The Windows server migration that wouldn't go away

In the midst of a massive datacenter consolidation, a techie discovers that the devil is in the details when dealing with a problem server

At the time of this story, I was involved with a huge datacenter consolidation project. With only a handful of people, we were condensing datacenters, combining three major networks on four continents, and integrating five different carriers. As the multiyear project was winding down, one lone server at a closing datacenter remained an enigma -- and became my headache.

It was a Windows server, yet it was not part of the Windows server migration. It had fallen through the cracks. Despite the fact that my role in the project was coordinating network integration and that our group had a fully staffed Windows/Intel team, this migration was tossed in my court.

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I was buried in my own migratory trials and tribulations with no time for one more inherited fiasco in the making. After putting it off for several weeks, my boss became insistent that I work on it. When I asked what he wanted me to put on the back burner, I got a rather disbelieving look, complete with rolled eyes.

In between other migration duties, I tried to learn what exactly this thing did. I found that the server's software would soon be out of support and the hardware support would run out the following year. On top of that, most of the function could be migrated to existing servers with minimal fuss on current hardware and software. I reported my finding up the food chain and hoped that was the end of it.

After another week, I was asked where I was on the server's migration. So, again, I started looking into it. The contractor in charge of the server's datacenter provided some resources, but they proved to be unhelpful runarounds. I finally spoke to The Guy (we'll call him Jim) at the closing datacenter who knew about the server inside and out -- or so I was told.

Jim said it was a simple thing to move the server -- a small matter to change the IP addresses and be done with it. I relayed this information as a quick way to settle the issue and got back to my primary tasks.

None of my superiors were satisfied with that simple plan. I was instructed to create a migration document. The Windows/Intel team were not writing migration plans for their servers, so I put a few key steps down on paper and submitted it. No go, insufficient detail.

At that, I set out to create a micromanager's dream come true. I documented every single thing -- creating the plan, powering off the unit, unplugging the cords, crating it all the way, plugging in a network cable, and pinging the gateways. In total it was seven pages of minutiae.

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