When you add a newly-acquired server to already-installed systems, the key actions are installation and test. While the manufacturer will have conducted basic tests of the hardware and software, you must exhaustively test the system running your organization's applications. The goal of this round of testing is to ensure that the new system produces the same results as the current systems when given the same input. The set of applications selected for these tests must exercise all aspects of the system -- computation, file system, LAN and WAN -- and should involve the use of either real or simulated workstations.
However, when your new system is intended to replace rather than supplement an existing system, you face additional work. The amount of work depends on whether the new system is completely compatible with the old one.
If the systems are compatible, the test process should pay special attention to storage, where you have two options to consider: Reuse the old storage on the new system (after a complete backup); or create a complete backup of the data on the current system and restore it to the new system.
Plan to keep the old system in good operational condition for at least a while after the migration of applications to the new server. That will allow you to resume operations on the older machine if problems appear with the new system.
In cases where the new server is incompatible with the older machine, the same test and transfer process must be followed, but you must take exceptional care with your data.
For instance, you have two types of data representation: Little Endian and Big Endian. They refer to the order of bytes. Little Endian represents the low-order byte and high-order byte of a number stored in memory at the lowest and highest address respectively, whereas Big Endian represents the high-order byte of the number stored at the lowest address. Systems based on the Intel x86 architecture use Little Endian while RISC-based systems often use Big Endian. Some programs are sensitive to data representation, making this important to test.
The initial testing of the new server also provides an excellent opportunity to check that the operating procedures, especially backup and restore, are in good shape.
About the authors:
René J Chevance is an independent consultant. He formerly worked as chief Scientist of Bull, a European-based global IT supplier.
Pete Wilson is Chief Scientist of Kiva Design, a small consultancy and research company specializing in issues surrounding the move to multi-core computing platforms, with special emphasis on the embedded space. Prior to that, he spent seven years at Motorola/Freescale.
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