Two Saturday’s ago, after a lot of preparation, we migrated Detailed Image to a much-improved server configuration. Thankfully, this wasn’t prompted by any sort of major issue. Rather, in the process of disaster planning we identified a few spots where our redundancy wasn’t as strong as we’d like, the most glaring of which was our server.
Since the total chaos of our move in 2008, we’ve been on a dedicated server. We upgraded once in 2011, and that machine lasted us right through this migration. We had all sorts of backups, including real-time offsite backups, but we were still limited by the fact that our entire business relied on a single machine…which was less than ideal.
Now we’re running what’s referred to as an active-passive high availability cluster, meaning that there’s a second server that’s constantly syncing to the primary server, and if that primary server is unavailable for any reason, the secondary server kicks in seamlessly. This also allows us to do things like a planned hardware upgrade without any noticeable downtime for our customers – take one server offline, upgrade it, put it back online, and then take care of the other one.
Of course, these types of migrations are never smooth, especially with our 10+ years of data and custom code. As far as our customers were concerned, we were down for 2-3 hours early on a Saturday morning. That was quite a bit longer than planned, but still not all that bad. But on our end, I was working nonstop for the week leading up to the move, and then that Saturday I worked until I dropped. I learned a ton (and took good notes!) so that next time will be smoother. Our last move in 2011 was so long ago that the ticket no longer existed, and of course in the middle of one of our problems I had a flashback to 2011 and remembered the exact same thing happening.
So all in all, I’m very relieved that this is complete. Almost immediately, a few lingering issues that I couldn’t solve previously were instantly resolved (for instance, our newsletter system was having send speed issues the past year or two and I had debugged it to death with no luck). I never look forward to these types of major moves. I first had this setup quoted to us in 2015…I’ve been stalling that long. I’m not a sys admin, but I try to learn as much as I can for a migration like this so that I can prevent/minimize any issues.
Now that it’s complete, we’ve got a level of redundancy that removes that lingering worry that I had 24x7x365 that the site could go down at any time and I might be sprung into action. There were a ton of great business reasons to do this migration, but that peace of mind is priceless to me.