Advice needed - New IT Manager

June 9, 2009 at 13:45:08
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I have recently started a new job as IT manager for a small company that is planning to grow from 25 users to 100+ within the next year. I have only had 4 years experience in my old job looking after around 20+ 5 user companies all running Small Business Server 2003.

I am looking for advice as to what things I should do/expect as I’m moving from a break/fix job to one where I will have the time to properly maintain and manage a network as it grows.

They currently use Small Business Server 2003 which I know has a 75 user limit, should I migrate now to separate Server and Exchange servers or wait till I hit the limit?

What do other people recommend as good management/monitoring tools? I have looked at and considered Spiceworks ( but have no experience with it.

Any other useful software that people recommend?

Thanks in advance

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June 9, 2009 at 19:19:35
Don't do any migration until it's needed. Get to know the current status first. I haven't used it but I would start with AD Explorer to get an idea of the existing users, groups & group policies that exist.

How do you know when a politician is lying? His mouth is moving.

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June 13, 2009 at 12:22:49
Hi there.
I think you're going to love your job as an IT Manager.
I've been an IT Manager for 8 years working in Education within Secondary Schools and I love it.

Here is a list of some of the things I have learned to do over the years...

- If it doesn't exist, create a disaster recovery plan. If you have one and are confident in it it will reduce the stress should any disasters arrise;
- Document every change you make (physical or software base) to the network or servers noting the effect. This will allow you to trace back/fix any issue relating to a change;
- Build a good hardware inventory and keep it up to date documenting MAC addresses where relevant. This will help you keep track of devices;
- Also build an inventory of software detailing where source installations are stored, how the software installs and where shortcuts reside/point to. If you leave or are sick your replacement will have a better understanding of where software is and how it installs;
- Ensure a good sound anti virus system is in place ideally with a central management console that will allow you to manage the AV client instaled on all PCs/servers;
- Regularly check the status of critical systems (i.e. AV protection, backups, file/print server, etc) logging when you chacked and what you find;
- Get to know the physical infrastructure (cable and switch layouts). Knowing which cabinet feeds which area will speed up the processing of locating network faults;
- Get to know how to use any switch/wireless management software if your switches/wireless controller have any;
- Understand the issues of Health & Safety regarding the correct use of IT equipment i.e. use correct seating, advise users on the correct sitting position when working on a PC and warn them of the real risks of RSI.

I could go on forever.
Some things that may help you daily are...

- Get into the routine of proactively checking all IT areas for issues that you know may crop up and rectify them before they effect the end user. You'll get less problems reported and people will see you are very much proactive as well as reactive;
- When problems are raised with you/help desk keep users updated as to progress. I believe one of the most important aspects of IT Management is building relationships with the end users. Let them see that you are hard working and have their best interests at heart.

Ultimately you will develop your own systems and proceedures. Enjoy your new career.

IT Services Manager

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June 13, 2009 at 12:24:24
Forgot to add...

AD Modify is a good tool for making bulk changes user accounts within Active Directory.

PRTG Network Monitor is also a useful tool.

IT Services Manager

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June 14, 2009 at 09:36:50
Thankyou very much for your reply. You have made some really good points that I hadnt really thought about.

A couple more questions if i may......

Whats the best method for deploying desktop OS's? Ive used GhostCast server before and know that Server 2003 has built in methods, but really dont know if there are any better options.

I have been thinking about disaster recovery plans etc but cant work out what do to about a Server Hardware failure. I have been considering getting 2008 and using HyperV with the guest OS's on seperate HDD's. Then if the Server fails I can get a spare machines/server with HyperV and transfer the HDD then boot the guests. Does this sounds like a good plan or is there a better option?

Thanks again.

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June 14, 2009 at 22:08:25
Yes,also contact microsoft and surf their site.Use gfi web for minitoring.And microsoft forefront gateway for security.Symantec products are good for security.

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June 15, 2009 at 11:11:53
Hi again.

We use Windows Deployment Services to remote install windows client OS's accross the network.

Also, I think your idea of virtualization is spot on for server hardware. I love the technology. I've never used HyperV.
Our current virtualization environment consists of three physical HP Blade servers (Dual quadcore Zeon, 10GB RAM) clustered using VMWare ESX 3.5 giving a combined pool of 30GB RAM and 24 logical CPUs. The server pool currently hosts 11 virtual servers including 2 additional Domain Controllers, a SharePoint server, an ISA server, a web server, software server, etc. Performance is brilliant. We also use VMotion which allows you to migrate running virtual servers from one physical host to another with no impact on performance of the virtual server or end users. It was also do this automatically if a physical server becomes degraded.
I love it. I seriously believe virtualization is the way forward!

With regards your physical servers, as part of your disaster recovery policy you should have the very best hardware support you can get/afford (i.e. if a disk fails, log it and support will have a new one sent straight away).
Or another option would be to keep a stock of the most common server parts that fail.

Hope this continues to be helpful.

IT Services Manager

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