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Your workplace technology is only as reliable as the systems in place to keep it running and healthy. Just as the systems in a human body require maintenance and upkeep to run properly, the technological infrastructure in your office runs better with the right regimen of processes and procedures. It’s not uncommon to find clients who have previously invested in robust systems have run into trouble when those systems aren’t given the dedicated upkeep they need. In order to keep your infrastructure healthy, we’ve listed some best practices to keep your tech out of the IT infirmary.
Define Your Goals and Priorities
In a complex system, multiple moving parts can make prioritization difficult; that difficulty can evolve from tricky to outright overwhelming when there’s an imminent threat or breakdown. Avoid confusion and focus your strategy by setting clear goals and priorities for the crucial components of your system and resource deployment. Prioritize problems in terms of their relative impact on workflows and revenue-generating activities—while it’s true that all problems are worth addressing, spending hours on an internal hiccup that has a negligible external impact while ignoring broken key functionality that your customers rely on, for example, is missing the forest for the trees. Empower your team with understanding; by laying out a clear priority list and setting goals for resolution and downtime, resources can be honed with greater precision and distributed where they’re needed the most.
Be Proactive, Not JUST Reactive
Anticipating downtime and other issues isn’t always possible, but maintaining a healthy infrastructure means shifting toward a proactive, holistic and active approach rather than reacting to disasters when they happen. If we think of computing infrastructure as human vital systems, it’s the difference between regular checkups and preventive care versus waiting until you have to go to the emergency room. System maintenance and patching should be performed routinely, and active monitoring can identify problems in the earliest stages before they affect users. For example, Align's team of trained NOC engineers will find and identify a customer's issues before they impact systems and infrastructure health, and can put remediation plans in place or govern a client-owned process for remediation. Taking a more active and involved approach to IT maintenance minimizes the impact of threats when they do occur, while vigilance and patching can often thwart major disasters before they even reach your system.
Centralize and Streamline
The methods and tools powering your resources are as crucial as your procedures; even the most robust and optimized processes can grind to a halt when your tools and people can’t sync well together or can’t respond quickly. Often—especially when resources have been built reactively—disparate tools can become a patchwork of incompatibility and conversion that inevitably slows things down. When slow response time risks massive downtime and financial losses, time is precious. Setting up a configuration management database—or CMDB—provides a centrally-accessible hub that can provide a crucial tool for managing and changing live infrastructure.
Another important tool is automation. Whenever possible and safe to do so, automate regularly-occurring, essential tasks to reduce staff workloads and reallocate employee resources to the more granular or difficult tasks. It can be tempting to look busy by devoting people to tasks like these, but this can ultimately leave your organization shorthanded at crucial moments. Workflow automation continues to grow more sophisticated and intelligent through AI and cloud computing, so every opportunity to offload busywork is an opportunity to bolster your resources during more critical moments.
From small routine patching and maintenance to nimble disaster response, maintaining the health of your technology infrastructure is a complex task. Unfortunately, some threats will be impossible to foresee, but with the right preparation and preventive care, your infrastructure will be robust and ready to handle the most serious of threats, minimizing or outright thwarting potential disasters that could leave less-prepared companies utterly helpless. Tech health, as with physical health, is a matter of prevention. Vigilance will keep your infrastructure—and your company—thriving for years to come.