British Airways is counting the cost of the high-profile IT issues which left thousands of passengers stranded and fuming across the world.
The technology-based crisis is likely to cost the company £150 million and has deeply dented its public profile. So what can be done to ensure such damaging issues are avoided?
The well-worn advice ‘Have you tried turning it off and on again?’ – popularised in the TV sitcom The IT Crowd – is definitely not always the best solution when your system goes down. In fact, investigations into the BA issue revealed that it began when an electrical engineer disconnected a power supply, which then shut down the company’s data centre. That would not have been a big problem in itself, but the real damage was caused when the power was turned back on too quickly, producing a power surge that crashed all the airline’s computers.
Daren Oliver, managing director at Fitzrovia IT, one of London’s leading IT consultancies, says: “Every business’s IT needs are unique, so the most important factor is to set up a recovery plan that’s tailored precisely to the individual company. It’s vital to install systems which backup, protect and allow you to instantly restore accounts and data so that business can return to normal. The plan should also be tested regularly to ensure it remains effective.
“There are many tools and solutions that can help protect business from downtime, even if physical hardware has been damaged or destroyed.”
With sufficient protection and planning in place, outages can be dealt with in seconds or minutes, rather than hours or days, says Daren. He added:
“Virtual servers can be up and running in six seconds, meaning that customers may not even be aware of a problem.”
IT outages are often the result of human error, but studies show that many other factors can come into play. Faulty power supplies as well as software and hardware failures are the other top culprits.
Whether you manage IT services internally or through a consultancy, the message is clear: start planning now, and if calamity calls think twice before simply turning the system off and on.
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