Unexpected outages are a financial risk to the business and can ultimately damage the reputation of the organization. Here are some common causes of unplanned downtime.
Human error has actually proved to be the most prominent threat in IT centers yet the industry is doing nothing to curb the problem. The previously conducted researches cite that, around 70% of data center outages are attributed to human error. By the way, what is behind these human errors? It can always be easy to say "lack of training" but as a matter of fact, best-trained people also make mistakes when in rush, tired or when they think they could get away with taking shortcuts. Most features of data centers attract potential for mistakes simply due to illogical layouts, poor labeling, poor maintenance, and inadequate user training. Simple mistakes people make lead to serious downtime events that are complex and costly to recover from. However, human error may not be viewed as a direct root of the problem but a symptom of complexity. The overall assumption is that flaws are events caused by weak judgments, incompetence, and wrong decisions, therefore tending to believe that the system would be safe without humans.
Complex systems are extended balancing act where humans are vital to keeping that balance, hence the cumulative set of actions result to errors. Manual passage of difficult configuration commands is a common origin of human error in data centers. For example, it can be very possible for a qualified engineer to put a firewall across the wrong interface, wrong entry of an IP address or service misconfiguration with a syntax error. In order to address human error, service providers are supposed to offer appropriate training to employees not only on daily basis but also in worst case scenarios so they can be able to quickly respond and correct damage in any situation.
Bad designing of data center facilities can be another reason for downtime. For example, if you have increased server density in the data center without consideration of adequate provision for space, ventilation, power and air conditioning, then you are probably heading into serious trouble. Therefore, you are required to design the data center which can accommodate any future growth that you may need to implement in the existing facility in case the business demands for it. It is also important to have 2N redundancy to allow for future growth and avoid any occurrence of outages which may happen due to increased load. Planning is one of the crucial element prior to the development of an effective data center since it supports a reduction of downtime by guarantying system robustness and ensuring equipment reliability throughout the operation. When the team fails to create an appropriate design for the system, there is a likeness of future problems arising due to system inflexibility. Therefore, if proper planning and scheduling are contacted, the system reliability and production will be upheld and maximize the opportunity for uptime.
Poor designing of data centers hinder IT professionals from adapting to current technologies due to the inability of their systems to accommodate adjustments. This affects the production rate of the IT organization and may lead to negative reputation from their clients since it can't effectively modernize its facility. However, complex designs may not guarantee higher availability and can lead to more downtime if the infrastructure is not properly and rigorously managed and monitored, therefore, detailed methods and procedures should be put in place during design to ensure that the business operation avoids disruptions.
Equipment failure is not so strange to many organizations and can have devastating and far-reaching effects based on total downtime, repair cost and subsequent impacts on good production and delivery services. Although some of the equipment malfunctions and broken parts are easily rectifiable leading to minimal losses, poor maintenance, planning, and monitoring can lead to serious problems in the overall operations and productions. Equipment failure or configuration issues occur due to various reasons discussed below.
Cross-Training and Contingency Plans
The equipment operators usually receive effective operating procedures and best practices regarding the machine they will be working with on daily operations. However, there might be an inevitable moment when an operator eventually works on a machine or equipment, he/she isn’t familiar and adequately trained for, a situation which may arise as a result of staff shortages or unexpected employee absences. To avoid engaging operators with less expertise in complex machine operations, the organization should ensure that there is enough trained operators to allow for flexibility and contingency plans in case of staff shortage emergencies. Additionally, all operators in IT environments should be trained on various types of equipment and be all-rounded persons.
Perform Preventive Maintenance
Regular maintenance on data center equipment is vital for optimal performance. Preventive maintenance is an important task in IT working environments and the management should not assume that IT specialists will identify the impending troubles before the entire failure of an application or hardware system. This is because it is actually hard to notice and detect early stages of failure. Sometimes workers may perform temporary fixes on slow performing machines but that always make the problem worse over time. Preventive maintenance should be continuously adapted in order to extend the usability life of the equipment and machinery thereby minimizing the downtime for routine maintenance and repairs.
Besides handling preventive maintenance, constant monitoring is a valuable process that can lead to a dramatic reduction in downtime and breakdowns. This establishes baselines and detects slight changes which can be incorporated to conclude the impending breakdowns and failures and granting enough time for contingency planning. Through the detection of operational changes in equipment, the company is able to adjust the workloads and schedules to minimize the load on equipment indicating early signs of system failures. Even though failure is inevitable due to equipment unpredictability, but by ensuring suitable operator training, implementing preventive and predictive maintenance strategies, the system equipment will be kept running at optimal performance and have longer lifespan thus impacting the company positively.
Downtime is another way of saying a system is not available to the users. It is also referred to as an outage.
The greatest invention in the last 200 years isn't a product, but rather the scientific method, the process which has been used to create millions of products. Today, when change is exponential, a focus on process over products is even more important.
Signs & Symptoms
Unplanned downtime is the number one cause of financial harm yet most IT leaders don't understand the signs and symptoms of an environment that experiences too much unplanned downtime.
Sure it's easy to surmise that the systems are offline more than they should be especially when management is enraged but there are legitimate signs and symptoms which will allow you to reduce the frequency and impact of unplanned outages.
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3. Implement Measurements & Indicators