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Risks in moving old HP 9000 Servers

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Kevin Potter
Occasional Visitor

Risks in moving old HP 9000 Servers

Hello,

We have a couple of very old HP 9000 servers running legacy software that needs to stay up for auditing purposes.

We have moved our server room to a new building and are faced with trying to move these servers (3 cabinets about 5 foot tall). This move would not be easy on the old server as we don't have the equipment to do this. So it would be rolled on concrete, up curbs, etc.

These systems are on life support as is. One set of drives has already gone down. We are on our last set of drives that contains the data. Needless to say when you look inside the cabinets they are covered in dust. I have concerns about what this move will do to the physical hardware. So we have 2 choices:

1) Leave them where they are in non climate controlled environment (Other then the regular building A/C in a in a small room where the temp is at least 80degrees)
2) Move them via brute force to the new server room and hope they survive. Once there they will be in a climate controlled environment.

We need for these machines to stay up for about 2 more years.

Just looking for opinions on the best decision. I have been asked to make a recommendation.

Thanks
Kevin
13 REPLIES
Torsten.
Acclaimed Contributor
Solution

Re: Risks in moving old HP 9000 Servers

Why not deinstall the servers from the rack, transport and install again? This shouldn't be impossible. What models we are talking about?

Hope this helps!
Regards
Torsten.

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Gavin Clarke
Trusted Contributor

Re: Risks in moving old HP 9000 Servers

Ouch, tough choice.

We've got legacy systems too, that we had to move up about 10 inches when we got a raised floor. They survived.

I've heard stories about K classes running in garages, although I wouldn't fancy their chances in a hot place.

I think I'd be tempted to chance the move and try to do it as gently as possible.

Another thought is to shutdown, remove the disks and transport them separately. Although I'm not sure I'd be too confident about that myself.
DCE
Honored Contributor

Re: Risks in moving old HP 9000 Servers

I agree with Gasvin. If you have to move the systems, remove the disks (and thoroughly document where and how they are connected) the disk are the most fragile component of the system and the most likely to get damaged in the move.

I have had the experience of supporting K class servers in a non-raised floor environment, and it can get pretty interesting. If you leave the servers where they currently are, you will probably wind up with the room door opened and several fans strategically placed.
Guy Humphreys
Valued Contributor

Re: Risks in moving old HP 9000 Servers

Kevin,

I would defintely move them to the Air Con server room. Heat is most certainly NOT your friend.

From what you say I am going to guess that they are not under HP H/W contract so what I would do is:

back each server up (goes without saying), but do it twice! just in case you get a defective tape, it has happened to me!!!

Buy some replacement disks and have them on standby. Possibly ask a second user H/W company if they have any other parts available to buy should you need them, motherboards, disk controllers etc. Obvisoulsy it is a lot easier if you have them on HP contract.

Hire a good stair walker, so you can transport the cabs fairly smoothly.

remove all the disks carefully before the move. label each disk with it's position within the jamaica bay. If you have any other hot pluggable bits remove those too. Not only will it mean you can move the precious disks safely by hand you also make the cab lighter when you need to move that!

shut down the server and move the chassis as carefully as possible.

rebuild the server and power on. I think the chance of a component breaking during the move, which sounds like it is on the same campus so should not involve trucks/cars is a lot less than leaving them in a hot room for the next 2 years!

HTH
Guy
'If it ain't broke, don't fix it!'
Alan Meyer_4
Respected Contributor

Re: Risks in moving old HP 9000 Servers

If you move them, I would also place them on cushioned moving dollies so that the tires of the dolly absorbes some of the shock. I wouldn't use the weeks of the cabinet to move it. It would be too rough...
" I may not be certified, but I am certifiable... "
A. Clay Stephenson
Acclaimed Contributor

Re: Risks in moving old HP 9000 Servers

Before doing anything, make sure you have a good backup. Next, shop the used-equipment market for replacement drives. They should be dirt cheap. You can probably find some parts on eBay. In your situation, the probability of lasting 2 years w/o a failure approaches zero whether or not you move the boxes therefore you must obtain a small stock of spares. (disks, controllers, NIC's --- although of all of these, disks are the most crucial).

