In this final section, we'll discuss some best practices regarding change control in your environment. A good change control policy can prevent that late night call from a panicked IT manager. This is generally the call you get after the application guy had an immediate update he just had to put on the Terminal Servers ASAP. (Of course, he tested it on his laptop but not in a real test environment.)
If you're looking for a single golden nugget from the 50 bucks you spent on this book, here it is: it is crucial that your Terminal Servers be managed as tightly as possible.
When using Terminal Services, a simple change that causes a problem could affect hundreds or thousands of users depending on the size of the farm. So, regardless of whether you have two Terminal Servers or fifty, strict change control is a must. In this chapter we will discuss the following:
- Change management strategies
- Change management policy
- Change management processes
Unfortunately, your servers and the applications that reside on them are constantly in flux. Application developers and owners want upgrades to applications, security fixes need to be installed, service packs get released, hotfixes are a constant battle, and of course user requests for changes are de rigueur in every environment, requiring a strict change control policy.
The saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" contains great truth concerning change control. Does the following situation sound familiar?
Admin1: There's a problem on Server 12 with IE.
Admin2: What's the problem?
Admin1: It crashes whenever you run it.
Admin2: Well what happened?
Admin1: I don't know, I figured I would ask you.
Admin2: Well I didn't change anything.
Admin1: Neither did I.
Admin2: Well someone sure did, 'cause now we have 100 helpdesk calls about IE not working and all those users have been on Server 12.
Of course, if these two administrators were the only ones with access to the servers (and if they were truthful with each other), then this dialogue might not occur. Often, even with just two administrators, verbal change control is not enough. A simple update to an application or the operating system could cause downtime on a mission-critical application.