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Old 04-16-2012, 02:51 AM
Luis Rodriguez Luis Rodriguez is offline
 
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Default Taking over server maintenance

I'm not sure if this is where i post this suggestion, so forgive me if it is out of place.

I just recently opened my own IT firm and I've started taking jobs from some shady/incompetent technicians. I've been finding it fairly tedious to learn new infrastructure and settings from taking over some of these servers. Some of the old technicians wont bother as to leaving me admin passwords, settings, group policy info, etc.

I would LOVE to read an article with tips, information, and approaches to taking over server maintenance when acquiring a new client that already has an IT network in place.

Thank you.
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Old 04-16-2012, 12:36 PM
rjframe rjframe is offline
 
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Let the client know the setup is horrible. If you're actually on a contract I would tell the client you want to come in one night and completely redo it (either free or very cheap - you won't really be able to charge unless the client will get a clear benefit from it). If it's going to save time in the long run then it's worth the investment now, and it shows the client you're serious about doing whatever is best for them, even if it costs you a little time/money.
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Old 04-16-2012, 01:12 PM
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YeOldeStonecat YeOldeStonecat is offline
 
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There's really no universal "list" to go through...most of it you will learn through experience...and repetition....doing it a lot of times. Can't really come up with a universal list because...it's almost always different each time you do it.

First...I find it unprofessional to "bad mouth" the competition....don't tell your new client that the setup is horrible. You're insulting what they own..that is the first thing that your new client is perceiving from you. They don't relate it to their prior tech guy's skills in setting it up, they relate it as you insulting their property.

What you can do to illustrate how you do things differently (better)...is let them see the steps you take, the extra things you do, the additional documentation. Explain to them the things you do (that you feel separates you from the competition)..but without bragging or patting yourself on the back.
*"I like to do this because..."
*"I do this in case...."

The client will make the connection that you do extra things...without you making yourself look boorish by telling them that their existing setup doesn't have this or that their prior tech never did that."


Now...first thing I do...is call up their prior tech, in front of the client..and let them know I'll be taking over this client. I ask them for all pertinent information....domain admin credentials, router/firewall/network equip passwords, passwords to offsite services like mail filtering, setup for that, offsite backup, DNS account info, etc. Often a tech will have a little .txt file or document nestled somewhere in one of the servers..with all of that info. I do that at every client of mine...and the clients get a copy of it, have access to it.

If I have the admin passwords....before calling that old tech guy...I change them. Just in case he wants to be a knucklehead and mess with things, but to be honest..in all of my career I've never..ever...had a prior tech person mess with things during/after a handover to me. There is some honor amongst thieves.

But calling the prior tech in front of the client puts a date stamp on that transition. If the prior tech remoted in and messed with things after that....you have logs and a time line for legality.

Seal off any remote access from the prior tech..look for VPN accounts, remote admin to the edge firewall, naturally change Administrator password...look for additional back door accounts they made, and it would probably be safe to change all user passwords since the prior guy may have known them.
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Old 04-16-2012, 05:47 PM
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rsarceno rsarceno is offline
 
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You need to be careful saying something negative about the other IT firm or tech. Sometimes it seems like a bad config or setup but there might be a reasonable explanation like software or hardware compatibility. For example a server that originates with Windows Server 3.5 might only have 10G for the OS drive. It might have been upgraded to Windows Server 2003 and the OS drive is filling out fast. In most cases the owner doesn't want to spend much so the tech is somewhat limited to what he can do. Besides if he didn't do it someone will as long as it doable.

Also the prev tech could have been the owner or relative of the owner. Last thing you want to do is piss them off.

Changing a password is good practice. But you need to be careful. There might be cron jobs or application with hard coded admin password that might stop from working. Most common bad practice is SQL. Instead of using SA account, non SQL tech use admin account to automate SQL scripts. The next thing you know the apps doesn't work.

There other accounts that also required special attention. Just to mention some, IUSR Account, operation and backup account etc. They have enough rights to do a damage.

Knock on wood, so far all my transition went OK. Don't really have problem with the outgoing tech. But as a safety precaution, I would turn on logging to track server security and traffic assuming you have CPU and HDD space available.

Good Luck
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Old 04-16-2012, 09:56 PM
Luis Rodriguez Luis Rodriguez is offline
 
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I didn't mean to offend anyone buy calling other firms shady or incompetent. But to be honest i live on a border town and most of my competition aren't even "firms" at all, just people claiming to provide a service they cant keep up with. In no way shape or form do i say my clients setup/structure is bad, they are the ones calling me saying they have bad support/networks from their previous techs. i do not call out my competition, nor do i say i am better than them, I am simply offering my solutions to people that have called me for work. I was just looking for some tips on taking over an existing infrastructure. once again i sincerely apologize if i came out a bit arrogant or ignorant. Thank you for the advice so far
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Old 04-17-2012, 12:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luis Rodriguez View Post
I didn't mean to offend anyone buy calling other firms shady or incompetent. once again i sincerely apologize if i came out a bit arrogant or ignorant. Thank you for the advice so far
No need to apologize....and I didn't take you as coming across arrogant. Was just passing some advice...I've seen it done before, and even in my younger years in doing IT I found myself doing the same thing.
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