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New pressures on data infrastructure create need for resilience
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New pressures on data infrastructure create need for resilience 

That’s why every data centre has a disaster recovery program – to minimize downtime and damage from unplanned events. But when every second lost during an outage is literally a bottom line loss for your company, the need today goes well beyond disaster recovery. The need today is for a level of data infrastructure resiliency that ensures business needs will be met no matter what. Today’s requirement is to be a resilient organization, and reliable back-ups and fast, effective recovery are just a part of that.

Tackling new demands, managing new stressors

Becoming a truly resilient organization requires a hybrid IT strategy that does more than just respond after the fact. It demands that IT infrastructure continuously meet the data needs of today’s always-on applications, in support of always-on business.

Consider the change in the way most organizations operate today, compared to just a few years ago. Customers, employees and vendors today work at the edges or even outside the organization wherever they happen to be. They use a diverse range of mobile devices. They use your data through a constantly expanding cornucopia of applications — many unsecured – to increase productivity and value, and they do that around the clock. This new level of access and application is putting unprecedented strain on IT infrastructures that were not designed to handle it, and it is only going to get more challenging for IT infrastructure managers.

The growth of Internet of Things, and the exponential growth in data it is creating, also puts tremendous stress on the data centre. So does the new analysis requirement. Business leaders need to do more than collect data from new sources. They need to find its hidden value.

At the same time, many companies are also managing a migration to the cloud. After all, why build a new fleet of taxi cabs when what you want is a ride from point A to point B. But cloud migration is not without its complexity, and complexity can create risk.

Designing the resilient organization

Unplanned data outages will happen to almost ever organization, even when the sun is shining.

IBM research shows:

• Almost 80 per cent of businesses will have a minor event, costing on average more than $1-million.
• More than a third will have a moderate event, with an average cost of $4.25-million.
• Almost one in four will have a major event, with an average cost of more than $14-million.

That does not include the value of damaged reputation, of lost customers or opportunities, or of shareholder value – all very real results of unplanned downtime.

The roadmap to resilience

Thus, to become resilient an organization must first understand the full nature of the risks it faces, and prioritize them. Of the things you deliver at any given time, what is essential at any given moment?

Coming to this understanding, organizations identify what requires 24-7 availability. That knowledge enables you to chart your path to resiliency.

Charting the path entails an assessment of every application, every business process and every geographic location served. With a clear understanding of those needs, it is then possible to design the most cost-effective hybrid solution that prioritizes response based on real business needs.

Part of that will certainly be to provide fast, agile business recovery — on-premises or through the acquisition of data recovery as a service, in the cloud.

The examination and planning starts in your data centre. Is it up to the task? Do you need another data centre? Can it be off-premises? For most organizations, resiliency will result from combination of those options. 

But as with almost every IT infrastructure need, some organizations will consider building it themselves rather than buying it. Considering the speed that new applications are being requested and the increasing strains on internal data centre resources, very few organizations will benefit from building and running vast data infrastructures. That does not encourage resiliency because data infrastructure is not their core expertise. Even for those that can acquire the needed resources internally, and in most cases by the time they finish a build it will be out of date. That is not a cost-effective approach.

Instead, organizations are better served by focusing on their own business and their customers and competitors. Fortunately, most IT infrastructure leaders seem to recognize that. That’s why we are seeing rapid growth in the adoption of disaster recovery as a service.

Whatever your resiliency plan – and you must have a plan — it needs to span multiple platforms, in multiple data centres. That’s what creates true resiliency – the ability to withstand, continue through and recover from outages. The stakes are high and the pressure is growing, but then those are conditions IT professionals face everyday as they work to enable the business success of their organizations.

To learn more, check out this video by Peter.

Peter Gladwish is the leader of Resiliency Services for IBM Canada and can be reached at gladwish@ca.ibm.com, if you have questions or comments. 

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