The pain and anguish of IP address changes when switching library servers

This summer my library opted to discontinue using an aging in-house server (it ran the ILS and proxy service) and move to a hosted server.

I hope it can be a cautionary tale to somebody else out in library-land. Reasons why this was full of pain and anguish:

1) Getting the new IP address added to every single vendor who has your IPs on file.

Sometimes you can log in to an administrative acct. and do this yourself. Sometimes you email somebody. Not infrequently, it turns out there is no login, somebody’s listed on the account who hasn’t worked at your library in 6 years, or you plain forgot a vendor. With a new hosted server, you may have a few vendors who demand you sign a letter stating that this is in fact a legitimate IP address.

2) Testing the ILS after the changeover

Easiest part of the process – our computer guy divvied up testing amongst library folks and we each had some detailed things to test. Not too hard. The ILS was funky at first but settled down after awhile.

3) GETTING THE DNS PROPAGATION TO WORK

This was the horrible part. We thought it was a simple matter of our IT department changing an entry or two. Well, after a few days we started getting phone calls and emails and visits regarding that lack of proxy access from off-campus. We were constantly checking DNS sites in bewilderment as we saw very inconsistent results as to IP changes.

We constantly looked at pages like the following:

http://www.whatsmydns.net

http://dns.comcast.net/index.php/tools/cachecheck

http://dns.squish.net/

Also using lots of ipconfig /flushDNS, Ctrl-F5, nslookup and dig.

In the end, it turned out that IT had an old, forgotten account with an ISP that included DNS stuff. This little old account was sending out the contaminating information (the old server address). It was disabled and over time the new IP address was able to overcome the old one.

4) Posting on the Library News blog covering the situation as it evolved.

Database or ejournal links not working? Try this.

More database connection help

Lessons learned:

1) Coordinate very early in advance with your IT department to avoid vacations and long-term leave situations.

2) Make sure your IT department knows ahead of time all the places they need to change the DNS entries. Also make sure they know the “F” word — F as in Faculty, especially as in annoyed Faculty.

3) Have workarounds at the ready including blog posts or the like which you can direct patrons to, and be willing to fetch articles for faculty as long as the requests are reasonable.

4) Be thorough in tracking down vendors BEFORE the changeover.

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