Saturday, August 23, 2014

IT Can Be Amazing!

Yesterday our team had a scheduled maintenance day in our datacenter. Our goals were rather large:
  • Remove two retiring Dell PowerEdge Servers (R710s, 96gb RAM, 4-Core Processors)
  • Add three new Dell PowerEdge Servers (R620s, 128gb RAM, 8-Core Processors)
  • Increase RAM in two 1-year-old R620s to bring them up to 128gb
  • Expand RAM in our VCenter Server to 96gb
  • Apply firmware updates to all hardware
  • Shuffle everything in the rack
  • Move the entire Hypervisor system (the basis for our private cloud computing infrastructure) from VMware 5.1 to 5.5
Our intention was to do this live, with approximately 100 client servers and services running. We were in different locations around the country as we worked on this project:
  • I was the only one at the datacenter, about 12 miles south of Las Vegas, NV
  • Gary, our lead engineer, was in his office in Nashville, TN
  • Rick, one of our engineers, was in his office in Milan, IL
  • Ed, one of our engineers, was in his office in Columbia, SC
We had a plan, we had each prayed for God's grace and wisdom, and we began at about 7:15am Pacific time. We had a GoToMeeting conference call session running the entire time, so we were in constant communication via our telephone headsets and could share screens when helpful. It was as though we were all in the same room together!

I had emailed each of our clients earlier in the week, so I knew we were being prayed for. And God was merciful; he delivered! Here are our company tweets throughout the day (so clients would know how it was progressing):
  1. I am in the datacenter, staging the upgrade!  (8:26am) [This was a little more than an hour after getting to the datacenter, unboxing the new servers, and getting them to our rack.]
  2. One old host (#1) is out of the rack! Its space has been filled with two new hosts, currently in place and being configured.  (9:15am) [A physical server, when used the way we use them to serve clients, is referred to as a host.]
  3. 1st new host is live! Servers have been moved to it and it's/ they're happy!  (11:18am)
  4. 2nd old host is out of the rack! Configuration of 2nd new host in process.We're making good progress! 2 old hosts retired, 2 new hosts configured and running. 1 add'l new host in and ready to configure!  (12:14pm)
  5. So far, zero downtime for our clients. w00t!!  (2:06pm)
  6. Well, always plan for the unexpected in IT! One of the hosts that is surviving this update just had a redundant power supply issue! We're on it!  (4:24pm)
  7. Ok... the three new hosts are running perfectly! All servers relocated to them and running happily as we resolve issues on the two 1-year-olds.  (5:36pm) [This is a great testimony to the maturity and power of VMware. There's a reason it runs more than 70% of cloud servers!]
  8. I work with a GREAT team! All issues have been defeated on the two 1-year-old hosts, and we are upgrading their VMware!  (7:14pm)
  9. Whew! We're almost done! Hosts 4 & 5 are nearly done! It's been a great day, and our clients were up and running the entire time! #blessed  (7:45pm)
  10. What a great day! We are done! Just a little load balancing and that's it! Thanks to everyone who was praying for us!  (8:13pm)
And then I packed up my gear and began the nearly 4-hour drive home.

As I reflect, the things that stand out to me are:
  • God's grace and mercy as he worked through our team. Our clients are all churches and ministries, whose mission is the most important work on Earth. He made it possible for our clients to keep about their tasks without interruption while we did all that!
  • The Lord has given us a terrific team! I am truly blessed to be working with these guys.
  • Technology, when it works, is terrific! The fact that we were in different parts of the country and yet were working as though were all in the same room is amazing!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

New Article on Which is Better: iPhone or Android Smartphones

Yup! I'm entering emotional smartphone NeverNeverLand! If you'd like to read about my evaluation, click here to access a free advance copy of this article I just released to the publisher!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

New Article: Protecting Your Data-- Is It Worth the Hassle?

The value of some church assets is difficult to assess. Personnel, congregational goodwill, and data are just a few examples of assets whose value is usually understood only once it’s gone. None of us would say our data has no value to the organization, but trying to figure out what it’s worth so we can adequately protect it is challenging.

Data is one of the most valuable assets a church has. Protecting it isn’t difficult, but must be approached as deliberately and strategically as fire and security protection.

To read the article (always free!), click here!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

New Article on Common Church IT Mistakes (Part 1)

I’ve had the privilege of serving The Church as an IT consultant and strategist for many years. In that role I’ve seen a wide spectrum of how churches approach IT and, as you’d imagine, I’ve seen patterns of good and of not-so-good approaches. In this series I will cover some of the most common mistakes churches make in this vital area that impacts church ministry.

To read a free preview of this article, click here!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

OSX Mavericks (10.9.x) Still Problematic

Last November I blogged about Apple's newest and free operating system: Mavericks. I recommended waiting before implementing this version of OSX (click here to read that post).

Mavericks' third service pak is out (10.9.3), and the problems when opening files still have not been resolved. If you have a Mac and are considering upgrading it to Mavericks, I recommend not doing so unless there's an app that you really need and that requires Mavericks. Otherwise you will be frustrated by many spinning color wheels/ beachballs. And it doesn't matter if the files are local (on your computer's hard drive) or on a network share.

If you're buying a new Mac that has Mavericks on it, it's probably not worth the time and energy to reinstall the OS and go back to Mountain Lion (10.8.x), so I recommend just going with it.

So, I'm sorry to say, it looks like Mavericks may be the Mac equivalent of Microsoft's Vista-- an OS worth leapfrogging.

Friday, April 18, 2014

New Article: Using Technology to Track Worship Attendance


While at a meeting of church business administrators of very large churches recently the topic of taking attendance came up. This common topic challenges most in church management. In this particular meeting, however, someone shared a technological solution they're using that is bringing good results! To see my article about it, click here!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Church IT Network & Apple

The Church IT Network, sponsor of the Church IT Roundtable (#CITRT), has apparently caught the attention of Apple! In a demonstration of the growing importance of this effective group of church IT people and the indirect impact they are having on people's lives, Apple has decided that all iOS upgrades will now launch ONLY when CITRT events are happening!

Welcome aboard, Apple! Microsoft? Google? We're waiting!