Over the last two years, many companies were faced with the realization that they were not prepared to respond to unexpected events – from the pandemic to the labor shortage to supply chain disruptions – and mitigate negative business impacts. Resiliency has become more than a buzzword – it is absolutely essential for a business to continue to operate successfully.

One of the central characteristics of resilient companies is strong, secure and flexible technological infrastructure. They maintain robust business continuity and disaster-recovery capability if something disruptive does occur. When 74% of companies plan to completely rethink their processes and operating models to be more resilient, it is a pivotal moment to consider the importance of a disaster recovery strategy that minimizes downtime of mission-critical applications and data.

Establishing a high availability and disaster recovery (HA/DR) strategy for IBM i systems is an essential aspect of digital transformation efforts. When it comes to remote access, data protection, risk management and other continuity readiness areas, is your business prepared to face a situation as disruptive as the pandemic in an uncertain future? If an unplanned outage occurs, can your business quickly restore critical business functions to keep operations running smoothly? Can your remote IT teams manage disruption from their dispersed locations? Leaders must put their IBM disaster recovery plan to the test to confidently answer these questions.

The Cost of Downtime

IBM i systems are an essential link in organizations’ IT infrastructure. If these systems are suddenly unavailable, the cost of this downtime can be devastating. According to Gartner, the average cost of IT downtime is $5,600 per minute, which adds up to well over $300k per hour.

While of course companies still have to pay employees during an IT disruption, these employees are unable to meet deadlines or serve customers, resulting in huge financial losses. If this situation lasted over an extended period of time, the consequences could be crippling. Consider the damage it could do to a company’s reputation – clients want to know they can rely on their partners to be there when they need them, and they certainly need to trust that their information is secure and accessible.

Understanding the cost of IBM i system downtime enables organizations to make more informed decisions when investing in backup and recovery. With a clear understanding of critical systems and business needs, companies can then accurately evaluate their current HA/DR strategy and gain insight into any gaps. This strategy should include awareness of all data and applications in order to prioritize what gets protected and how, ensuring uninterrupted operations.

Effective Disaster Recovery for IBM i

The ideal disaster recovery solution should be designed specifically for IBM i and provide real-time replication of data to ensure immediate recovery in the event of a disruption. This way, companies will have concurrent access to both master and replicated data and be able to deploy a mirror of their IBM i system into service within minutes. Employees can then offload critical business tasks from this secondary system without affecting primary system performance. High fidelity backups mirror changes, additions or deletions automatically so that companies don’t waste resources manually backing up the information they need to continue providing service. This type of automated disaster recovery plan allows IT teams to focus on strategic initiatives rather than tedious monitoring and reporting.

Companies can even avoid downtime in the first place with a disaster recovery plan that identifies and self-corrects issues proactively. Before a disruption even occurs, companies can address potential challenges that may affect their system availability. With a solution that allows staff to easily configure and perform these scans, companies can save time and money while reducing the risk associated with manual processes. IBM i disaster recovery should not just be responsive; a comprehensive HA/DR strategy must include proactive measures.

Four Best Practices for Testing IBM i DR Plans

1. Establish testing procedures

First, organizations must identify the most important backups to determine priorities and procedures. Take into account all data, systems, applications and workloads that are dependent on IBM i and design a custom testing approach accordingly. Of course, the most secure option is to perform an enterprise-wide recovery simulation to test every backup and procedure. Various tests are also needed to validate backups, such as ones that measure the duration of backing up or restoring data.

2. Prototype the solution in a test environment

Backup and restoration procedures should not be deployed directly to the live production environment. Instead, organizations should begin by implementing solutions in a test environment that allows IT teams to measure performance, compare configurations and verify the functionality of the recovery plan. To protect the integrity of the results, both production and standby environments should be replicated.

3. Simulate a disruption

To confirm that a disaster recovery solution will work when it’s needed, IT teams must simulate different disaster scenarios to evaluate the integrity of their recovery plan. Tests should focus on resolving issues as well as the time recovery takes to be fully prepared. This also provides practical experience for disaster recovery teams.

4. Maintain a testing schedule

Establishing a regular testing schedule will help teams gain confidence in their preparedness. Semi-annual or quarterly testing is best to consistently review plans and make adjustments as new information comes to light. Employees will then know exactly what to do during an outage.

Minimize Downtime, Maximize Readiness

If the past two years have shown the world anything, it is that the future is unpredictable. Disaster recovery planning is essential to mitigate the risks of this uncertainty. With a robust HA/DR strategy for IBM i systems, organizations can eliminate those nagging doubts surrounding the worst-case scenarios and ensure their operations continue seamlessly in any potential situation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rebecca Dilthey

Rebecca Dilthey is a product marketing director at Rocket Software.

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