About the Author                                                                                           

Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is the Channel Sales Director UK & Ireland for Veeam. 

IT availability ensures that your customers can use your business’s services whenever and wherever they choose. However, many companies overlook availability and this important customer facing element of their business. Mark Johnson from Veeam explains why ensuring 24/7 availability is crucial to your brand reputation and how you can ensure you are fully prepared for any downtime.

We are now in the era of the always-on business, due to increasing globalisation, more flexible working practices and the growing use of automation. All this means that an organisation’s IT services need to be operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and any disruption to this availability can prove catastrophic, losing trade and damaging brand reputation. A number of high profile organisations from financial institutions to travel and transport companies have been affected in recent months. For the consumer, this downtime can mean disrupted travel, delayed payments, and a complete inability to access their own money. For the organisations involved, the costs included lost business, bruised reputations and financial penalties measured in the tens of millions.

For too long, IT outages such as these have been seen as part and parcel of doing business. Any IT infrastructure seemed to come with the expectation that it will be offline once in a while. Indeed, the 2014 Veeam Data Center Availability Report showed that the average enterprise will suffer IT application failure 13 times a year; which means up to 13 opportunities where you can lose the trust of your customers and suffer severe financial loss. This is no longer good enough: the 24/7 business world means expectations need to be raised, and then met. Yet many organisations will be unsure of where exactly to start.

Planning

A truly always-on business will need the right technology and approach to IT to ensure that IT failure cannot disrupt the business. For instance, availability should be a key part of any IT strategy, rather than the current status quo where data protection, backup and recovery are simply seen as products that are added to a project at the very end. This can mean a substantial reworking of IT policies, yet there are best practices organisations can follow immediately to ensure that they are already minimising the chances of downtime.

The 3-2-1 approach

One such practice is the 3-2-1 approach to data protection; ensuring that there are at least three versions of data, in at least two different formats with a minimum of one data format stored off-site. Regardless of how IT services are provided (in-house or over the Cloud), and whether failure would mean inconvenience or the end of the business, this 3-2-1 approach is the minimum to aim for. For in-house IT services, this means ensuring that the organisation owns a separate off-site backup location; or is using a cloud provider to gain access to the necessary infrastructure. When choosing cloud services, the business must perform due diligence to ensure that a provider will either follow the 3-2-1 approach itself, or will allow the business to make the necessary arrangements with other service providers.

There is much more that organisations can and should do to guarantee IT availability, but the smallest steps will still be an improvement over the status quo.

For more information about IT availability and backup please contact Trustmarque or speak to your account manager.