(This article was originally published on the DCIG web site on January 18, 2018.)
No business – and I mean no business – regardless of its size ever wants to experience an outage for any reason or duration. However, to completely avoid outages means spending money and, in most cases, a lot of money. That is why, when someone shared with me earlier this week, that one of their clients has put in place a solution that keeps their period of downtime to what appears as a glitch to their end-users for nominal cost, it struck a chord with me.
The word outage does not sit well with anyone in any size organization. It conjures up images of catastrophes, chaos, costs, lost data, screaming clients, and uncertainty. Further, anyone who could have possibly been involved with causing the outage often takes the time to make sure they have their bases covered or their resumes updated. Regardless of the scenario, very little productive work gets done as everyone scrambles to first diagnose the root cause of the outage, fix it, and then takes steps to prevent it from ever happening again.
Here’s the rub in this situation: only large enterprises with money to buy top-notch hardware and software backed by elite staff to put solutions in place that come anywhere near guaranteeing this type of availability. Even then, these solutions are usually reserved for a handful of mission critical and maybe business critical applications. The rest of their applications remain subject to outages of varying lengths and causes.
Organizations other than large enterprises daily face this fear. While their options for speed of recovery have certainly improved in recent years thanks to disk-based backup and virtualization, recovering any of their applications from a major outage such as hardware failure, ransomware attack, or just plain old unexpected human error, it may still take hours or longer to complete the recovery. Perhaps worse, everyone knows about it and cursing out the IT staff for this unexpected and prolonged interruption in their work day.
Here’s what caught my attention on the phone call I had this week. While this company in question retains its ideal of providing uninterrupted availability for its end-users as its end game, its immediate milestone is to reduce the impact of outages down to a glitch from the perspective of their end-users.
Granted, a temporary outage of any applications for even a few minutes is neither ideal nor will end-users or management greet any outage with cheers. However, recovering an application in a few minutes (say in 5-10 minutes,) will be more well-received than communicating that the recovery will take hours, days, or replying with an ambiguous “we are making a best faith effort to fix the problem.”
This is where setting a milestone of having any application recovery appear as a glitch to the organization starts to make sense. Solutions that provide uninterrupted availability and instant recoveries often remain out of reach financially for all but the wealthiest enterprises. However, solutions that provide recoveries that can make outages appear as only a glitch to end-users are now within reach of almost any size business.
No one likes outages of any type. However, if IT can in the near-term turn outages into glitches from a corporate visibility perspective, IT will have achieved a lot. The good news is that data protection solutions that span on-premises and the cloud are readily available now that when properly implemented can well turn many applications outages into a glitch.