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K Systems is an information technology management firm, working with small and mid-sized businesses in the Chicagoland area. We develop and implement business technology projects and provide ongoing support.

Call Keith at 630.408.6659 or email info@ksystems.com for more information.

IT Management Consulting

Archive for January, 2014

How long does it take to power off your Infrastructure?

A client recently had an issue where the electricity to their facility would be powered off for approximately 8 hours on a Saturday.  When presented with this, we reported that the IT infrastructure would need to be offline for 11-12 hours.  We were challenged on the amount of time needed to power off and power on IT infrastructure, but when you start looking into it its a surprise to see how long it really takes.

  • Routers/Firewalls/Switches/Key servers are usually mission critical and not powered off/rebooted frequently.  This equipment configurations all need to be backed up prior to the shut down, and ample time AND a contingency plan needs to be put in place in case there are issues with this key equipment turning back on.  I always wince when I have to turn off a piece of equipment that has been running for months or years straight… sometimes these old dogs don’t like to learn new tricks.
  • Servers running big back office applications (SQL server, Mail servers, collaboration servers, etc).  Take a surprising amount of time to shut down and boot up.  Most high end SQL servers can take upwards of 15-20 minutes before a logon prompt appears.  A lot of people think servers boot like clients, and although I wish that was the case it just isn’t reality.
  • Equipment cannot be all turned off and turned back on at once – equipment must be addressed in stages, tearing down the infrastructure from the “top-down” and then powering it back on from the “ground up”.
  • Once the infrastructure is back on, it has to be tested before “official word” is given for clients to enter back into the systems.  If things are not working right and access is granted too early, your IT department has to handle the server issues and the flood of client inquires to the issues they now experience.

CMMS – start small and justify bigger

A CMMS system is a perfect example of a product where a company has to be realistic with themselves when system shopping.  I use a smaller system such as a CMMS over something like a full ERP in this example because I think a smaller system drives home the point best:  You might recognize the need to grow, but at the same time your realizing your too big for your system now, you also have to realize your too small for the new system your looking at.

We had a client of K Systems where their outdated CMMS system was doing more harm then good.  However a lot of the problems this older system had resulted in bad habits by the Maintenance department in regards to getting work done.  While reviewing new systems the client was focused on features such as preventative maintenance schedules integrating with the production forecasts being generated by the ERP system, dynamic PM work order generation based on equipment wear, external/B2B lot trace capabilities, etc.  Meanwhile, I was more concerned about users not sharing logins, eliminating off the books work orders, and getting a somewhat accurate physical inventory.  There was an assumption on the part of the client that all the basic problems were the old system’s fault: and once a state of the art CMMS was put in place, the department would shape up.

We went to work in the old CMMS system building some rudimentary architecture and external reporting to “prop up” the old CMMS work order process.  Then we offered a challenge to the customer:  the Work Order component of your old CMMS system is now working – lets see if we can get the department to use it correctly.  What resulted over the next month was a complete failure for most of the department to comply with the procedures and policies outlined for submitting proper work orders.  This provided a low cost lesson:  if its happening here, its going to happen in the new CMMS system.

The solution was simple:  reduce the budget of the project, stop looking at the advanced features as “must haves’, and find something out there that does the basics well.  Then, after a year or two of a solid physical inventory, resource management, and work order accuracy, we can go back to the state of the art CMMS systems out there and start talking advanced features.  This smaller CMMS system did the job for the client, for less then what the yearly maintenance cost on the state of the art CMMS would cost!


image courtesy of elatewiki.org