DEATH, TAXES, AND SOFTWARE UPGRADES
There are some things you can only put off for so long… paying taxes, dental appointments, oil changes, and for IT people… upgrading their ERP or CRM system. For a long time, you have fought the good fight, but now the software vendor is threatening to drop support for this version of the software unless you upgrade. But what makes this process so terrifying… and more importantly, what can be done about it?
The inherent problem is that these upgrades affect every user in the company, so if anything goes wrong, the consequences are widespread. And, there is no such thing as a small upgrade in an enterprise system. Even if the version number is only changing from 5.7 to 5.8, the upgrade process can be comprehensive and take several hours. Plus, there is always a risk of losing any customizations you made in the software, like templates or scripts. Even worse, you can be several hours into the process and have something go wrong, which sends you back to step 1. For all those reasons, this is not a task you want to try and do quickly before others show up for work. This needs to be done after hours, and probably over the weekend. Yay!
Reducing the Risk
The success of a software update is largely out of the hands of IT, assuming they followed the provided directions. What they CAN do is to make sure that if the update does fail before finishing, the original version can be quickly restored back to working order. The solution to minimizing the risk therefore is to perform a backup of the storage system immediately before installing the update, so you always have a safety net to fall back onto.
The problem with that solution is, if it becomes necessary to restore the storage system, that creates yet another cumbersome process that can take the network offline for hours! Rebuilding and restoring volumes from a collection of snapshots, and then synchronizing those volumes can be as time consuming as the upgrade itself.
Give Yourself Every Advantage
A better solution is to empower yourself with a storage system capable of providing an RTO in minutes, and an RPO in seconds. This way, even if the software upgrade fails multiple times, you can get the storage system back to its original state in a few minutes and start focusing on resolving the update problem instead of the restore problem.
This capability is possible with some modern storage systems because they have abandoned snapshots as the de facto method of backing up data in favor of a technology called BackDating™. With BackDating, there are no schedules to maintain or intervals to set… your data is continuously restorable from any second in the past. For IT people, this has applications far beyond just recovering from failed software upgrades. It provides protection against malware, viruses, accidental file deletion, and the like simply by allowing you to revert the storage system back to the exact state it existed in 1-second before the situation developed. Besides… BackDating is just pretty darn cool.
Happy IT… Happy Company
People who work in IT struggle continuously with problems, and a good many of those originate from employees who were doing things they probably weren’t supposed to be. The remaining problems likely originate from management not fulfilling IT’s requests for new or updated equipment that they need to improve their internal processes. The bottom line is, working in IT is extremely frustrating, but the work is extremely important… and actually essential… to the operation of a modern business. If you have the means to provide them with cutting-edge tools that bring enhanced performance, efficiency, and new capabilities to their profession, that investment will pay dividends for the entire company long into the future. IT people are always looking for things they can do that management will appreciate them for. It is in a company’s own best interest to provide them with that opportunity.