By Bill Bone

Surprise! You’re Probably not as Protected as you Thought!

Recently, we have seen several instances when IT failed both customer and business expectations, the most visible being Delta’s IT outage that occurred on August 8, 2016. The business impact to both the customer and business was detailed on the front page of most business newspapers. As an IT leader, this is NOT the place you want to see the negative results of your IT strategy and investments reviewed and scrutinized.

In reviewing this and other outages, hindsight is 20-20. More emphasis should have been put upon avoiding such incidents as well as additional emphasis upon quick recovery. Moreover, additional investments and priority reflecting this increased scrutiny of preventing these types of outages as well as quick recovery should have occurred. In Delta’s case, they had invested heavily in this capability; however, recovery did not function as expected. This is not the first time that companies wish they had invested more time, effort, and resources into preventing and recovering from unplanned outages. Nor will it be the last, especially with the business impact being experienced by those companies whose data/systems control is compromised by Ransomware or other cybersecurity threat.

The fortunate part of both preventing IT outages as well as rapid recovery from an outage is that there are a plethora good companies, products, and services available to help with this task if this is not a core competency of your company. Many of these companies and services promote cloud solutions and services as part of their offerings. What are the key factors when selecting one of these companies?

  • Can these companies operate as an extension of your IT organization?

Since outage prevention and recovery incurs systems and services that are tightly integrated with your IT systems, it is important to review companies for their ability to integrate with your systems, services, policies, security, compliance, and technology standards.

  • Do these companies offer both scalable and flexible solutions that allow you to engage on the key systems and platforms that you find most vulnerable?

Or do they have a templated approach of pre-defined options that you must adhere to or otherwise incur large consulting costs to implement? Some of the large providers in the IT outage and recovery area come to market with vast resource pools with some templated approaches, associated documentation and a help desk. Although this approach works for some companies who wish to invest in getting learning how to implement IT outage and recovery methods to integrate into these resource pools, many other companies do not. For them, they select a partner which adds additional cost to do this integration or they select a cloud service provider who works with them for the best solution that meets their needs.

  • Do you trust both your internal team as well as your cloud provider to be able to implement the roadmap of your business growth, new initiatives, and management direction in the future?

This is the area we find that creates the most doubt and uncertainty. One needs to know the strategy, including investments in people, processes, and technologies, of the company they wish to partner with for the long term. With this knowledge as well as examining how the service provider is currently doing with clients such as yourself, one can select the optimal partner for the future.

  • Are you dealing with a company whose top innovators, architects, and devops experts are focused upon creating flexible and scalable solutions for IT outage and recovery?

Many companies that offer solutions in IT outage and recovery focus upon technologies and sales initiatives to solve customer problems. In reality, the optimal solution involves learning the basics of what needs to occur (who, what, when, where, and how) and creating a reference architecture of solutions and capabilities to match the customer’s current environment and future roadmap of new initiatives. For some companies, this is looked at as a revenue-generating opportunity; however, for the “right” company, it occurs quickly and efficiently as they have proven processes, assets, and staff that has completed this for other customers. The focus is not upon creation of deliverables; it is upon rapid adaptation of proven assets and processes to meet the customer’s expectations and to get the solution to a demonstrable state as quickly as possible.

  • Do you trust the leadership of the company you are willing to engage as a long-term partner and do they trust you to engage truthfully and with transparency?

If so, one can look forward to very quick and successful implementations with problems being detected and resolve quickly and efficiently. If not, the opposite is true.

Tags: DR Planning, Disaster Recovery

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