Are there such things as good reboots on client servers?

820 pts.
Cisco Routers
Cisco switches
Client server software
Open IT Forum
IBM has claimed that they have invested billions on their mainframe platform to reduce the need for reboots. EMC and Cisco appear to be doing the same for RAID storage and routers and switches respectively. Yet on client servers reboots are treated as commonplace events. How can both practices co-exists in the same industry. Is there anything good to say about a reboot other than it seems to resolve problems that should have never been allowed to happen in the first place. Are these such things as good reboots?

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It is a lot easier for IBM, EMC and Cisco to reduce the number of needed reboots. They own the hardware and the software so they’ve got total control. With client and server OSs (Windows, *nix, etc) the hardware is built by several companies and the software is built by one or more companies. Because of this coupling there are sadly going to be bugs which may require reboots to fix.

The OS vendors have gotten a lot better about the need for these reboots, with the exception being when patches are applied which need to update files which are in use. It is common for Windows servers to run for months without a reboot (unless a patch is deployed). *nix servers can easily stay online for months or years between reboots.

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  • Jim4522
    I am about to measure the reboots in a large number of major server sites, each having more than 5,000 machines (virtual or standalone) using my own agent which means I will not be dependent on any input from the management staff in these sites. I have asked each site to estimate how many reboots they think they average each month, and I am assuming, without telling them ahead of time, that their estimate will be understated by a factor of ten. That is if they say it is 1,000 I expect to see that it is 10,000 ot higher. I have been amazed how the reboot policies of these sites vary so widely with most managers taking the position that it doesn't really matter how many reboots they do "since they don't do any harm". A small handful of managers seem to understand that every reboot reflects an interruption of the corporate network system and therefore they exercise tighter control but even they don't seem to have any idea how many reboots are really being issued to their servers. In interviewing server managers I had at least four of these manager state that they reboot every server every week "because it makes the manager more comfortable and it seems to reduce future problem". I also found that many of these managers thought nothing of rebooting servers that appeared to be having undefined problems to see if that solved the problem, and I found maintenance people doing the same. If you consider that the reboot rate of these organizations will to a high degree represent the interruption level of the corporate network this caviler attitude is really surprising. I suspect when my measurements are passed to the CEO level of these corporations, who are the sponsors of this measurement, it will be received not as a measure of server reboots, or even a measure of the stability of the corporate network, but a measure of the competence of top IT management.
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