Unstable IT and outages is not just a concern anymore. In numbers, every minute of system downtime costs an average of $9,000. With the world becoming heavily digitalized, system downtimes have become a reputational hazard that goes on to impact the company’s share prices, sales count, and the overall growth prospects.
These grave situations highlight the need for businesses to address IT resilience – the ability to manage technical disruption. An IT resilient company is known for its ability to manage and recover from outages in minimal time, while maintaining an acceptable level of service delivery even amidst failure and downtime.
Achieving this, however, requires them to build a solid IT resilience strategy typically consisting of –
- Building enough capacity to manage day-to-day and seasonal demand spikes.
- Continuous monitoring for offering real-time insights plus enabling proactive measures countering outages and bad user experience.
- Changing detection and control process with constant reviews of policy conformance and correctness.
- Security measures to prevent intrusion or malicious events.
- Unhindered availability of services that doesn’t tolerate zero downtime.
- Being prepared for a swift recovery when the failures occur, example –
- Active maintenance contracts for your hardware and software
- Backups of crucial system configurations needed for rapid rollback
- Checklist of tests for validating system readiness
While there is no silver bullet preventing businesses from failure and downtime errors, there are steps they can take to manage these instances better through a well thought of IT resilience plan. At its core, the way to boost IT resiliency lies in getting your services up and running in minutes after a disaster occurs, but seeing it through is difficult, especially because CEOs don’t always take IT resilience testing as a priority until its absence leaves a financial impact or the regulators intervene.
More often than not, the reasons for outages are one that could be avoided with a proactive approach of monitoring and management –
So while we know that it takes a cultural shift to keep ‘enhance IT resiliency’ as a priority item, we advise companies to take a comprehensive approach made up of easy-to-integrate six core strategies that would impact both IT and business outcomes.
6 strategies to boost IT resiliency in business
With the complexities around IT systems and processes constantly growing, the instances of outage frequencies is also increasing – incidents that have resulted in businesses investing heavily in making their IT systems resilient. Having worked with multiple businesses on their IT system resilience, here are some time-tested strategies we have found to be working best for the approach.
1. Find actionable network data
Data is crucial for creating an effective IT resilience plan, however in order to be usable it is necessary for that data to be actionable. Attaining network observability and making the data actionable would require gathering, correlating, and visualizing data which you collect in a way that it garners insights into your IT system.
One way to do that is by using AI to highlight patterns and relations that humans are unable to spot and using the information to discover issues and plan the IT system correctly. To determine the other ways of making your data actionable, check out this comprehensive business guide on data science and analytics.
2. Create an environment to manage demand emergencies
Demand – whether external driven or internal – can spike up in an unannounced manner. Take GameStop as one of the IT resilience examples, in 2021 the stock prices of the company rose to such a level that investors rushed in to get a share of the pie. This resulted in the resources becoming so scarce that the customers were unable to access their accounts – leading to the platform getting crashed.
In order to improve IT resiliency, businesses must create IT systems which can manage such demand surges by making use of monitoring tools for creating demand patterns and virtualization technologies for offering elastic capacity for unplanned demand emergencies.
3. Use automation
Automation has become a trademark of the modern IT architecture, but only a few businesses realize its importance in building an IT resilience system. The importance of it can be seen in network automation which helps streamline the merger and acquisition strategy, lowers the manual effort, and eliminates human error.
If your organization is spending time on managing recurring, small-sized issues, investing in business process automation today will go far in saving long-term costs and improved service.
4. Add redundancy in data center
Another way to build IT resilience strategy is to find potential problems which can lead to outages and then apply redundancy as the countermeasure. An example of this can be seen in organizations protecting themselves against the hard disk failure with disk mirroring or using failover clustering to protect against node-level failure.
5. Distance clustering and erasure coding
As part of the IT resilience plan, it is critical for businesses to operate normally after an event of failure. This can be accomplished in two ways:
- Distance clustering – The idea behind this is to stretch failover clusters and placing the cluster nodes in a remote data center. This way, even if a data center-level failover happens, the workloads operating on cluster can automatically fail to the remote facility.
