Fulfillment Software & Business Continuity
Downtime is the enemy in fulfillment
In today’s ever-connected world, your clients expect to be up and running 24/7. Most clients have a low tolerance for unplanned service interruptions which could result in:
- Inability to access their data
- Delays in shipping their orders
- Loss of consumer confidence
- Lost sales opportunities
It’s critical that you do everything you can to prevent unscheduled downtime and also to have a plan in place to get your clients back online should disaster ever strike.
The best way to avoid unscheduled downtime is to use a fulfillment software system that is installed in an environment configured for High Availability.
The basic concept of High Availability is that every potential point of failure in your infrastructure needs be identified (e.g. hard drives, switches, firewalls, power supplies, telecommunications lines, etc.). For all potential points of failure, redundancies must be put in place with provisions for automatic failover, in the event that any component goes down.
Strategies for achieving High Availability include:
- Server virtualization
- Network load balancing of Web servers
- Storage Area Network (SAN) technology with clustered auto-failover for SQL Server databases
Disaster Recovery Planning
Disaster Recovery Planning (DRP) is the other half of Business Continuity Planning. While High Availability is focused on preventing downtime due to system or component failure, DRP is focused on getting your business back online in the event of a catastrophe in your data-center, such as a fire or flood.
There are different approaches and wide ranging costs associated with DRP, but the two primary questions that need to be answered when developing your DRP are:
- How much data loss would be acceptable in the event of a disaster?
- How long could your clients be down in the event of a disaster?
You're probably backing up your data, but are you doing it frequently enough? The amount of acceptable data loss should dictate the frequency in which your data is backed up. It’s also critical that you have a mechanism with which to transmit the data to an offsite location. Backing up your data is pointless if it is still located in the data-center when disaster strikes.
OK – so you are backing up your data. But should disaster strike, do you have a fallback system in an offsite location on which to load your back-up? If you don’t, your clients are probably going to be down for quite a while. When the dust settles, will they still be your clients?
VeraCore is designed to be installed in an environment configured for High Availability and Disaster Recovery.
Are you configured for High Availability and Disaster Recovery?
Hosting options for VeraCore:
Under this model, VeraCore assumes responsibility for all underlying software licenses. VeraCore technicians take care of all system maintenance, back-ups and upgrades. Your data is housed in a state-of-the-art hosting facility. All data is replicated in near real-time to a secondary data center in a geographically distant location.
Maintaining an on-premise environment configured for High Availability as well as a fall back environment is an approach taken by a number of VeraCore users. This approach is typically suited to larger organizations with significant IT resources and fulfillment volumes that justify substantial investment required to build such an infrastructure.
Utilizing this approach, the hosting of the software is outsourced to a firm that specializes in this service and provides day-to-day maintenance. This approach may or may not reduce the initial hardware costs and may or may not include DRP provision. Users are likely still responsible for fees associated with licensing underlying software products, such as the Windows Operating System, SQL Server and Crystal Reports.