If there’s anything that keeps IT professionals up at night, it’s the thought of an impending blackout. System outages, especially unexpected ones, can be incredibly costly and impact service levels, both internally and externally. To minimize impact, 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 basic terms, a blackout is an event that brings systems down, either for an emergency or scheduled maintenance. In emergency situations, there is little to no time to plan ahead, making a blackout much more risky. Blackouts for scheduled maintenance, 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 specific target, 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 scheduled period of time 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 scheduling for it in advance, the target downtime can impact availability records. Unscheduled and even scheduled down time can impact business function across all departments, and if not handled properly, can even affect the organization’s bottom line. 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 IT process automation help manage blackouts more efficiently?
Because IT process automation allows for the systematic automation of routine tasks, it provides the ideal solution for managing both scheduled and emergency blackouts. For planned outages, ITPA 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 that are meant for regular system maintenance. Additionally, by leveraging technology to handle these routine tasks, the IT department can focus on more important mission critical projects.
For those instances when a blackout is scheduled but is not necessarily “routine”, IT process automation 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 provides maximum benefit, however, 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 have a chance to cause any problems for the end-user, allowing the IT department to proactively manage the problem immediately. In some instances, this can even eliminate the need for an emergency blackout altogether, or at the very least create the opportunity for IT to schedule and plan the outage.