• December 3, 2021

5 steps to ensure your IBM i systems remain online

Recent developments continue to underscore the importance for organizations to maintain high availability and disaster recovery capabilities. Since the pandemic began, an unending wave of cyberattacks and data breach events have caused crippling outages for businesses large and small. The shift to remote work has only intensified the impact of these threats by making disaster response and recovery tougher to execute.

The result is thousands of dollars in downtime costs. Gartner pegs the average cost of IT downtime at $5,600 per minute or a shocking $300,000 per hour. Organizations that run on legacy IBM i systems are just as susceptible to these risks, and an updated disaster recovery plan is critical for business continuity. Here are five steps you should take to ensure your IBM i systems remain available and easily recoverable when disaster inevitably strikes.

Step 1: Identify and map critical areas in your IBM i system

Start by mapping your entire IBM i system, which undoubtedly hosts critical applications, data, and workflows that your business depends on. Also track dependencies with non-essential infrastructure or solutions that are integrated with your IBM i, as those will come into play once any initial recovery process is completed.

Having visibility over your entire IBM i system allows you to better scope disaster recovery efforts and identify critical areas that require high levels of availability. Consider also IBM i data or systems that fall under the purview of the latest data regulatory frameworks. Prioritizing the recovery of these data systems during outages is critical to maintaining compliance, and avoiding penalties and fines that further exacerbate already punishing downtime costs.

Step 2: Assess the true impact and costs of downtime

Once you’ve mapped every IT asset in your IBM i, group them into tiers by order of importance. Mission-critical data and applications are Tier 1, commanding greater priority for protection, backup, and recovery. Tier 2 covers assets of mid-level importance, while Tier 3 includes assets with minimal impact on business operations during an outage.

This approach allows you to accurately assess the costs of critical systems going offline. With that information, you can establish relevant RTO and RPO metrics and justify investment into better High Availability and Disaster Recovery (HA/DR) solutions. For instance, when Banco Lafise scrutinized the impact costs of its tape backup system, which took up to 48 hours to restore critical IBM i data and applications, the bank realized it was losing millions to unprocessed transactions. This prompted the decision to adopt a modern HA/DR solution to safeguard the bank’s profitability, compliance, and reputation.

Ask yourself, what percentage of your operations rely on Tier 1 data and applications? How will revenue and SLA agreements be impacted should those assets go offline? What about the cost of regulatory penalties and fines? With this information at hand, you can better convince stakeholders of the need to improve disaster recovery capabilities and invest in the appropriate solutions for your IBM i systems.

Step 3: Create your IBM i disaster recovery plan

When designing your disaster recovery plan, decide which data and applications will be restored first, based on tiers and RPO and RTO targets. For always-on systems, like revenue-generating websites or manufacturing lines, the goal extends beyond recovery and into the realm of high availability. When systems simply cannot go down, you’ll need a solution that can continuously monitor and create server-stored recovery points that get things back up and running, within minutes of activation.

Ensure that your disaster recovery plan also covers a multitude of scenarios, not just related to digital incidents. Natural disasters, for instance, require different recovery procedures compared to cyberattacks. Establish disaster response teams with stakeholders from relevant departments, and ensure everyone knows the right procedures to execute when the inevitable happens.

Step 4: Engage robust testing of your disaster recovery plan  

Leave nothing to chance when it comes to disaster recovery: test once, and test again. Perfect your response and recovery processes by creating a robust test program in tandem with your disaster recovery plan, with the intent of identifying any gaps and weaknesses. Take care to include non-technical scenarios mentioned in Step 3.

Put your chosen HA/DR solution through its paces. Test the claims of its core features against the listed scenarios in your disaster recovery plan, and ensure they can meet your RPO and RTO metrics. Confirm that the solution can adapt to unexpected situations without constant oversight. For instance, Rocket iCluster automatically mirrors changes, additions, or deletions to your IBM i system, then creates restore points in a warm standby server without requiring manual input, allowing you to bounce back from disasters or incidences within minutes.

Step 5: Partner with a proven HA/DR solutions vendor     

Because your HA/DR solution is the engine behind your disaster recovery capabilities, it’s critical to find vendors that can provide the level of support you expect. Leading vendors in this space, like Rocket Software, take the time and effort to understand the needs of your IBM i system and organization, before proposing a solution that effectively protects and insulates your business from any threat.

Looking to kickstart or improve your organization’s disaster recovery capabilities with the Rocket iCluster HA/DR solution? Get in touch with us today!

Rebecca Dilthey 8 Posts

Rebecca Dilthey is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Rocket Software.

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