How to choose the right DRaaS partner
Choosing the right strategic partner to support your Disaster Recovery (DR) needs is much like choosing the right strategic partner for any new technology transformation, implementation or major project. For any organisations - particularly in the financial sector where the regulatory landscape is especially complex - looking to find a Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) partner, there are a few key criteria a potential partner needs to fulfil.
Understanding those criteria, however, requires you to not only have a deep, clear understanding of your prospective partner, but also your own organisation. It’s not a simple process, but the benefits can massively outweigh the costs.
According to a new report by Creative ITC, entitled How Disaster Recovery as-a-Service helps financial services firms stay on the front foot, there are a number of “ key considerations when selecting a managed service provider and DRaaS solution.” Financial institutions in particular should opt for partners that “understand industry-specific challenges”, as successfully finding a partner that can deliver effective DRaaS services in the financial sector can be an invaluable asset for firms looking to leverage cloud based DR in order to achieve levels of geographical diversity and business continuity “necessary to give your business peace of mind and maintain your clients’ trust.”
First, according to Creative ITC, you need to ask: “Can they demonstrate a strong background in data protection and technical expertise in your specific infrastructure?” And: “Do they have proven experience of the financial services industry and deep understanding of your workload and regulatory requirements?”
Data protection and regulatory compliance are foundational elements of a successful financial institution’s IT stack. At the same time, no two financial institutions are the same, with many operating across a spectrum between legacy on-prem infrastructure, hybrid and fully public cloud. With the security of the data being backed up as part of your DR program being of the utmost importance, finding a partner that understands not only the importance of security, but also how to deliver a secure and compliant service within your organisation’s regulatory framework is essential.
Next, ask: “Due to the importance of RPO on data loss, can they provide acceptable and achievable RPO on a per-application basis?” And: “How quickly can they guarantee to get your users back online following an outage?”
From an internal and external perspective, your partner needs to be able to guarantee (and demonstrate, perhaps with a PoC) a certain amount of speed back to business as usual. Look at the DR plan you have in place now, and the time it takes to get back online following an outage. A cloud-based DRaaS solution should, at the very least, be able to beat your current time.
Lastly, ask: “Do they have a Plan B, such as providing a temporary VDI workaround?”
Even backup plans fail sometimes. A DRaaS partner should be able to demonstrate their own DR plan within their own organisation, hopefully creating a level of redundancy that dramatically reduces the likelihood that they will be unable to support your needs in the event of a crisis.
Unlocking the next chapter of the digital revolution
As the world retreated to a hybrid world in 2020, our reliance on technology took the spotlight. But it was the jazzy new social and video calling platforms that took the encore. Behind the scenes, our servers worked overtime, keeping us connected and maintaining the drumbeat of always-on newly digital services. Let’s take a moment to pay our respect to the unsung technology heroes of the pandemic – the often-forgotten IT infrastructure keeping us connected come what may. After all, as we look ahead to more resilient futures, they will be playing a central role.
Servers could be likened to our plumbing – vital to well-functioning homes but rarely top of mind so long as it is functioning. Never seen, rarely heard – our servers do all the graft with little praise. But it is essential to reflect on the incremental advances in GPU and CPU power, which have paved the way for new workloads that previously were not possible. Chatbots and native language processing that provide essential customer touchpoints for businesses across the retail and banking sectors rely on powerful servers. They also keep businesses competitive and customers happy in an always-on world.
Serving workplace transformation
But, as businesses grappled with pandemic disruptions, the focus was largely on adopting connected devices – and awe at the rapid increase in the datasphere. As they reined in their budgets and attempted to do more with less, one aspect was perhaps overlooked—those hard working servers.
When it came to building resilience into a newly remote workforce, the initial concern was focused on the device endpoints – keeping employees productive. Many companies did not initially consider whether they had the server infrastructure to enable the entire workforce to log in remotely at the same time. As a result, many experienced a plethora of teething problems: virtual office crashes, long waits to get on servers, and sluggish internet connectivity and application performance, often rendering the shiny new PC frustrating and useless.
Most businesses only had a few outward-facing servers that could authenticate remote workers – a vital gateway as the vector for cyber hacks and attacks increased exponentially. That’s not to mention the fact that many business applications simply weren’t designed to work with the latency required for people working from home. What businesses discovered at that moment was that their plumbing was out of date.
Business and IT leaders quickly realised that to stay ahead of the curve in the hybrid working world, a renewed focus on building agile, adaptable, and flexible IT infrastructures was critical. More importantly, it accelerated the inevitable digital transformation that would keep them competitive in a data-driven economy. It is now abundantly clear to businesses that they need IT infrastructure to meet the demands of diverse workloads – derive intelligent insights from data, deploy applications effectively, and enhance data management and security.
Ripe for a digital revolution
Unsurprisingly, IDC noted that there was an increase in purchases of server infrastructure to support changing workloads. However, it also forecasts this uptick will be sustainable and last beyond the pandemic. As the economy begins to reopen, business leaders are looking ahead. IT will continue to play a crucial role in 2021 and beyond – and we have already set the foundations for the digital revolution with next-generation servers.
As we enter the zettabyte era, new innovative technologies are coming on stream, with 5G turbocharging IoT and putting edge computing to work. Exciting new services improved day-to-day efficiencies, and the transformation of our digital society will be underpinned by resilient IT infrastructures. By embracing the technological innovations of our next-generation servers, businesses keep pace with the coming data deluge.
The next generation of server architecture promises more power with less heat, thanks to improved, directed airflow, and direct liquid cooling, resulting in reduced operational costs and environmental impact. As we rebuild post-pandemic, manufacturers and customers alike strive to achieve ever more challenging sustainability goals. With this in mind, a focus on environmentally responsible design is imperative for the servers of tomorrow - uniquely designed chassis for adaptive cooling and more efficient power consumption will be critical, improving energy efficiency generation over generation.
The most notable evolution is the configuration of these next-gen servers around more specific organisational needs. Unlike clunky and often unstable legacy infrastructure, the infrastructure of tomorrow will be sturdier and more modular. The next iteration is streamlined, and in this modular form, can be more easily tailored to business needs. This equates to essential cost savings as businesses only pay for what they use.
Resolving the problem of the future, today
Tomorrow's IT challenges will focus on response times and latency as Edge and 5G technologies go mainstream. As businesses develop new and innovative services that utilise supercharged connectivity and real-time analytics, staying on top of these challenges will give them a competitive edge. For example, in the world of retail, automation will power new virtual security guards and even the slightest delay in the data relay could result in financial loss.
Similarly, in the smart cities of tomorrow, the network must be responsive. With city-centre traffic lights controlled by an AI-powered camera that monitors pedestrians, delays in data transfers could cost the life of an elderly pedestrian who has fallen in the road. The stakes are far higher in a 5G-enabled world. As our reliance on technology deepens, the margins for error narrow, placing greater emphasis on the efficiency of those critical underpinning technologies.
Fully enabling the hybrid work model today is just a stepping-stone towards more fluid, tech-enabled lives. A work Zoom call from an automated vehicle on-route to an intelligent transport hub is a highly probable vision of our future. But it requires incredible amounts of compute and seamless data transfers to make it possible. These glossy snapshots need super servers to come to life, making that IT plumbing glisten with next-gen innovation essential. Without exemplary server architecture, we risk future tech advances and the human progression that it enables.