I would then move the server --- and I have rolled these old boxes on the cabinet casters many times w/o incident --- just go slowly.
If it ain't broke, I can fix that.
Kent Ostby
Honored Contributor

Re: Risks in moving old HP 9000 Servers

Put them on dollies wrapped up tight.

Load them on a small moving truck if possible to cover most of the distance.

Leaving them in a heated room isnt good.

A third solution is to bring in some fans into your 80 degree room and run them 24/7 to increase the cooling around the system.

"Well, actually, she is a rocket scientist" -- Steve Martin in "Roxanne"
Yogeeraj_1
Honored Contributor

Re: Risks in moving old HP 9000 Servers

hi kevin!

Two years is so long away! Unless your company accepts to take the risk of them failing in any cases (moving to a different environment or leaving them where they are, improving the A/C and praying that they don't fail!!)

You will need to find another temporary "new" server, backup all those legacy systems and restore them on the "new" server. Verify that everything is working fine.

perform a full preventive maintenance on your old servers, remove all your disks and move them to your new location. Hopefully everything goes fine...

good luck

kind regards
yogeeraj

No person was ever honoured for what he received. Honour has been the reward for what he gave (clavin coolidge)
Kevin Potter
Occasional Visitor

Re: Risks in moving old HP 9000 Servers

Thanks for all the great replies. Was not expecting so many so quick.

A couple of questions that were asked:

They are K200 servers
They are not under any maint agreement

I think we will go with removing the two disks that are still running. Moving them seperatly and they try to move the cabinets intact.

One other question. On a server of this age is it bad to leave the machine off and only turn it on while it is needed. I would guess it would be turned on once a month. We would let it run for a few hours and then shut it down. Does this take care of the heat issue? If so at what risk with the cycling of the servers?

Thanks again all
Kevin
Aaron Hunt_1
Advisor

Re: Risks in moving old HP 9000 Servers

I would recommend only turning the machines on for use. The disks those machines use tend to sieze when they have been sitting for long periods. I supported a very similar environment including early K an I class machines at one point. The machine that management inisted be shut down for 2month periods at a time consistently had disk failures(part of this could very well be explained by the age of the replacement parts as well). That said the K's and I's we left running had one single failure in the same time period(a HD failure on root volumes mirror). I would expect you will get very used to using make_recovery tapes ;)
Best Regards
Aaron
I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.
Aaron Hunt_1
Advisor

Re: Risks in moving old HP 9000 Servers

corection I meant to type "NOT turning the machines on for use"
I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.
Guy Humphreys
Valued Contributor

Re: Risks in moving old HP 9000 Servers

Kevin,

Although only having the servers on for a short amount of time will probably stop them from overheating whilst in use. I would still move them to the A/C environment and here is why. Excess heat is ALWAYS bad for server hardware I have seen an uncomissioned server (no OS installed fresh from the factory) stand in a server room, the A/C failed, heat went up and it was only when I came to install the OS and noticed that the CPU/ some RAM and the tape drive had all failed without ever having been turned on! We replaced them all and then about 6 months later the other CPU failed! not good.

re: wether to have the server on or off, I would go with keeping it on. The most 'traumatic' part of a servers lifespan is during reboot procedures, they like to be kept up and running im my experience more often than not if a part is going to fail it will fail during a reboot. Although having said that if a server is on too long, the drive heads can miss the landing zone if they have not been shut down very often and hence could crash into the data area. I have only seen this on a windows server, it managed to stay up for more than a year (an impressive feat for windows!) we came to upgrade it's BIOS and wham, multiple hard drive failures, the engineer reckoned it was the heads missing the landing zone.

So my adivce would be to buy some more disks and mirror the working ones again, and then take a backup every month or so.

HTH
Guy
'If it ain't broke, don't fix it!'
Kevin Potter
Occasional Visitor

Re: Risks in moving old HP 9000 Servers

Hi All,

With your advice, we have decided to remove the disks, contract with movers who have the proper equipment to cushion the server and move them to the climate controlled room.

Thanks again,
Kevin