Downtime can be incredibly damaging for any business. After all, every minute you spend offline and unavailable is a minute you could be missing out on customers. There are many different studies that have been conducted that show the true extent of business downtime and the cost it has to any company. An example of this is research that was conducted by Aberdeen Group, which showed that downtown costs an average of $260,000 per hour across all sectors. It is, therefore, critical that you do everything in your power to minimise your company’s downtime. So, let’s take a look at some of the steps you should take…
Develop and refine a disaster recovery plan – There is only one place to begin, and this is at the end! No matter how many efforts you put in place to minimise downtime, you do need to put a disaster recovery plan in place so that you can react quickly to any issues.
Adopt systems that are dynamic and strong – A major concern when you wish to limit your downtime is to optimise for scalability. When it comes to hardware level, it is of paramount importance that you have solutions that are load balancing. This will ensure that you do not have the bulk of the problems that relate to downtime, for example, you will not experience workflow slowdown or a loss of key information because another server can take the place of any machine that needs to be removed.
Invest in a back-up generator – One of the most frustrating causes of downtime is a complete loss of power. You find yourself waiting around for the utility company to get back to you, and you could end up missing an entire day’s worth of business operations as a consequence. This is especially the case if they cannot pinpoint the problem or if it is a big issue impacting the entire area. You can avoid this trouble altogether by making the most of generator hire or by purchasing a spare generator. This will ensure you have a back-up source of power should something go wrong.
Roll out updates using source management – Another tip for reducing downtime is to roll out your updates using source management. Managing your various source repositories with darcs is a good option. This is a distributed and flexible system. Of course, it is one option of many, but irrespective of the platform you use, make sure to utilise numerous automated processes to roll out updates.
Do not assume that system audits have you covered – One mistake that a lot of business owners make is assuming that periodic system audits are enough to cover you. Yes, they should be a part of your standard operational processes. However, it is also vital to make your business practices more intellectual through process audits, and you also need to get rid of any redundancies that are not helpful. Look at the processes that are the most vital if your system was to go down. Now, how can you safeguard these systems? What measures can you put in place to ensure they are not disrupted? Not only will this serve the purpose of enhancing your uptime of your systems that are mission-critical, but it will also give you an improved understanding of how to spend your cash in terms of bolstering your infrastructure once the process audit has been completed.
Make your website functional in places – There is no reason why your website home page should not show even if your database is down. The same applies for any of the other static pages on your website. The difference from the point of view of the user between a nice looking error message and a website that won’t load at all, cannot be accessed, or is spitting out errors, is massive. When your database goes down, users should be able to see a polite message on your website that apologises and states that you are working hard to fix the issue. Not only this, but it is a good idea to keep your users informed via social media channels regarding the progress you are making and when you expect to be back online by. Communication is key in maintaining those strong and loyal consumer relationships.
Review the SLAs of your providers – You are probably already aware that SLA stands for Service Level Agreement. This is something that you will have with all of your providers, and now is a good time to review this. You need to know how much availability you are guaranteed before you actually get into the ins and outs of what is happening. If your hardware and software vendors offer 90 per cent uptime SLAs, you are not going to achieve the availability you are looking for. You need to demand high uptime, and you need to make sure that these goals are actually met.
As you can see, there are a number of different ways you can reduce downtime at your business. The importance of this should never be ignored, irrespective of what type of business you run or the industry you operate in. After all, downtime could mean that you miss out on a lot of customers, and consequently a lot of profit. Needless to say, this is a situation that no business wants to experience, so follow the tips above to make sure this is the case.
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