High availability: bullet proofing your business against outages
No business wants to lose money, especially not because of outages or loss of service caused by third parties. Key services such as electricity and internet play a pivotal part in business function and continuity and in today's technologically dependent world, no business can survive without them. Unfortunately, we need to rely on third parties to provision these necessities and when deliverables aren’t met, businesses suffer. This blog takes a look at how you can build contingencies into critical elements of your business to safeguard you in the event of a service outage.
Building contingency into electricity supply
In many countries, rolling blackouts are a norm and a cause of serious disruption and equipment damage. Not only does the business come to a standstill, but there may be serious safety implications too. Where possible, use backup generators as an alternative power supply in the event of an outage. Solar cells with batteries connected to inverters can now power small offices and homes without much trouble. Wind turbines are also being used to augment power supplies.
Never hear the words, “Is the Internet down again?”
We recently had very strong winds and our wireless fibre antenna was damaged when the support pole buckled. Fortunately, we had two LTE routers, one for voice and the other for data as backups in case we suffered any loss of connectivity. These devices gave us sufficient connectivity to limp along until the antenna was repaired later that day - crisis averted. Always choose a backup internet source or channel. Always layer your services with the most dependable first, and less dependable lower down the order. A good example is fibre internet, wireless fibre internet, fixed line ADSL and then LTE.
Since the advent of fibre and other fast internet offerings, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has now become a valuable tool in communications, supplementing and in many cases replacing traditional voice lines. Even if you have a VoIP service, always have a secondary provider as failover when the primary service stops - even momentarily. It is important to make sure that your internet has sufficient failover and that you have a dedicated line just for voice to lessen the burden on a particular line.
With cloud computing becoming ever cheaper and hardware costs on the rise, it makes sense to fail over to a hosted virtual environment in a disaster recovery situation or when doing live maintenance. The added advantage of mirroring your servers is that you can virtually failover to your mirrored server within in near real-time. The reverse can be done seamlessly without data loss or significant RPO. Virtualization makes high availability possible.
Offsite backups for added peace of mind
Even if you have a mirror server, there is still the need to keep offsite backups with distinct recovery points to recover data from. The advantage is that you can go to a particular version of a file of a particular day or find one that someone inadvertently deleted. You really do not want that important presentation you have been working on for the last month to suddenly disappear!
Business continuity and disaster recovery planning
Business continuity planning involves identifying and addressing risks in a comprehensive and iterative method. Involving kaizen and staff contribution makes the process of business continuity easier and more efficient because your staff knows best how to anticipate service outages.Simulate your business continuity plans regularly and work business continuity and resilience into everyday work life. Cross-train staff so that when there is absenteeism work and productivity does not come to a crashing halt. With uptime demands leaving little room for service disruption, IT managers are well advised to approach business continuity as an imperative that demands the attention it deserves.