Bigboss is dead- long live Bigboss

Unbeknownst to most we are not only hosting vintage Lancia in our museum, but also vintage IT equipment, manly IBM, but also HP and Dell. Our IT infrastructure is nearly as old as our cars.  In AD2000  we deployed a Microsoft exchange server on an NT4 operating system to take care of our communication needs. The platform was chosen from available waste computers, a 600MHz Celeron with 500MB RAM an 80GB IDE drive in a generic casing had to do... and that is it. In the last 23 years 100 000's of messages were spooled all over the world. we had 2 database corruptions due to power failures, which both proved were non-fatal. But for over 10 years if was clear, the situation was untenable. Microsoft had long moved on to AD, and the NT4 controller could not serve the upcoming windows 7 machines anymore. Worst of all was however the backup of the ever growing database: Due to historic reasons, exchange 5.5 can only to online backups to tape drives, and this is a drama for itself.  Hardly ever were proper backups available. In the end we did get a LTO drive which actually kind of worked. However our building site and the never ending dust but an end to that. While our IBM server actually survived being filled with building rubble, that cannot be said for the LTO drive. In the end there were only offline backups causing much downtime. The IDE drive was a permanent worry. The drive was used when we stared is and now probably a quarter of a century old. The longevity can only be explained by the fact the the machine was NEVER swichtre off in 2 decades. But since the last database corruption, the the message store file started to grow, from 10 GB to 20 GB and finally approaching 30 GB.  Ba now the partition started filling up. Applications and data were moved to another partition, but that only brought temporary relief, every day the drive space was getting smaller, so we had to get off the sinking boat. Our friend Vito kindly provided a decommissioned DELL Poweredge machine, 4 XEON processors, 8 GB RAM  2 power supplies, and most of all a RAID controller for redundant storage. Getting the machine working required 3 installation attempts, and that machine boots VERY slow, and is not easy to handle ( I am not taking about the 50 kg kerb weight ) As per Microsoft, the data migration was supposed to happen via Backup tape. But that would have required 2 reliable tape drives. While I bought 2 , non or them really worked. So Plan B was the modern shortcut: a 60 GB USB stick. The idea was to create a totally identical host, and the move the data. Exchange was to be tricked not to notice the change of hardware platform. On the last day only 100MB space was left ton the old drive, so it was a lost minute evacuation. Data transfer via USB 1 took over 8 hours, and miraculously it actually worked. As we speak the the exchange server is running. As it is on a windows 2000 platform we can make online backups to file, and the data is on RAID so there is some security in place. Next step is the famous "DCPROMO" command which will upgrade to AD and take our organisation belated into the 21st century. next comes exchange 2000 r which will the also allow us to share calendaring with the rest of the world...

Tomorrow the Proliant server will get upgraded to Deb10. Luckily we have professional support....

update: as per beginning of Nov. the upgrade still left many broken pieces, so the MS hardware turned out to be easier then the Debian software upgrade.....

 

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