Matt Behrens, Northrock Technologies
We talked about the cost of downtime in a previous article – now let’s talk about how prevent it. While you cannot remove all risks, you can certainly reduce its effect on your business. Here’s how:
- Document everything. Keep an up-to-date inventory of equipment, settings, and procedures for managing your software, equipment and network diagrams. It’s a great resource for new staff and external tech support – plus, the process of documenting itself can reveal flaws or gaps.
- Invest in quality equipment. You don’t need top-of-the-line gear, but it is important to have products that are of business quality. For the more mission-critical components of your system, having redundant parts (or completely redundant systems) with automatic failover can virtually eliminate downtime due to hardware issues.
- Practice proactive maintenance and replacement of IT assets. This means keeping your physical systems organised, labelled, dust-free, and keeping your software and operating systems patched and updated as needed.
- Invest in a proper monitoring system. These days, they can keep tabs on virtually anything and will alert you to potential failures before they happen. Some examples include hard drives capacity, service availability, failed backups, missing devices and much more.
- Have a properly layered threat management solution in place. The major email providers have strong email filtering, but no system is perfect. If your mail is hosted onsite, use either a local appliance or external filtering service. Workstation and server level protection is important. For certain environments a network firewall appliance is warranted as well.
- Limit internal network access to only those who need it. Provide a separate network for your customer’s access. In some cases, you should provide another network for employees’ devices that don’t need to be on the internal network. There are many other security considerations, but in this case we are limiting the scope to issues which can impact downtime.
- Have a tried-and-tested backup system in place. It goes a long way to minimizing recovery time. This includes all aspects of backup – from full on disaster recovery, all the way down to simple file restores.
- Lastly, have staff who know how to respond to downtime scenarios and a plan for escalation. It is important to know when to call for outside help and what steps need to be taken before that point.
While downtime is not something you can completely prevent, you do have the power over its impact and duration. Every business is unique, so there is no magic combination, but a little proactive planning can be the difference between inconvenience and catastrophe.
To find out more, call Matt Behrens at 250.871.3338 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.