Managing availability in an always-on business

Employees often use the start of the year to take get a holiday to sunnier climes, but this does not mean that expectations of continuous access to applications, services and data should be lowered. In fact, times when staff resources are low illustrate the importance of the data centre and availability, as any sign of downtime could have a damaging impact on revenue and repeat custom.

An always-on business relies on delivering 24/7 availability, regardless of national holidays, but what happens if a critical system breaks down when the IT team has gone away? It will take longer than usual to get systems running again, and will in turn impact corporate revenue and reputation.

For the always-on business to avoid downtime, there are three simple precautions businesses should implement to ensure that corporate applications, services and data remain available even if their employees are on holiday.

Avoid downtime

It is no longer the case that planned or unplanned downtime will not have a direct impact on vital services, whether it is revenue or reputation. According to Veeam’s Data Center Availability Report, organisations experience unplanned downtime. This downtime occurs more than once a month on average, costing organisations up to $2.3 million annually in lost revenue (not to mention the decreased productivity and missed opportunities). At a time when it is expected that products and services should be available at all times, both unplanned and planned downtime are deemed unacceptable, especially since it is now easily avoidable. Companies that experience their systems crashing run the risk of losing profit and productivity. A modern business requires constant and reliable data availability - especially during the popular holiday periods when staff levels are significantly lower yet expectations are the same, maybe even more.

Start the new year without garbage data

Garbage data is a recognised problem, and one that can have the biggest impact on a firm's availability. Before employees log off for long periods it is valuable to clean up old data. Failure to do this can eat up resources in the data center, and could cause poor performance and system errors. To maintain high availability, it is essential to keep garbage data under control. Common culprits are installation files duplicated at several locations, as well as virtual machines that are invisible because they have been removed from the infrastructure inventory, but not permanently deleted.

More often than not garbage data is kept when nobody knows what is, and no one wants to delete it in case it’s something important. This method of keeping useless data is a legacy from the days when data protection and availability solutions were much less sophisticated, and restoring lost data was a cumbersome and difficult process. Today data recovery is much quicker, allowing employees to recover what they want, when they want. Whether you have lost a backup copy of an important piece of data or unintentionally deleted some garbage data, it is much easier to restore, usually within seconds.

Plan ahead

To ensure that services, applications and data are available at all times, it is not only IT solutions that must be put in place, but also routine. Planning for restoring data in the fastest and easiest way when a problem has arisen is essential if we are to avoid unnecessary downtime and loss of corporate revenue. When processes for recovery are in place and well known by corporate employees, it should not be necessary to take more than 15 minutes to get systems up and running again.

Availability is as important during times of low staff levels as any other time, and downtime remains costly no matter what time of year it occurs. In a survey performed on behalf of Veeam, it was revealed that companies risk losing millions of dollars due to downtime and solutions not working as they should, as well as losing productivity and data. This cost only increases as more time passes, and unless procedures are put in place sooner rather than later, there is high risk of unnecessarily long downtime and high revenue loss.

Rick Vanover, Senior Product Strategy Manager, Veeam Software

Image Credit: Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens