Top Business Tech takes a closer look at how organizations can ensure that their IT teams remain resilient against threats.
No matter the size of your company, your IT manager and teams may be starting to get tired from the extreme stress and chaos over the last year and a half. Covid-19 created a whole new dimension of cyberattacks that IT teams needed to consider and mitigate. So how can you ensure your IT teams stay resilient? And how can practice make permanent?
According to Craig Macfarlane, Resilience in the IT environment is the ability to provide and maintain an acceptable level of service in the face of any planned or unplanned interruption to normal operation. Resilience is proactively planning for the unexpected and being prepared to respond in a way that mitigates downtime.
So, what are the steps you need to take to improve the resilience of your IT teams and infrastructure? Resilience was a desired skill that employees aspired to have. However, resilience has become necessary in the last two years to ensure that an employee and the company can bounce back from whatever interruption, threat, and issues are thrown at them.
When it comes to your IT teams, a leader needs to prioritize building resilience within the workplace and showing their teams how to be more adaptable, motivated and focused on reaching goals. In addition, in the new virtual workplace, leaders need to create a support system amongst their team to help boost team resilience and morale while also making them feel valued and supported by their leader and colleagues. Another way to build up resilience in your teams and help your employees is by improving their problem-solving skills. Finally, to build resilience against threats, IT leaders need to ensure their team knows what to do when threats occur and what the processes are. If the employee understands and has the support to fight the threat, they will create resilience against specific attacks and can potentially eradicate it from happening again.
How to build resilient IT infrastructures
Steve Blow, Tech Evangelist at Zerto, stated that resilience is found in every aspect of a business, from communications to product development, to a physical crisis, and can be the key to helping a company stand the test of time. Notably, this includes resilience against a changing competitive landscape through a pivot in direction, resilience against negative publicity in the form of crisis communications, or resilience to operational disruption due to an unforeseeable disaster.
Disasters that impact the IT infrastructure can occur in various ways, from major cyberattacks to simple human error. Over the last few years, companies have had to spend vast amounts of money on these disasters and need to build up the resilience of their IT infrastructures.
Blow explained how businesses need to move from the ‘reactive’ – the traditional notion of data protection – into the ‘proactive’, which accounts for planned and unplanned outages, as well as potential attacks. This seems like a no-brainer, but many IT teams would confess that while attending to the day-to-day needs of their organization, they are constantly trying to keep their heads above water. Essentially, there is little to no time to proactively prepare for planned outages, let alone unplanned.
However, being ready for both anticipated outages and unforeseen disruptions remains a critical component on the road to IT resiliency.
It is important to plan for expected outages, as even anticipated unavailability can cause a problem for the business: disruptive upgrades, workload relocation, and cloud migrations, all of which are legitimate reasons for downtime, can still mean the company incurs substantial costs.
Inevitable yet unplanned disruptions require a contingency plan that goes beyond traditional backup. Security breaches and malware infections are becoming the norm, rather than the exception, and data protection needs to evolve continually.
Nevertheless, even with variables outside your control, it doesn’t mean that you’re without mitigation options. You may not control the telco network directly, but you can design around this issue. For example, can you utilize diverse routing over disparate links owned by different providers? These sorts of decisions are part of IT resilience; if you can’t fix the real risk, such as the WAN link going down, then you have to design around it, such as implementing redundant WAN links.
Additionally, you can look for solutions to potential roadblocks that fall in both categories: those inside your control and those outside of it. One way would be to take advantage of recent developments in disaster recovery and data backup as they continue to converge. These technological advancements can aid your company in preparing both for the planned outages and the unplanned. They can also ensure that you are taking a holistic approach to the road to IT resilience by converging your data protection strategy.
The art of IT resilience is orchestrating multiple different processes and technical solutions to protect a company’s lifeblood: the availability of its data and applications.
The move, from virtualization, and then to software-defined computing, and finally to all forms of cloud computing, has thus enabled the possibility of a whole new level of resilience. Now is the time to start reaping the benefits of IT resilience within your organization.
Practice makes permenent
When we say practice makes permanent, it means that our mind and habits result from subconscious repetition. So, practice becomes a repetition of certain actions that, after a while, becomes easier for us to perform.
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When teams put together a process that can be continually practiced, the process will become permanent in the employee’s mind. An example of this could be when teaching employees about cyberattacks, you can put a process together that they can put into practice every day. Eventually, that process will become a natural process for the employee, who will make it a permanent process that they do every day. For IT teams, a process to counterattack cyberthreats can be put together and regularly tested. By doing this, the IT team and systems will learn how to deal with problems as soon as they arise. These processes will then become a permanent feature and will assist in creating resilience throughout the company.