Many have sole responsibility for a diverse range of IT infrastructure components. So how can a key IT worker step away from the office – and still be confident the business will be up and running effectively on his return? Frederik Pakai, Head of IT at TeamViewer, outlines five key steps to take before boarding the plane – from preparing the ground to ensuring real time remote access to key systems from any location.
1. Get ready for remote access
So what happens when you are on the beach and your boss calls you on the mobile because the email server is down? How can you respond immediately and minimise both company downtime and the interruption to the holiday? One of the most compelling benefits of the latest generation of technology is the ability to remotely access and configure computer systems from any location, using a mobile device such as a smartphone, or tablet, while hundreds of miles away from your office. Ensuring a remote control solution such as TeamViewer is available by leaving the office computer running and logged in to the application, will provide immediate access to critical computer systems and data on the company network. This enables the individual to react quickly in emergency cases with full access to office servers over the smartphone or tablet – with no need to search for a beach café with reliable Wi-Fi.
2. Delegate responsibility
Identify a deputy who can provide a point of contact while the main network administrator is away. This deputy needs to have access to all necessary information, drives and passwords in case of emergency; keys to any secure areas of the building that he may need to enter; as well as authorisation to contact any third party service and support providers if required.
This person also needs to understand the routine maintenance measures, such as backup and storage procedures to minimise the risk of problems occurring. He will also need to understand responsibilities, such as replacing failed laptops and logging the provision of new equipment to end users. Critically, the deputy will also need full access to and understanding of the disaster recovery plan, should the worst happen.
3. Get the housekeeping up to date
Address what you know will be an issue: change the backup tape and check when licenses are set to expire to avoid losing security cover, for example, while away. If possible, write a procedure document for each of these situations, especially the most common ones, to provide the deputy with access to as much information as possible and create a Frequently Asked Questions document to enable users to resolve issues themselves where possible.
4. Be prepared
Of course, the best plan is to ensure as many bases as possible are covered before setting off on holiday. Set up a backup plan for servers, databases and passwords – and make sure the deputy has access to this information. Ensure the power supply for the data centre has a failover option to deliver continuity of service; and check with key software, hardware and network suppliers that no major works, such as upgrades that are likely to cause problems, are planned during that two week window.
5. Clarify expectations
To avoid unexpected disasters or potential user uproar, it is important to ensure staff across the business know that your holiday is due. Flag up to senior management the fact that support will not be as prompt over the next two weeks; explain, for example, that emails will be checked at a certain time each day, rather than all the time – and ensure they know who to contact if a real emergency occurs.
Day to day issues can be avoided or postponed by changing voice mail greetings, turning on automatic ‘out of office’ messages on email and providing the deputy’s contact details for emergency cover.