Waiting for system failure to occur is never a good practice. Once a system is down, it may be too late to avoid the resulting damage. According to a recent study by Emerson Network Power, the average cost per minute of an unplanned outage increased from $5,617 (£3,930) in 2010 to $8,851 (£6,195) at the start of this year.
Critical outages not only decrease customer satisfaction, they also consume the resources of operations teams with costly troubleshooting, remediation and recovery efforts. The good news is that – with the appropriate processes and tools – the vast majority of unplanned outages and data-loss incidents can be prevented.
Here are five things you can do to ensure the resiliency of your critical IT infrastructure.
Design for resiliency
Every resilient system starts with good planning. Design your IT environment with service availability goals in mind. According to a recent survey we conducted of over 200 IT professionals, the most effective strategies to ensure resiliency are high availability systems for physical and virtual hosts and replication.
In today’s ultra-dynamic IT landscape, it's almost impossible to avoid mistakes, even when we all do our best to ensure that changes go smoothly. IT environments are just too large and diverse for teams to test each and every configuration across all IT layers to ensure compliance with industry best-practices and vendor recommendations. Even when testing is done, test and production environments are rarely identical, so we can't fully guarantee that a successfully-tested modification would work as planned when deployed in production.
Implementing automated verification of changes introduced to your environment is key to closing the knowledge gap. Automated testing means more rigorous and accurate testing of your staging environment prior to rolling out new configurations to your production environment. Automated validation can also be applied to production environment configuration – identifying discrepancies between staging and production – as well as any changes directly introduced into the production environment.
Beyond the challenge of validating changes, there is a constant effort to align our environment with industry best practices and an endless list of vendor recommendations.
Due to the dynamic nature and complexity of today’s environment, identifying potential deviations from these best practices and recommendations that could lead to disruption and failure is not a simple task. Predictive Analytics is the most effective approach to turn the big data of your entire infrastructure configuration into meaningful insights that not only highlight the possible impact on service availability but can also point to the root cause and alert you to take action.
Integration with existing enterprise systems — email, support portals, and ticket management systems — is crucial for timely remediation. First and foremost, the relevant owner must be aware of the problem by getting real-time notifications that a risk was detected. Since saving time is critical, the information relayed should include the root cause and recommended corrective actions. With this information in hand, your team can quickly assess the situation, prioritise issues according to severity and potential damage to your business, and take immediate action to remediate it.
Collaboration is key to ensuring IT resiliency. However, as we can see in the chart above, cross-team coordination is a top challenge that keeps organisations from ensuring infrastructure durability and dependency.
Cross-team visibility provides up-to-date information about risks and their potential impact across the entire IT infrastructure. This is essential for effective collaboration. Beyond the immediate benefits of minimising the number of issues that turn into actual outages and service disruptions, cross-team visibility can also help your teams learn from past mistakes and optimise IT operations moving forward.
Doron Pinhas, CTO of Continuity Software
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