IT Resiliency – A move beyond simple DR

The IT industry is no stranger to buzzwords. Poke around most technology websites and you’ll find industry jargon galore. Occasionally, one term pushes through the noise, becoming a topic that is on everyone’s agenda. IT resiliency is most definitely the new kid on the block, having permeated the minds of IT professionals and C-suites alike. So what actually is it, and why should we care? Well, we witnessed a very good example of why businesses should care this past weekend, courtesy of British Airways. The company’s IT systems outage inconvenienced thousands of passengers and looks set to wipe millions of pounds off their bottom line. With that said, let’s dig into it IT resiliency a little more.   

Gartner was really the first to coin the term, stating in a report that “while application failover automation is a key IT disaster recovery and IT service availability support technology, IT operations managers must supplement its use with other technologies and best practices to ensure that IT resilience is effective and sustainable”. IT resiliency really focuses on bringing together security, continuity and IT operations under one big umbrella into this new category.  The key thing to understand is that it isn’t simply focused on recovery, rather there is a lot of planning that goes into effectively driving a strategy for IT resiliency. At iland, we believe it is the concept of combining failover capabilities and recovery times with service availability to enable a more holistic approach to ensure the continuous availability of entire business operations. 

Why is IT resiliency so prominent in the industry today? 

The harsh reality is that 80% of disruptions could be prevented through effective management of people and processes. In fact, Gartner has done a really good job of pointing out where we can look to invest in amplifying our ability from both an operational perspective as well as an application perspective. With the evolution from traditional applications to born in cloud mode two applications, a lot of people are looking at this from the front end. However, most business leaders that iland works with in the operations facility side of the business really have to focus on traditional applications and how they are going to continue to maintain their availability.   

On top of this, one of the things that has really changed in the last couple of years is the record number of threats to enterprises. Just take the recent WannaCry ransomware attack for example. Cyber threats such as this one have an enormous impact on one’s ability to drive resiliency into IT operations and as more and more attacks are announced each day the need to remain resilient becomes even more essential.   

But IT resiliency is just disaster recovery, right?   

Wrong! Unfortunately, despite the fact that you may have been doing backups and disaster recovery for a number of years already, these are only some of the tools in the IT resilience toolbox and you will really need to start thinking beyond these. Other tools include: 

Active-Active Data Centres – This is where two data centres can service an application at any given time. You will then need an application stack and design that is going to support the failure of part of a data centre whilst still staying live so as not to disrupt the end user access in the other data centre.  

Automation – There is a whole lot of automation required just for backups and disaster recovery on top of failing over any applications. Hence automation is critical to the overall IT resiliency concept in order to ensure failover events and alerts click into place before anyone realises there is even a problem.    

Business Policy – Business processes and procedures must be in place to support backup, disaster recovery and active-active data centre plans. Without that support in the business policy, all your plans are going to remain just that – plans. A business expects its applications to be up all the time, as do its customers, so these policies have to be defined, the budget has to be available, as does the support to execute these plans.  

Practice – All of this amazing technology and business policy is great, but it cannot be trusted unless tested regularly. Testing the whole procedure of recovering from any kind of outage or interruption needs to be practised, not only by your IT department, but also by the business. It’s during practice that you’ll find the things you have missed. Practice will also allow you to be confident that when it is time to enact the recovery plan it will work. Reports that the British Airways outage was made worse by a failed backup operation highlights the need for regular testing and reporting of backup and DR systems. 

You may already be doing some of the processes needed to become IT resilient, and the good news is that cloud-based backup and DR solutions continue to innovate to make business continuity achievable for IT leaders. Just last week, we announced the latest release of the iland Secure Cloud Backup with Veeam service, which provides self-service visibility and management of cloud backup repositories through an intuitive console. Customers can monitor cloud storage usage, receive utilization alerts and proactively scale resources up or down when required, all helping to streamline the backup management process to make achieving IT resiliency easier.   

Your customers no doubt have an extremely low tolerance for service interruptions. IT leaders are playing an increasingly important role in ensuring not only that IT systems are protected but are also resilient to the many risks - both internal and external - that exist.  Contact iland today to find out how you can put IT resiliency into action for your business.      

Monica Brink, Director of EMEA Marketing, iland   

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