History is filled with stories about businesses completely disrupted by IT problems. From outages to buggy systems, there are plenty of examples where IT failures led to huge financial, reputational, and systemic consequences. And while some of them could have definitely been avoided, the reality is that IT failure is inevitable.
That’s why businesses need to invest in IT resilience, especially if you consider that the frequency of severe outages is rapidly increasing. According to a recent survey of IT leaders, 76% of companies experienced infrastructural issues over the last 2 years while 50% experienced 2 of those incidents. That’s a jaw-dropping amount of companies and should serve as a warning: Even if you think you’re safe, disaster can strike at any given moment.
Sure, you might blame some of those incidents on the COVID-19 pandemic, but, to be fair, the problem predates the current crisis. IT disasters have existed from the moment we started using technology for our businesses. And at our current rate of tech adoption, the problem will only get bigger. Think about it. Outdated systems, rigid architectures, legacy applications, low-quality solutions—there are plenty of reasons why a company can end up having to face an IT disaster.
That’s why companies need to start considering building up their IT resilience. In other words, they have to start investing in strengthening their IT infrastructure before disaster strikes. Focusing on cybersecurity risks, technical debt, and operational resilience, businesses can better prepare themselves for a disruptive incident originating in technical issues.
Such a process is far from easy. But they can start off on the right foot by taking the following 5 key points into account.
How To Build IT Resilience
A resilient IT infrastructure isn’t one that never breaks or faces technical challenges, mainly because such a thing doesn’t exist. In today’s world, it’s not a matter of if but of when your company will suffer from an IT incident. So, building a resilient IT infrastructure means developing a solid and robust infrastructure that can reduce the likelihood of a highly disruptive incident from even happening while also increasing your overall ability to cushion the blow.
As it always happens with this kind of thing, it’s not just a matter of throwing money at the problem and waiting for it to resolve itself. Building IT resilience requires an informed strategy that takes into account multiple factors. That’s why you need to keep in mind the following points:
1. Look Beyond Assets
When building resilience, you might be tempted to strengthen critical assets before anything else. It makes sense. Why not protect the most important components of your operations? While that’s understandable, IT resilience implies more than that. In fact, it takes more than just protecting assets—it’s about securing journeys.
That means that you don’t precisely need to update systems or applications just because. You need to understand how all your infrastructure comes together to provide your desired outcomes (making a sale, providing content, integrating with other services). By looking at the entire journey, you can pinpoint the weak points in your infrastructure and remediate them first.
For example, you might find that the server that processes the sales of your e-commerce store can’t handle many concurrent transactions. Addressing that issue quickly can help you prevent that server from crashing should a traffic spike occur.
2. Use Data to Plan Your Resilience Strategy
As it happens with most modern areas within any given company, the IT department and all its related tasks generate an insane amount of data. Using that data to better understand your infrastructure is essential if you want to up your resilience game.
A combination of data science and artificial intelligence can provide you with the insights you need to create a more robust plan to maintain resilience over time. You can gather data from multiple sources and analyze it with an AI algorithm to detect patterns and behavior across your infrastructure.
Armed with that information, you can have a better visualization of what happens in your operations at any given minute. This allows you to get a clearer picture, which, in turn, allows you to better plan for overhauls, maintenance actions, and remediation efforts.
3. Switch to a Proactive Mindset
Historically, businesses have taken a reactive approach to IT failures. Basically, this means that companies wait for their IT infrastructure to run into some problem to put their contingency plans into action. While that might help them prevent further consequences, the reality is that it isn’t the optimal approach.
Why wait for disaster to strike if you can proactively improve your operations to reduce the chances of disasters happening in the first place? Using the AI solutions I mentioned above in combination with IoT devices and cloud computing, you can develop a monitoring system that automatically controls your infrastructure to ensure everything is running as expected.
That system can quickly get into action in case of outages, breaches, or potential issues with equipment. But that’s not all. You can also use chaos engineering and problem simulation strategies to test your resilience, identify weak points, and solve problems you weren’t seeing without having to wait for an external disruption to uncover them.
4. Embrace Engineering Principles and Approaches
Since we’re living in a highly digitized society, using its own principles and approaches can be very beneficial. That’s why you need to encourage your teams to align behind modern engineering practices, such as DevOps and continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD).
Teams with higher engineering literacy can quickly identify potential issues and report them before they become a major problem. That’s because engineering knowledge can provide them with the skills needed to measure system performance and behavior, pinpoint errors in budgets, and track diverse objectives.
Of course, this means that you’ll need to invest in training programs to bring those concepts into non-engineering teams. Ongoing reskilling and upskilling programs are essential for this and should be among your top priorities when it comes to building IT resilience.
5. Architect Your Infrastructure for Emergencies
Many companies design their infrastructure according to their immediate needs and don’t give a second thought to emergencies or future scenarios. That’s plain wrong. While it’s understandable that you might want to allocate only the necessary resources to developing your infrastructure, failing to factor in potential disruptions (such as traffic spikes or equipment failures) is a major problem.
That’s why you should always develop your infrastructure in such a way that it can seamlessly deal with a nightmare scenario. In other words, you should build your infrastructure with enough capabilities to handle any disruption that could create an outage in your operations.
Investing in containerized apps, deploying your services in cloud infrastructure, and updating any system with monolithic architecture are all smart moves that can provide you with enough scalability to face any future demands while also providing you with the agility to overcome bottlenecks and drops in performance.
Don’t Wait for Disasters
The idea is pretty simple. You don’t need to wait for an IT failure to happen to start developing your IT resilience. You can start today by doing some of the key points I mentioned in this article. Doing so can help you avoid costly disruptions while also providing you with a robust infrastructure to run your operations.
One final thought. You might consider that this isn’t one of your priorities right now, especially when dealing with the consequences of the pandemic and the new challenges of today’s business landscape. But you’d be wrong. Resilience should be among your top priorities because, as COVID-19 has shown us, disruptions come from out of nowhere and can hit anybody. Don’t let that happen to you: Build up your IT resilience now.