Munsoft would like to make our clients aware of the dangers of unreliable electricity concerning their computer and systems infrastructure.
Computer information systems such as Munsoft's financial management system and other subsystems require reliable power to function ideally and without risk of damage.
The major cause of such interruptions in South Africa is our "regular" load-shedding. Still, we have other reliability issues, from natural disasters such as severe storms and lightning, community-related matters such as malicious damage or problems coming from civil construction projects, and many more.
What is most common amongst such interruptions is that they are almost exclusively unplanned or scheduled with "very" short notice.
The risk and impact of power-related issues can cause potential hardware damage or even possible data loss, leading to extended downtime of critical systems or integrity-related issues for data. All of which will impact the institution ability to render services.
We recommend a generator and uninterrupted power supply (UPS) for your server room or data centre with sufficient electrical capacity. Such redundant systems need to be tested once a week and regularly serviced to ensure stable operations for your organisation. The same would apply to your emergency or standby facilities. For standard or emergency maintenance, we recommended having a pre-existing service provider in place.
We recommend 24x7x365 environmental monitoring of your ICT environment. Defined alerts and standby procedures will significantly aid your emergency response, and these should include shutdown and start-up procedures.
Information systems should always be protected with backups, preferably on and offsite. Periodic testing of backups is non-negotiable and regularly performed in conjunction with a data selection list review. We further highly recommend Disaster Recovery (DR) simulation on an annual basis.
An ICT disaster recovery plan should provide the necessary structure and guidance to the organisation before, during, and post-emergency events.
- Protect your hardware with redundant electrical infrastructure (UPS and generators) with sufficient capacity. Put maintenance and tests plans in place and have a shutdown strategy for maintenance and interruptions.
- Ensure you have backups of your information systems. Preferably offsite, check and test your backups regularly.
- Ensure your servers have valid hardware warranties to ensure you have vital and timely computer components readily available in the event of a failure. A typical server's life span is five years, beyond you run a risk of finding accessible parts.
- Put a disaster recovery plan (DRP) and infrastructure in place and test the organisations' strategy and infrastructure regularly with your systems. Document your progress and remedy failures during this testing. The plan is never complete, so iterate.
- Put monitoring of the infrastructure in your ICT environment, with alerts with relevant response plans. Electrical and security monitoring, we recommend both physical (alarms) and electronic (monitoring) systems.
These recommendations can significantly aid your organisation in its planning for such interruptions.
If you need assistance in your ICT electrical planning, contact Munsoft, we are here to assist with advice and solutions.
This article is an updated article that we first published on 2 March 2020.