What are the right questions to ask?

Charles Curley charlescurley at charlescurley.com
Thu Jan 17 21:11:18 MST 2008

On Thu, Jan 17, 2008 at 09:40:00AM -0700, Steve wrote:
> Last night I was called over to help with a project.

I've been following this thread with interest. Been there, done that,
got the t-shirt.

The key to the whole thing is to minimize disruption. You cannot halt
normal business if at all possible. Do your changeovers on Friday
afternoons so you have the weekend for early problems.

A few thoughts, some of which others have mentioned:

* They will need a competent sysadmin to set things up.

* That sysadmin can then either continue to maintain, or teach their
  resident techie what needs to be done, and hold her hand as
  needed. Or some such; just make sure they have support they can rely
  on. Which ain't cheap.

* Make the tranition slowly. Someone said he could make the transition
  in a couple of weeks, and I don't doubt him. I would plan to
  transition one app every other week, starting with core networks
  services: DHCP, DNS, Windows networking services. Do the mail
  last. Run the Windows and Linux boxes in parallel for several
  months. Then pull the plug on the Windows services so that you can
  fire them up quickly if need be. If it takes six months to complete
  the transition, that's fine. The main reasons for taking your time

  * Minimum impact on business ops.

  * Customer confidence.

  * Debugging. If you change everything at once, and something goes
    wrong, you don't necessarily know which app caused the
    problem. Transition one app at a time, and it is very obvious.

  * Security. By transitioning one app at a time, you have the time to
    make each one right before you go on to the next.

* In parallel, look at who can benefit from moving their workstation
  to Linux. Again, run the Linux box and the Windows box in parallel,
  perhaps with a KVM switch. Transition a few people at a time, and
  (this is key) start with their in-house early adopters. The early
  adopters are your best allies in this.

I'm in the process of bringing up a new Ubuntu box, and
decommissioning my last Fedora box. I made the transition of network
services over the course of several months. And I just found out today
I still didn't have everything right. Oops! Fortunately I quickly
identified and solved the problem.

And that little screed should give you some ideas on questions to ask.


Charles Curley                  /"\    ASCII Ribbon Campaign
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