7 Ways To Improve DHCP Migrations

improvement

This article outlines 7 ways to improve your DHCP Migrations, ensuring success. The DDI Guru highly recommends these to ensure success the next time you migrate from one DHCP environment to another. Make sure your next DHCP Migration goes off without a hitch by following these simple recommendations:

  1. Alignment Team - Create an alignment team consisting of engineers from the DDI Engineering, Network, Router, Active Directory, Wireless, and Voice teams. Having Subject Matter Experts or SMEs from these disciplines is key because of overlapping up- and/or downstream dependencies that exist.
  2. Know your DHCP Relays - Be aware of all the different types of DHCP Relays used in your infrastructure. Be especially mindful of the configuration syntactical differences. NOTE the differences in Cisco commands for implementing DHCP relays on two different switch/routers:

    Cisco IOS Command:

    ip helper-address x.x.x.x

    Cisco Nexus Command:

    ip dhcp relay address x.x.x.x
    Really knowing your DHCP Relays also means having good reporting tools, as well as, tools to roll out mass changes to the environment when performing DHCP migrations that require changing all the DHCP Server IP Addresses on your layer 2 and 3 devices.
  3. Be aware of all the DHCP client types you service - Besides knowing about all the generic desktop clients, know your oddball clients too! These can sneak up on you during a migration if you haven't accounted for DHCP clients that have special needs in terms of behavior and/or specialized DHCP options. It's also a good idea to know about any special desktop imaging or build environments. You may have some networks that have additional DHCP requirements such as PXEBoot or other imaging configurations.
  4. Have good pre- and post-migration tools - Having good pre and post-migration tools provide you valuable visibility and information. These tools can help you determine "dark" or unused DHCP segments, which segments have been migrated, which segments that may have failed to migrate, etc. They are essential to the DDI Migration team as a form of certification of the work performed.
  5. Communication - Communication is key! Communication is needed to create awareness. It's much better to bring all the lines of business into the fold ahead of time, rather than inform them following a migration gone bad. Communicating with lines of business removes the element of surprise. It can also provide the same benefit as what Alignment Teams provide - insight and additional environment awareness.
  6. Line of Business and UAT testing - Get your lines of business on the hook to help with testing following the migration or cutover. Have them test all their applications and configurations. Make sure following the DHCP migration, they can reach all their key application resources. Having them perform User Acceptance Testing or UAT is a way to get signoff following a migration. This recommendation is easier said than done. It takes a solid test plan and considerable planning and organization, but is well worth the effort.
  7. WIKI or CMS and game plan for team communications - It is strongly recommended that the DDI Team have a good Wiki or web based content management system or CMS to communicate all technical details of a migration. Why do I like this so much?
    • It's easy to create
    • Editable
    • Portable
    • Accessible
    • It's fun!

7 Tips For A Successful DNS Migration

road to success

This article outlines seven tips you can incorporate into your next DNS migration to achieve success. DDI Guru has used these tips over the years to ensure successful DNS migration engagements to customers of all sizes.

  1. Detail your game plan - You can never provide too much detail when putting together a game plan for a DNS migration. The more detail, the better. A Detailed game plan provides the following:
    • A structured "script" to follow
    • Sequencing of tasks
    • Identifies dependencies
    • Who does what, where, when and how
    • Enumerates backout or rollback steps
  2. Develop and practice an iterative migration process - The DDI Guru develops a " repeatable process" for completing the migration. Practice and test it. Wash, rinse, repeat over and over. Doing this will ensure a smoother migration.
  3. Implement a pre-migration freeze on DNS changes - This one is simple. Freeze the DNS so you can focus on migrating like for like data, and not have data changing as part of the migration. Keep things as simple as possible. If you have "x" DNS records going into the migration, then you should have "x" after the migration. It's much easier to test, predictable, unchanging data sets.
  4. Plan for the right time of year - i.e. banks and holiday seasons - Although this is mostly applicable for Financial Institutions, it can really apply to any firm that has a "busy season" or period in which they earn the bulk of their profits. Try to plan your migrations post network freezes. Don't schedule the work during freeze periods, because risk is higher to the business. Businesses can't tolerate any outages during these busy seasons.
  5. Post-migration checkout tools - Good tools are essential for visibility and proving the quality and degree of success of the migration. Have good tools that allow you to compare data pre and post migration.
  6. Non-destructive rollback procedure - If at all possible, plan your migration in such a way to preserve the source of the data. Ensure the source is untouched and available as a rollback mechanism. Basically, disable or turn it off, but keep it so. If you have an issue during the execution of the game plan that requires you to abort the migration, you will want to restore from source as fast as possible. If you have a non-destructive rollback, it means you have an unmodified original copy of the data you can revert to. It usually is the fastest means to rollback a failed migration and the safest.
  7. UAT testing - Have representatives from the various lines of business on the hook to test all their apps. Have them perform User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and have them sign off that the migration was successful.

