Resiliency (noun) Able to recover quickly from misfortune; able to return to original form after being bent, compressed, or stretched out of shape.

Australian businesses have more reason than many of our overseas counterparts to be preoccupied with disaster recovery. After all, we do get more than our share of floods, bushfires and cyclones. In spite of being the country where hailstones are the size of tennis balls and forty degree days are merely described as ‘a bit warm’, most of the biggest risk factors are in fact human-related.

We may prepare for an entire year’s rainfall to descend in a few hours, but it is just as important to be ready for the builders across the street to dig through the wrong cable and leave us without power to the datacentre. It may lack the drama of floods the size of Europe, but for individual businesses, the effect can be immense.

If disaster recovery is coming back from the worst, business resiliency is the measure that prevent the worst from reaching catastrophic. As the definition of resiliency would suggest, it is about making sure that no matter what impact the business faces, it is able to recover very quickly to its original form – ideally without customers and colleagues experiencing any noticeable disruption.

There are as many approaches to resiliency as there are to business. According to IBM, though, only a quarter of companies consider resilience issues as part of their IT project lifecycles. Falling into the other 75 per cent can be costly – while many organisations can withstand a brief interruption to service, for some even twenty minutes has an estimated cost of US$1 million. The reality is that most organisations are heading into an always-on world, and not all are as prepared as they could be.

For many organisations, cloud offerings are a welcome relief from taking on the entire task themselves – and cost-wise, this can often prove advantageous. This can end up being a pick-and-mix of DRaaS, recovery using IaaS or using BaaS, according to what best complements existing skills and investments. We are finding an increasing number of businesses offload some or all IT provision by opting for a fully managed service. This can make a lot of sense for those wanting to avoid the distraction of technology and focus on their own area of expertise.

The economy of scale of cloud can undoubtedly work for some, but for others it is not an option. Whether a matter of business constraints, or of culture, there are certainly alternatives. It can be frustrating for these organisations to find themselves being channelled towards solutions that are more designed to fit the needs of the provider than their own. That is why we insist our resiliency professionals spend a lot of time listening as the first step in any consultancy. Skipping that step has the potential to put the disaster into disaster recovery, so it is built firmly into our processes.

Business resiliency is a term you are likely to hear a lot over coming months – so much so that IBM has invested in an army of resiliency specialists. Expect other vendors to follow suit. We see this as a positive, because it broadens a conversation that every organisation needs to have often: how can we make sure our business is always on, no matter what?

For more about always-on business, or a copy of IBM’s Resiliency Services document, contact Computer Merchants’ friendly resiliency specialists.

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