Experts call IT resiliency 'the future,' as expectations rise

Customers expect IT resilience and the ability to bounce back after a disruption. Experts say good planning and the cloud can help organizations recover.

Is IT resiliency replacing disaster recovery? Is traditional backup dead? Where does the cloud fit in?

A panel of industry analysts considered these questions and more at last week's ZertoCON user conference, staged in Boston by disaster recovery software vendor Zerto.

"The future is resiliency," said Stephanie Balaouras, vice president and research director at Forrester Research.

Balaouras defined resiliency as the ability of an organization to deliver on its brand promise, no matter the disruption. Customers don't care about the source of the disruption, she said. They expect the organization to be able to absorb the impact.

Customer expectations have changed, said Henry Baltazar, research director of storage at 451 Research. For some customers, even noncritical applications can't have downtime.

IT challenges are far more complex now, said John Morency, research vice president at Gartner. Risk management is fundamental to IT resiliency, he said.

To get started, Forrester's Balaouras recommended ISO 31000, the international risk management standard. Risk assessments are critical, she said.

Is backup dead?

While the panelists seemed to agree backup isn't dead, they said vendors need to do more than just back up data.

The future is resiliency.
Stephanie Balaourasvice president and research director, Forrester Research

Gartner's Morency said for every inquiry on disaster recovery received by Gartner, there are 3.5 to four questions on backup.

"It seems like there's still some life" in the backup industry, he said.

Ransomware is showing organizations the true value of strong backups. Experts often say if an organization gets hit with an attack, sometimes the only way to recover without paying the ransom is through the most recent data backup.

But backup vendors need to "disrupt themselves," or they're going to disappear, Forrester's Balaouras warned.

And simplicity is especially important for IT resiliency, 451 Research's Baltazar said, because an organization may not have an expert at every site.

"Ease of use used to be a 'good-to-have,'" he said. "It's no longer a 'good-to-have.' It's a 'need-to-have.'"

With customer expectations "going through the roof" and increasingly demanding recovery point and recovery time objectives, Baltazar said, there's a need for more than traditional backup.

Cloud soars into the 'mainstream'

The cloud's benefits include quicker and easier access to getting data back, Baltazar said.

Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) has been around for approximately 10 years, Gartner's Morency said, and in the early days, the focus was on replication and recovery of VMware virtual machines.

Now, "it is mainstream," he said, and it provides a more sustainable level of assurance.

For improved IT resiliency, Forrester's Balaouras recommended taking advantage of the more accessible testing features of DRaaS. Unfortunately, she noted, even with DRaaS, the frequency of testing has not increased. Many organizations don't test DR more than once a year, and some lack the confidence they can pull off their DR plan.

Balaouras said she sees a blurring of high availability and disaster recovery into IT resiliency. She stressed that in addition to unplanned downtime, resiliency is inclusive of planned downtime, such as upgrades, migration and day-to-day maintenance.

Because of its importance to an organization, she recommended driving the IT resilience conversation as far up the management ladder as possible.

It's important to get the resilience initiative moving forward.

"Resiliency isn't easy," Gartner's Morency said.

Next Steps

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