Perhaps there is no greater burden on the minds of IT professionals than the thought of an impending blackout. System outages can cost businesses a lot of money and impact service levels, both internally and externally. To be properly prepared to handle such an event, IT must have a plan in place that will allow them to act swiftly and, if possible, proactively to prevent or limit damages. IT process automation can help close the gap on such a plan.
What is a blackout?
In simplest of terms, a blackout is an event that takes down systems for either an emergency or scheduled maintenance. In emergency situations, there is little time to plan ahead, making a blackout much more dangerous and time-sensitive. Blackouts for scheduled maintenance, on the other hand, although still requiring prompt attention, are less of a threat since they can be well planned out and carefully executed.
Blackouts can be defined for one target in particular, multiple targets or all targets. Depending on need, scheduled blackouts can be planned well in advance, and can be set to run indefinitely, for a specified time period or just on an as-needed basis. Blackout periods can be extended or shortened mid-stream if necessary and the results are typically assessed by the IT team immediately after the systems are brought back up.
How can blackouts cause a problem?
In the event of an emergency blackout, or one in which the administrator inadvertently performs maintenance without executing a scheduled blackout, the target downtime can impact availability records. Unscheduled and even scheduled down time can impact business function across all departments, and even affect the organization’s bottom line if not handled properly. The key is to find a way to manage these blackouts in a way that is most efficient to limit down time and reduce impact on availability.
How can ITPA help manage blackouts more efficiently?
Because it allows for the systematic automation of routine tasks, ITPA is the perfect solution for managing both scheduled and emergency blackouts. For planned outages, the tool can be customized and defined to trigger the blackout one step at a time at the specified time or interval. This is particularly helpful for routine, repetitive outages for regular system maintenance (say, maintenance performed once a month on the 1st or last day). By leveraging technology to handle these routine tasks, the IT department can focus on more important matters.
For those instances when a blackout is scheduled but is not necessarily “routine”, ITPA can still be used in conjunction with human intervention. The automation tool can be programmed to send out notifications or stop at certain intervals and wait for input or instruction from the appropriate party.
Where automation really shines is in the event of an emergency blackout. ITPA makes the monitoring and notification of system events simple and effortless. In fact, in many cases, critical incidents can be detected before they cause any problems for the end-user, allowing the IT department to be proactive about managing the problem immediately. This can even sometimes eliminate the need for an emergency blackout altogether, or at the very least create the opportunity for IT to schedule and plan the outage.
In IT, blackouts are never completely avoidable. ITPA can help manage the process more seamlessly, whether it’s a planned outage or something unexpected.