How do you manage your OS lifecycle?

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(RHEL) Lifecycle Management


With the recent release of RHEL5.9 and the upcoming release of RHEL6.4 on the horizon my thoughts have been drifting back to my old days of managing an internal server team at a large enterprise shop. THE single largest problem we dealt with supporting 1000 *NIX machines running the lion’s share of the mission-critical apps there was the seemingly external struggle to keep systems within a range of support. Coming from a relatively conservative org, the “bleeding edge” coolness and features of the latest-greatest wasn’t a driving factor for us (in fact, it was a detriment in most cases); we were charged to ensure the maximum ROI was squeezed out of each system, that there were as stable, secure, and available as we possibly could make them.


From my estimation, we were generally successful in keeping our clients in the sweet spot of being supported and advised of what was coming down the pipe (because you don’t want to be THAT GUY that has to figure out what the heck is going on with no viable resources when the business is down and your boss and his/her boss are pacing around your desk). We didn’t have any magic tricks or secret sauce. We did a lot of homework understanding exactly how our customers were using our RHEL (and other) systems; what features they needed and depended on, what new things might help them add more value. We talked. We talked a lot to them, explaining the lifecycle of the hardware and the software supporting it. Most got it, others didn’t. You deal with those situations as they arise.


But my question to you all, what strategies do you use to keep your company running in tip-top shape? How do you manage your OS lifecycle? Do your customers demand the newest features, or are they more concerned about consistency? How have you been able to persuade that lagging Line of Business or Developer to give up that 15-year-old system? When it comes time to update the system, what methods can you share with us that helped you guarantee a successful transition into more modern times? Thanks for sharing, I’m really looking forward to hearing everyone’s stories!


-Chris Robinson aka CRob

Technical Account Manager (TAM)

Red Hat, Inc.