately on receipt of any new server.
Here's something else to think about: Sometimes servers are built and then sit
around in inventory for several months before being sold. Consequently, the server
might not come with the most current software. Before installing the server, check the
maker's web site for any updates that aren't in your package and consider whether to
install those updates during your implementation process.