6 Steps to Ensure Service Availability

IT Resilience & Downtime Prevention Blog

6 Steps to Ensure Service Availability

Ensure Service Availability
by Roy Goffer on November 9, 2014

The IT environment faces challenges on a daily basis. Data protection and continuous service availability are two specific areas that pose increasing challenges to IT-intensive businesses. As the IT landscape becomes ever-more complex, IT teams are finding it progressively more difficult to ensure compliance with vendor best practices.

Since there are regular configuration changes in IT infrastructure, there are bound to be discrepancies between Production and Disaster Recovery systems and between the various nodes of High Availability environments. The fact of the matter is that many of these risks remain hidden, and the only time you will know about them is when disaster strikes – and that might be too late. These are very real challenges faced by IT teams around the world, across multiple sectors including airlines, banks, telecommunications, and utilities.

This begs the question: Wouldn’t it be great if you could spend less time fire-fighting the consequences of the latest catastrophic outage – by preventing that outage from happening in the first place? Should you be correcting problems associated with outages or should you simply be preventing outages?

We will explore the 6 easy steps that you can follow to ensure successful service availability management.

#1 Detection of Problems

It comes as no surprise that problem detection is difficult across infrastructure layers. It is virtually impossible to manually detect downtime and data loss risks, especially in large and complex IT environments.

Sure you can periodically test your IT environment, but that leaves a great deal of your IT infrastructure highly vulnerable. Imagine the vulnerability and risk levels when most organizations conduct their disaster tests only once a year (due to the resource-intensive and intrusive nature of such tests). Cross domain visibility to risks can be achieved in a non-intrusive manner by automated detection. And this works across virtual, physical, and hybrid IT infrastructure.

#2 Anticipation of Problems

We’ve all heard those horror stories about IT systems that go down, resulting in terrible service disruption, delays and perhaps even data loss. This brings us to the next point which is anticipation of downtime and data loss.

Fortunately, many of these incidents follow well-known patterns. If you can spot these patterns, you can anticipate the likely problems that will arise. One such system that can be used is the automated daily verification of your environment against a knowledgebase of known risks and best practices.

Such a knowledgebase allows your IT team to guard against these risks, focus resources on resolving these issues before they have an opportunity to cause damage to business operations. Continuity Software’s Risk Signature Knowledgebase™ is one such solution to anticipating IT problems before they arise.

#3 Closing Gaps by Being Proactive

Once you have uncovered service availability issues, and even data loss risks, you can rectify gaps before they cause any actual damage. Tickets can be generated as to the likely causes of the problems, risk level, impact on business and recommended solutions. With this information in hand, IT teams can proactively begin remedying the problems.

If multiple problems are detected, alerts can be sent to the relevant team members in order of priority. The trouble tickets in the IT management system can be integrated into your daily IT processes and procedures.

#4 Collaboration in Resolving Problem Issues

IT teams rely on a high degree of coordination and collaboration to ensure consistent compliance with service availability goals. One of the top challenges that IT organizations face is that of cross-team and cross-domain collaboration.

Collaboration can ensure that IT teams have a unified platform of actionable information regarding all risks. Full integration with existing enterprise systems and incident management systems allows for greater streamlining of collaboration and visibility. Armed with all the knowledge across all platforms, information can easily be shared in real time.

#5 Validate the Effectiveness of Problem Resolution

System breakdowns can prove catastrophic for business operations. That’s why it is so important that a comprehensive structure comprising checks and balances is in place. Each IT team is responsible for its own areas of operation, but to ensure synergy, it’s important that a closed loop system be implemented to independently validate the continuity of business operations. This is the only way to validate that all issues were resolved in their entirety.

#6 Enumerating Performance

As world-famous management expert Peter Drucker said – What’s measured improves. There can be no doubt that if you know which IT systems and business services are potentially at risk, you will be better poised to analyze those risks and take corrective action.

Once you measure risks, you can easily track the performance of teams that you manage. Global KPIs allows you to see the bigger picture, and also show you which best practices are at risk, and whether processes are working well or failing over a period of time.

Roy Goffer
Roy Goffer
Director of Marketing at Continuity Software and an internet and technology enthusiast.

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