IT pros can find it harder than most to take a break from their responsibilities while they're on holiday. It's difficult to switch off when you're used to being on call and making sure the network is delivering 24/7. But minimizing interruption to personal downtime is important too. Afterall, even IT pros need to make the most of their hard-earned holidays and spend time on the beach, not in the server room. That means taking steps to ensure that time off isn't spent endlessly checking work emails or managing emergency calls from colleagues.
The good news is that tackling some basic housekeeping tasks leading up to vacation can make all the difference. IT pros can ensure their networks are ready for some alone time and that unwelcome work intrusions don't take the shine off their time off in the sun.
For all you IT pros planning to take a vacation this month, here are six tips to get the server room squared before you put on the sunscreen.
Tip 1: Get your backups in order
Make sure your backup strategy has failsafe measures in place. Whether you go for a second cloud-based back-up solution or a local storage option, the same back-up mantra always applies. The more copies of data you have, the safer it is. Make sure the back-up solutions you opt for offer the ability to 'go back in time' and display the state of files at various past 'recovery' points.
Tip 2: Map your infrastructure
Document your basic internal infrastructure and create an easy-to-understand reference guide on how to address typical network issues. That means that when you're not there, others will know what each server does and how to recover from common failures. Make sure you include a directory of vendors – complete with phone and email contact details and any associated maintenance contract information.
Tip 3: Check SSL certifications
Make sure website SSL certifications are up-to-date and aren't likely to expire when you're on holiday. You may be using a good network monitoring tool that warns you well ahead of time. If not, take time to manually check certificates before departing for your vacation.
Tip 4: Create a 'to do' list for manual processes
Processes like cleaning up log files before a disk fills require human intervention. Ideally you should be scripting as many of these as possible, ensuring there are checks in place to prevent a run-away condition getting out of hand. Make sure you nominate someone to take care of any processes that aren't scripted while you're out of the office.
Tip 5: Brief the team
While you're away, non-essential tasks may come up. Let everyone know that you should only be contacted in the event of a genuine emergency – and what constitutes an emergency. When it comes to turning on your out-of-office email message, it's up to you whether you include your direct contact information.
However, if you've got a trusted colleague who can field calls, then you should refer to that person and let them make the decision about who to escalate issues to.
Tip 6: Lighten the alert load
You may have set your network monitoring tool to alert you to a whole host of things on a daily basis – bandwidth utilization, ping latency and more. But while you're on holiday you probably only want to be notified of bigger issues, like a critical application failure.
It may sound like a paradox but staying connected to the very most critical alerts while you're away means you can relax. Feel secure knowing that everything is running as it should be and that there aren't any nasty surprises waiting for you in the server room on your return.
This article, originally entitled "Getting networks fit for the holidays", published on July 22, 2016 in Digitalisation World.