An Example: Hardship From Undocumented IT

August 12, 2009

I have written extensively (harped may be a better word) on how critical it is to keep up-to-date documentation of all assets, configurations and usage of all your IT assets. I use the term ‘assets’ for software, hardware, services, everything that makes up your IT infrastructure.

How Little Things Can Be Big Problems

We recently finished migrating many applications and databases from a couple of older physical servers to a new server. The migration from the old servers did fairly well, but one issue that caused some issues (because we did not find it until something broke) was as follows;

And How Stupid Is This?

It turned out that a bunch of application code written on the old servers had a job to collect certain data, then this code had to use the popular ZIP format to bunch it up into packages that were sent be E-Mail to particular recipients.

This was not documented – anywhere.

Obviously, when we migrated to the new server, these applications started breaking. Once we identified that something was broken, it was an hour or so for development staff members to comb through all the code to identify why, then more time to identify how!

It turned out that a simple, free, open-source utility that was compatible with the popular ZIP format and could also be accessed programmatically (meaning that the utility can be used by software code) had been placed on the server to do this job.

Equally as obvious – that utility software was not on the new server.

The SMB Takeaway

Document, Document! And Document some more!

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