Modern Middle Manager
Primarily my musings on the practical application of technology and management principles at a financial services company.
Burned Out in 15 Days

Thursday, January 15, 2004  

It's January 15th and I'm already dead on my feet. This last weekend's efforts just to complete the first phase of the merger already took it out of me. Whew.

The idea behind my plan to merge the information systems of the two companies was to proceed in phases. The setup phase consisted of meetings with management and the investments group. Phase I was the migration of user files and e-mail, using Citrix as the window into our network. Phase II is the inventory of applications and their migration (again, to be used through Citrix). Phase III is to move over their printers and other miscellaneous equipment. Phase IV is to cut off their existing network access through our corporate parent. At that point they will be completely absorbed into our network.

Phase I was testimony to the dangers of obsessive-compulsive behavior. Like the Caesars of old, I need someone whispering in my ear to tell me to stop, regroup and re-examine my assumptions when things don't go right. There is a boundary between determination to succeed and sheer bloodymindedness and I crossed it somewhere in the wee hours of Sunday morning when the e-mail migration wasn't working properly. Here's how that went down:

Move the investment e-mail server from corporate's data center to ours to speed up any network processing.

Create a new e-mail server on our network for the new mailboxes.

Review plans. Check everything.

0800 - The day starts with a UPS changeout. Our old UPS bit the dust about 3 weeks ago and this was the first time we could cut over to a new one.
1100 - Go to investments and start backup of their user files to restore on our network. Supervise install Citrix on their desktops.
1300 - Go back to data center to supervise testing of systems that were powered up. Start migration of mailboxes.
1500 - Migration not working too well. Go back to investments to pick up tape of user files.
1600 - Start restore of user files. Go back to work on e-mail migration.
1700 - Migration still not working. Can't find a way to get migration tools from NetIQ to copy mailboxes from one domain to another. Build intermediate server that I figure I can join to our domain after I've migrated the mailboxes. Start backup of primary e-mail server just in case.
1800 - Intermediate server build done.
2200 - Backup of primary e-mail server to tape done.

0400 - Migration complete. Decide to back up intermediate server in case something goes wrong.
0530 - Something goes wrong; intermediate server crashes and hard drive corrupts. Build another intermediate server.
0700 - Try to migrate mailboxes again. Migration tool can't find them. Where'd the mailboxes go on the primary e-mail server? I thought they made a copy? *#@&.
0900 - The Girlfriend brings Starbucks to try to get me focused and fed. Frustration sets in.
0930 - Can't find mailboxes. #@(*^#($*(@#*^$.
1300 - Rename information store directories on primary server and start restoring from tape backup. Restore is running at 1.2MB/min. At this rate it will take 100 hours. Maybe it's just clocking slow because of small files? Go home to get lunch.
1400 - Check on restore. Still going at 1.2MB/min. That can't be right. Decide to go back to the office.
1500 - Create gigabit network to speed up restore by putting in gigabit NIC in primary server. Also found port speed mismatch on backup server and switch (why now?). Restart restore. Going at 420MB/min. About (@#*&$)(@*&$ time.
1600 - Call mom and brother because I will be missing my birthday dinner. Go to sleep.
2200 - Wake up. Get cleaned up and go to work.
2300 - Start again. Restore is done. Everything is where it should be. Hallelujah. Find out that mailboxes were there all the time, just marked hidden. Haha. #@*(^$#$(^#@*$*^*&$.
2330 - Start migration to intermediate server again, this time over gigabit. Finishes in about 3 hours.
0230 - Intermediate server done. Create backup that doesn't crash server. Making progress. Hah.
0300 - Put intermediate server in our AD domain so I can use the migration tools to put mailboxes on destination server. No dice. Intermediate server won't start up.
0400 - Spend time on Google figuring out that a service account in Exchange cannot be changed and you're hosed if you try. Put intermediate server back in corporate domain.
0600 - Tried several different ways to get migration tools working with two domains. Nothing worked. Went home.
0800 - Finally got to sleep.
1500 - Woke up and looked for alternate ways to migrate mailboxes. Settled on exmerge.
1700 - Wound up using exmerge to move mailboxes to PST files. Put PST files on our network.
2100 - Ran import from PST files to destination server.

0200 - Finished with only four mailboxes failing to migrate.
0230 - Reran import, with three of four mailboxes starting restore.
0245 - Went to sleep.
0900 - Woke up and finally got last mailbox to start importing.
0930 - Import done.

What did I learn? I should have started an alternate method after fighting with the migration tools and coming up with the Rube Goldberg intermediate server scheme. Had I switched to exmerge at that point it might only have been an 18-hour day instead of a 32-hour day. I'm still exhausted.

Lesson to be understood: even if you're under a deadline, take a step back. I got to the point of obsession and just didn't let go until it was too late.

posted by Henry Jenkins | 1/15/2004 10:42:00 AM

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