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What To Know About Dealing With IT Outages


As an enterprise, your applications and data centers are of the utmost importance. An enterprise makes massive investments into their applications and data platforms, but if something happens to sideline them in the form of an outage it can create devastating ripple effects. 

For an enterprise organization, an outage related to database, hardware, or software assets can last just a few minutes up to several days or more. The losses can be extraordinary. 

There are DevOps tools for enterprise-level organizations that can help in this area. For example, there are ways to identify potential regressions in response times and failure rates, see readability scores across every deployment and infrastructure, and see slowdowns between releases. Even so, beyond having these tools and features in place, organizations need to keep some general considerations in mind with regard to IT outages. 

Outages Are Inevitable

Even with impressive infrastructure investments, outages are inevitable. What you can do is keep this in mind and design a system that can handle failure. Being able to handle failure is an essential component of modern architecture. 

The tough part of that comes from those events that you might not consider upfront, and therefore your infrastructure architecture may not be as equipped to handle those. 

Following a DevOps model is helpful for many enterprise organizations. A DevOps model breaks down silos, and one team will work across the entire lifecycle of an application. 

A few other key things to keep in mind—along with the inevitable of IT outages, you can keep the damage under control with the right preparation. 

Developing a Business Continuity Plan

Any business needs to have what’s called a business continuity plan. This includes a disaster recovery plan, and also a plan for how you’ll continue operating your business in the face of an IT event or outage. 

There are two primary scenarios that lead to the most major IT issues to consider when developing a business continuity plan. 

The first is a system outage. 

With a system outage, a part of your application or network experiences a problem leading you to be offline for a period of time. 

This tends to be a relatively easier scenario to recover.

Then, there’s data loss. Data loss can be more challenging because you’re losing information, content, or data that can be your enterprises’ or your customers and clients. 

As you develop a business continuity plan, you want to gain a clear picture of how your organization as a whole could be impacted by different outages and types of data loss. 

For example, what are your current dependencies on apps that are business-critical?

Think about not only the general effects of any possible outages but also what how to calculate the financial impact of any resulting downtime. 

What’s Your Disaster Recovery Plan and Is It Appropriate?

Many enterprise-level organizations have a disaster recovery plan in place, but it may be something they haven’t revisited or updated in quite some time. In those instances, it is important to do an audit of what your current plan is and also do testing. 

Ask yourself whether or not your disaster recovery plan reflects the point your business is at currently, taking into particular consideration the business-critical apps you’ve defined. 

Is it the right scale for what you need? This doesn’t always mean is it big enough—you might also want to question if it’s too big to the point that it’s costlier than it needs to be.

Is your disaster recovery plan in its current state only a way to meet certain requirements, or is it in place just to say you have it? If so, you may need to do some testing and make changes as a result of that testing. 

As you’re testing your disaster recovery plan, make sure one central point person is heading the project and keep your C-suite involved in the process. You need their understanding of the importance of a disaster recovery plan from the start. 

You want to start working on a communication plan as well. Transparency with key stakeholders is critical regardless of the specifics of an IT disaster. 

Who needs to be informed and what do they need to be told? How will you work to save or salvage your brand?

Finally, as you’re addressing all of the possible scenarios, you should include in your plan the steps your employees and organization as a whole will take to remain productive in the face of an outage.