Business Continuity: Redundancy or Redundancies?

Tue, 13/12/2016 - 10:58
Cloud Services

The Problem

Picture the scene: Sweaty cyclist arrives at a major UK car service company at 5:35pm on a hot August evening to pick up the family vehicle after its service. “Can’t take too long”, he thinks. “I will be home in time to put the kids to bed.”

At 5:36pm I (afore mentioned cyclist) am assisted at the counter...

“I just need to print out your bill sir, and then take payment”.

A few minutes pass, and it is claimed that ‘the system’ is to blame for the delay. The bill takes 10 minutes to print, but it is wrong and the process has to start again.

At this point, it is obvious from the staff’s reactions that something is seriously wrong with their IT operations.

The Cause

All of their billing, payment and job management is run centrally from their own private cloud system. And it is not working.

The staff can’t release the keys without payment, and I can’t pay without their billing system online.

I keep my cool – there is no point losing my temper, it won’t help me – so I try to help them. There is some redundancy with a secondary internet connection, so I suggest resetting the network equipment. No luck. The local workstations are locked down, so no chance of troubleshooting.

Their IT helpdesk number goes straight to a queue, and the staff say that this has happened before.

It is likely down at head office.

After over an hour of waiting for the system to come back online, we agree to a plan; they can’t let me have the keys, or they will get the sack. So I arrange to come back tomorrow first thing, and they’ll open early.

A sweaty ride home to put the kids to bed then…

7:30am the next day, and I’m back.

The bill is printed and it is right this time.

Just need to pay. But alas, oh no, not again.

The dreaded system has gone down within seconds of me entering the office.

Card payments are not possible, again.

Over the next hour we chat and swap war stories.

It turns out that they never use to have this problem, and could take payments and run jobs in the service company, even if the internet was down.

What’s worse is that they will be switching to IP phones soon as well, so if their internet connection goes down, they won’t be able to call the help desk to get any help!

Personal mobiles, which are technically not allowed to be used on company time, would be the only way to call the help desk. Clearly no effective system redundancy has been built into the system and a ‘bring your own device’ environment this is not.

After an hour and numerous attempts, the payment goes though and I am able to leave. The manager thanks me for being understanding. The receipt fails to print though, so he says he’ll put it in the post.

The Solution: Business Continuity Plan

With a clearly thought out IT strategy, system redundancy needs to play a major part whether using local systems, cloud services or both. Failovers and associated processes, both human and machine, need to be understood.

There is no point having the only copy of a plan that needs to be printed out for a power cut on a server, if the server, printer, networking and monitor are all off during the power cut.

The same applies with more complicated systems. If your primary internet connection goes down, your router needs to failover to the secondary. If you cannot call the help desk as your phones don't work, a cheap mobile issued to every branch and kept plugged in on the manager's desk to use in emergencies would solve the problem.

At Redstor we understand the value of redundant systems.

Offsite backup provides redundancy, ensuring that your valuable data is in more than one physical location.

Our Backup Pro cloud backup software has been architected from the ground up to ensure redundancy of the cloud storage platform. There are always two copies of your data, and the secondary copy can be made available at a moment's notice.

With Redstor, data recovery is quick, easy and painless, giving you peace of mind.

The reality for any business, is that without system redundancy, unavoidable downtime will cost you dearly, and you and your staff are more likely to be facing redundancies. The choice is yours. I know what I would choose.  

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