Monday, October 8, 2012

8 things to remember when upgrading Xen Server

Working for Citrix give me the opportunity to do fantastic stuff in the server room. Last Friday we have upgraded XenServer to 6.1 and I would like to explain in layman terms what it takes to work in a lab:

1) Test your own
Naturally I first practised at my own private box.

2) Extra CD
You never know if particular drive likes particular disc.
This will also enable you to do things in parallel.

3) Do it on weekend
People not being able to carry on with their job? You know the answer: no no.

In case of failure: less impact.
No wonder why all major upgrades are in wee hours.

4) Keep it up to date
We've noticed that there were previously installed some patches, such as: "Driver Disk for Broadcom bnx2 v2.72.13 - For XenServer 6.0.2 with Hotfix XS602E007" Quirki name, isn't it? You'd better off applying all patches for security and performance!

5) Paperclip
Speaking of CD trays. They haven’t been used in months, occasionally they got stuck. Need to straigten paperclip to get job done.

6) BIOS boot menu
In some cases it was sufficient to insert CD. In most cases you will have manually specify boot order by pressing F2, F10, F12, DEL or any other button.

7) Label everything
Date. Version. IP. Post-it notes do not behave properly in aircon room they are flying everywhere. Be creative.

8) Go cloud
Why would anyone want do all of these? Go virtual, go cloud.
Hovewer at some point it must run on a physical box.

In general - afternoon in lab was a great experience. Right now I know: I would really like to build my own cloud and be independent! :)

Remember: shit happens, see Natwest meltdown. It's data and labour that are expensive, hardware and electricity in comparison cost peanuts. If I were to deploy some top-tier system there will be off-site mirroring.

Note to self: next time screw CD, boot from LAN!

Note to Xen: please allow upgrades with not the slightest downtime... It should be possible now: hot swap running VM... Interesting area indeed :)

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