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How to Upgrade 1500 Workstations on Saturday, and Still Have Time to Mow the Yard on Sunday

Michael E. Shaddock, Michael C. Mitchell, and Helen E. Harrison
SAS Institute Inc.


Imagine: It's Saturday afternoon. You run a script, watch it for a while, then go home. When you come back the next day, 1500 workstations and fileservers have new operating systems installed, complete with all your local customizations, with the user data on each one undisturbed and without leaving your office. On December 17, 1994, we did just that. This paper will describe the infrastructure that allows us to perform completely automated updates of a large distributed network of HP UNIX computers. First, we will describe the policies we designed for distributed systems administration. Next, we will describe the tools which we developed or collected to implement these policies, and we will describe how to put it all together to do an upgrade. Throughout we will explain the philosophy behind it all and how our particular implementation could be generalized to other sites. Finally, we will describe some of the lessons learned along the way.

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