- Erasure coding – This mode to increase IT resilience deals with striping data across multiple data centers or clouds. It helps in ensuring that the sensitive data remains safe in a way that if a business stores data in the cloud, the erasure coding part of IT resilience strategy lies in structuring the data in a way that no one cloud provider has complete copy.
[Also Read: 5 trends shaping the future of data infrastructure]
6. Continuous backup and real-time recovery
Backup and recovery continues to be a critical part of resilience in information technology, especially in the “always-on” IT environment. Continuous data backup usually works on changed block tracking, meaning when a storage block is made or modified the block gets targeted for backup. This way, in place of a monolithic backup during off-peak hours, data gets backed on a constant basis.
On the other hand, instant recovery enables businesses to recover VMs instantly without waiting for the restoration to complete. It works on the understanding that businesses are highly virtualized and complete VM copies exist in the backup targets. This way, the business which requires recovery operation can mount a VM directly from the backup target.
Now that we have looked into the 6 IT resilience best practices, it is time to get down to some tips that go a long way when it comes to building an IT resilience strategy. At Appinventiv, we typically follow these tricks as a part of our IT consulting services when we have to prepare an enterprise for resilience.
How do you increase resilience in IT? Tips and tricks
The IT system, amidst data breach and network outages instances, has moved several steps away from figuring out the answer to what is IT resilience towards how to achieve IT resilience. Now although we have looked into the 6 IT resilience best practices, applying them in the organization is a completely different ballgame.
At Appinventiv, we are known to keep ‘build IT resilience’ as the center formula of every data-heavy application we make, so when a business/product owner comes to us asking for help with building a resilient IT ecosystem, here are the tips we share with them.
Concentrate on the high probability scenarios first
You should make a list of day-to-day activities that can affect the most critical applications. For example, what happens when the SAN is down or is unable to go down? Is there a plan of action for lost fiber connection?
Answers to such questions bring process roadblocks on the surface while helping businesses understand the repercussions of these events. On the other hand, it gets them on the path of building a strong IT resilience plan.
Look at building IT resiliency holistically
When working on IT system resilience, don’t just look at the IT assets which support the customer-facing digital channels but also the ones that support your business operations. For example, your development team will not be able to function if there is no plan for code repositories or digital workspace apps, on the other hand, if one integration of Salesforce is not working, the sales team will not be able to follow up on the incoming leads.
Know your IT environment and dependencies
In order to enhance IT resiliency, it is important to understand the details of dependencies around application-to-application, application-to-services, and application-to-infrastructure. A clear understanding of the downstream and upstream relationships is needed for fully recovering and communicating the impact to the stakeholders.
Make your IT resilience plan dynamic
The answer to what is the primary purpose of resilience in information systems lies in having a process where new changes can be accommodated without leading to downtime. Thus, when you increase IT resilience, aim for making it dynamic enough for developers to release a new app module that requires software and servers to host – or for similar complex scenarios.
One of the sureshot ways to improve IT resiliency is to become proactive when it comes to maintaining and monitoring IT systems. Businesses often work with a mindset of what is not broken should not be fixed – something that is counterintuitive when it comes to building a resilient system. This is why we advise businesses to become proactive and spot issues before they become a cause for outage.
While these are only surface-level tips, there can be many little things that businesses should take care of as part of their daily operations towards making their IT system resilient. However, one critical factor to note here is that it would require an all-hands approach, something that is only possible when you have a flat culture where data and resources are not siloed.
At Appinventiv, whenever we work with a client on building their IT resilience plan, the first thing we ask them is to involve all the teams and understand their individual IT dependencies. Only when you know how the systems are being used, which tools are being utilized for which user journey, will you be able to create a resilient ecosystem.
Get in touch with our IT consultants now to build an effective IT resilience strategy.