4 Strategies To Minimize Downtime

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Every business wants to thrive without slowing down because of machine malfunctions and other issues. However, some unforeseen, unexpected, or sometimes even expected issues can cause a business to slow down. One of the major factors leading to a business slowing down is downtime, a dreaded scenario that can cost a business time and money to get it up and running again. It occurs when equipment stops working, or there are faults due to technical failure, maintenance, lack of materials, labor shortage, power outages or cybercrime.

Downtime, if not taken care of quickly, can adversely affect your business. If you run a business and suspect there is something slowing your productivity down, hire an expert professional from freelancer.com to find the problem, if you do not have anyone capable of doing so within your organization. Some of the negative scenarios that occur when there is downtime are:

  • Customer dissatisfaction and potential loss

  • Reduction of sales revenue

  • Reduction in productivity and employee morale

  • Unprecedented costs for overtime, restoration of IT systems and recovery costs for malfunctioning equipment

  • Damage to the business brand

  • Ripple effect on supply chains

  • Loss of material compliance variations

To avoid all these mishaps, every business should ready itself against downtime. Here are four strategies to minimize downtime.

Planned maintenance strategy

One of the best ways for any business to ready itself for downtime is a foolproof planned maintenance strategy. This involves having a good framework of maintenance guidelines, and suggestions on how to tackle maintenance problems. Every business should have enough equipment to formulate life plans for the business, and allow for regular maintenance. It is also important to put in place a comprehensive maintenance organization design and schedule, coupled with appropriate systems control documentation.  

Here are some of the ways to ensure you have a good maintenance strategy for your business.

  • Eliminate redundant servers and containerized services to avoid machine failures. While you’re at it, spread your infrastructure out across several regions and data centers.

  • Minimize or completely cut traffic between servers, making sure there is very little interruption to the service.

  • Carry out regular checks to single out any redundant systems, and check if they are still capable of delivering sufficient service. If not, reroute traffic from these systems to others until you determine why they aren’t performing.

  • Upgrade your servers from a single web server to multiple web servers to broaden your infrastructure. The upgrade, if done on a load balancer, will not reroute traffic to the failing web servers, as the load balancer performs regular checks to determine which web servers are healthy and which are failing.

  • Introduce database servers that can replicate configurations. A good example is MySQL, which enables both read and write operations, even on redundant servers. If you put all your data on one server, there is a likelihood of losing everything in the event of a server failure. MySQL can reroute data around a failing server because of its automatic detection of failing servers.

  • Use floating IPS to reassign data to different servers in case you have failing servers using an API. To do this, you will need to install extra software like Heartbeat or Keepalive.

Continuous monitoring and evaluation

To avoid any downtime, continually monitor the actions of the infrastructure. Monitor frequently for any impending issues you can rectify before disaster strikes. Close monitoring and evaluation can also provide answers as to what has caused any previous downtime.

For proper monitoring, record and aggregate all statistics of system resource utilization metrics from your applications. Any changes in these statistics can alert you to problems, and determine what action can be taken to avoid downtime.

All metrics and statistics are gathered in a report on a central server and made available for putting out alerts, graphing and searching for solutions. Some of the monitoring software programs that can be used for this are Graphite and Prometheus.

The metrics to monitor the closest when trying to minimize downtime are traffic, latency, saturation and errors.

Deploying software

Using too many software packages at once can lead to a crash on the network. This is because they consume a lot of bandwidth, which can lead to downtime. There is a need to simplify software distribution to improve your production environment, and one way to do this is by downloading one software package per network. Once software is deployed, sharing between machines can carry on without slowing down work or creating any bugs.

Even though it takes time to plan and execute everything, deployment eliminates any stress on the network, leaving enough bandwidth for the daily operation of the business. Make sure to follow best practice when automating your deployments, regarding the continuous integration, delivery and testing of the software. If you have no one in the organization to carry out software deployment, you can hire a professional to do it for you. Some of these best practices are:

  • Maintaining a single repository where everybody integrates similar codes containing all the information needed, like tests and configuration files.

  • Making sure the continuous integration software can test and deploy in a mock environment that closely mimics the environment of the final production.

  • A good example of the best implementation to use is blue-eyed deployments, which involves having two similar production situations with a system that easily switches traffic between the two situations or environments. The system uses either a floating IP address, or a load balancer. An IP address switches between a blue and a green server, while a load balancer switches between multiple servers and whole clusters.

Keep a healthy work environment

Having active and healthy workers is another way to minimize downtime. When you have an employee that is not fit to run equipment effectively or take up any other task, they can slow down progress. Your goal as the employer should be to make sure everyone is working at their optimum level, and able to tackle every job assigned to them - and if they are not, offer support and find ways to make sure they get back on the track as soon as possible.

The longer they stay out of the game due to illness or personal issues, the higher the cost your business will incur in lost productivity. Call on them regularly to check on their status, and make them feel connected to the organization. This is highly motivating and it will make sure that even if there is a sickness or other problem preventing them from working, they will try as hard as possible to get back to work fast.

Creating a safety culture in a workplace where employees are not prone to accidents is another way of ensuring you have continuous productivity and avoid nasty after effects. Arrange for regular safety measure seminars or meetings, and encourage them to participate in safety committees by sharing their views and recommendations. They are best positioned to pinpoint the organization’s primary risks. It is easy to set the necessary protocols with this information.

Create documented processes on what to do when there is an accident, a machine failure due to outages and other factors, and make sure all employees follow the laid down procedures.

In case there is an incident that could lead to downtime, take swift action and have the matter fully investigated before drawing any conclusions. This prevents further damage and similar incidents taking place in the future.

Conclusion

When downtime occurs, an organization can lose a lot in terms of sales and customers, not to mention the costs involved in fixing the machines. All this is avoidable if the proper strategies are in place to begin with.

Do you know of any other strategies to minimize downtime that we could add to the list? Your opinion and recommendations are important, so feel free to comment in the comments section below.

Dikirim 3 November, 2017

LucyKarinsky
LucyKarinsky Kakitangan

Software Developer

Lucy is the Development & Programming Correspondent for Freelancer.com. She is currently based in Sydney.

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