[unisog] Server Update Policy, Procedures and Maintenance Schedules:

Eric Wohlford ewohlford at bluefield.edu
Sat Sep 2 00:57:26 GMT 2006

First I would like to say I have been a long time "Lurker" on the unisog List and found many of the discussions to be very insightful and helpful.
Recently we have been reconsidering the process we follow when running Updates on our servers.  In the past and for now it has been just kind of been whenever we can get to it with no real set schedule of patching them.  It has been where we just send an email or two and kick everyone off of all of our systems and update them over lunch.
We are in the process of setting up a Maintenance Schedule.  This would be were we would run updates, defrag drives, make sure files are cleaned up (temp directory's), check hardware, if need be cleaning dust out of the cases, and other similar tasks as they come up.
As it is now there are two camps of thought on this on our campus:
Keep it similar to how it is now but make it official that one day a month we will be stopping all services including our ERP, Email, and LMS, in order to perform Maintenance on our Servers. 
Start a Schedule that would have us do it "after hours," this would have us do it either in the late evening or early morning hours.  99.9% of our client base is in the same time zone.
Some concerns have come up that our IST Dept. may be "too small" (4 staff members) to support an "after hours" schedule, and even one thought that Educational Institutions do not work this way at all.  I personally am a member of the second group of having an "after hours" schedule.  I am asking a few questions as a poll to see what the Procedures are that others are using when performing this type of task.  If you wish you may email me directly and I can compose a summary of responses to post back to the list.  As a side note all servers are under the control of a central IST Department.
Do you have a policy on updating Servers you would be willing to share, such as how long you test a patch before applying, or which types of servers are updated first? 
When do you run these types of Maintenance Schedules on your servers, during normal business hours or after hours? 
How many IST Staff members do you have to support your schedule? 
How large of an institution do you consider your self to be?  And are you public or private? 
Does your staff manually update the servers or are they on a Managed system such as "Patchlink," or "Microsoft SUS or MOM"?  And if they are on a Managed system which one? 
Any other suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you, for reading and any insights you may provide to us.

Eric R. Wohlford
IST Support and Network Analyst
Bluefield College
800.872.0175 ex.278
ewohlford at bluefield.edu
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