Ask almost any system administrator what he or she spends the majority of their working day doing and the response almost always includes managing changes and updates to their systems. It is for this reason that over three (3) years ago Symantec introduced its complimentary web-based Symantec Operations Readiness Tool (formerly known as Veritas Operations Services). Now with this month’s latest release, Symantec extends the benefits that the Operations Readiness Tool provides to Storage Foundation, NetBackup and Storage Foundation for Windows users.
The original purpose for Symantec Operations Readiness Tool is simple: Enable system administrators to work smarter, not harder as it provides them access to a web-based tool with a centralized repository of knowledge and best practices that reduces the time that they spend planning for and managing changes in their Storage Foundation environment.
Change always involves risk and the last thing any system administrator wants to introduce into their mission critical environments is risk. However these are typically the environments in which Symantec Storage Foundation (SF) and Veritas Cluster Server (VCS) run. So when changes are made to their environment or patches or upgrades are released for either SF or VCS, it introduces an element of uncertainty as to if there will be any impact to production applications.
To address these concerns and minimize the time that system administrators have to spend planning and managing these changes, the Symantec Operations Readiness Tool website was created. It enables system administrators to proactively and confidently apply needed patches and upgrades to their Storage Foundation and VCS implementations as well as make it possible for organizations to verify that other planned changes to their environment would work as intended.
In this respect, the Operations Readiness Tool website has succeeded as, since its creation, over 95% of Operations Readiness Tool users report that they can proactively meet these objectives using this website. Examples of tasks that they use it for include identifying:
- Which Storage Foundation (SF) patches a virtual or physical machine lacks
- What system or environmental risks exist and specific recommendations on how to mitigate them
- What SF patches, VCS agents, or system level updates need to be applied in order to ensure that a new and/or existing application works or performs as intended
- Which VCS agents they need based upon the mix of applications discovered on the server
- What new storage systems are supported by the latest version of Symantec Storage Foundation’s Array Support Library (ASL).
To perform these different tasks the Operations Readiness Tool website provides a data collector. This software collects, analyzes and reports on what changes are required on datacenter servers in order to prepare for installations or upgrades, find and mitigate risks, or inventory deployed products and licenses. It then produces a report that lists the optimizations that a system administrator should make on each server.
Enterprise organizations that already use the Operations Readiness Tool find that one of the biggest benefits they derive from it is a consistent approach to preparing for installations and upgrades across their server environment. Normally this preparation is a complex, time consuming task reserved for senior level administrators or system architects to perform.
But using the Operations Readiness Tool website, they reduce the time spent on this task, standardize the procedure and even potentially convert these tasks into ones that junior level administrators can perform. Further, these reports can be passed along to executive managers so they have a sense of the time and work that is required to prepare each system in advance of its software installation or upgrade as well as how much time that they are now saving using the Operations Readiness Tool as opposed to doing these tasks manually.
In this month’s release, Symantec takes some additional steps to improve its support for Storage Foundation for Windows as well as NetBackup. The Operations Readiness Tool currently has one data collector script that works across all versions of UNIX and now with this latest Operations Readiness Tool update, many of the same features are now available for Windows SF deployments as well. The Windows data collector could previously do pre-installation checks but it has been enhanced to do licensing and upgrade checks in addition to risk assessments that puts its functionality about on par with the Unix data collector.
Support for NetBackup in this release of the Operations Readiness Tool is still in its early stages. In this release backup administrators can leverage the Operations Readiness Tool to gather up to date information on what NetBackup products are deployed in their environment.
Going forward, backup administrators can expect to leverage the Operations Readiness Tool to manage and support their NetBackup environments in much the same way that UNIX and Windows systems administrators leverage it to support their SF and VCS environments.
Symantec’s introduction of its Operations Readiness Tool to support Storage Foundation deployments over three years ago alleviated an ongoing management concern for administrators by helping make patch and upgrade management on individual servers a much simpler activity. Since then enterprise organizations have found it useful for a multitude of other purposes to include standardizing the application of fixes, patches and upgrades as well as managing changes in their environment.
This month’s upgrade to the Operations Readiness Tool continues to help enterprises in their efforts by broadening its support for Microsoft Windows environments as well as for NetBackup. In so doing, both NetBackup and Windows SF administrators can look forward to better leveraging the Operations Readiness Tool to reduce the time that they spend on managing their systems while increasing their levels of efficiency and effectiveness that their UNIX system administrative counterparts have enjoyed for years.
The Symantec Operations Readiness Tools website can be found at https://sort.symantec.com.