A server maintenance plan is typically created by the technical manager. He or she is responsible for the implementation and support of all the physical servers and related equipment. As with all equipment, there is a specific list of scheduled maintenance that must occur to maintain both the warranty and the performance of the equipment.
There are three primary aspects to any server maintenance plan: scheduled maintenance, application of patches, and overall system maintenance. Server is a term used to describe the physical hardware that holds the computer processor, memory, and hard drive. A server is built to provide maximum computing power with a minimal use of space. Many organizations install multiple servers together in a server rack. This type of structure increases the processing power available to support various applications, databases, and systems.
Scheduled maintenance includes regular backup of data, refresh of key programs, and running diagnostic programs. This type of maintenance must be completed by technical staff who have been specifically trained in the operating system and applications stored on the server. The vast majority of the time, the server must be removed from the production environment to complete scheduled maintenance. Most organizations schedule this type of work to occur outside normal business hours to minimize the impact on daily operations.
In general, scheduled maintenance occurs at least three times per calendar year. Some systems may require more frequent maintenance, but this is often an indication of an overloaded system. In situations where funding is not available for the correct resources, the existing server is pushed to the limits of performance exceptions. In this situation, more frequent maintenance is often required.
Every server maintenance plan must include the application of patches. A system patch is a specific set of code provided by the manufacturer to address known issues. It is quite common for a system patch to address a security weakness, or development bug. In order to apply the patch, the data on the server must be backed up, and then the server is taken offline. The patch is applied and then the server functionality is tested. Upon successful implementation of the patch, the data is restored to the server and it is returned to production.
Overall system maintenance frequency varies, depending on the size of the organization, but is typically required at least once every calendar year. This part of the server maintenance plan is often scheduled around long weekends, when demand for system processes is expected to drop. Part of this type of maintenance includes a complete backup of all systems and related data.