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Act Now to Avoid Blackout Downtime, Warns Veritas Technologies

Six-step plan to ensure resiliency suggested by multi-cloud data management leader 

Veritas Technologies, the leader in multi-cloud data management, has today warned that businesses across Europe could face significant risks if they don’t adapt their disaster recovery plans to meet the challenges of potential blackouts.

With experts widely predicting power cuts across the region as a consequence of ongoing military action from Russia, Veritas is highlighting that businesses should be preparing now if they want to avoid costly downtime.

Ian Wood, UKI CTO at Veritas, explains: “Most European organisations have developed their resiliency plans to respond to one-off, unexpected, emergencies, such as floods or fires that could take their data centres offline for several days. However, this winter, the more likely threat to their systems comes from repeated, but predictable, events that starve them of power for several hours multiple times a week. This requires a completely different mindset and a new type of availability plan.”

Six-step Plan for Blackout Survival

To help business adapt, Veritas is suggesting a six-step plan to help organisations prepare for the threat of rolling blackouts.

  1. Establish the limitations of any existing plans

Carefully review any existing disaster-recovery plans and assess whether they are fit for purpose in the event of rolling blackouts. This is a good opportunity to map resiliency plans against all of the risks emerging in an evolving threat landscape. Check particularly for recovery times, failover locations and how easy it is to move back to primary infrastructure once the power shortage is over.

  1. Understand the roll of the UPS

Most businesses will have their critical data infrastructures connected to an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) to help them to cope with a short-term lack of power. These will nearly always be able to support intensive workloads for at least 30 minutes. However, with some experts predicting blackout periods of four-hours or more, organisations need to understand exactly how long their processes can be maintained on UPSs or generators and when they would need to failover to alternative systems.

  1. Identify critical apps and data – and map where they are

Not every app or data set is going to be critical to keep available during a power cut but even moments of downtime for others can bring a business to its knees. The challenge for organisations is knowing which data is truly critical. It’s especially important to look for data dependencies – those data sets that aren’t part of a primary workflow but are critical for the process to complete. Data-mapping tools will be invaluable here.

  1. Speak to cloud partners and understand where responsibility lies

It’s easy to believe that, if data is in the cloud, then it’s the provider’s responsibility to mitigate the impact of downtime. In reality, responsibilities can vary depending on the type of service, so it’s vital for every business to get clarity on what they need to address for themselves.

  1. Agree a new plan that is highly distributed

Once it’s clear which data and apps need to be highly available through a power cut, where they are and how long they can run there without power, establish a plan to fail over to an alternative location if those limits are exceeded. Carefully consider where you fail over to. Fire-and-flood plans often involve moving only a few miles so that the IT team can easily relocate and continue to do their jobs. Fires don’t usually spread for miles – blackouts do.

  1. Test, test and test again

Disaster recovery plans are only useful if they actually work – and the worst time to discover that they don’t is at the height of an emergency. Testing allows unexpected dependencies to be identified and resolved before they cause real issues.

Wood said: “There’s a short window left open to organisations to prepare for the risk of rolling blackouts this winter. The key thing is to seize that opportunity to ensure resiliency. Warnings of the potential for power cuts have been widely publicised so, if they come, no one will be able to say that it’s a surprise – and customers are unlikely to forgive a lack of preparation.”

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