Sunday, 15 November 2009

OCS 2007 R2 Updates

As part of the October update to OCS R2, Microsoft released the Server Update Installer. This application allows an administrator to install all of the updates applicable to a specific machine rather than needing to locate and install each one separately.

The application provides a useful middle ground between the updates being released for manual installation and them being released via Windows Update (If they are at all).

The Update Installer is simple to run and details of how to run it are provided within this Microsoft Knowledge Base Article.

Personally I would like to see the Server Update Installer progress into something more, something that is integrated in with OCS in a similar way to the way client updates can be pushed out via the Front Ends.

When Client Updates fist came out I was critical of them and even more so when one of the QFEs broke the update mechanism. The Client Update require the logged in user to be a local administrator which in the majority of organisations they are not. There are also numerous tools to deploy the updates such as WSUS and SCCM.

The same is true for Server Updates they can be deployed using standard tools such as SCCM; the area where tools such as SCCM are lacking is that they are not aware of what OCS is doing. At a set time they will push out and install the updates and then reboot the machine; this is done irrelevant of if an MCU on a Front End is hosting a conference or if a Mediation Server currently has a call in progress.

The only way for an administrator to overcome these issues is to remove servers in rotation from Load Balancers, modify Voice Routes to take Mediation Servers out of service; all of this is very time consuming for something as simple as installing an update that takes 5 minutes to install.

Therefore I would like something built into OCS that takes all of this hassle out of my hands. I give OCS a Server Update Package to install and it goes away and does it all for me, identifies which servers need to be updated, and one by one takes the servers out of service, waits for resources to no longer be used (or migrate sessions to another server), install the updates, reboot and brought back into service.

This may sound like overkill but it means that the expensive HA solution that I have installed continues to operate and my users do not notice; all they see is new functionality coming online.

Maybe something like this will appear in future releases as the management tools improve, methods such as Remote PowerShell would make processes like this easier to implement, at least from my very simplistic view.

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