Jul 6, 2009 - Setting up a dedicated server? Essential things to [...]

Jul 6, 2009

Whether it's moving into that first dedicated server or changing dedicated server providers, it's a prospect that can give nightmare to even a seasoned IT professional. Extensive information gathering and in the case of live sites, lots of moving pieces make setting up a new dedicated server a complex project. Those headaches can be avoided however, by paying careful attention to a few key details.

Measure twice, cut once

Create a thorough project document that describes every planned use of the new server in complete detail. List all the software that needs to be installed, down to the operating system and web server application. Include version numbers, system requirements, and even the order in which the software needs to be installed. Compare the full list of system requirements with the technical specifications of the new dedicated server. An unfortunate number of dedicated server deployments have been derailed by an unplanned system requirement, so don't be caught in that spot.

Build a team

You aren't alone in this process, so be sure to identify the other members of your team. At minimum, this includes you and your provider. It should also include any other vendor partners. Have your application vendor, site developer, and appliance supplier on call the day of the deployment to help quickly resolve any issues related to the server implementaion.

Thinking things through

Your plans shouldn't stop at the moment the server is booted up. Think through exactly how the server is going to be used on a day to day basis, and how it impacts not just the IT group, but other teams in your organization. Make sure contact numbers for support, account logins, and other important information are distributed to the relevant people. Identify the scope and range of support services that your provider delivers, and create scenario based "who to call" flow charts to be used in the event of an emergency. Solid pre-planning eliminates downtime.

Have an exit strategy

Sometimes despite the best laid plans, things still go awry. By planning for that possibility, you can determine with cool forethought when to cut losses and regroup. In the heat of a tense server installation bad decisions can be made, unnecessarily wasting time and resources.

Setting up a dedicated server can be stressful, but it doesn't have to be. With careful planning and thorough documentation, you can avoid many common pitfalls and make sure the transition to your new server is smooth and efficient.

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