A Thought About Efficient IT Administration

closeThis post was published 8 years 10 months 8 days ago. A number of changes have been made to the site since then, so please contact me if anything is broken or seems wrong.

I’m kind of calling out St. Kate’s Enterprise Computing Services department in a way, because I want to know why they would schedule a restart-required software deployment an hour before the computer lab is to close.

Can anyone with experience in Information Technology and management of company/school computer networks tell me why the times chosen to deploy new software are chosen? My experience last night of a new software deploy completely disrupting my very limited time on the computer happened at Saint Catherine University, which has a generally great library (unlike Concordia University in Saint Paul, though Concordia used to be greater).

Plenty of people were using the computers, and all got interrupted. Why? Why not schedule the deploy for after-hours and save everyone the hassle? When logging in, the computers at St. Kate’s even display a message encouraging users to log off their computers at night so updates and new software can be deployed during off hours. I would define off hours as the times when labs are closed, not an arbitrary time like 21:00 (as was chosen a few days ago for a non-restart-required installation) or 23:00 (as was chosen for last night’s disruptive reboot-required deploy).

Maybe the IT staff go home at the usual lab closing time and they don’t want to stick around after closing to monitor the deploy. Perhaps they want to have extra time to debug any problems that might crop up before the morning rush. Admittedly, the labs are rather underutilized late at night, but those users there are generally working on something very important that really shouldn’t be interrupted. It adds to their stress. Having to wait five minutes for the computer to finish “Applying computer settings…” and “Running startup scripts…” doesn’t help frayed nerves.

Having no information on which to base any conclusions, I can only speculate wildly as to why the installation time was chosen. But I know that I was not the only user in that lab that was very frustrated at all the computers being forcibly taken offline for five minutes to install a software package.

I also wonder if it wouldn’t be possible to have idle computers install the package immediately, but allow in-use workstations to delay installation and restart until the current user logs off. It seems like that would be much more efficient than having everyone in the room sit and stare at a Windows status dialog for five minutes.

Well, at least St. Kate’s and Concordia haven’t moved to Windows Vista. πŸ™‚ Augsburg College, when I have occasion to go there, has and their systems are a royal PITA, not to mention slow as molasses (“Designed for Windows XP”β€”the front of every PC tower at Augsburg).

Oh, and even if you’re not in IT, I’d still love to hear your opinion. πŸ˜‰

dgw

I am an avid technology and software user, in addition to being reasonably well-versed in CSS, JavaScript, HTML, PHP, Python, and (though it still scares me) Perl. Aside from my technological tendencies, I am also a theatre technician, sound designer, violinist, singer, and actor.

2 Comments:

  1. Melanie Werl

    Nicely written! I hope that someone in one of those colleges – especially an IT person – reads it, reflects, and responds. I’d love to read their rebuttal (or explanation).

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