Try to incorporate as many of these the next time you upgrade or migrate your DNS infrastructure and you too, will achieve greater success!

Skills of a DDI Expert

skills

Ever consider what skills and traits make a DDI Expert? What skills and traits make them more than just adequate, good, or great in their field? To begin with, A DDI expert will require a base level of experience and understanding of the following skills:

  • DNS Software (BIND, Unbound, NSD, Microsoft DNS)
  • DHCP Software (ISC, Microsoft DHCP)
  • IP Address Management (IPv4 & IPv6)
  • DDI product experience with a top-tier vendor product (Infoblox, Bluecat, BT Diamond IP, Alcatel-Lucent)
  • Network Engineering background (Routing & Switching Protocols)

Obviously, the more experience, knowledge, understanding, and mastery of the above skills, the more of an expert he/she will be. If you master all of the above skills, will it make you a DDI Expert? Unfortunately, no, it won't! These are just the hard skills needed. You must compliment those hard-skills with soft-skills as well.

So, what are these soft skills? And, why would I need them to be a DDI Expert? Soft skills are JUST as important as hard skills. A DDI Expert will not succeed without them. Soft skills are those skills that make up communication, empathy, critical thinking, and other people and social skills. Here's a list of suggested soft skills for the DDI Expert:

  • Communication skills - a DDI Expert must have the ability to communicate effectively with folks at different levels. You should be able to communicate with immediate peers all the way up to the 'glass house'
  • Sales skills - This is somewhat of an odd skill to suggest isn't it? Not really! A DDI Expert must be able to sell ideas and/or concepts to peers and/or management. How will you get the corporation to release funding for that next project if you can't "sell it"?!
  • Leadership skills - This borderlines a skill and/or a trait. Nevertheless, it's invaluable for a DDI Expert to be a good leader when he/she is part of a team of other DDI Engineers.
  • Critical thinking -┬áThe National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking defines critical thinking as the "intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action." I could not have said it better myself!

There are some additional traits that should also receive "Honorable mention" as what makes the DDI Expert the expert! The DDI Expert should have these traits:

  • Detail oriented - The DDI Expert misses very little. He/She is very detail oriented, presses hard, and continues to dig deeper as if peeling away the layers to an onion.
  • Self-starting - The DDI Expert doesn't need instruction on how to get started. They just know where and how to begin. They don't need motivation, because they are self-motivated.
  • Team Player - The DDI Expert knows a lot, but not everything. The DDI Expert knows that being a team player is vital to his own growth, as well as, the DDI Engineering team he/she is a part of. Basically it is a believe in the collective, not the one.

So, we've talked about hard skills, soft skills, and some traits. Do we think we have our DDI Expert? No, not quite. I think we are definitely closing in, but what else does it take to be the best of the best? Here are some extended skill sets that I think can differentiate a DDI consultant/engineer from the rest:

  • In-depth understanding of Microsoft Active Directory
  • Load-Balancing and Global Traffic Management technologies
  • Voice over IP or VOIP skills
  • Wireless technology
  • In-depth understanding and experience with routing protocols (OSPF & BGP)
  • new technology (DNSSEC, IPv6, DNS Firewall products)
  • Cloud Computing
  • OS Provisioning
  • Fluent in one or more scripting languages (Perl, Ruby, Python, Java, Node.js)
  • Database technology (Sybase, Oracle, MySQL, PostgreSQL)
  • No-SQL database technology (MongoDB, CouchDB)

You don't need to have this full list of extended skills, but if you have some or even most of them coupled with essential soft skills, you will surely possess the skills of a DDI Expert. There are not many that possess the full gamut. DDI Experts have a rare and highly sought after skill set for obvious reasons. So, if your company has one of these - make sure you do everything possible to keep them on your staff.

Are you looking for a DDI Expert?

Yes, put me in touch!