Server Software

This post and others like it relate back to an introductory post that explains the point. This is an edited variant of something I wrote in 2007. This is the section for server software, including operating systems. It overlaps extensively with things I have mentioned elsewhere, and is primarily another way of classifying and discussing some of it. In no particular order, the list as best I can remember…

Windows NT
Windows 2000 Server
Windows 2003 Small Business Server
Windows 2003 Server
Microsoft SQL Server
Microsoft Exchange Server
Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS)
Microsoft Proxy Server
Veritas Backup Exec
EMC Retrospect
Juris Classic
Juris Next Generation
Norton Antivirus
Sybari Antigen and Spam Manager

Do I include that which can be run networked or not, like Lawyer’s Diary, Turbolaw, Peachtree or Wintitle? Does figuring out how to access an old AS/400 from its lone remaining terminal count as a server? When I set out to make a server software category, I thought it would be straightforward. Most of the afterthoughts technically only use data on a server, so really wouldn’t count in the manner I decided Winlaw, local except the SQL Server backend, didn’t count.

My main server OS experience is with NT4. I’ve installed it many times. I’ve run networks using it. I helped run it mixed with Novell, then migrated entirely to NT. The trouble was, I was in an environment where it was used well beyond the point when many had switched to Windows 2000 or 2003 Server, so I feel like I was held back in obsoleteville. Not that NT4 didn’t rock, but sometimes you gotta move on.

Thus I only dealt with Windows 2000 Server in the form of adding it to an NT network as a member server, because NT didn’t support the SATA RAID on the new server. It was never quite right – like one of those “haunted” computers you encounter periodically – and the people administering it after me planned to retire it as soon as possible.

I setup 2003 SBS for a client and thought it was pretty cool. I also helped migrate another client from a Novell server with a degraded drive to a 2003 server. Finally, I did the preliminary setup of two Windows 2003 servers for the client that had been clinging to NT, and have otherwise worked with them.

I setup a client with the version of Exchange on SBS 2003, and have otherwise worked with that version of Exchange. Mainly I’ve used Exchange 5.5, though. I helped set it up initially, reinstalled it multiple times, and installed it on other servers for subsidiary purposes like enabling a backup agent to work. I administered Exchange 5.5 for a law firm of 40 – 52 people from late 1999 through late 2006. During that time, I got the firm onto the internet, adding IMC (internet mail connector) via a proxy server.

Which was also when Proxy Server and IIS came in. IIS was required for OWA (Outlook Web Access), and handy for creating an intranet site for everybody not to use. I helped the client select an upgraded phone system that was T-1 based and included four channels of the T-1 for data. Later we switched providers and doubled the bandwidth. Proxy seemed like the best way to handle it at the time, while also feeding the owner’s desire to know and control what everyone did on the web.

ArcServe was the original backup software. It wasn’t bad, but when I had to rebuild the server the tape drive was in, the media was nowhere to be found. At that point we switched to Veritas Backup Exec, which came hugely recommended and was even easier to use than ArcServe had been. I deployed and redeployed that variously over the years, including when we got a new tape drive on a new server because the old tape drive’s 12 GB capacity became too small for even the most important files.

The IT firm that subsequently took over most of the work switched them to EMC Retrospect during the network upgrade, utterly ignoring the existing license for a vastly superior product in order to feed their vendor relationship or whatever. Retrospect, which subsequently became an orphan product for which there are no further release plans, is hands down the worst backup software and quite possibly the hardest to use software of any kind that I have ever encountered. Nonetheless, I have to my dismay used the product, as I had to check and change the selections, and try to figure out whether the time the backups took could be reduced. Backup Exec had been taking around five hours. Retrospect was taking around eighteen hours. Ouch.

Juris was covered under accounting-related software. It is very much server-based, so I included it here as well. I supported the classic version, encouraged them to upgrade to the modern version, worked with them arranging it, deployed the new version, migrated the data from the old version, and supported that from then on.

I tried for many years to get the big client to get a corporate Norton Antivirus (or something like it!) license, which they steadfastly refused to do, even when presented with explicit pricing and ordering information and left to do it… or not. They finally went for it when the people we outsourced the network upgrade to insisted on it, which was correct, notwithstanding again the massaging of their vendor relationships. In the meantime, I dealt with Norton corporate elsewhere.

I did get the big client to adopt Sybari Antigen to scan e-mails for viruses, which was a huge help, given that’s the overwhelming source. Prior to doing even this for protection, there were two major outbreaks. One was e-mail borne. The other was simply “hey, you’re connected to the internet” in nature. There were no major outbreaks after I deployed Antigen, which was the most highly recommended product of its kind. Two years later, we added Spam Manager, which was also superlative until replacing the Exchange server disrupted it.

That should cover at least the most important items that can be called server software, even if something is missing.

Next up, and last in this set that revolves around technology, software creation.

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