Given the pivotal role IT infrastructure plays in the functioning of organisations today, any downtime can be costly. Therefore, the stability of the IT backbone which includes the cloud as an important component plays a huge role in building the organisation’s resilience. For instance, how quickly can the business resume in the face of any unforeseen event, whether a natural disaster or social unrest? How can it cut the risk of crucial data getting corrupted? How can it safeguard itself against deadly cyberattacks?
The pandemic is rapidly accelerating enterprise adoption of digital technologies, particularly cloud solutions – projects that are expected to take years are being completed in just weeks or months. One report by Markets and Markets found that the cloud market size is expected to grow from USD 233 billion in 2019 to USD 295 billion by 2021 at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 12.5% during the forecast period.
With most organisations embracing cloud infrastructure, some of these risks are mitigated to a certain extent. However, cloud also brings in its own set of risks that organisations need to address. Cloud deployments add greater complexity and volatility since they typically involve large-scale transaction volumes, open architecture, and multiple vendors. Then there are challenges around managing the synchronization between cloud and legacy environments and ensuring the availability of network connectivity.
In such a scenario, organisations need to take specific steps to build business resilience in a cloud environment. They need to take accountability for business outcomes by creating a comprehensive strategy that handles everything from provisioning, day-to-day management of a multi-cloud environment to driving innovation at scale using cloud capabilities.
Understand Critical Workloads
As a first step, there needs to be enough visibility into the types of workloads, especially customer-facing ones, that are residing on the cloud. This helps understand the impact of downtime on business continuity. For instance, if an e-commerce application runs on the cloud, it is critical to make sure it is available all the time. Since the application is a revenue generator, any downtime immediately impacts the bottom line, not to mention the negative effect on brand reputation.
Build a Robust Strategy for Business Continuity
Anticipating issues that could result in downtime and having strategies to address them quickly and effectively is essential. Companies need to proactively identify security vulnerabilities and have mechanisms to mitigate risks. Best practices and plans to ensure quick recovery in the face of any problem that might bring the network down can go a long way in establishing resilience. Choosing an internet only network or a software-defined network can ensure connectivity at all times, mitigating downtime significantly.
One of our clients required that their infrastructure was assured of 99.999% uptime, which translates to a maximum of four minutes of downtime through the year. Designing such a solution required us to work closely with hyperscalers to manage configuration, storage, and other operational resilience parameters in great detail. From the security perspective too, it meant putting in place the right patches and service packs and also deploying Identity access management (IAM) solutions to manage security incidents.
Manage Legacy infrastructure
Legacy infrastructure brings in its own set of challenges with three key points that need to be addressed. First is identifying and addressing single points of failure that can directly impact the running of critical infrastructure. The second is to watch out for end of life or end of support infrastructure that is highly vulnerable since the original manufacturers no longer support it. The third is to ensure that all the existing systems are up-to-date on patches. All hardware and software must have the latest patches, either N or N-1, to be effective.
Choose the Right Cloud solutions
Different cloud providers bring in various capabilities and strengths. Therefore, identifying the nature of the workload and the intended applications can help identify the right cloud provider to help an organisation’s digital transformation journey. For instance, if the workload is purely for collaboration, then a certain cloud provider might be better suited for this application. If the workload consists of an e-commerce application, a different vendor might be a better fit.
A consumer products company wanted to diversify and rapidly grow its global younger customer base. One of their key challenges was the prevalence of varying demand and seasonality across geographies. The solution was to consolidate their various fragmented individual ERP platforms into one IT platform that could provide dynamic compute and analytical capabilities. The group made a corporate decision to move to a common SAP S4HANA platform. Infosys focused on a service offering that brought in business process consulting, SAP consulting and implementation, Cloud consulting, and implementation services seamlessly integrated into a solution. The solution resulted in a standardized business process and a unified IT portfolio that facilitated seamless business collaboration across 120 countries and a centralized purchase system leading to a significant reduction in operational expenditures. These added growth and business to the company.
Having a multi-cloud approach to help manage all the disparate workloads is also crucial in such a scenario. Choosing a technology partner with deep relationships, ability to bring the right cloud assets, and industry cloud blueprints would help with cloud vendors goes a long way in driving speed to market and enabling innovation.
We recently launched Infosys Cobalt – a set of services, solutions, and platforms that acts as a force multiplier for cloud-powered enterprise transformation. Infosys Cobalt helps businesses redesign the enterprise, from the core, and build new cloud-first capabilities to create seamless experiences, amplify innovation, accelerate speed to market in public, private and hybrid cloud, across PaaS, SaaS, and IaaS landscapes. And this we believe will help accelerate to improve organisational resilience on the cloud.
Most organisations today are highly dependent on their IT infrastructure to run smoothly and ensure business continuity. Therefore, having a well thought out plan in place to identify, foresee, and address causes of downtime is extremely critical to building greater business resilience.