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When servers need to have scheduled downtime at my workplace we follow a process roughly like the following:

  1. Propose time for work to take place on specific box/s
  2. Lookup list of stakeholders for specific box/s
  3. Seek approval from stakeholders (service owners/management etc) via email
  4. Incorporate changes to proposed time if necessary, repeat step 2 until..
  5. Now everyone is happy with the time, send out a notification via email of the time, ask
  6. Staff who care about when the box is going down manually add it to their calendars
    1. some stakeholders
    2. the staff doing the work
  7. Do the actual work

Is there an OSS project that we could use to automate this process? My googling has been fruitless so far. Will we need to build something ourselves? Would anyone else be interested in something like this?

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3 Answers 3

I don't have a software answer for you but this type of scenario is one of the reasons we went to a regularly scheduled maintenance window where I work. We have a monthly window that everyone knows about and no permission is necessary. Prior to each window, we figure out what exactly we'll be doing during that time and then send notification to everyone to explain exactly which boxes/services will be unavailable. This solution isn't perfect either but it sure is better than having to negotiate every time.

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Like icky2000, I have arranged to have a maintenance window. Mine is between 3AM and 4Am every Sunday. That hour is mine and anyone using my network during that hour will receive no apologies for any inconvenience that may result if they are silly enough to even be working during at that time of the morning.

That maintenance period is used whenever possible, most for automated tasks, such as installing patches, rebooting, etc. Large jobs that I can't (or won't) fit into that window generally get done early Sunday morning (before 9AM), as that is when the systems are least likely to be in use. It's worth noting that I work for a small company, where things are a bit more flexible than they are in larger companies.

For me over the years the real key to maintenance windows has been to avoid the need whenever possible. Small jobs are done whenever I can manage them, either during working hours, early morning before I go to work or late in the evening. Large jobs, such as setting up a new server, are generally managed by setting everything up off-line and then slotting the new machine in during my normal working hours with little or no impact on the users. Clearly, each maintenance task has to be considered individually.

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I don't know if its exist in open source, but what you search is a software like Service Manager from HP or Remedy from IBM associated with a CMDB.

The service manager software take care of the approval process, and the CMDB maintain the information about who is the stakeholder of which service on which system.

That not an easy task to put in place, so if your company is small or you dont have time, the best solution like said by the two previous post is to have a fixed maintenance window.

Regards

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