Came for the Remote Access Audit, Stayed for the Backup Repairs

In mid-February, we were negotiating a new managed services agreement with a prospective Client in the Branded Apparel Industry.

It was becoming more and more apparent that businesses were going to be dramatically affected by the looming Coronavirus pandemic, and all of us were adapting on the fly to the evolving “new normal”. In order to provide instant impact to the client, we proposed that we do a Remote Access audit to ensure that they were ready for a transition to remote work, since that seemed to be poised on the near horizon. They agreed, and we went to work.

Their infrastructure had been designed for efficient remote access at some point: They had a server labeled Citrix, but it wasn’t a Citrix server anymore.  They had a Cisco ASA VPN, but it kept failing and had an expired SSL certificate. Things weren’t looking good for a transition to the office staff working remotely from home.

More critically, we found that the “Citrix” server (really just a Windows RDP terminal server) was also nearly out of disk space on the system drive. Someone had partitioned the C: drive with a bare minimum of space (even by Server 2008 standards) and time had slowly eaten up all of it. We jumped into action and within 24 hours we had moved a load of shares to another server, repartitioned the “Citrix” server, and expanded the available storage to safe levels.

CRISIS AVERTED!

As we were going through this process and anticipating what might have been a server crash, we wondered what type of backups we had for recovery. Not really in the scope of the audit, but us, being tech partners and not just providers, were focused on doing what’s best for our customer, not just what’s in the Statement of Work.

What we found was a shambles: They had an inexpensive cloud backup system that was only backing up the shares. There was no bare metal recovery available. We proposed that we attach a big USB drive and run a Windows Server Backup so we could at least do a system recovery if the server crashed or if the repartition failed.

The customer was not only spared losing all remote access capability, but also prepared for server failures in future and they were ecstatic. What began as a routine audit to prepare them to let their office staff work from home had turned into a rescue operation with a positive outcome.

PS: We also fixed their VPN and prepared the RDP server for remote access.

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