In the current dire economic environment, not having an availability plan or solution in place is particularly risky as now more than ever businesses should be putting measures in place to ensure they maximise trade time.
Brendan Widlake, business development executive at Stratus Technologies, says: “While globally more and more large-¬scale corporates are embracing the reality that availability solutions are no longer merely a nice-¬to-¬have, particularly when it comes to critical applications that are revenue are reputation related, the same is not true of the mid-¬tier companies that comprise majority of South Africa’s business landscape.
“In most instances local mid-¬tier companies simply aren’t equipped to deal with downtime and outages. And because they lack both the technical acumen and technological investment, they therefore find it far harder to recover.
“Rising interest rates and the weak rand mean that more and more smaller businesses are having to close their doors, so they certainly cannot afford to risk paying the price for downtime or data loss,” he comments.
Here Widlake says the impact of an outage is potentially disastrous as it poses a very real threat to both the future of the business as well as people’s jobs.
“The problem becomes worse when businesses lose data such as client records and financial information. This is particularly the case when sectors are legally required to keep records, such as insurance or financial services sector, where data loss could potentially result in a hefty fine from ombudsman,” he says.
So with limited technical skill and budget, just what should mid-¬tier businesses be considering when it comes implementing an availability solution?
Widlake says that from a technical perspective, the technology used to build the solution must be simple to use, robust with a reputation for delivering, as well as one that is tried and tested.
“In addition, it’s also really important to choose a vendor or reseller that provides the right kind of support. With limited technical expertise, being able to access support quickly is often critical,” he adds.
Apart from investing in an availability solution, Widlake says businesses also need to go one step further and ensure availability for the office or site of the business.
“There’s no point in investing in application availability but then a Telkom line goes down and you end up losing productivity anyway. It’s therefore always advisable to ensure that the business has more than one data connection in place and an automatic back-¬up UPS should a power outage occur,” he advises.
Also important for Widlake is taking ownership. “In a small business data can live everywhere and in addition to the storage network, it is kept on laptops and mobile devices. It is therefore extremely important for the business to ensure it is adequately backed up and kept safe,” he says.
And because outages are inevitable, Widlake says businesses need to make sure functionality is quickly restored.
“Most technology that uses high availability as a descriptor refers to the fact that when the hardware fails the outage recovery is quick i.e. fast recovery from failure.
“However in this scenario there is still a high likelihood that data will be lost. It’s therefore advisable for businesses to go one level above availability and consider solutions that are fault tolerant or always-¬on,” he concludes.