DevOps and Downed Systems: How to Prepare

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Downed systems can cost thousands of dollars in immediate losses and more in reputation damage and lost productivity. Here's how DevOps can help prevent this.

    As more businesses have moved to remote work, data centers face higher workloads than ever. Users rely more heavily on cloud services, too, making outages and downtime simultaneously more likely and costlier.

    Downed systems can cost thousands of dollars in immediate losses and more in reputation damage and lost productivity. DevOps teams must prepare for these situations ahead of time to mitigate and prevent them. Here are five steps toward that end.

    Host Status Pages on a Separate Domain

    Status pages are a critical tool in the DevOps toolbox. Having this page can help teams discover any issues as they emerge, leading to faster responses. However, if businesses host it on their own infrastructure, it becomes useless in the event of a system outage.

    This is precisely what happened to IBM Cloud in June 2020, when an outage temporarily blocked access to its status page. Had it been hosted on a separate domain, it could have responded to the blackout more efficiently. Keeping it separate ensures it doesn’t suffer the same fate as the rest of the network, aiding faster remediation strategies.

    Adopt a Multicloud Strategy for Redundancy

    Most DevOps professionals understand the importance of redundancy, but they may not go far enough. While many cloud service providers offer redundancy through multiple servers and data centers, DevOps teams must prepare for worst-case scenarios. They should adopt a multicloud strategy to mitigate larger outages.

    Using services from multiple cloud providers protects businesses from an outage with their primary vendor. While disruptions of this scale may seem unlikely, they’ve happened before, and reliable DevOps strategies prepare for any eventuality.

    Secure Physical Infrastructure

    It can be easy to focus primarily on software-based solutions to system outages. However, if teams manage their own data centers, they must secure their hardware as well. Proper cooling, power and backup electrical supplies are crucial steps to preventing a hardware-driven outage.

    Energy loss is one of the most critical factors to address in this area. With further distances between power plants and data centers, fewer plants can deliver without losing power, so teams must consider backup supplies and transformers. Transformers must be in good condition and provide the proper voltage, and power systems must have built-in redundancy.

    Embrace AIOps

    DevOps provides a marked improvement over older approaches to application development and management. Now that 72% of software developers have started adopting a DevOps strategy, it’s time to move forward again. Teams should look into AIOps to enable automated detection and remediation strategies.

    Modern machine learning algorithms can detect incoming issues and suggest mitigation steps while IT workers focus on other tasks. Easing the workload in this way is crucial as DevOps’s responsibilities continue to grow in scale and complexity. AIOps can streamline operations, especially in outage detection and response, letting teams recover faster.

    Stress Test Regularly

    DevOps teams should stress test their systems regularly. As digital transformation accelerates, software developers must scale up faster than ever before. This rapid upscaling can result in businesses being unprepared for their new, larger workloads, leading to outages.

    Regular stress testing can reveal when cracks start to show in a DevOps operation. Teams can then scale their resources appropriately to manage incoming demand before it overwhelms their systems. Without frequent stress testing, businesses may not be able to adjust their networks in time to prevent stress-related outages.

    Proper Preparation Can Maximize System Uptime

    System downtime is a harsh reality many companies face, but it doesn’t have to be. Following these steps can help DevOps teams prevent outages and respond faster to those that do occur. Businesses can then minimize or even eliminate the costs of these disruptions.

    DevOps teams must prepare for various worst-case scenarios. When they plan for the most damaging situations, they can ensure they’re not as harmful as they could be.

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    Devin Partida, Technology Editor @ ReHack

    Devin Partida is a technology and cybersecurity writer whose work has been published on many industry publications, including AT&T's Cybersecurity blog, AOL and Entrepreneur.


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