Co-authored by: Kothuri Vineesha
Information infrastructure and data are the most important traits of an enterprise. A service outage can create instabilities which lead to critical business adversities such as financial loss, customer dissatisfaction, legal and regulatory impact, operational ineffectiveness, and loss of reputation. Therefore, planning and adapting for potential disruptions is essential to make an organization more resilient.
The term resiliency signifies how quickly we can adapt to the changing environment. Disaster recovery is more of a reactive approach that takes place after a catastrophic event, whereas resiliency focuses more on continuous availability and improvement. In today’s IT world, customers do not give sufficient attention to the business continuity and disaster recovery plan, but still expect to receive uninterrupted services. Organizations, therefore, need to plan for IT resiliency with good governance in order to provide continuous availability and sustainability, thus meeting customer expectations, ensuring business continuity, and creating a market edge.
Figure 1: The Elements of Business Resiliency
Unplanned downtime effects organizations
Organizations should focus on modernizing their infrastructure and processes to streamline IT services. This can be done through a well-organized business continuity plan and an IT disaster recovery plan, so that the business operates without downtime. According to a survey that was conducted by Infrascale, 37% of small and medium businesses have lost customers and 17% have lost revenue due to downtime. In fact, 22% of the group that participated in the survey stated that a typical downtime lasts from five to 15 minutes, 17% said it lasts for 15 to 30 minutes, another 17% stated an hour for the same, and 6% of the group reported a downtime of over an hour. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) stated that 40% of small and medium businesses fail to recover and operate after a disaster. This is because of a lack of both a proper business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan.
Impacts of downtime
The following figure shows the typical impacts of downtime:
Source: Estimated cost of unplanned downtime per minute
Figure 2: Typical Impact Areas of Downtime
According to Gartner’s analysis, downtime impacts organizations and causes a loss of $300,000 per hour or $5,600 every minute. The cost of downtime can be calculated by the following formula:
Figure 3: Approximate Per-Minute Cost of Unplanned Downtime
The first step toward building an optimum IT strategy is to reduce complexity in maintaining the technology systems, which lead to high chances of service interruptions. Organizations should invest in taking a proactive measure, rather than a reactive measure, to build a robust IT resiliency approach and business continuity plan. This would enhance the continuous service availability and sustainability, thereby, improving customer satisfaction and preventing reputational loss in this competitive world of IT services.
Automating the disaster recovery process
Enterprises need to focus on reducing the manual effort in maintenance and recovery, and strive toward automation. This will provide a roadmap for building a central IT governance structure. Reducing manual efforts will not only provide high efficiency in terms of services, but also result in benefits such as quick turnaround times for recovery. Quick recovery times will be made possible since stakeholders won’t have to analyze the situation– thus increasing decision-making times, checking resource availability, recovering system time manually, and so on.
Focusing on IT resiliency will improve the disaster recovery services and result in the following:
- Improved sustainability and efficiency
- Quicker turnaround time for disaster recoveries
- Reduced RTOs and RPOs
- Reduced manual efforts
- Automatic failover system
- Better governance
- More number of DR drills, building confidence for stringent and quick DRs
- Mature roles and responsibilities
To build such a resilient environment and robust disaster recovery services, enterprises need to make adequate changes in the technology they deploy. Business functions consume application services to provide customer service. Enterprises should focus on investing in lightweight applications providing more throughput and efficiency. These lightweight applications will reduce complexity of recovery and result in minimizing the chances of interruptions.
Effectiveness of automation
The following are the benefits of automation:
- Intelligent monitoring instead of manual monitoring of IT systems
- Recovery of IT systems through automated failover scenarios at the alternate site
- Increased productivity and reduced production costs
- Reduced manual intervention to maintain IT systems’ health check
- Flexible containerization, reusable compute capacity, and effective cloud integration
- Reduced business application RTOs and RPOs from days to hours
Containerization of the system
Containerization reaps the benefits of automation. Even though the concept of containerization has evolved from virtualization, they differ in many ways. Virtualization helps to run multiple virtual machines in a single server, whereas containerization helps to deploy multiple applications in a single server or virtual machine, thereby reducing infrastructure costs. Interdependencies between applications are removed and security is enhanced. The main advantage of containerization is that it minimizes the disruptions by safeguarding all the critical IT application, ensuring no or minimal downtime.
Source: 2019 Container Adoption Survey ¾ Primary reasons why organizations run container technologies
Figure 4: Findings from the 2019 Container Adoption Survey
The 2019 Container Adoption Survey stated that the adoption of containers grows every year. According to Gartner's IT Automation Predictions, 75% of large enterprises will adopt container management and container technologies by the year 2024. The main motto toward building a strategic IT resiliency plan is to have continuous service availability for clients, without downtime or interruptions, using the advancements of technology and cost-effective IT solutions.
How does containerization benefit organizations?
- Containerization provides portability, which means we can write once and run anywhere
- It also provides scalability, adaptability, flexibility, and enables services using one system to many applications, thus reducing cost and providing easy maintenance
- Using container technologies, applications can be started within seconds, reducing RTOs
- Containers remain isolated from the infrastructure and safeguard applications from security threats
- By enabling containerization technology, organizations can deploy applications across various environments without any modification
- Containerization provides more output by using minimal hardware that serve the maximum number of applications, thus making organizations more resilient