Scheduled downtime (SDT), also known as planned downtime, lets you perform maintenance, testing, or repairs on your systems, servers, software, data centers, and other infrastructure. While no business likes being offline, this preventative work is essential for ensuring your assets function correctly. Unlike unplanned outages, you can limit downtime so it minimizes impact on your company and customers. Learn more about scheduling downtime successfully below and what you should do after bringing your infrastructure back online.
Why is SDT crucial?
Scheduled downtime ensures infrastructure, such as systems and servers, works correctly and continues to provide value to your business. During downtime, engineers perform maintenance checks, make repairs, test components, and install software and hardware upgrades. With SDT, you won’t be able to optimize the functionality of your IT equipment. That increases the likelihood of malicious attacks and software and hardware failures.
Here are some other reasons why SDT is crucial:
Prevent false alarms
False alarms happen when infrastructure components identify a threat that doesn’t exist. For example, monitoring software you haven’t updated in a while might falsely detect that a cybersecurity attack has taken place. Your engineers will waste time and resources investigating this “attack” before learning it’s not real.
Planned downtime can reduce the number of false alarms that occur in your IT department. In the example above, you can install the latest security patches and updates for monitoring software to ensure it doesn’t trigger notifications about non-existent problems. While you need to take your software offline to do this, you can avoid false alarms in the future.
Prevent alert fatigue
Alert fatigue is a phenomenon that happens when engineers receive too many notifications from software and systems about potential security issues. An excessive number of alerts can cause these professionals to ignore warnings about your infrastructure and overlook problems that might impact your organization, such as data breaches and other cybersecurity events.
Planned downtime lets engineers take infrastructure offline, temporarily pause alerts, and review the type of notifications they receive, which can prevent fatigue in the future. For example, they can classify and prioritize alerts to ensure they only get information about the most important and relevant security events. During SDT, engineers can also figure out how to manage and escalate alerts so the right people receive them at the right time. All of the above can improve proactive maintenance in your organization and make it easier to identify genuine problems that impact infrastructure.
Improve monitoring data accuracy
Monitoring data is essential for your organization. It lets you identify potential cybersecurity issues, protect sensitive data, discover data errors, and ensure data complies with any governance frameworks in your industry or jurisdiction, such as GDPR. While monitoring tools are highly effective for these tasks, you should take these technologies offline at planned intervals so they generate accurate and reliable data.
By performing maintenance on monitoring tools during scheduled downtime, you can check whether these platforms collect data from different systems correctly and provide the insights you need about those technologies. For example, you can remove duplicated data sets or outdated data that might influence monitoring outcomes.
How to strategize scheduled downtime to minimize business disruption
Downtime, both planned and unplanned, can cause significant disruption to your business. For example, team members won’t be able to use systems when they are offline and do their jobs properly. Luckily, there are several ways to minimize disruption during downtime.
Schedule downtime for off-peak hours
Picking off-peak or low-traffic times for planned maintenance can reduce business disruption. For example, engineers can update systems at night when other team members are not in the office.
Communicate SDT with stakeholders and infrastructure users
Tell stakeholders and end-users about planned downtime before it happens. Say you want to take your systems offline next Tuesday. Sending an email tomorrow to those affected by this event will allow them to carry out any essential tasks on these systems beforehand.
Ensure you have a backup in place
Scheduled downtime might result in engineers finding critical issues with your infrastructure, resulting in your assets being offline for longer than planned. If those issues lead to your technologies malfunctioning, you need backup systems to minimize further disruption. For instance, you should back up all your data before performing maintenance in case a worst-case scenario happens, such as data loss.
How to successfully schedule planned downtime
SDT is a complex task because going offline can impact your entire business. Here’s how to get more successful results when scheduling downtime.
Prioritize infrastructure components
Before SDT, prioritize infrastructure components based on how critical they are so you can maintain IT operations in your organization. For example, if servers are essential for supporting your entire infrastructure, perform maintenance on these assets first and in a quick timeframe, preferably during off-peak hours. Then carry out maintenance on less-important technologies, such as non-essential software. That will reduce disruption in your business.
Calculate downtime duration
Estimate how long each job will take during planned downtime. You can do this by working out how many engineers and resources you need to solve an issue and determining the complexity of a task. Don’t forget to include buffer time in your calculations. This is the extra time that might lengthen SDT because of interruptions or unforeseen emergencies.
Use the right tools
Different tools and technologies can help you schedule downtime and achieve more successful outcomes. For example, you can use runbooks to automate tasks and minimize the amount of time your equipment is offline. LogicMonitor, on the other hand, can help with additional SDT tasks, such as suppressing alert notifications during maintenance activities.
What to do after SDT
You’ll have a few additional tasks to complete after bringing your infrastructure back online after scheduled downtime, such as running tests and collecting feedback from engineers. Learn more below.
Run tests on your infrastructure
It’s important to test infrastructure components subject to SDT, such as servers and systems. Engineers should monitor these technologies closely in the days and weeks after downtime to ensure they perform correctly. If an asset malfunctions after SDT, you might have to take it offline and perform additional maintenance or repairs.
Collect feedback from engineers and users
Gather feedback from engineers who performed SDT after coming back online. Find out if any issues occurred during downtime that might pose a risk to your infrastructure in the future. You can also learn if engineers require additional resources for future downtime projects.
Collecting feedback from the people who use your infrastructure is also crucial. Ask end-users if your assets perform better after maintenance activities or if they still encounter any issues. You can also learn if you scheduled downtime correctly. Find out if end-users received enough notice about SDT and how much disruption they experienced during the process. You can use this information to make future downtime projects more successful.
Evaluate the impact of SDT
Use monitoring tools to learn more about your planned downtime and its impact on your organization and IT operations. LogicMonitor, for example, generates real-time insights about your infrastructure, helping you discover whether your assets perform better after SDT. You can also find out any issues that happened when your infrastructure was offline. All this information is available on charts, graphs, and other visualizations, making it easier to identify patterns and trends in monitoring data.
Scheduled downtime (SDT) is crucial for ensuring infrastructure works correctly, preventing false alarms, avoiding alert fatigue, and improving the accuracy of monitoring data. However, plan downtime correctly to reduce disruption to your business. You should also carry out tasks after bringing your assets back online, such as running tests and collecting feedback from engineers and end-users. Follow the tips above to make your future downtime projects more successful.
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