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Planned versus unplanned downtime

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In the age of the always-on business, downtime is increasingly unacceptable — even when it’s planned and announced in advance, says Veeam regional manager for southern African, Warren Olivier.

“In 2015 any business that has any kind of online component must accept that its customers, employees and suppliers demand constant, uninterrupted availability,” says Olivier. “Even in the smallest hours of a Monday morning, someone is going to want to make a purchase, check an account or log in to a system. There are occasions when there’s no alternative to taking an entire business offline for a few hours, but they should be very, very rare. It’s a CIO’s job to deliver the availability that customers and other key stakeholders demand.”

Olivier adds that thanks to the virtualisation advances of the past decade, always-on availability is not difficult to achieve. “The modern data centre can and should be designed from the ground up with properly protected data and redundant systems, with guaranteed rapid recovery to get uptime as close to 100% as possible. Even in the worst-case disaster scenario, recovery time and point objectives should be no more than 15 minutes.

The cost of downtime is not just in failing customer expectations – it has a direct impact on turnover, says Oliver. “Globally, according to Veeam’s most recent Data Center Availability Report, enterprises have unplanned downtime an average of 13 times a year, for up to 51 hours of downtime,” says Olivier. “Depending on whether the downtime affects mission-critical apps or not, that adds up over a year to an average cost of between $1,4-million and $2,2-million in lost revenue, decreased productivity and missed opportunities.”

“Achieving non-stop service and continuous protection traditionally required a very large investment in fully redundant systems with instant failover,” adds Olivier. “Only the very largest enterprises could afford these, and then only for their most important applications. But newer cloud, virtualisation, storage and other enabling technologies have made always-on capability far more widely available.”

Using the right tools, says Oliver, enterprises can bridge the availability gap between the requirements of the always-on business and IT’s ability to effectively deliver business continuity and data center availability.

“It should be possible to restore a correctly backed upvirtual machine (VM)to the location of your choice in seconds,” says Olivier. “Enterprises can use these backups to create a replica environment that can continue to run core production systems so that there’s no downtime, even when a primary environment is being upgraded or undergoing maintenance.”

“We all recognise that unplanned downtime is a significant business risk that we need to protect against,” says Olivier. “But planned downtime should be equally unacceptable, because it’s almost completely avoidable.”