Having any form of IT downtime can have huge impacts on business, whether it stops customers from being able to interact with you, removes your online presence or inhibits your employees’ ability to work at their full capacity. It can be difficult and often costly to diagnose the root cause of a problem, with a number of IT employees, contractors or service teams spending hours, days or sometimes longer to identify what went wrong. IT networks are complex and sometimes difficult to navigate, or the issue more intricate than initially thought.
So how can businesses avoid downtime in the first instance? There are five key steps:
(1) Improve visibility
The most effective preventative measure you can take is to ensure you can monitor your IT environment to enable you to identify any malfunctions or inefficiencies. This doesn’t have to involve assigning an employee to constantly monitor the system. There are a number of tools you can use to monitor your servers in real-time or you can choose a service provider to install an all-encompassing monitoring tool and help you to keep on top of your IT estate.
Another reason to increase visibility is security. According to a Forrester security survey, 39 per cent of security breaches in the last 12 months resulted from an internal incident. There are many ways to detect suspicious activity that could be the work of a malicious insider. Having a holistic view of the entire IT environment can be extremely beneficial in identifying pockets of unusual or suspicious activity. This simple and uncomplicated rapid detection method can quickly lead on to a more forensic investigation which helps accelerate the processes required to de-risk the potential for disruptive cybercrime.
(2) Keep emotion out of technology
Technology should not be an emotional purchase. Regardless of how something looks, what your personal brand preferences are or what the sales person is like, you need to evaluate your business’ needs to choose to right product. Likewise, you may not need to pay up for a high-powered system if you don’t require the full suite of functionality. And time and money can be saved by being smart and responsive with technology rather than trying to buy your way out. By choosing the right ways to manage your IT from the beginning could save money in the long term.
(3) Balance the workload
By scaling and balancing the workload over a number of servers you will decrease the strain at any one time. By load balancing, you can also provide back up for times when any particular node is unavailable, especially when it is performing multiple actions for any one file. This will ensure the lead on your IT environment is balanced equally and that no one component becomes overloaded thus resulting in the unnecessary slowdown of other components.
(4) Use technology to manage technology
It may sound like the beginning to a Will Smith film, but technology is quicker, more reliable and much less expensive than dedicating a team of contractors to monitor the IT system. There are a number of tools available to monitor and manage your technology on a 24/7 basis. Tools that proactively identify and alarm the onset of issues free up technical experts to resolve issues rather than spending hours, days or sometimes weeks in identifying the problem
(5) Use cloud-managed servers
By externally hosting files in a secure, cloud-based server, you prevent losing data should localised downtime occur. Cloud hosting is a good idea for sites that require variable levels of activity as they can easily be scaled as needed. So to prevent downtime from affecting your business, take steps to choose the right technology, balance the workload, utilise external cloud-managed servers and ensure clear insight into your IT system. Not only could this save you time, you could also prevent the necessity of dedicating time or staff resource into fixing the problem.
Doug More is CEO of Assure APM.
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