How can you protect your business operations from IT disasters?

We help to protect the applications and data of our clients! An investment that helps when things really go pear-shaped – an investment that is recouped almost immediately when a disaster occurs!

Nowadays, IT infrastructure is part of our everyday lives: it supports business processes and ensures business runs efficiently. That said,  the laws of probability dictate that faults do occur in IT infrastructure (even with the most reliable products of reputed manufacturers). Rectifying these faults can be the responsibility of the manufacturer, a service centre, a system integrator or a contractor.

However, the company operating the IT infrastructure (which generally means the user, the client) must take precautions to mitigate the consequences of any faults (downtime, data loss). Namely, starting from the planning and selection phase and when determining the basic design principles, this means using redundant systems for example that are largely protected against faults, avoiding single-points-of-failure (SPOFs), choosing systems that can be serviced when live and employing high availability solutions.

However, unconventional situations can arise that we do not expect during normal business operations. Many companies only start thinking about these situations when the IT disaster has already happened.

Disasters that can affect anyone at any time

A lightning strike can destroy years of meticulously planned work

A lightning strike can destroy years of meticulously planned work

When talking about a disaster situation many people associate this with a remote and improbable event: earthquake, tsunami, avalanche – “these won’t affect us anyway”. But when talking about central IT systems and data centres of enterprises, we have to think about much more banal, everyday and therefore realistic events. Events that constitute a potential risk but where the probability of them occurring should not be dismissed, events that an IT professional with a few years or a few decades of experience has most definitely encountered before.

Just think what would happen if:

  • The building housing your IT services were to be affected by extremely bad weather (a lightning strike for example). Did you know that a lightning strike can cause extensive damage in a fraction of a second?
  • The power is cut off in the building where your IT infrastructure is. (This can be caused by external disruptions or even human error during electrical or maintenance work.) All of your computers and servers will be down, network devices switch off and storage systems stop. In a best-case scenario there is no data loss.
  • A water-pipe bursts in the building housing the server room and some of the water flows into the server room. The power has to be cut off from some or all of the systems (and they must be fitted with some kind of mechanical protection) to prevent severe faults.
  • The server running critical business applications is down for several hours on account of faulty hardware. Applications cannot be shifted from one machine to another in a couple of hours, and it is difficult to access data from another machine.
  • The central storage system breaks down: This means the data stored on all of the attached servers is inaccessible and critical business applications no longer work.
  • The equipment embodying your network infrastructure stops working. This means users cannot access central applications and the servers cannot communicate with one another.

Think again: if this happens, how will your critical business processes function?

If you’re not prepared for these situations then what are the implications of such a disruption?

  • If the trouble's already here, you're left playing catch up

    If the trouble’s already here, you’re left playing catch up

    Downtime: you cannot serve your clients. Be it purely electronic services that cannot be substituted for, or processes that can be replaced in the short term with temporary “paper-based” solutions, it is clear that services can either not be performed at all or they slow down dramatically.

  • Missed revenue: If we’re talking about an application or service that actually generates revenue (e.g. a webshop, content service, etc), then you miss out on revenues until the fault is repaired and the consequences are rectified.
  • Data loss: if data is damaged (and not backed up), then the client database painstakingly built up and the business transactions with your clients are lost. Furthermore, there may be statutory obligations with regards to data storage that you then cannot comply with.
  • Increase in client complaints: If an IT system is not functioning, Murphy’s Law dictates that this is exactly when your clients will want to use it. If this is not possible then your clients will be dissatisfied and complain straightaway – and so they should, let’s admit – which in the long run can have negative implications (clients drift away, loss of client loyalty).
  • Loss of prestige: technical problems can really harm the reputation of a company. If the problems are serious then clients can easily defect to a competitor. Since bad news spreads quickly, we should not be under any illusions: aside from our clients, many others will learn about our problems. And this is particularly true in today’s world of social media and blogs.
  • Accountability within the company: Once an IT disaster has happened, first of all it is obviously the IT department and within that those in charge of operation who are called to account for why they were so unprepared for the events that occurred. This situation can lead to severe consequences and even penalties.

If you work in an IT department, as part of the operating team for example, or you are involved in the design, construction and operation of your company’s IT infrastructure, you may come to recognise that “yes, I have to be prepared for these eventualities because it is my responsibility to ensure that IT processes run smoothly.”

But how can you prepare for such potential disasters?

