Planning is Key to Enterprise Availability (and to a Happy Marriage)

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Planning dates and getaways, fabulously romantic dinners are a great part of loving your spouse well.  Seminars and workshops overflowing with tips for improving your relationship abound in nearly every area of the world.
But, listen in on the training session provided by SIOS Technology Corp. Project Manager for Professional Services, Edmond Melkomian, and you’ll quickly learn that planning dinners and anniversary retreats aren’t the only way to love your spouse well.
In a recent class on SIOS Protection Suite for Linux, Edmond shared three tips that help you love your spouse well in an enterprise world: plan, plan, plan.

1.   “Plan to plan” your enterprise availability solution

In his course, Edmond Melkomian asked students to name the first thing you should do when deploying an enterprise solution.  His answer, “Plan, plan, plan.”  It seems obvious, but the first step is to start making the plan.  A fairly decent start for a plan includes developing the details for each of the project phases, such as milestones, checkpoints, risks, risk mitigation and strategies, stakeholders, timelines, stakeholder communication plans.  A decent plan will also include details about kickoff, sign-off and closure, and resources (staffing, management, legal/contracts).
Plan to create, review, modify, and update your plan throughout the solution lifecycle.

2.   Plan what to deploy for enterprise availability

Plan what to deploy.  It is likely that a large portion of your enterprise infrastructure exists beyond the realm of the current team’s lifespan with your company.  As you migrate to the cloud, or update your availability strategy, it is worth the time and effort to make a plan regarding what to deploy.  Focus your plan on ensuring that you deploy redundancy at all critical components, network, compute, storage, power, cooling, and applications.  All data centers and cloud providers typically ensure cooling, power, and network redundancy to start.

A number of firms offer architectural teams, cloud solution providers, availability experts, application architects, and migration specialists who help teams discover critical and sometimes hidden dependencies as well as high risk areas vulnerable to Single Points of Failure (SPOF’s).  This investigative work will feed into your plan of what to deploy and/or update in your availability strategy. Plan on reviewing what you need to deploy.

3.   Plan to keep a QA/pre-production cluster for reliable availability

When I was in the SIOS Technology Corp. development team, I’ll never forget a Friday night call with a long time, but frantic customer.  Earlier in the month a frequent customer unsuccessfully deployed a new software solution into a production environment.  The result was a massive failure.  He called our 800 number at 4:30pm (EST) on Friday.  Why do I recall that exact time?  Friday was date night.  My wife and I had dinner plans, a babysitter for the six girls on standby (by the hour), and hopes for a romantic and relaxing evening.  I was just about to head out for the day when the phone rang.  After a tense first hour, we were back up and running.  This unfortunate episode could have been avoided or mitigated by keeping a UAT or QA system on hand.

As Harrison Howell, the Software Engineer for Customer Experience at SIOS Technology Corp. noted in his blog 6-common-cloud-migration-challenges the limits of on-prem are no longer the same limits.

Customers coming from an on-prem system need to remember that resources are no longer a limiting factor. In the cloud, systems can be effortlessly copied and run in isolation of production, something not trivial on-premises. On-demand access to IT resources allows UAT of HA and DR to expand beyond “shut down the primary node”. Networks can be sabotaged, kernels can be panicked, even databases can be corrupted and none of this will impact production!

Identifying and testing these scenarios improves HA and DR posture.

Plan on deploying and keeping a UAT system for HA and DR testing.  As Harrison mentions, “identifying and testing [issues]” “improves [your overall] HA and DR posture,” and that improves your chances of a successful date night.

4.   Plan regular maintenance and updates (including documentation)

Lastly, plan times for regular maintenance and updates.  Your enterprise needs to remain highly available to remain highly profitable and successful.  Environments don’t remain stagnant, and patches, security updates, expansion, and general maintenance are a regular occurrence from inception to retirement.  Creating a plan for how and when you will incorporate updates and maintenance into your enterprise will ensure that you are not only kept up to date, but that you minimize risks and downtime while doing it.  Be sure to include in your plan the use of a test system.  Develop a planned routine and process for validating patches, kernel and OS updates, and security software, and don’t forget to update the project documentation and future plans as you go and grow.

If you can remember to plan for a highly redundant, highly reliable and highly available system upfront, plan to keep a QA/Pre-production cluster after Go-Live, and plan for regular maintenance and updates you will also be able to keep your plans with your spouse for date night.  And not just date night, but you’ll also be able to keep your night’s free from 3am wake up calls due to down production systems.  This is my tip for loving your spouse well.

I love my wife and so I help customers deploy SIOS Technology Corp.’s DataKeeper Cluster Edition and SIOS Protection Suite for Windows and Linux products as a part of a highly available enterprise protection solution.  Contact SIOS.

Cassius Rhue, VP, Customer Experience

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