Business Basics: Tips to Avoid Server Downtime

 

Avoid Downtime

 

When something is wrong with your server, you can bet that more than a few things are wrong with your business. Think disgruntled customers, lost revenues and perhaps long-lasting damage to reputations that can take years to rebuild. Businesses need to take all necessary steps to achieve as close to 100-percent server uptime as possible, or face the unpleasant consequences.


By regularly updating and following a comprehensive maintenance plan with scheduled checks and balances, server operation will be the least of your worries. Throw in routine exams of server security and application functionality—sort of like technological EKGs or MRIs—and you can rest easy in the knowledge that your computer network will continue to operate smoothly.


Rather than attempting to cram oblong equipment into cylindrical tubes, basic server maintenance involves an IT administrator reviewing such performance measurements as log files, hard disk space, redundancy, and operating temperature. It also involves ensuring that monitoring utilities are up to date and security patches are properly installed.


Security is job one

 

  • In addition to installing security patches from a CD onto each network computer, it’s wise to initially configure servers offline for maximum protection against internet-borne infections.
  • Once a server is up and running, it’s a good idea to severely limit administrator-level access.
  • For optimal protection against hackers and technical issues, it’s best (and simpler) to dedicate each network server to a single—rather than multiple—function or application.

Other security measures consist of the basic blocking and tackling that most network administrators can almost perform in their sleep, including:

 

  • Establishing strong passwords
  • Eliminating redundant codes and applications
  • Reviewing and ensuring the safety of incoming files
  • Locking out accounts after unsuccessful login tries
  • Continually installing new and updated patches

In addition to strong security, the best server maintenance plans include other elements each designed to maximize system uptime. Planned downtime is required for maintenance, and can be scheduled so that backup servers can ensure continued access to stored information. Unscheduled downtime, due to a power outage or other technical snafu, is to be avoided at all costs.


It’s worth repeating—when any business web server is down for any length of time, money is wasted, customers are impacted and credibility can be damaged.


Be prepared for any and every emergency


Similar to personal health plans that depend on getting enough rest, eating sensibly and exercising, preventative medicine for servers not only saves money but also a whole lot of discomfort. The best server maintenance plans, among other elements, include establishing a data backup and recovery plan, and testing it often.


To this end, HP sells a full line of removable (RDX) hard drives and tape drives rigorously tested with HP servers to provide robust data protection options. The affordable RDX system stores as much as 1TB of data on a single removable disk, providing a rugged protection solution for workstations and servers.


HP's StoreEver LTO-6 Ultrium tape data protection solutions help businesses by directly addressing the challenges of exponential data growth, long-term data retention, usability and the need to optimize expenses.


The best server maintenance plans also include:

 

  • Installing and updating antivirus software, not only on servers but also on every network computer.
  • Scheduling software updates during off-hours to minimize any downtime or service disruption.

Get in front of the problem


Of course, choosing the right hardware when installing new traditional or virtualization-based server solutions prevents many potential operational issues from the get-go. HP ProLiant Gen8 Servers with built-in HP ProActive Insight architecture continually analyze thousands of system parameters to optimize application performance, proactively improve uptime, and deliver key measurements of every aspect of a business’s IT network operation.


HP’s ProLiant DL320e and HP ProLiant ML310e Gen8 servers are especially designed for entry-level workloads, and deliver flexibility that addresses expanding business requirements.


Virtualize it


Server virtualization is another way to optimize performance and reliability while consolidating infrastructure, reducing costs, and improving overall network efficiencies. Its popularity is growing in leaps and bounds. Gartner research found that virtualization accounts for 60 percent of all new server workloads. By 2015, the firm projects that 80 percent of installed server workloads will be virtualized [1].


The HP BladeSystem for small-to-medium organizations enables you to leverage virtualization to do more with less, securing, supporting and simplifying business while accommodating growth. Additional benefits include reduced power and cooling expenses, the ability to run multiple applications fast and efficiently and delivering a secure solution that meets all customer, employee and legal requirements.


Using formal preventative maintenance plans and procedures, choosing the right hardware, and a generous sprinkling of TLC will all help your business to be positioned to maximize server uptime, maintain revenues, and keep customers happy.

 

[1] Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Blade Servers, March 2012

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