Even the best run IT operations face the unexpected regardless of the size of the operation. Storms rumble through leaving broken power and communications lines in behind. Buildings can be flooded or damaged by winds. While large companies typically have plans in place and a set of processes to follow, but mid-market companies often don't. Although it sounds simple to move workloads to a backup data center and begin operations there, there are many other contingencies, such as will there be power or will our communications systems work, that must be considered.
Although midmarket decision makers understand that losing a critical workload could mean lost revenue, lost customers or even kill the company, they don't often consider what it would be like to have their entire IT operation grind to a halt.
What must be considered?
Although it might be painful, it is wise to have a clear understanding of the following things.
- What applications are actually used throughout the organization?
- How do these applications work with one another?
- What is the priority of these applications? That is, which are needed immediately and which can wait until later.
- If one source of power becomes unavailable, are there any others the organization can use?
- What about alternative communications services?
- If the building hosting the data center is damaged or destroyed, what backup facility can be used?
- Does your IT team have a plan on moving the company's applications and data when it appears a disaster is looming on the horizon?
Disaster Requirements go Beyond Virtual Machine Migration
Some suppliers would suggest that all workloads should be encapsulated so that they can be easily migrated to a remote data center or operate as a cloud service. All the major suppliers of virtual machine software now offer tools to migrate virtual machines from one system to another and tools that monitor the health of virtual machines that can trigger a VM migration.
Unfortunately, some applications don't perform well or have other restrictions making a move into a virtual server difficult, costly or against licensing terms and conditions.
Ask for help
Suppliers, such as IBM, HP, Cisco, Oracle and many others, have teams of experts that can help organizations with disaster responses. They offer planning services, will help move applications into virtual servers or into a cloud service. Some even offer cloud services that can be relied upon when the unexpected occurs.
It would be wise to make plans, set up processes and be prepared for the worst.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.