Having a contingency plan in the event of unforeseen operational disruptions is good business. Whether it’s to deal with the current Covid-19 pandemic or in anticipation of a potential natural disaster, organizations need to be acutely aware of the ramifications that these crises might have on their workforce. As such, continuity plans must cover the technology needed to keep business operations afloat, as well as the human aspect, ensuring employees are trained in using remote working technologies.
However, the ability to execute and coordinate a full-blown remote workforce is challenging. Ensuring that the entire remote workforce is fully backed up can be a challenge bigger than initially expected. With the Covid-19 pandemic, the way many of us carry out our day-to-day work has been flipped upside down. The unexpected need for employees to work remotely has put an immense strain on many enterprises and has poked holes in backup strategies across every industry. While many companies have dutifully prepared for cyber threats and ransomware attacks, for many, the pandemic’s impact on their workforce was unexpected.
So, how can companies protect both their remote workforce and the valuable data being produced? And crucially, how can IT leaders justify the investment required to their C-suite?
Know your budget and market
Understanding budget limitations is key. A question businesses often ask is “how much should I spend on business continuity, backup storage, and disaster recovery?” The answer isn’t easy. Companies should look at how their projected storage budget compares with industry peers, and why funds should be invested to prevent or mitigate problems later down the line. They also need to understand the range of storage options available and their associated costs to determine the best data back-up storage mediums according to their organizational and customer needs.
Here’s an overview of the benefits and drawbacks of each:
- Public cloud storage: It can handle large volumes of data due to its scalability. However, it can take long to retrieve data and egress can become costly. When unclear or hidden fees and network lag are factored in, cloud storage can be a very costly solution when a business needs to recover its data.
- Hard disk drives (HDD) or solid-state drives (SSD): Both offer high capacity and fast performance with fast recovery time. However, disk-based storage is susceptible to hackers and corruption by malware or ransomware as the disks are connected to a network. In addition, high-performance disk arrays are costly compared to other storage options, and the costs associated with managing and maintaining equipment, data center space, and power and cooling can all quickly add up.
- On-premise object storage: This is one of the most flexible storage options, with almost limitless scalability and minimized cost when data is spread across different nodes. Information is saved as objects, which is ideal for large unstructured data sets. However, as on-premise infrastructure is needed to support the object store, it may not be suited to small and medium-sized businesses.
- Magnetic tape: Touted as an ideal storage medium for data backups and archiving and also the most affordable option. Data is stored on tapes that are kept in a secure facility and not connected to a network, keeping it beyond the reach of hackers and malware. Drawbacks, however, include slow retrieval time, a shortage of skilled IT staff with expertise in tape technology, and the need for human handling of the tape.
State the facts and tune out the fear-mongering
There’s a lot talk in the media today about the pros and cons of working from home. Whether planned or unplanned, business disruptions that aren’t managed effectively come at a high cost to the business. Lost revenue, missed business opportunities, and disrupted partner relationships can have a devastating financial impact.
We hit a crisis never seen before and one we are not out of yet. The crisis caught most IT managers by surprise and bulldozed right into their data centers. Most employees had to work remotely, throwing finely tuned tools and processes off-track. IT managers had to ensure the laptops assigned to employees were secure and that all the endpoints and company data leaving the comfort and security of their four walls were protected. Security and data protection shot straight to the top of the list of priorities and procedures to implement.
IT leaders must be aware of and present relevant issues as well as exclude irrelevant information and jargon that’s out there. They must be prepared to answer questions related to recent examples of storage failures in the news or at peer organizations. They must advise their colleagues to be proactive in helping departments identify storage pain points or the best platforms for teams to collaborate on. Employees should regularly speak with their business leaders and senior management teams, and vice versa, to ensure that tasks are still being accomplished. With that, IT leaders can get a better sense of what their organization requires in terms of protecting its data and ensuring business continuity.
Justifying yourself to the C-suite
Understanding the different technologies that are essential to achieving the security and resiliency of a modern and efficient IT infrastructure is the first step. The second is justifying the investment to C-level executives, whether the CEO, CTO, or CFO. CFOs in particular are now evaluating projects through the lens of value and cost optimization, whether they’re looking to digitally transform or shift to a post-crisis plan.
Technology vendors can help organizations understand the exact value of the solution they’re considering adopting as well as help justify the costs involved. They can provide a clear view on the ROI and TCO information that C-level executives will require to make a decision. They should also be able to give a clear picture of the value of their solution better than anyone else and have case studies of how they’ve helped other organizations with similar challenges to solve. IT leaders can use the tools available with their vendor to come up with their own analysis to win over the C-suite.