Disaster Recovery IBM i

Do You Trust Your Disaster Recovery Solution? Key Considerations for Creating the Right Backup Plan for Your Enterprise

Dave Kravitt, CPIM

The enterprise solutions running on your IBM i platform are your most important business assets. Are you covered in the event of a disaster? As reliable as the platform is, every system will eventually face unexpected downtime, and even a short-term hiccup can cause a long-term business disruption. Between re-work, missing data and even lost customers, you can’t afford to leave your backup and recovery strategy to chance. To operate with efficiency and peace of mind, you need a fast, flexible DR solution that meets your company’s unique needs. One way to create a solution based on your company’s unique needs: start with your business requirements. Learn how in The Ultimate Guide to Disaster Recovery.

Finding or creating that solution is easier said than done, however. From new hardware and software to a plethora of potentially viable backup strategies, there is a wide range of considerations you’ll need to take into account. What servers will you use for your backup plan, and will you keep them onsite? Which personnel will manage the programs that govern your backups? Will you save to media you keep in house or take advantage of a cloud-based backup or neither? There is no one-size-fits-all disaster recovery solution, but answering these questions with your needs in mind will bring you much closer to the ideal plan. Following are a few of the most important considerations. 

Common Causes for Concern 

First, what are your main risks regarding potential downtime? Too often we think of disasters as large-scale events, and the disruptions that most commonly cause issues include air conditioner leaks, overheated server spaces, mold and other physical issues. While these problems may not sound significant, they can become a serious nuisance when they finally pop up. Without the ability to physically access your servers, you can’t address hardware problems, and you may have trouble accessing all of the data you need. 

The same is certainly true for fires, storms, power outages and other disasters that can lead to days of downtime for your main servers. If you’re in an area with frequent earthquakes, for instance, an inadequate backup strategy could leave you working manually for days – if not weeks! 

Finally, hardware failures, software failures and human errors will eventually rear their heads, even among the most well-prepared IT teams. They may not cause major disruptions if your IBM i system health is in check, but for many organizations, a variety of business processes depend on the continuity of small, seemingly insignificant, hard-to-troubleshoot add-ons. 

Determining Your Needs 

Aside from your susceptibility to certain disasters, you’ll need to consider a few major needs for your business’s DR strategy. Most importantly, what is your tolerance for downtime? Many companies think they’ll be able to run manually for a day, a week or even more, but in most cases, their true tolerance for downtime is little to none. From brief, repetitive tasks to order processing and shipping, there’s a good chance that everything your company does depends on your IBM i platform. 

Similarly, what are your costs during a disaster? Manual work, re-work, lost transactions and more – it all adds up. In most cases, the downstream costs and complications caused by an unexpected bout of downtime are far more expensive than any recovery solution. To estimate your costs, you’ll want to run through a few example scenarios, both with your current DR solution and your potential alternatives. 

Testing Your Plan 

Many organizations only test their major systems when they implement a new backup plan, but the devil is in the details. Seemingly small add-ons may be essential to your business processes, and failing to integrate even one piece of EDI software could lead to yet another major disruption. 

In the same vein, many companies are relying more and more on connectivity to outside systems, creating greater dependency on complex interfaces and integrations. You might verify that your onsite servers will come back online, and that your offsite backups are good to go – but what about the Windows servers, banking portals and other third-party systems you’ll need to access? Without these mission-critical components, your backup plan will fail, even if your own servers are back online within minutes. 

Last but certainly not least, you’ll need to test the personnel and processes involved in your backup plan. Who will help get your system back up to speed, and how will they do it? How will affected employees manage their workloads during and after downtime? Answering these questions is just as important as selecting and implementing the right technologies. 

Putting it All Together 

Once you’ve answered the above questions, you’ll be several steps closer to determining the right backup and recovery strategy for your enterprise. But what options exist, why are they better than your current solution, and how do you determine which one fits your determined needs? 

To find out, view our recorded webinar, Key Considerations for Disaster Recovery: Finding the Right DR Solution for Your Enterprise Hosts Larry Dube, PSGi President, and John Hamel, TurningPoint Systems Principal, take a deeper look at the questions we’ve outlined here, and they’ll discuss the pros, cons and ideal use cases for several popular DR options. Their discussion covers:

  • Assessing your downtime tolerance
  • Calculating the short- and long-term costs of a shutdown
  • Standardizing manual processes during downtimes
  • Backup plan testing

This webinar is sure to help you provide for fast, pain-free disaster recovery within your enterprise. Download the webinar today! 

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