Original Date: 06/02/2003
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Uniform Mandated Build Configurations
Standardization of server build configurations and the addition of standardized build checklists have allowed ABC Virtual Communications, Inc. to significantly reduce the time required to install new systems in support of customer needs. This approach has also allowed the company to reduce its support personnel requirements and provide uniformity from system-to-system.
Prior to late 1999, ABC Virtual Communications, Inc. (ABCV) managed the development and build of computer systems (servers) by allowing the installers to build the system as they thought it should be built. This practice led to large-scale, non-standardization in hardware and software for each system built. This approach also led to an increase in Help Desk calls, increased downtime due to reconfiguration requirements, increased troubleshooting times, and a general overloading of personnel supporting the different systems.
In an effort to support a growing number of servers and projects with a small support staff, ABCV developed a mandated system of build checklists for all new servers. The procedures listed in each checklist must be followed and signed off at each step of the build process. Once the system is built, the completed checklists are stored in a common area accessible by all implementation team staff. This process allows anyone on staff to know right away how a system is built and configured. In this way, the time to debug any problems is greatly reduced, and all administrators have the same information available to them whether or not they built the system. Scripts and programs on one system type will work the same on all other systems of that type.
Since incorporating standard processes and build configurations, ABCV has reduced the number of people supporting servers by a ratio of 6:1. This approach has also allowed the company to automate routine maintenance due to the system uniformity, improve installation consistency, reduce time spent to install new systems, reduce help desk calls, and reduce troubleshooting time by more than 50 percent.
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