Today’s organizations increasingly rely on digital technology and software applications to complete critical business functions. That means it’s vitally important they achieve IT resilience to ensure they can continue facilitating operational processes and delivering services to customers during a disruptive event.
What is IT resilience?
IT resilience refers to an organization’s capacity to keep critical applications, systems, and operations afloat when all or part of their IT infrastructure is compromised. An IT disaster can strike at any moment, and the loss of any critical functions can make it impossible for your employees to complete routine tasks and maintain essential customer relationships.
The importance of IT resilience in today’s business environment
IT resilience has grown in importance in recent years. As businesses continue to do more work in the cloud and depend increasingly on digital platforms to facilitate work, they are exposing themselves to heightened risk.
The disaster scenarios that most commonly impact businesses today include:
- Cybersecurity incidents: Cyber threats are worsening, and the potential financial, operational, and reputational damage caused by security breaches can be difficult — if not impossible — to recover from.
- Data loss: Data is the fundamental unit of value in today’s digital economy. Data loss — whether through a security breach, human error, or a technology failure — can hinder operational functions and damage the credibility of your brand.
- Staff exits: Whether due to layoffs or the sudden departure of staff members, IT teams can suffer if they don’t have the personnel to complete routine IT functions, like supporting IT infrastructure, maintaining their cybersecurity posture, or solving day-to-day IT challenges.
Building resiliency into your critical infrastructure not only helps to mitigate the possible damage arising out of the above disaster scenarios, but it also ensures your business has the capacity to weather a crisis long enough to restore critical operations and recover from a disaster.
The challenges of achieving IT resilience
IT resilience is essential to the long-term growth and success of organizations today. However, our research shows that many businesses still have immature resilience strategies and are therefore ill-prepared for a disaster.
These are some of the challenges organizations face when developing their IT resiliency:
- The proliferation of digital technologies: Companies now use a variety of digital technologies to complete routine tasks, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. IT teams now must choose from among a much wider range of IT assets to determine which ones are critical in order to build resilience into the right systems.
- Lack of qualified staff: The increasing sophistication of digital technologies has significantly raised the bar for qualified IT personnel. Many organizations now struggle to attract talent with the right qualifications to handle their highly diversified tech stacks, forcing them to either lean on inexperienced professionals or forgo certain functions completely.
- Unrealistic testing scenarios: Most organizations recognize the importance of disaster recovery testing but they aren’t designing realistic testing scenarios that accurately mimic a real disaster. Cutover enables organizations to prepare for any IT disaster and respond quickly.
Successful IT resilience strategies
IT resilience is essential to maintaining the long-term viability of your IT assets and critical infrastructure. Consider these IT resilience strategies to bolster the resiliency of your IT infrastructure and maintain business continuity in the event of a disaster:
1. Migrate critical data and systems to the cloud
Organizations are increasingly migrating their data, applications, systems, and workflows to public and private cloud environments to take advantage of the cloud’s efficiency, scalability, and near-limitless storage. However, cloud migration can also serve an important part of your IT resilience strategy.
The virtualization of your IT assets, systems, and applications can give you more capacity in the event of unforeseen demand surges. When you experience a demand increase (whether due to seasonal buying behavior or other changes), you can lean on systems in virtualized spaces to take the pressure off your on-premises corporate platforms and networks.
2. Test your disaster recovery plans regularly
Conduct routine testing exercises to ensure your IT disaster recovery plans can be executed in live settings. IT disaster recovery testing best prepares your organization for the most likely disaster scenarios, while also identifying any gaps you can address before disaster strikes.
Many organizations make the mistake of conducting their testing exercises in controlled, unrealistic settings. While this can still generate some value, it fails to account for the authentic responses of your internal teams and the uncertainty that prevails during a disaster.
The Cutover platform brings together your data, systems, and technology in one place, enabling you to conduct unscheduled disaster recovery tests and more closely mimic live disaster scenarios to more effectively test your response procedures. (Learn more here.)
3. Maintain backups of all critical data and assets
Maintaining backup applications and systems in secure off-site locations is essential to your recovery processes. You won’t typically need to back up all your systems and applications. Instead, you should conduct a full assessment of your functions to identify the IT assets most critical to your current business operations and aim to maintain backups of those.
Similar to the above step, you should consider storing your backups in secure cloud locations, where they will be untouched in the event your on-site assets are compromised. It’s important to note, however, that cloud environments are also susceptible to disruption, so you should consider moving backups between multiple locations for maximum recovery capacity.
4. Bolster your security framework
Cyber attack numbers are on the rise and data breaches are now a top concern and priority for business executives. More than 95% of business executives consider security resilience to be highly important to their organization, according to recent data from Cisco.
It’s important to assess your entire IT infrastructure to identify the most vulnerable systems and components. You should also consider the wider threat landscape to determine which risks are most relevant to your industry and business. This information will help you patch possible vulnerabilities and build a security apparatus that most effectively protects your critical IT systems and assets from attack.
5. Ensure staff have the skills and competencies to execute your recovery processes
You need to have staff with the requisite skills and experience to maintain the resilience of your IT infrastructure while also executing your recovery processes in the event of a disruption. Technicians should have the ability to support your essential systems and assets even when certain technology is offline, while business users must take the right steps to maintain continuity.
While your staff should receive the necessary training to understand their roles and responsibilities in an IT disaster situation, you should also conduct routine, unscheduled testing to ensure your team members feel prepared and confident to take action when needed.
Build your IT resilience with Cutover
Cutover is committed to supporting the IT resiliency of today’s businesses. The Cutover platform brings together your data, systems, and workflows and gives organizations the ability to manage their technology resilience, including IT disaster recovery and cloud resilience.