Is your technology strategy optimized for resiliency?
Something for the weekend: what happens when your IT systems fail?

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For this week’s Something for the Weekend post, I’ve been considering the importance of resiliency. Over the past 18 months or so it has been at the forefront of our minds for many reasons.

Businesses needed to be resilient to weather the impact of lockdowns, workforce migration, supply chain interruptions and more. Individuals needed to be resilient to cope with the disruption to their lives from remote work, home schooling, furlough, job losses and illness. IT systems needed to be resilient to cope with changing ways of working as well as the increasing frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks as bad actors took advantages of inherent weaknesses in our hastily-cobbled-together remote working systems.

The global Facebook outage earlier this month provided a stark reminder of the need to have continuity plans that consider not just backup, failover and alternative locations and connectivity. They must also include the ability to over ride or bypass the technical systems if they fail.

Remote and hybrid working have made us more dependent than ever on technology. Communication and collaboration at a distance mean relying on technology for sharing documents and ideas through online chat or shared workspaces. And for video and audio calls.

As more and more of us become dependent on solutions from hyperscale providers such as Microsoft, AWS, Google, Zoom and, yes, even Facebook, the impact of their outages increases. Often we don’t know where to start when something stops working.

Is it me? Or is something broken?

Unsurprisingly we’re all spending more time on sites like Down Detector or Thousand Eyes (assuming we can access them) trying to work out whether we need to call the helpdesk or switch to another service (if we have the option).

Is it just me affected, or even just the device? Is it my Internet Service Provider (ISP)? Or the application? Or the infrastructure layer? Is it a more generalized internet issue such as a content delivery network (CDN) outage?

There are some outages that we’re going to be just have to live with (problems with CDNs such as Cloudflare, Fastly and Akamai impact numerous different third parties), and work round. But there are others we can plan for.

Keeping in touch

Most importantly, we need to be able to communicate in the event of an outage. Make sure you employees are provided with more than one option for chat (Microsoft Teams and Slack) or video calls (Webex and Zoom). Ensure that they can call each other via mobile or landline calls and not just through online tools. Consider a mobile internet solution such a SHI Mobile for continued connectivity in the event of an ISP outage.

Planning your cloud strategy

There’s a lot of talk about hybrid and multi-cloud strategies. And there are often very good reasons for choosing to retain some systems on premises. You might want to host them in a private cloud, or on a specific cloud provider’s platform. These considerations are important when planning your risk management and resiliency program. But as SHI’s Cory Peters points out:

“There are many questions you should ask yourself before deciding to adopt hybrid or multi-cloud as a long term decision including:

    • Can I build my resiliency plan within a single provider by leveraging a multi-site, multi-availability zone or multi-region architecture?
    • Will this decision impact a strategic alignment to particular cloud marketplace because of how I’m monetizing my solution/product?
    • Do we have the maturity and expertise to operate a hybrid or multi-cloud architecture?
    • Is a hybrid or multi-cloud approach the most cost effective way to meet my resiliency needs?
    • How will a hybrid or multi-cloud approach impact my ability to get the best volume discount from the provider?”

Cory and SHI’s cloud team can help you to make informed decisions to ensure that your cloud strategy supports your business needs, and balances risk and cost appropriately

Don’t sleepwalk into vendor dependency

It’s all too easy to find yourself in a situation where you’re pretty dependent on a single vendor. How often do we hear IT leaders say ‘we’re a vendor X shop’? And not always for the right reasons. If you are concerned about the vendor management overhead, then there are a number of ways to mitigate this. Effective long tail vendor management. Good ITAM and SAM practices. SaaS optimization services, and leveraging tools such as SHI One for cloud management.

Finally, don’t forget the doors

As IoT becomes more prevalent in the workplace, we need to plan for that, too:

The mental image of Facebook employees standing helplessly outside the office with their badges in hand is a poignant one. But they may have been better off than this individual back in 2017: