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Use of checklists saves the day. Again.

  • Post published:December 24, 2013

Using a checklist is a very useful practice but most people ignore it, thinking it is as a trivial, useless and time-consuming effort. By nature, a checklist is a face-sheet with tasks-required written on it. A check-box precedes it. A user picks up the checklist and starts checking the boxes against the tasks completed. This ensures that the “common/everyday task” is executed in the same manner regardless of the resource assigned. It also helps one keep track of the progress and ensures that no vital step/task is missed. When the same checklists are executed over and over again, they are more refined and one can provide a more accurate time estimate for the same. It’s a win-win situation.


Our Client for vteam #422 was developing and deploying all the code on a VPS that some old developer of her’s had setup (in a rather poorly fashion, custom config, chmod 777 to most directories accessible by nginx etc). Our client knew what she needed, cPanel/WHM and wanted to know if we could help. There was another small request from her, one of her biggest Client wanted to use one of the domains in exactly 15 hours time.

She wanted to migrate everything over to the new server built upon cPanel/WHM and be able to demo it to her Client in exactly 15 hours. Time was of the essence. Upon first meeting, NOC immediately took the job Client and assured her that we will deliver in exactly 12 hours.

Detailed Story:

She was moving away from AWS to Rackspace. She wanted to use cPanel/WHM (like most of our Clients do). We had a couple of steps to get this done, namely:

  • Setting up the new Rackspace Instance
  • Initial server hardening and security setup
  • Installing and configuring cPanel/WHM
  • Configuring the DNS cluster & preparing the DNS to migrate (dropping the TTL value to 300)
  • Creating accounts on the newly created cPanel/WHM on Rackspace Instance cPanel license activation
  • Packaging domains one-by-one on the client’s AWS server
  • Importing the files, database, crontabs, emails, forwarders, subdomains, ssl on the new cPanel server
  • Verifying account data imported
  • Setting up on-site and off-site backups

We had to migrate a lot of data from AWS. Furthermore the application was also in production mode. Although it all seems like a very complex job, but it was executed flawlessly. Thanks to the following simple but time-tested checklists:

  1. CentOS 6.x Installation & server hardening
  2. Installing and configuring a new cPanel/WHM server on Rackspace
  3. Account & Data Migration (data, database, crontabs, emails, forwarders, subdomains, SSL, custom config)
  4. Configuring on-site and off-site backups

Not only NOC executed the complex job flawlessly, but we also delivered it within the time-estimate we initially quoted with confidence. At the end of the day not only she (the Client) was very happy with the NOC services we provided, but more confident in our methodologies as well.


Using a checklist helped our NOC team execute a time sensitive task without making the mistakes, which usually get made when tasks are executed under tight deadlines and high pressure.