Best practices for testing a high-availability environment

Posted by Louise Tousignant_ on Mar 1, 2016 12:00:00 PM
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Best practices for testing a high-availability environmentWhen you invest in a high availability environment with IBM Power servers (also known under the names of AS / 400 and IBM I) you know you have a powerful, robust, reliable, flexible and secure machine.

Despite the undoubted benefits of Power servers, and there   infrastructure it is important to note neither are infallible.

So you need to protect yourself against the different types of disasters that can affect your computer facilities, be it a flood, fire, internal employee error or equipment failure.

Although high availability environment provides a certain level of tranquility in access to services, testing the recovery environment remains critical. Some companies rely blindly on the reliability of their systems and neglect recovery testing. In fact, it is estimated that only 10 % of companies regularly perform maintenance examinations necessary for the functioning of their recovery environment.

Are you among the 10% or 90% of those companies whose production capacities are at risk because of gaps in your disaster recovery plan?

 

Test and retest to improve your recovery plan

 

While large companies such as banks and insurance companies are already aware of the importance of regularly testing their recovery plan, it is quite different for SME’s, whose priorities revolve mostly around growth.

The lack of time, resources, constant need for availability of computer systems, costs of testing and fear of losing valuable data during the simulations are many reasons why companies postpone essential testing. This attitude is often reinforced by a poor understanding of how to develop a test program and recovery plan.

Ideally, a company should test his full recovery system at least once a year to prevent the recovery system from becoming obsolete.

Understand that the recovery system works by following the procedures of a programmed scenario, that is to say a recovery is developed and refined by an administrator whenever a complete test is performed. 

Since the IT infrastructure is constantly evolving, always take into account new integrated features, new connections and new applications. These variables complicate the procedures in case of problems and absolutely must be tested in order to avoid the worst.


2 types of essential tests for a high availability environment

 

1. The comprehensive test

The administrator performs a complete switch of production systems to the backup system.

This type of test should be carefully planned so that it does not disturb production and that all systems can be switched back on time for the test. During this test, behavior of all components within the environment is analyzed to detect any problems to solve.

These simulations allow to develop new solutions and enrich the succession plan to ensure better security of all computer components.

 

2. The blank test

These tests are less expensive and less burdensome for businesses, as they are only performed on the backup system. They simulate a recovery that does not interrupt production, but still allows you to check, in part, the proper functioning of the emergency plan.

This is an attractive option for companies that cannot afford to interrupt their activities in order to conduct more comprehensive tests. these tests are also faster to perform than complete tests and can be carried out more regularly.

 

Prevention is always better than finding a cure.

 

When it comes to implementing a company's recovery plan, optimism may be the preferred approach but even if you can hope for the best, you should be prepared for the worst.

This is even more critical in high-availability environments, which by definition are located in businesses that need to rely on their systems 24/7.

Make sure you have an alternate plan that has been tested for different scenarios and if you have doubts, ask for help before you are in disaster situations.

 

5 steps to a more functional and organised IT infrastructure | Ebook | CIOs - CTOs

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Topics: IT infrastructure, High availability

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