Backup servers are an often-overlooked part of a business’ IT infrastructure. So what should you be doing to look after them?
How often do you pay attention to your backup server? It's probably not as often as it should be. But this might be a mistake, because if (or more likely when) something goes wrong in your business, your backup system will be what you rely on to keep things running. So we think it deserves a bit of respect.
For many companies, however, backup systems are an afterthought. It's easy to see why. With budgets tight and the demands of business units high, they are often regarded as a lower priority than production servers. The problem with this is that while main systems get upgraded and refreshed on a regular basis, backup systems are not, and so fall behind.
This can cause a range of issues. As well as becoming more expensive and less efficient to maintain as they age, servers that aren't frequently updated could leave businesses exposed to security vulnerabilities.
Yet when you need them, backup servers are always there. So isn't it time you showed them a bit of love? Here are a few things you can do to ensure your backup servers are well taken care of.
Do you know who in your organization is actually responsible for maintaining and upgrading your backup servers? In many firms, this falls to the IT infrastructure manager, who will likely be adding this as just one more job in an already-heavy workload. But backup servers deserve more than simply being an afterthought.
Instead, they need to be considered as an essential part of any firm's IT infrastructure strategy, and as such, a clear plan for how they are managed is essential. You don't have to devote a large team to your servers, but personnel with responsibility for operations and development should have a say, as they will have a stronger understanding of what the business needs.
Use the right tools
Having the right infrastructure management tools to help manage the day-to-day operations of these servers is also important. There are a wide range of options available, but not all of them may be well-suited to the design and usage needs of your business' particular setup. For instance, many are tailored to specific vendors, so running a server with other solutions may hinder its effectiveness.
However, there are effective third-party and vendor-neutral solutions available, especially when it comes to activities such as automation - an area that's an increasingly high priority for many businesses. Good data center infrastructure management (DCIM) tools are also valuable additions, as they enable businesses to plan for various 'what if' scenarios.
Don't let attention wander
Maintaining and improving any servers, whether production or backup, shouldn't be treated as a one-off project. Instead, it must be seen as a key part of ongoing IT efforts. This means constant, proactive monitoring and feedback that provides complete visibility into what is going on with the system.
Effective monitoring gives personnel the data they need to make well-informed decisions about the future direction of their server strategies. It may seem like a lot of work, but by ensuring you keep a close eye on your backup servers and are not leaving them neglected, you can improve the performance of your organization and ensure you're never left at risk of failure should you need them.
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