Part 3: Server documentation
In the third part of the series we focus on the documentation of physical and
virtual servers and capture hardware and hosts for virtual environments.
Which servers do you operate in your company?
What services do these servers provide?
Without a comprehensive IT documentation, you can only answer these questions inaccurately in most cases. Of course, as an administrator you will always have basic information such as server names and IP addresses in your mind.
But what happens if you are unavailable or leave the company? The third part of our series shows you how to put your knowledge into your IT documentation.
But IT documentation goes even further. With the information available, you can plan for changes in advance. You can ensure the availability of resources and react quickly in the event of server failures.
In this third part of our series, we look at the documentation of physical and virtual servers and record hardware and hosts for virtual environments. Our experts will show you how to allocate resources for virtual systems and document the network connection of your servers.
An IT documentation also contains organizational information. You should always include important operational data such as contact persons, supervisors and responsibilities. This video shows you how to implement this in i-doit.
Welcome to the video series “6 steps to IT documentation”. My name is Rachel Hutchinson and I will be guiding you through the Server, Clients, Software & Licenses and Services areas in the following videos to demonstrate how i-doit can help you to fully document your IT infrastructure.
In the previous parts of the series we covered the topics infrastructure and networks. We created two branches including floors and rooms, built the first server cabinet, installed a switch and router in it and documented the cabling from the switch to the WAN line. We looked at how i-doit can be used as an IP address management system, how new infrastructure can be imported quickly and easily via a CSV file and how the floorplan add-on can be used to get an overview of floors and rooms including WLAN illumination. In today’s part we will build on our existing documentation and focus on server documentation. We will not only show you how to document physical servers, but also your virtual machines.
In companies, servers ensure the implementation and operation of business-critical applications, services and processes. It is therefore particularly important that in the event of a fault, IT personnel have complete access to information about the systems used, the software installed and the people responsible, including escalation levels, in order to rectify faults as quickly as possible.
Let’s have a look at the live demo.
Operating system and license
Although we are focusing on the topic of servers today, we will start with the creation of the software. After all, every server needs an operating system. In the menu item Software we create a new operating system called “Microsoft Server 2019” and save our object. We now need a license for this operating system. We create this with the designation “Microsoft Server 2019 Standard”.
In the folder “Licenses” we can create a new “License Key”. Here we have the possibility to create a key as “Single License” or “Volume License”. Since we are also entitled to operate two virtual machines with a Server 2019 Standard License, we select Volume License and enter our key. This completes our preparation and we can now create our first server.
Adjust server object
A good IT documentation consists of the exact information necessary. That’s why it is important to analyse in advance exactly which information we actually need. This information is used to create a customized documentation plan that prevents you from wasting time documenting irrelevant information..
In the case of a server, system characteristics such as CPU, RAM, hard disk space and the software and services installed and running on it are particularly important to us. However, which sound and graphics card the server has, adds little value to most people. Therefore, we now customize our server object according to our requirements and remove superfluous properties. Here is the before / after comparison, which already looks much tidier.
Create server object
After we have named our server, we can add information as properties. Under the category Accounting, we can enter all the general details of the inventory and the procurement process. In addition to inventory and cost recording, this overview can also be used to get an overview of whether, and for how long, a warranty still exists.
Under Contact Assignment we can select people and organizations and assign them different roles. This provides accurate information about who, for example, is a supplier, contractor, user or administrator. Escalation stages can also be mapped with just a few clicks.
If you have concluded maintenance contracts with organizations or service providers, you can store these directly under Contract assignment. Then you’re able to open up the contract contents at any time and to inform yourself about terms and notice periods.
Under the category CPU we enter the name of our physical processor including the cores and frequency.
For the host address we proceed as before with our switch and router. We select our network, define a static IP and check that it is not already occupied by another device.
With memory, we define the number of memory banks, select the manufacturer and type, and specify the capacity. The “total capacity” is calculated automatically.
In order to link the newly created operating system with our server we can select it by clicking on the magnifying glass icon. Then we select our volume license and a free key. For a high level of long term IT security, it’s also recommended to document the version, as systems that have not been updated can be detected immediately.
This concludes the Basis Server documentation.
Creating Virtual Machines
We have licensed a Windows Server 2019 with the standard version. This means we can run a host and up to two virtual machines on it. i-doit already offers a preconfigured object type that we can use. In order to achieve this, we again enter all necessary information such as CPU, RAM and operating system. The only difference is that we now switch to the Virtual Machine folder in the left navigation. Here we activate the object as a virtual machine, select our server as “host” and specify which hypervisor is used for virtualization.
If we now open up our server object again, we will find our virtual machine in the category “Guest Systems”. In addition, we can check in the “Object Vitality” which resources are consumed and use this information when we plan to create new virtual machines.
The Documents Add-on
We already talked about how important documentation of the servers is. If your systems fail or your network is disturbed, it is recommended to save a copy of your documentation externally or as a hardcopy. With the “Documents Add-on” in a few clicks we can create PDF documents from the existing information. These documents automatically contain all the information about our devices.
Now we have the possibility to create new document templates and apply them to existing devices. We have prepared a corresponding template here. This contains all the information about the server object types and displays them in the desired form. The advantage is that we can apply this template to any server and thus create documents for all our servers within minutes.
This not only works for servers but for all object types. Whether you want to create service manuals, an emergency manual or handover and transfer protocols for notebooks, smartphones or other IT devices, the possibilities are virtually unlimited.
Logbook: Tracking changes
Often it’s not only the current state of your IT landscape that you want to know about, but you also want to be able to track changes. This is because changes to systems and configurations can affect services and applications. Let’s take another look at our server.
Every change to the configuration is saved in the i-doit logbook. We can open it by clicking on the icon in the respective object or via Extras -> to CMDB -> to Logbook. In addition, we also have various filtering options here, to limit the time period, for example.
The logbook thus provides administrators with optimum support in determining the causes of malfunctions.
Let’s summarize our current configurations again.
Today we have been working on the documentation of physical and virtual servers. For this purpose, we created a new operating system as well as a license and adapted the server object according to our requirements. When we created the server, we linked it to the operating system and license and integrated it into the network we already created.We also showed you how to create emergency manuals and handover protocols with the help of the Documents add-on. To be able to track all changes, the logbook can be used and the lists can be filtered as required. With interfaces to various tools and directory services, you can create and update devices and users automatically.
I would be happy if you join us for the fourth part of our series, where we show you how to organize and implement the documentation of PC workstations.
If you have any questions about i-doit, please contact us at email@example.com.
Other parts of this series
6 steps to IT documentation
6 Steps to Successful IT Documentation is a compact guide and supplement to the six videos in our series “6 Steps to IT Documentation.
Never lose your bearings and get to the complete documentation of your IT landscape in a targeted manner.