Downtime is ... good?

A healthy dose of planned downtime can save your bacon. Don't buy into the 24/7, always-on culture unless you absolutely must

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Ask yourself: How do your users react when you announce (or plead for) a downtime window to accomplish an upgrade or to perform maintenance? Not well, I'd imagine.

Years ago, scheduled downtime was a common occurrence in all but the very largest IT shops, but today, few businesses let you get away with a solid downtime window without an act of Congress. Even some shops without obvious 24/7 requirements -- like three-shift manufacturing plants or hospitals with emergency rooms -- have a hard time denying their user base access to data even in the wee hours of the night.

The reasons for this are many, but they boil down to a voracious dependence on IT systems for day-to-day business -- and massively improved disaster avoidance brought about in large part by the advent of server virtualization. Businesses are addicted to data; technology has improved to the point that we in IT can readily feed that addiction.

This closed loop has an unfortunate, twofold effect: It creates an atmosphere where even the smallest request for planned downtime is often denied or delayed -- and users become entirely unprepared for what to do when disaster strikes.

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