Server Documentation

jmoody
jmoody used Ask the Experts™
on
I am new to being a server admin and work for a fairly large organization. I was assigned a bunch of Windows servers that have absolutely no documentation on them. I used SYDI to get some useful info but I’m looking for more info that an automatic tool probably can’t give me. I am looking for support info such as what the server does, it’s role in the organization, critical services and any info that can help during the troubleshooting process. I would like to draft a document that I can send out to other teams that have databases or applications on these servers to help fill out. Maybe someone already has one that I can use or ideas of what other questions I can ask to get as much info as I need to support the server and applications on the server.
Comment
Watch Question

Do more with

Expert Office
EXPERT OFFICE® is a registered trademark of EXPERTS EXCHANGE®

Commented:
This is a good idea, you already know that you're going to have to get this information from other people, rather than trying to extract it from the machines. But I'm not a fan of the "fill out and return questionnaire" approach.

Take your list of servers, and throw out the wide net on the question of "Who's responsible for what this server does, and what are the key functions it serves?" That's as long as you want your wide net questions to be.

Then set up meetings with those people, preferably in a room with a whiteboard, so that you can ask them questions directly, and have a conversation. Take notes, obviously.

This accomplishes a number of things. Technically speaking, each of these servers is likely to be different enough that the full set of answers on them wouldn't properly fit into a single detailed questionnaire. While you're talking about a particular server, you can ask questions for clarity, and follow down the paths that open up about it.

Moreover, as a new admin, this is an opportunity for you to get to personally know the people you'll be working with, and providing services to. You'll learn about the servers, sure, but you'll also get a better picture of who these people are, and what skills and resources they bring to the table - things you might need to call on in the future. And they'll get to know something about you, too, which will hopefully evolve into, "Hey, I bet jmoody could help with this" when they need something down the road.

I know that probably doesn't answer your question the way you expected, but it's something to consider, at least.

Author

Commented:
I didn't think about that approach but that's a great idea and I think I'll try it. I still would like to get a check list of things that I need documented so that I don't forget anything.
Commented:
Point your thought process in the direction of "What business purpose does this serve? Who and how many are the stakeholders in that purpose? How critical is the business need that this system fills?" and maybe a little more specifically, things like "What would happen if that system was down for an hour, a day, a week, forever?" That might lead you in the direction of finding out that, oh yeah, there's a vendor we can call for support on that if we really, really have to. Stuff like that you might not find out any other way than just following your nose through a conversation.

(Actually, "Do we have third party vendor support, and if so, what's their SLA and how are they contacted?" is a pretty valid question to ask about every system, but the example makes sense.)

I've never really had a big checklist like that myself, because the deeper technical questions (beyond some basic system OS and hardware configs) are always born out of first knowing how the system fits into the business. I've always realized what was the next most important question to ask as part of the process of finding that out.

Author

Commented:
Thanks for the tips.

Do more with

Expert Office
Submit tech questions to Ask the Experts™ at any time to receive solutions, advice, and new ideas from leading industry professionals.

Start 7-Day Free Trial