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Resilient organizations defeat ever-present threat of data outages

Published: May 27th, 2016 By: Peter Gladwish

IBM

In today’s always-on world, the old saying that “time is money” has never been more true. Time is the enemy when it’s time without access to your data. Downtime can damage customer relationships, erode market share, grind down employee productivity, and weaken your reputation.

Consequently, in an always-on world it’s essential to have an approach to disaster-proofing that goes far beyond the old disaster recovery model that restores systems in days versus hours. When every second lost during an outage can literally be a bottom line loss for your company, the need is not just for disaster recovery. It is for true business resiliency – the ability to carry on no matter what. That defines a resilient organization.

That’s not to say reliable back-ups and fast, effective recovery aren’t essential in creating a resilient organization. But that’s just part of it. Businesses face new challenges and risks. Creating a truly resilient organization means understanding the resiliency objectives of different workloads, business units or locations that then create a hybrid IT recovery strategy

New approach for new, sometimes competing challenges

Customers, employees and vendors today work on all kinds of mobile devices, all over the world, using all kinds of applications, at all times. A quarter of those applications wouldn’t pass a basic security audit but organizations must adapt to the way people work best. That’s a new strain on IT infrastructure.

The data explosion, as we adopt all those mobile apps and adapt to the Internet of Things, puts tremendous stress on the data centre. So does the competitive imperative to analyze all the data from new sources to find its hidden value in all that data now being collected and managed.

Many organizations, perhaps most, are also managing a migration to the cloud, because for a lot of things it makes a lot of sense. Why build and operate a water filtration plant when you can buy a drink of water instead? But cloud migration is not without its complexity, and complexity can create risk.

Blueprint for the resilient organization

Almost every company experiences downtime for reasons OTHER than natural disasters. And natural disasters will happen too, even in Canada.

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. Most of us know, just from reading the news, that those are very real results of downtime.

The first step then, is realizing you are at risk and understanding where the risk is. It is understanding your resiliency requirements and objectives.  What are you delivering today that absolutely, positively must be delivered in an always-on environment?

The good news is that not every bit of data in your organization needs to have 24-7 availability. Knowing what data and applications must be available and when they must be available helps you map your path to resiliency.

Creating that map by application, by business process and by location enables us to design the most cost-effective hybrid solution that that prioritizes response based on real business needs.

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

For most organizations, resiliency will come from some combination of those options. It starts with the quality of your data centre which is the very foundation on which most of an organization’s infrastructure reside. Is it up to the task? Do you need another data centre? Can some of the workloads move to the cloud?

Many organizations will weigh the build-versus-buy decision. Our view is that very few organizations want to or should be building and running vast data infrastructures for resiliency. That does not encourage resiliency. Disaster recovery is not their core expertise, and in most cases by the time they finish a build it will be out of date, and it’s rarely cost-effective.

IBM’s view is that organizations should invest in competing with their competitors rather than with IT providers. That’s why we are seeing rapid growth in the adoption of disaster recovery as a service. You focus on your core business and we make sure you are as resilient as possible.

Whatever your resiliency solution, it must be able to span multiple platforms, in multiple data centres. That ability is what gives you resiliency — being able to withstand, continue through and recover from outages. There’s never been more at stake, and time is not a friend to the non-resilient organization.

2016 Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis 


Peter Gladwish is the leader of Resiliency Services for IBM Canada

Peter Gladwish
Business Unit Executive
Resiliency Services
IBM Canada Ltd.