bright ideas

Get your pre-Christmas checklist sorted now

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Oh yes. Press play on the Vengaboys “We like to party” because Christmas is almost here! Nothing empties your bank account, injects a few kilos of fat into your body and ultimately makes you a little bit anxious, quite like Christmas.

Although I can’t wait for the kids to argue over whose present is better and can’t wait to listen to a relative recount the same story I’ve heard many times before, this time of year has historically been challenging to ensure sufficient support arrangements are in place. Being an OCD person that can’t hang up an item of clothing to dry without using the exact type of peg (colour and size), you can perhaps appreciate my levels of anxiety in ensuring we have a well-documented and understood plan in place for all our support customers.

In the ViFX Managed Operations team we’ve got our plans well in place for our customers and everyone’s prepared for a smooth sailing holiday support period.

In the Christmas spirit of giving, and to help you rest well over the break, I thought I would share some of the things that we think about when preparing our support systems and processes. My hope is that this may help you reflect on whether you’re on the right path or not.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I’m sure there are items relevant to your environment which are not covered here, but hopefully it’s a start and perhaps a pulse check for you to ponder over the next couple of weeks.

Technology

  1. Ensure the platform has a clean bill of health. This seems like a no brainer, but consider performing a formal review of all components that make up the critical Infrastructure. Key things to consider are:
    • Build Consistency. Are all hardware firmware levels and software build and patch revisions consistent? Is the configuration of all components standardised across the environment?
    • Resource resiliency. Do you have N+1 configuration across the Infrastructure? Are all hot swap disks available?
    • Resource consumption. Are available compute and storage resources under the defined thresholds for acceptable consumption? Are there any trends that indicate your environment could be impacted over the holiday period?
    • Are you compliant with Vendor Support requirements from a firmware, patch and maintenance point of view?
    • Review performance to ensure the platform is performing within the expected range
  2. Script health checks to be performed daily on the Critical Infrastructure, Business Services and the Data Protection Platform. Have this script sent to the on call support person/people.
  3. Ensure all out-of-band access is available.

People

  1. Have at least two people on call over the holiday period (24/7) that are across the required technology disciplines to support the critical infrastructure (greater than or equal to Level 2 Support staff).
  2. Have third level support oncall in case of an emergency.
  3. Ensure support staff are adequately across the defined escalation and communication process.

Process

  1. Schedule a change freeze (suitable to your environment) over the holiday period and communicate this to the business.
  2. Consider defining a roster for 24/7 support for both Level 2 and Level 3 support.
  3. Have someone responsible for reviewing the health of the platform each day (review health scripts, backup success and event logs to ensure no warnings/errors are present).
  4. Define and have the support team across the escalation and communication requirements over the holiday period. This could vary over this time period when compared to your normal escalation and communication requirements.
  5. Have all warranty/maintenance information recorded and easily accessible to support staff (Serial Numbers, Contracts, Vendor support numbers etc.).
  6. Ensure media rotation plans are in place to ensure business requirements around offsite recoverability are meet (if applicable).

Hopefully with a bit of planning and validation prior to Christmas, you can have peace of mind that your a$$ is covered. Now you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy those new rainbow coloured Crocs the family bought you for Christmas, without a worry in the world.

Shaun Webber

Author: Shaun Webber

Shaun’s focus is on Infrastructure as a Service, virtualisation and business continuity, helping clients gain optimum performance from their IT environment.

26 November 2015 / 0 Comments