IT automation and disaster recovery realities

Written by Jordan McMahon in Automation as IT's best ally on October 8, 2014

Disaster recovery started with IT. (Unless we’re talking about navigating disasters such as the infamous, impending ‘worse’ cup of office coffee due to climate change). People realized that with the growing dependence of businesses on computers, it was becoming vital to have a good plan to fix things when they broke. At the start operations were based on mainframe batch-oriented solutions that tolerated outages of as much as a day or more. Now IT has a real time impact on many businesses. Correspondingly, IT automation has an important role to play in executing IT actions to fix problems and alert staff, especially if the problem happens at three in the morning. Understanding how IT automation can help to do this means knowing where potential problems can originate.

Disaster Recovery
Image source: amsimaging.com

It’s not the Tsunamis or the Earthquakes

The word disaster can conjure up many notions. Natural disasters for example can wipe out an organization’s computing facilities. Hurricane Sandy at the end of 2012 was the biggest recent one for the US; elsewhere, forest fires and seismic shocks can also upset normal operations (which is why data centers should always have a disaster recovery plan in place). However for most companies, the greatest risk of a disaster affecting IT does not come from external events. It comes from the IT hardware and software itself. Overall, server crashes do more damage to both large and small businesses than Mother Nature.

Fighting Fire with Fire (or IT with IT)

If IT is its own worst enemy, there is all the same a positive side. Systems are increasingly built with either tools or indicators for predictive maintenance. Managed print services are a good example: print-stations inform service providers about toner starting to run out, paper jams, and other faults. This makes in possible put things right or even prevent problems in the first place. Likewise, servers can generate information and reports that allow IT engineers to spot trouble upfront or to know what should be fixed. However, this still means that only part of the disaster recovery procedure is automated. Can IT automation handle the whole chain?

IT Automation of End-to-End DR Solutions

Cost-effective and all-embracing IT automation of disaster recovery solutions is crucial to many. You need a technology powerful enough to cover many different scenarios, yet easy to apply. Automation Anywhere gives users the resources to quickly and reliably automate practically any IT process. It also has a wide range of functions built in. These functions range over the macro recorder to immediately record and script any IT-based recovery procedure, networking protocols to monitor and interact with remote machines, and communications solutions to contact IT staff with a report of the incident that occurred and the action that was taken.

Picture This IT Automation Power

Using real life examples, we could put together the following scenario of disaster recovery. Robotic process automation software monitors local and remote devices via SNMP, system log information and system reports. Scripts automatically built with the software analyze the information received, checking for keywords that indicate problems. Based on the keywords received, logic in the scripts then put the appropriate IT automation procedure into place (rerouting of network information, restart of systems, restore of backup from the cloud, etc.). Performance graphics generated by the systems being managed are also checked using image recognition to detect possible problems. After taking appropriate action, emails are sent automatically to IT staff with summary information, or customized test messages are triggered to be sent to designated mobile phones for the same reasons.

From start to finish, robotic process automation improves disaster recovery operations. As for coffee and climate change, well, time will tell.