Keeping Track of Versions

This week I find myself in the coastal city of Portland, Maine.  I am teaching one of my favorite MOC (Microsoft Official Curriculum) course of all time, 10215A: Implementing and Managing Microsoft Server Virtualization.  It is likely my favorite because it is the one I have taught most often, but also because it was my go-to course when people asked me about virtualization prior to Windows Server 2012.

Of course, who really wants to learn about Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008 when Server 2012 R2 is almost ready?  Nobody… but the course for that platform is still under development, and likely will be for some time.  So 2008 it is… with a lot of ‘and here’s what 2012 has’ thrown in.

Now here’s the problem: I am teaching a course that was written for Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008 R2, and I have to remember what was in R2, then R2 SP1, then 2012, then 2012 R2.  Wow.  It may be easy (ish) for me to keep straight, but for my students it is murder.

We came to a compromise at the beginning of the course on Monday: I would interweave Server 2008 R2 with SP1 and I would cover Server 2012 (and System Center 2012) in discussion, but I would not try to discuss either Server 2008 RTM or Server 2012 R2.  Mostly it has been working pretty well.

Of course, there is the occasional monkey wrench in the works.  One of my students remembered reading (somewhere) that we could not over commit memory in Server 2008 R2.  I told him that his source was wrong… until he showed me that it was actually in the courseware itself.  At that point I remembered that Dynamic Memory was only introduced in Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, and with that explanation he was satisfied.

How do we as IT Pros keep track of all of these versions and changes? How do we keep them straight?  We could learn everything and burn the candle at both ends making sure we know everything and never forget anything.  This practically ensures we will go mad sooner or later.

A better way to do it is to follow the KISS principle… Keep it Simple, Sam! :)  You may think that all of the interconnected dissimilar systems in your environment are cool, but for the sake of practicality you should avoid this at all costs.  By keeping your environment as simple as you can (and yes, there are plenty of reasons you would need to have three or four different OSes in your environment) make your life easier… and let you leave the office at a reasonable hour every day.

IT is complicated enough without us making it more so unnecessarily.  Should you upgrade your servers?  Yes, absolutely.  However don’t just do them as one-offs.  Plan the migration of your servers to simplify the management of the transition so that when you are done it is done… all servers (or most) are always at the same level.  Simple?  Maybe.  It is simpler than not being able to track everything and having to manage a bunch of different operating systems unnecessarily? You bet!


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