The importance of Disaster Recovery: A response to COVID-19

The news this week of the COVID-19 has been impossible to miss, with some world leaders concerned this is now the one-in-a-century pathogen the world has been worried about.

Throughout the week, our business has seen a burst of activity as customers and prospects consider alternate working methods and activate disaster recovery solutions – and as the pressure mounts from executives to implement DR plans, the question remains that; Is the business fundamentally prepared for a disaster scenario?

When we engage with any customer, whether that be a prospect or current client, we often find that a DR is either extensively planned, tested and ready for execution or non-existent. Beyond measures of simply ensuring backups are scheduled and run smoothly, the way technology is deployed within an organization also needs to be considered. With the continued spread of the virus, businesses are considering closing offices, forcing employees to work from home, or cancelling travel arrangements for high profile meetings. At a high level, this reduces the risk of any contamination and helps protect the workforce, but is the technology deployed ready for such a swift decision?

In today’s world, more and more organizations are adopting cloud technology and making use of the flexibility it brings, but some fail to consider adopting the same approach when it comes to endpoint devices. If your desktop environment is running with a thin client, physical desktop or static devices, you are now faced with the issue of; how do your employees physically work from home? Naturally, a laptop or portable device may not suit all environments, or specific operating requirements, however ensuring the wider IT infrastructure is capable of supporting remote working solutions, which may include having a pool of portable devices, is something that’s far too often implemented only when a disaster occurs.

As is too well known in the IT industry, there is always a cost vs benefit conversation. Is an investment in X portable devices justified for a worst-case scenario? Sadly, this is a discussion we encounter far too often; Is this critical? Do we really need this? I think we’ll look at this next financial year… are all commonly used replies to solutions that we have invested time, technical thought and care in. My reply is always of a similar context: How much does it cost your business if your employees are offline for a day? Even this if this is a single day configuring an alternate solution, the answer is primarily the same, the cost of a single day of interruption or downtime to the workforce and business is drastically higher than the cost of the proposed solution.

For smaller organizations, I appreciate that backup processes and DR plans seem like an unnecessary and expensive luxury, but the impact can be detrimental if a basic solution is not considered. Quite often, as has been demonstrated this week, the immediate requirement to deploy a solution in an emergency presents a higher financial impact whilst not necessarily providing a long-term solution.

This week has also proven that there are some additional factors to consider in a pandemic scenario beyond the simplicity of a standard “DR”. Hardware supplies, and more importantly having a dependable supplier, are essential in times of need. Suddenly, everyone is looking for stock within distribution that doesn’t exist, and my general feeling is that the channel will see in an increase in lead times and a decrease in stock availability from vendors, something we’ve already been navigating with the Intel constraints. In times of need it’s essential you’ve got a partner to work with, not just a supplier.

I have had many conversations this week, that I stand to make no financial or business gain from, but simply trying to help people navigate through some complex or last-minute issues. I am hoping that a positive outcome from this global pandemic is that organizations’ of all sizes, who have previously overlooked the importance of critical disaster recovery, start implementing solutions to protect the longevity of their business, not just prioritising the workload at the time.

As the saying goes: Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail. I think we’ll adopt this slogan when talking about DR in the future, and for now, focus on ensuring we are protecting our customers, as well as our workforce.

 

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