IT is the heart of any company these days. Without a functioning IT, no invoices can be printed, no orders can be sent or inventory monitoring can be performed.
The situation in medium-sized businesses:
Our experience is that many mid-sized companies naturally have a "server room". But from time to time we see server rooms that are also used as archives or as offices ( access by unauthorized persons, paper can become a fire hazard ). If server rooms are located next to production, this can lead to the server attracting dust and dirt, which can damage it.
A server is located in a separate room, protected by a thick door and without windows. In this room you will find your server cabinet, air conditioning and an alarm system for access protection. The server cabinet contains the server, storage, UPS, switch, network, firewall, backup and the telephone system. It is also important to ground the server cabinet.
Besides the server room, the support is also very important. Imagine you have your server room and all the technology and everything that goes with it, but you don't have an IT admin or a certified professional.
But what do you do when an error or cyber attack occurs and how do you react? That's why it makes sense to hire a certified professional.
Every day there are new updates that you have to install and that can lead to problems. Backup should also be monitored every day and checked for functionality. To be able to evaluate the functionality of a UPS, for example, a UPS test should take place at least once a year. It is also important that network shares and user permissions are maintained (not that employees access sensitive data of the management).
But not every company can or wants to afford a full-time IT administrator. Apart from that, there is not always the right personnel on the free personnel market.
For these purposes, service providers or partners play an important role.
This person can take over some of the tasks of an IT administrator and help to ensure "smooth operation" of the business-critical systems through monitoring. "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it". Monitoring is used to detect a problem in time and eliminate it before major damage occurs. But be careful with the service provider that you don't catch a "one-man show". The service provider should have enough staff to be able to react quickly in case of an emergency.
Do the test and answer the following points with "YES" or "NO" for yourself.
- separate room without window and with thicker door available?
- air conditioner available?
- server cabinet available?
- server and storage available?
- UPS available?
- firewall available?
- backup available?
- telephone system available?
- IT administrator as trained specialist available?
How often do we meet companies that do not know the backup process and react very nervously in case of emergency. Many think that if they have a RAID in the server, they are automatically running a full and secure backup. Having a backup on a NAS storage in the same server room is also great, but that doesn't help in case of theft, fire or water intrusion. Therefore, the importance of outsourcing the backup applies here.
- In the simplest case, a NAS system or a second NAS system is placed in another fire compartment (preferably in another part of the building).
- Or we fall back on the old familiar tape drive, make our daily backup to a tape and lock it securely in a safe.
- Even a connection from other locations via the Internet line would be possible. In this case, only parts of a file are backed up in one location. On the other hand, you can calculate and restore a complete backup from this information.
- It is also possible to push a backup to the cloud.
The advantages of this:
- Separate from the company's own data center consumption
- dependent remuneration
- no second server room necessary
- little effort for the client.
- Ongoing costs
- Available bandwidth is additionally burdened
- Contracts with duration
Do you want to play it safe? Then a second server room is exactly the right thing for you. A second server room offers you a geo-redundant solution, i.e. the hardware components (server, storage, backup, network, firewall, telephone system) are provided identically or in a slimmed-down form in a second server room. The distance is the decisive factor. This determines whether the data is mirrored synchronously or asynchronously (staggered).
Those who rely on virtualization and storage solutions will look at "transparent failover" systems. Here, two identically equipped storage systems are mirrored in real time via controllers. If one storage fails, all virtual systems switch to the other storage in milliseconds to a few seconds, ensuring that work can continue. Your customers will also be impressed that you are not risking the delivery of goods due to a possible lack of IT.
If you don't like the "transparent failover" method, there is still "storage virtualization". Especially with Microsoft and the new Hyper-V server, storage virtualization is on the rise. Microsoft calls this product "Storage Spaces Direct" and it is part of a Microsoft Datacenter license. This form of licensing is usually used for 5-6 virtual servers or more and is therefore also a common form of licensing for medium-sized companies. The advantage of "Storage Spaces Direct" is that the storage part is integrated into the Hyper-V servers. This saves you having to purchase a storage system. The environment must consist of at least two servers to ensure automatic switching to the other server in the event of a server failure. It is better to use at least three servers and distribute the data and virtual machines on these three servers. Now the setup could be that one server is allowed to fail completely, one hard drive on another and the IT systems would still be operational. A mixture of new SSD storage and old-fashioned hard disks brings the speed as well as storage capacity up to speed.
The path to your own data center does not have to be complicated. Even if the term data center is more commonly associated with universities or cloud providers, this can also find a place in a medium-sized company.The construction can be done step by step or all at once. Here it depends on the requirements and definition of the possible downtimes by the management. There is no need for a "transparent failover" solution if the management defines three days of possible downtime. Here, only the backup issue should be considered as an important point.
If the downtimes should not exceed a maximum of one day, then the planning should go in the direction of a highly available solution.
Of course we have many years of experience as Fujitsu partners, but at the end of the day you are the users who master the challenges of a manufacturing company on a daily basis. We are very interested in whether you share our opinion and have created a small survey for this purpose. It takes just 10 seconds and can be filled out anonymously. Thank you for your support!