The COVID-19 global pandemic wrought havoc on many American businesses, but some adapted to it better than others. Many of those that weathered the shutdowns best had an IT infrastructure that allowed them to support a work from home policy or were able to adapt their existing systems in short order. Those responsible for ensuring business resilience probably should have seen this one coming.
2020 also gave us a new perspective on what a pandemic looks like. Instead of a Hollywood post-apocalyptic scenario where the streets are empty except for the zombies, we had empty streets sans zombies and businesses trying to stay afloat behind closed doors. We learned that life must go on even during a crisis.
Most of us are more than ready to put COVID-19 behind us, but before that happens, this would be a good time to re-examine the pandemic scenarios in your disaster recovery and business continuity plans.
Planning for the next disruption
A good first step would be to ask the same kinds of questions you’d ask yourself after any other disaster scenario. How quickly were we able to respond? How effective was our response? What did the organization do well, and what could we have done better?
Making the answers to these questions quantifiable is a vital component of improving your strategy. In disaster recovery planning, recovery objectives drive strategy: Recovery time objective (RTO) refers to how quickly the business can get back up and running after a disaster. Recovery point objective (RPO) refers to how much data loss is acceptable during recovery. Normally, we think about these two targets in the context of a physical disaster, but they can be applied to pandemic-related scenarios as well.
RTO is the most obvious as it answers the question of how quickly you could establish a work from home policy and give your employees secure access to the systems and data that would allow them to continue working. At first, RPO seems a little less relevant unless your transition to remote-accessible systems wasn’t as seamless as you had hoped. There’s always a chance of data loss when system access is misconfigured, or backup systems aren’t properly implemented.
In March of 2020, just as businesses were sending people home en masse, we wrote a post to help them make a smoother transition: Adapting IT Services for a Remote Workforce. This post may be worth revisiting as you continue to evaluate your response to COVID-19.
Building business resilience for the next disruption
For many organizations, creating greater business resilience will require a closer look at their IT infrastructure and how they support it. While it’s impossible to predict what the next unplanned disruption will look like, one thing we can predict is that distributed IT systems will need to be capable of handling more data than ever – an average of 30% more every year, according to our IDC Tech Spotlight. Bandwidth capacity and availability will be more important than ever.
While the IT modernization programs many businesses have embarked on as a result of COVID-19 will have long-term benefits, the global pandemic and the resulting economic slowdown have also acerbated budget concerns. According to the IDC Tech Spotlight, IT budgets will remain flat or see only single-digit increases in 2021, putting further pressure on IT departments to efficiently balance uncertainty against already constrained resources.
Finally, with the continued shortage of skilled IT workers, rapid IT modernization projects have forced enterprises to look to outside expertise and staffing to fill gaps in knowledge and skillsets.
Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) drives business resilience
COVID-19 has organizational leadership thinking about business resilience, more than ever before, and IDC expects this focus to fuel the Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) market. According to the research firm, this market was already on the upswing, growing by more than 22% between 2018 and 2019. After a slight slowdown in 2020, IDC predicts the DRaaS market will see a compound annual growth rate of 17.7% by 2024.
Disaster recovery is the IT element of business continuity planning. DRaaS is a shared responsibility between the managed service provider and customer. The managed services provider manages and executes the customer’s plan. There are several advantages to DRaaS:
Disaster recovery isn’t something most IT people have a lot of experience with. Leveraging outside expertise can help ensure RTO and RPO goals are more readily attainable.
Technologies change all the time, and even the best disaster recovery strategy can quickly become outdated. A DRaaS provider can help keep plans up to date.
Disaster Recovery plans need to be periodically tested to ensure they work as expected. A DRaaS provider can do this with little to no disruption to your business.
While disaster recovery planning is essential, it isn’t something you do every day. Working with a DRaaS provider provides full-time expertise without the full-time expense.
Learn more about business resilience trends for 2021
When the world seems like it’s going crazy, choosing the right DRaaS provider means one less thing for you to worry about. Refer to the additional resources below to learn more about improving business resilience during challenging times, or reach out to us to discuss how TierPoint can help. Want to learn more about disaster recovery planning and Disaster Recovery as a Service? Read our complimentary Strategic Guide.