How to leverage cloud and achieve business resilience

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The need for business resilience only increases in this uncertain world.  What is business resilience?  It is the ability of an organization’s business operations to rapidly adapt and respond to internal or external dynamic changes—including opportunities, demands, disruptions, or threats.

The whole system of engagement comes into play.  It starts with the resiliency strategy.  This has to encompass the organization (people and process), applications, data, the IT infrastructure, and even facilities.  All this needs to support the organization’s ability respond to both opportunities and threats.

(Related: Cloud architecture for a highly resilient, always-on system)

Now, how does cloud come into play?  With SoftLayer now a part of the IBM family, they provide some of the best expertly designed and robustly constructed data centers in the world. (Facilities—check!)  As a cloud infrastructure as a service provider, SoftLayer offers modularity, redundancy, and a hosting environment for both applications and data.  (IT Infrastructure – check!)  The ease and speed by which you can acquire both physical or virtual compute capacity and storage from SoftLayer is breathtaking.

With the announcement today of both managed disaster recovery and managed security capabilities for SoftLayer, IBM can now offer our clients the ability to provide operational risk management for mission critical business applications, while taking advantage of all the benefits of SoftLayer’s cloud.  (Applications and data—check!)

Why do you need this if the IaaS is already resilient?  A large proportion of server outages are caused by human actions, software errors, and malware, rather than from failures of the hosting environment.

If a server’s software or its data was corrupted, recovering it to another site only means you have two copies of a corrupted server.  With a virtualized server recovery solution (VSR) you can do point-in-time recovery and go back to an earlier system image and data in increments as small as 15 minutes.  If you have to deal with a setback, VSR help you keep it small.

When the crisis is past, then VSR provides automated fail-back with the same ease as the fail-over, with no reconstruction hassle involved.   And because this is a managed service, you are not alone in times of crisis.  Systems and replication are managed and monitored by an extensive team of recovery experts to help you through the chaos.

There are “born on the cloud” applications that have resiliency architected into their designs. But that is a very small proportion of the business applications in use around the world today.  For the universe of legacy business applications providing value, managed disaster recovery and security on the cloud now really opens up the opportunity to cash in on the technical and operational advantages of cloud for running mission critical applications.

The final piece to the resiliency puzzle is process and strategy.  This has to encompass the organization (people and process), applications, data, the IT infrastructure, and even facilities.  Enterprises will have, by nature, a hybrid IT environment.  It is not uncommon for companies to manage IT systems in local data centers, and remote technology in branch offices, warehouses, or stores but you need to ensure you develop, manage and implement a resiliency program that includes cloud.

In order to have a true system of engagement, the resiliency strategy has to accommodate all the parts and pieces that make up critical business functions.  The resiliency of cloud-based applications is just one more piece that has to be assessed, planned, designed, implemented, tested, and managed.

The fist step in this journey is a proper assessment to determine which applications and systems are the best candidates to reside on the cloud.  Understand your business and technical resilience requirements and analyze and prioritize target cloud business workload.  Once you do this, you’re on your way to take advantage of everything that cloud has to offer!

Alice Williams is the Director responsible for strategy and the portfolio of services for global Business Continuity and Resiliency Services (BCRS), in IBM’s Global Technology Services. In this role, Alice is responsible for setting the global strategy, and brand management for the portfolio of offerings that help clients ensure their business processes, people and IT systems are able to operate in a resilient fashion. BCRS is recognized as a leader in disaster recovery, cloud resilience, and in resiliency consulting services.

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