No one wants to experience a data center outage. The modern business is absolutely reliant on their IT ecosystem and must truly do a better job in securing their critical infrastructure.
There is a solid chance that your IT organization is not entirely prepared to properly manage and maintain your complex networks. Only 27 percent of companies received a passing grade for disaster readiness, according to a 2014 survey by the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council. Furthermore, according to participants, poor planning, testing and technological deficiencies have led to more than $5M worth of critical applications failure, data center outages and data loss.
A recent Avaya survey of mid-to-large companies in the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom found that 82 percent of those surveyed experienced some type of network downtime caused by IT personnel making errors when configuring changes to the core of the network. In fact, the survey found that one-fifth of all network downtime in was caused by core errors. More troubling is the fact that 80 percent of companies experiencing downtime from core errors lost revenue, with the average company losing $140,003 per incident. The financial sector lost an average of $540,358 per incident.
Outages and downtime can also have pretty negative impacts on careers. As an Avaya report points out, a surprising 1 in 5 companies fired an IT employee when a network downtime incident occurred.
As you take this all in, it’s important to note that there are a lot of new offerings which are helping organizations become a lot more resilient and stable. Cloud and data center offerings help companies create next-generation disaster recovery and business continuity strategies.
Before we go on – it’s important to understand where disaster recovery and business continuity fit into your business.
Creating the balance between business continuity and disaster recovery
Selecting a colocation provider goes well beyond just choosing their internal features and offerings. Companies looking to move to a provider platform must know what they are deploying, the continuity metrics of their infrastructure and incorporate disaster recovery into their planning.
- Business Continuity. Your primary goal in a continuity model is pretty simple – keep the business operating optimally without major disruptions in the overall infrastructure. To accomplish this – organizations will need to utilize their business impact analysis (BIA) documentation to truly understand the critical nature of their environment. This means knowing which apps must remain live, which data points must be resilient, and which user access portals must remain up for productivity. Not every system requires the same level of uptime. By knowing your critical infrastructure points, you can design an environment capable of continuous operation.
- Disaster Recovery. Beyond business continuity and recovering specific business functions, we have disaster recover planning. In this scenario, organizations are working with cloud or data center providers which are capable of handling major failures while still keeping the environment up and running. In working with a good DR plan, a BIA is also necessary. Unlike business continuity which looks are overall operations – a DR plan looks more granularly at the overall data center and IT ecosystem. In selecting a partner, make sure they can keep up with your demands, that there is clear communication throughout the entire process, and that they have capacity to allow your business to grow. You want to make sure you identify an event and recover from it quickly – that’s the ultimate goal of a good DR plan. Furthermore, you can set very specific metrics around your DR plan. So, you can ensure that infrastructure for applications comes up first – or that a cloud environment is always ready so that there is literally no downtime. Remember, you DR plan is a living process; one that needs to be constantly updated and reviewed as your business evolves. The only way to accomplish this is by working with a data center or cloud partner which can align with your IT and business needs.
The challenge, however, isn’t just about creating a good disaster recovery or even business continuity plan alone. These have become single-point strategies which, in some cases, don’t encompass the entire vision of the business. The only way to create real business agility is through an intelligent balance between DRBC strategies. This involves security best practices, balancing DRBC initiatives, involving the business, and incorporating your data center services and partnerships. All of this creates real-world business resiliency.
Leveraging Cloud and Data Center Services to Stay Afloat
Your data center partner and cloud provider are your friends. It’s in their best interest to make sure your business stays active and highly resilient. In many cases, it takes trust to hand over critical pieces of your infrastructure to a partner. However, remember that there is a lot of maturity within today’s cloud and data center partners. This means you should be more confident in designing a resiliency and business continuity plan with your providers. Most of all – there are a number of great services you can leverage.
- Application resiliency and availability. Cloud and data center services can integrate with your existing application, desktop, and virtualization infrastructure to create real-world resiliency and availability solutions. After you understand which applications are most critical, you can scale them into a secondary data center or even cloud ecosystem. There are a lot of software and cloud solutions which specifically focus on keeping your most critical resources alive and available.
- Data center extension. Creating secondary data center sites for disaster recovery can make a lot of sense. With more providers out there – you can select the one that best fits your business model; in your geographic location. Remember, even if you’re working with compliance and regulations, you can still find a partner which can support your specific use-case.
- Load-balancing and failover. You can create an architecture where, even if there’s a failure, your users will never notice it. Global load-balancing capabilities as all as failover technologies can allow critical resources to scale between multiple locations. You create hot, warm, and even cold sites depending on your specific requirements. The great part here is that these technologies heavily leverage virtualization. This makes it easier to deploy with less physical architecture requirements.
- Hosting and infrastructure control. Visibility and management will be critical to creating a complete DRBC strategy. Again, working with distributed solutions doesn’t have to be a challenge. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Good cloud and data center partners will provide visibility into on-premise as well as critical cloud services. Remember, you don’t have to do this alone. Work with a partner or consider a DR managed services option. This helps you focus on your business while allowing the resiliency plan to be constantly monitored and delivered. You have a lot of hosting and technology options to create a plan that fits for you. Make sure to do the research, understand your requirements, and deliver the right type of hosting and infrastructure solutions.
With all this in mind – we need to expand the data center planning process to include more aspects of the organizational strategy to create business resiliency. This means creating data integrity, allowing greater levels of confidentiality for compliance and regulations, and enabling next-generation levels of availability. Most of all – business resiliency will create the necessary bridge between IT and your business.