Your business is built around satisfying your customers’ expectations: to do otherwise is career suicide. This may seem obvious, but the fact is that many businesses only focus on living up to their customers’ expectations in certain areas of their business while neglecting other areas which are some of the most important considerations for customers. This is clearly shown when it comes to availability of services. For a customer, the availability of a business’ services is the greatest factor of whether they are satisfied with that business or not. This is a constant across all fields, as when services are unavailable, customers are not only frustrated, they are also losing benefits to them as well as productivity in their day. This applies to customers who are using your services for personal use as well as for other businesses. If your services are unavailable, you will lose customers. It’s as simple as that.
While this seems obvious, you may be surprised by how many businesses don’t take this lesson to heart. A survey conducted by Infrascale revealed how heavy the costs of downtime are for small and medium businesses. According to this survey, nearly a quarter of small and medium businesses have seen their IT systems go offline during the past year. This has led 37% of all small and medium businesses surveyed to admit that they have lost customers due to downtime. 17%, meanwhile, have lost quantifiable revenue. Clearly, downtime is a huge issue for small and medium businesses, leading not only to a loss in customers but to a decrease in your profit margins as well. On the other hand, if you manage to reduce or eliminate downtime, your business will have a huge advantage compared to its competition.
How, then should you go about eliminating the effects of downtime on your business? You need to make sure that your business is prepared to perform two critical tasks. The first, of course, is minimizing the effects of downtime on your business when it occurs. You also need to make sure, however, that you are able to get your services back online as quickly as possible if there is a disruption to your network services. To make sure that you are achieving both of these goals, it makes sense to think of two interrelated concepts. These are redundancy and availability. Both are going to be essential to ensuring the health and safety of your networks in the event of a service disruption.
We’ll start by talking about availability first. According to the ITL4 Framework, availability is “the ability of an IT service or other configuration item to perform its agreed function when required.” Why this is important should be clear — if your service is not available, then you are not satisfying the requirements of your customer base.
The usual measure for availability is in terms of a percentage, that percentage being how much of the time that your network is available. Your percentage goal for availability is likely to depend on the industry that you’re in. 99.99% is seen by most industries as the ultimate goal, but in reality this is practically impossible.
Often, it’s easy to take availability for granted. But the truth is that there are a number of different factors that you have to keep in mind when you are keeping track of availability. These include, but are not limited to:
Each of these elements in addition to other potential issues could cause problems with your availability.
It’s important to remember that the higher your target is for availability, the higher your costs will also be. There are two reasons for this. You need to design effective availability into your systems architecture and then manage it.
A concept that is inextricably linked to availability is redundancy. Put simply, redundancy enables you to keep your networks available if one component of your service fails, because you have others working alongside it. To achieve redundancy, you want to use additional configuration items within your server to give you fault tolerance. This may sound complicated, but it is certainly achievable for small and medium businesses.
The fact is, though, achieving redundancy may present a challenge. While it is likely to save you money in the long run because you won’t be losing profits as a result of downtown, the IT capabilities that are required to set up multiple configuration items to ensure redundancy may be beyond what your business can handle. However, both redundancy and availability are so critical to your business that they are well worth investing in now for payoffs later.
One solution for small and medium businesses that is particularly effective is to outsource their IT services. By doing this, you can save on in-house IT costs and bring in professionals who are experienced in building redundancy into your network. By doing this, you will experience much more availability than previously, because the redundancy protocols will prevent complete downtime from occurring.
If you are in the Boston metro area, then Boston Help Desk can do exactly that. They are a world-class IT firm that has been helping small and medium businesses in the Boston area reduce their downtime for years. Their qualified IT experts can provide you with all the IT services that your business requires, including maximizing your availability by reviewing your server architecture and establishing redundancy protocols, or by setting up a server architecture for you in the first place that has redundancy established from the get-go.
Your business’ availability is too important for your customers and for you to risk it all by not having the proper redundancy procedures in place. Get a step ahead of the competition today by contacting Boston Help Desk and setting up an appointment to review your server architecture. The results will speak for themselves.