data recovery

Everything Goes Down: what should you expect for business uptime?

Everything Goes Down: what should you expect for business uptime? 1000 667 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

We have all come to depend on technology. Beyond computing, it has permeated our day-to day lives, with most of us using our personal tech to do essential things like pay bills, shop, do our banking, read the news, and so on.

For businesses of all sizes, the cloud has made it easier to operate leaner and smarter, enabling a mobile workforce and buoying what is likely the most significant disruption in the way the world gets things done. However, even the slightest bit of downtime is more than just an inconvenience when it translates to lost revenue and productivity.

What if it all went away tomorrow?

Recently, we have seen minor interruptions in important infrastructure and cloud services like AWS (Amazon Web Server), Adobe Creative Cloud, and Microsoft Office 365, interruptions that for some companies meant that their business continuity was at stake. In those moments, every single company whose servers and data resided on these systems were forced to cease operations, as these seemingly all-powerful and redundant services simply stopped delivering.

While these incidents are few and far between, they do happen. On average, if a site does suddenly become unavailable for some unexpected reason, the downtime is generally less than 30 seconds. While that doesn’t seem like much, it can mean a whole lot of lost revenue, and feed the frustration of customers who will undoubtedly turn tail and go elsewhere.

In order to maintain a promise of high availability, we need to understand the reasons why these services may fail, even if only for a moment. These reasons include:

Hardware failure

Probably the most common source of downtime, hardware malfunctions can happen when there is a power outage, causing the entire system to fail. In a cloud environment, however, hardware is continually monitored, and risk can generally be mitigated quite efficiently.

Software failure

Software or application failure is generally attributable to user error or mishandling of system resources.

Malicious attacks

Malware, DDoS, or other forms of malicious attacks can compromise a system in short order. Servers must make use of the latest security measures to ensure data is protected, and continually update servers to protect them from the latest threats.

So, all things considered, what kind of uptime should you expect?

There are plenty of providers who promise 99.9%, 99.999%, or even better, 100% uptime guarantees. 100% is the best-in-class solution, and is limited to dedicated cloud and virtual server plans, which often carry a marked difference in pricing. This is largely due to the fact that to be able to guarantee 100% uptime, they must have the resources, including strategic data centre locations, to back up their claims.

Even with a 100% uptime guarantee, this may not take into account scheduled downtime for maintenance, for example. Along with relentless efforts to deliver, the 100% uptime provider will have incredibly robust security, best-in-class hardware and support, and 24/7/365 monitoring to back it up.

The difference a 9 makes

A 99.999% uptime guarantee is often sufficient for many businesses. Also known as “5-nines or better”, it significantly decreases the downtime of its closest challenger, 99.99%.

To better illustrate the differences one 9 makes, consider these downtime stats per 30-day period:

99% = 7hrs 12 minutes

99.9% = 43 minutes 12 seconds

99.99% = 4 minutes 19 seconds

99.999% = 26 seconds

99.9999% = about 3 seconds

Trust a reliable host

If your hosting provider guarantees a certain level of uptime and is unable to deliver, you may be entitled to credits or refunds. It’s important to check this yourself, as you may be paying for a service guarantee that you are not receiving, and the more ambitious the guarantee, it is likely the more you will pay.

Choose a hosting provider that delivers the kind of uptime guarantee you require is important, but before you commit, find out exactly what they mean by their uptime promise and what, if any, caveats there are – such as scheduled maintenance, for example.

Anything less than 100% usually refers to a specific time span, similar to those stated above.

If what they promise doesn’t live up to your expectations in terms of both service and price, you’re well within your rights to keep shopping. It’s your money, after all.

Greenlight ITC – Reliable IT Support for Businesses in Sydney and Melbourne

If you are concerned about your cloud server and hosting uptime, call Greenlight today. One of our technicians would be happy to speak to you about how you can get the best service and value from your hosting provider.

“I know we are backed up so our business is fine”

“I know we are backed up so our business is fine” 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

Backup and Disaster RecoveryIf I asked you what the balance of your superannuation was right now, would you be able to provide me with an exact figure? I wouldn’t be able to.

You sort of just know your super is there—every now and then you get a statement, and you really only pay attention if your super company is losing you money.

A simple question I often ask clients is “Ok, somebody has just stolen your servers, or there’s a fire that destroys them. What is your disaster recovery plan to get your business up and running, and how long will it take?”

Usually, I’m met with one of three responses:

  • A blank look, and seconds of awkward silence.
  • “It’s all on the offsite copies!”
  • “I’m not sure.”

Once we set something up, it’s very easy to forget the fine details.  Just like your superannuation.

The reality is that without a proper plan, it could be days or even weeks to get that data from the backups back into a working environment to get back to business.

Having backups is great, but it’s only a piece of the puzzle.

How many days could your business could afford to remain closed? One day? Two days? What would happen if you had to close shop for a full week?

If a major disaster were to take place, being inactive for more than a day could start impacting heavily on your business. Think I’m exaggerating?

A recent report found that in the event of a major data loss incident, 4 in 5 businesses either never re-open or close within the next 12 months.  The scary thing is, 33% of Australian SMEs are not employing any means of data redundancy (Source: Acronis’ Global Disaster Recovery Index 2012).

Think about all those years of hard work down the drain, for a staggering 80% of businesses just like yours.

Conclusion

If you have a disaster recovery plan, great. Test it. Regularly. If you haven’t already, check out Mark Farrell’s 3-part disaster recovery plan series here.

If you don’t have one in place, get one. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a tiny start-up or have hundreds of employees. Have that conversation with your team, so that at least you know what is at stake, and how you plan to minimise your risk.

Greenlight ITC specialises in putting in place comprehensive disaster recovery plans, which we test regularly. This ensures that in the event of a disaster, there is no margin for error. But it’s more than just protecting your business. It’s about protecting your livelihood, the livelihood of your staff, and even your customers. Make sure your business is ready.