Martin’s Weblog

Days in the life of an IT manager – 1

Monday 15th October

Emails were surprisingly light this morning and at 10.30am I managed to get on with some much needed hands on with systems. First up was trying to get ISA server 2006 operating as a simple proxy to authenticate web access against a domain using LDAP – initially wanted to keep the proxy outside of domain membership but no way could I get this working. Decided to try and simplify things and make it part of the domain and this allowed me to browse and select the domain but actual authentication is not happening – the ISA firewall seems to be interfering with RPC communications. Web help pages on ISA topics seem to revel in complexity when what I want is simplicity – finally decided to call an end to this, log a call with our support company, have my sandwiches, and get on with something else later.

Answered emails until 3pm then checked and changed the backup tapes and then in a desperate need to achieve some progress for the day I set up and configured 4 virtual servers in just over an hour – we now have 6 virtual servers on this system (2 quad core 2.66Ghz 16Gb RAM RAID 1 300Gb disk).

Tuesday 16th October (today)

Arrived at work at 8am and got straight into knocking of as many emails as possible so as to get some more much needed hands on with systems. Engineer for Goldmine installation arrived at 9.30am and we proceeded to install SQL server and the product onto one of our virtual servers. I Left the engineer with a colleague while I checked on things in the department. Discovered that we only had 2Gb left on a shared “pool” server – 300Gb once seemed quite a bit but no longer – especially when a leaving presentation recently soaked up 12Gb. This pool server and another one had been hovering around the 50Gb free mark for a few months and I had new server ready. I configured the new server (now with 1.4Tb of space – seems a lot now but in two years time this will probably not be enough), made some test restores to it and moved some large files across to free space on the current server. Next week is half-term  – on Monday I will make the current server read only so that it can be used for reference whilst restoring 300Gb from tape to the new server  (this will probably take a good 6 hours) and when finished the new server will take over.

My colleague reported that Goldmine installed and works as planned – another triumph for virtual servers.

I removed two old servers – both of which are now virtual – at last I can actually reduce the number of servers in the server room and still expand.

I Decided to try and achieve some progress for the day so thought I would install a newly delivered server to host more virtual servers. I installed this into one of the new spaces – this involves enduring the cold and noise in the server room, crawling in the confined spaces between the server racks to install the rails, heave the server onto the rails and then fiddle around amongst the mass of data and power cabling at the back of the racks. I was looking forward to seeing this very respectable “super server” as a big virtual host – I installed Enterprise server (for systems over 4Gb) and expected to see it’s 32Gb of memory but it would have none of that – it showed me just 3Gb. After a few reboots and some swearing decided I had reached a dead end and support from Dell would be needed. They would have none of that either – the server’s tag number is not yet on the support site so that is a dead end as well. This will have to wait then.

In order to get some progress for the day I decided to continue a recent  background maintenance task on our Exchange email system. A major issue is dealing with accounts and mailboxes of people who have left – especially as they often leave and then reappear under different contracts shortly after so deleting them is a problem. I have been working on an answer – using a mailbox server to host disabled account mailboxes.  I selected the last batch of disabled accounts and moved their mailboxes to mail stores on the disabled mailbox server – this is good as the mailstores on the “live” servers will use the freed space and this will stop them growing (shrinking mailstores is a nightmare). On the disabled mailbox server I have organised 4 mailstores – I will dismount one, wait 4 weeks and if no one complains then remove the mailstore – a safer way than just deleting the mailboxes and then attempting recovery.

This evening I have been test driving a UMPC (Vye) at last – the small size gives it a convenience factor that has to be used to be appreciated and it boots up and is ready to use in just 67 seconds (the convenience of these units reminds me of the convenience of wireless networks – difficult to appreciate this over wired until you try it).  Problem is that I have just spent about 2 hours installing updates and security patches – this is Microsoft’s problem though – we really need XP SP3. I have had to set the screen on this tiny device (7.1in) to 800 x 600 just to read it – however for most pages this isn’t a problem at all. The device is good for wifi or wired access but 3G will have to happen via one of teh new 3G USB modems rather than built in circuit or PC card. I’m really looking forward to the HTC shift as this is built for wireless WAN ( built in HSPDA 3G and sim slot).

Given such a small device I also finally had a look at twitter – you can find me at – I spelt timelord wrong but never mind I’ll pretend timekord means something.


October 16, 2007 Posted by | day in the life, ICT | 2 Comments