If you’re discussing downtime with your colleagues, it means one of two things: you’re installing that brand new server that you’ve been salivating over for the last few weeks, or you’re frantically trying to bring a critical application, web or database server back from the dead. Server uptime is one of those subjects that either conjures feelings of pure bliss or horror for IT professionals.

The IT world has many moving goal posts as managers and engineerstry to grapple with complex systems that need round-the-clock monitoring and seemingly endless tweaking and enhancements. As businesses become ever more reliant on stable, predictable and fast-performing systems, the expectancy on IT professionals intensifies. Equally important to server uptime is response times; meaning a slow server is similarly problematic to a server that is down.

Planning and good communication are vital.

Most IT managers name planning as a top priority to systems continuity, but many fall short in doing it right. Mapping out your server life-cycle is important to improving reliability and uptime over the long term. Hard and software upgrade paths should be defined from an early age and planned according to business reliance, security, budgetary and availability requirements. Few things can disturb the flow of your day like a server that shuts down indefinitely due to an unknown or unanticipated event.

Ensuring hard and software patches are routinely performed and thorough change management processes are in place eliminates operational issues in multi-staffed network operations centres (NOC). Communication amongst your team prevents confusion and reliable documentation systems mean that your network – and networking team – operates in closer unison. Internal check-ups on how effectively your team follows protocol minimise human error in environments where things can get confusing very quickly.

Set a standard and stick to it.

With operational standards in place, make sure that your hardware is standardised as much as possible. This lowers risk and makes planning for hard or software changes across multiple servers much more efficient. It’s easier to plan for massive rollouts of software upgrades and other far-reaching changes when your system is closely standardised. Standard Operating Environments (SOEs) means faster deployments, upgrades and improved management of homogenous hardware. Disparate systems can overcomplicate your environment and create management overhead with countless unknown outcomes.

Proactivity is key to server uptime.

If proactivity is key to uptime, then monitoring is the doorway to a world of zero-downtime bliss. Monitoring means you’re looking for problems before they occur – not after. Monitoring your system’s health and other auxiliary systems such as your server room’s cooling systems can prevent common failures that can otherwise be avoided.

Network monitoring tools that acquire live server stats on health, usage, load and other crucial data gives insight into performance and health metrics that are key to informed planning around upgrades and implementing effective downtime prevention measures. Of course, all that monitoring doesn’t mean much without proactive alerting to keep IT pros in the loop of what is occurring within their environments. So, be sure your monitoring solution gives you the information you need, when you need it to keep your server uptime targets in focus.

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