Modern production facilities rely heavily on their information systems. Customer forecasts, orders, shipments, and supplier requirements are all processed through the information system. Production planning, job management, machine and tool maintenance, warehouse movements, staff availability, and of course, the accounting processes, all rely on computers.

Failure of a computer system is an eventuality; to safe guard against it one must apply best practices wherever possible, and in most cases, this comes down to the following two paradigms: keep updated, keep educated.

Updates: it is important to ensure that you servers are properly patched, that anti-virus and intrusion counter measured are updated on a regular basis. Security patches in modern software have become a way of life, and it is important that your environment has a patch process in place.

Education: user education is an oft overlooked factor in the security and stability of your system. Most security failures in a system are due to the user; opening attachments from unknown sources, accidentally deleting or moving folders, and plugging in unknown or suspect devices.

Ensuring that these two items are implemented will counter most challenges that a system faces. However, there are other standards that must always be maintained:

  • Ensure that you have backups, and that they are tested regularly.
  • Ensure that you have a hardware replacement strategy. Hardware will eventually fail, and generally lasts around five years (in server environments).
  • Ensure that your software upgrade and migration is well planned, software eventually looses support and will require upgrades to newer versions.
    • Windows Server 2008 R2 will soon no longer receive support from Microsoft, do you have a strategy in place to upgrade?

While this article has primarily focused on the hardware and software aspects of a network, there are processes that must also be in place. How to onboard new users, backup processes, business continuity plans, and documentation.

Many businesses fail to ensure that their information strategy is current and documented. Being proactive in the maintenance of documentation, the assurance of patches and updates, and the regular testing of backups, will all but guarantee the stability and availability of the system.

For additional information and articles on best practices, tips, and other suggestions, please review the following hyperlinks: