Author: Raymond Goh, Head of Systems Engineering, Asia & Japan, Veeam Software
In an Always-On world ruled by technology and the need for immediacy, there is little patience for compromise, especially if compromising means enduring disruption in our daily lives. Users compromise and put up (grudgingly) with routine planned or scheduled service downtimes with the expectation that the services will return better than before… and because these facilities remain far more convenient that other ‘traditional’ options.
What happens now that this is no longer the case?
Smartphone can make our lives easier, but the compromise is that it requires charging at least one or more times a day. Yet, users tolerate it because the alternative is unthinkable.
Today, the winds are changing. As technology improves, so do the expectations of our customers, and the compromises that people are willing to make in the beginning for new innovations slowly fade away as they demand more and accept less inconvenience and delay.
For most industries, this translates to a simple change in service delivery as picky consumers let down by bad experiences simply turn to other available options from competitor brands. If availability isn’t, well, available, they aren’t interested. Brand loyalty is an antiquated concept in today’s society where competition is so rife across all markets and industries.
Suddenly, something that businesses had always considered routine has become a huge issue for consumers. While planned downtime was once a necessary evil and considered an acceptable excuse for a lack of service, now businesses will have to implement new procedures and technologies while being available 24.7.365, to ensure that their promise of being ‘Always-On’ holds true. To a business, suffering a little disruption seems fairly reasonable in return for being able to offer better services for all its customers. But from a customer’s perspective, they face a rather harsh deal in having to go on with their lives without services that they’ve come to rely on.
One of the most frustrating things is going through the work to arrange for a planned downtime window only to have something crop up that was unforeseen, and make the planned change have to be “backed out” or cancelled. This not only postpones larger business initiatives, but also puts systems and data at risk.
To pave the way to a much better Availability experience, businesses can take the leveraged data approach, leveraging virtual lab technology to solve business challenges and reduce downtime. Since 2010, Veeam has continually innovated this area with many capabilities in our Veeam Availability Suite to ensure that when an organization goes into a change, there are no surprises. The change can be completely simulated from live data as of moments ago. This way, when planned downtime is scheduled, the IT organization can present to the business a complete plan of what to expect (how long in particular) and assurance that the changes will go as planned.
It’s increasingly arguable that businesses who plan routine downtime should spend more time looking for ways to keep a viable minimum number of their services open, rather than resting on a ‘planned downtime’ excuse that’s beginning to look a bit ‘computer says no’. Essential services must remain essential in order to bring downtime in line with consumer expectations. Any brand that provides a service deemed ‘essential’ has to start implementing measures to ensure their customers are able to access everything they need to.
Better tech generally breeds more impatience and less willingness to wait for a service. Scheduled downtime starts to make headlines. And, eventually, it becomes an issue which is worth switching providers to avoid.
Beyond upgrading legacy systems to cope with the Always-On enterprise, the next evolution is really for businesses to understand deeply the consumers’ desire for better and more consistent service. Chief and foremost is a new meaning for availability that doesn't include ‘planned downtime’ within its definition, which will only happen if business and public-sector leaders are both in agreement to enforce this.