Areus Zrt. has the following answers and solutions to these questions and problems:

High reliability systems

 

Protect yourself with high reliability systems!

Protect yourself with high reliability systems!

Installing high-reliability systems means setting up systems where the applications installed run continuously and smoothly even when there are faults with the hardware and software. The construction of high-reliability systems revolves around redundancy. This means that all of the components in the system, or at least the elements most vulnerable to possible faults, are generally duplicated. If one of the components (for example the power unit or network adapter) breaks down, the system just uses the other component that is still functional.

Design of reserve data centres for disaster recovery (remote computer centres)

Remote computer centres are created to support critical business processes in the event of severe faults, breakdowns or disasters affecting IT. The reserve data centre for disaster recovery is the prime data centre with copies of business critical and highly important data, as well as data replicates that are constantly or at least regularly updated; it also has the necessary hardware and software resources to enable the re-launch of services as quickly as possible after the disaster occurs.

DR scenarios

Even if the necessary hardware and software is available in a disaster scenario and you have fresh backups of important data, there is still no guarantee that you will be able to re-launch the desired systems and services easily at the reserve location. Managing disasters is extremely intensive, stressful and comes with significant pressure: these rare occurrences must be managed quickly and precisely under extreme time constraints. There are many unconventional tasks to be performed, the majority of which are not automated and therefore a lot of manual intervention is required, which increases the chance of error. In a bad-case scenario the tasks and the division of labour – roles – are not properly clarified.

 

What would you do if a disaster occurs? Have a written plan!

This is why it is so important to have a disaster recovery scenario, which in a broader context is part of Business Continuity Planning (BCP) and Disaster Recovery Planning (DRP). The disaster recovery scenario is designed to record specific steps, roles and responsibilities: with a complex system everyone has to know exactly what they have to do, what their job is if a disaster occurs.

Just think: How would your IT operating team cope in a disaster scenario if a software owner wants to launch an application but this is not possible because other, lower-level server functions – such as network services – have not yet been switched and activated at the reserve site.

Testing and maintaining DR scenarios

Having a well-defined disaster recovery scenario can reduce risks, but the outlined processes must also be tested. There are various reasons why this is vital. Changes and developments are made almost constantly in complex enterprise IT infrastructures, and these have to be taken into account during the individual disaster recovery steps. (For example, the new version of an application software must be installed at the reserve site) Secondly, “real” disaster situations are extremely rare, do not happen regularly and are very unlikely, which means the IT operating team involved in overcoming such a scenario has to practise the necessary measures and tasks under test conditions. This is why it is particularly important that the DR scenarios are not just kept up-to-date but they are also regularly tested.

Every company naturally operates under different conditions. The first and most important step (which is not so much IT related and more business in nature) is to determine which basic business processes are most crucial for the company. This is then the basis for elaborating a disaster recovery plan for the IT infrastructure.

 

Professional business continuity expertise from Areus Zrt.

Hogyan érheti el, hogy ne kelljen aggódnia folyton az IT rendszerei miatt?

You can relax on your holidays: professionals are taking care of your systems!

You can relax on your holidays: professionals are taking care of your systems!

If you could relax and go on holiday, and not have to worry about important programs and applications shutting down and business-critical processes being damaged?

The professionals at Areus Zrt. have successfully designed and implemented complex disaster-tolerant platforms and DR solutions for many large Hungarian companies.

 

 

 

 

The safe option: Areus Infokommunikációs Zrt.

  • Areus Infokommunikációs Zrt. is an expert in top security IT operations:  for more than 10 years we have provided assistance in applying the most advanced technologies and designing disaster-tolerant systems.
  • As a key partner of the main manufacturers of enterprise IT infrastructure (HP, IBM, EMC, NetApp)  we can roll out the most advanced, state-of-the-art and robust solutions when developing high availability systems.
  • During regular consultations we select the optimal solution that is best suited for your company.
  • Our personnel undergo regular training and have the latest qualifications; they also participate in professional conferences.
  • We share with our clients the “multiple” decades of professional experience that our team of specialists has built up during the design and construction of disaster-tolerant systems for large Hungarian enterprises and organisations. This accumulated know-how is indispensable for building and operating secure and efficient DR solutions.

Get in touch, with no obligation whatsoever!

Take advantage of a free 2-hour consultation on business continuity! Contact us and ask anything you want about business continuity, with no obligation.

Just fill out the form below and one of our colleagues will contact you within 2 working days.

 





 

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