Automate and orchestrate for better business continuity

By: Rohit Thakur

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Enterprises across the globe are undertaking digital transformation and adopting hybrid cloud architectures to enhance business continuity, create superior customer experiences, optimize costs and improve agility. One of the overriding goals in this effort is to minimize outages and disruptions that negatively affect customer satisfaction and revenues.

But at the same time, both hybrid cloud adoption and digital transformation increase the number of points of potential disruption in comparison with traditional IT infrastructure. Often, organizations don’t have all their critical applications adequately protected, and nearly half of their disaster recovery tests are failing. This can have a serious effect on continuity, given that virtually every enterprise will experience downtime at one point or another due to malicious activity, natural disasters, human error or plain-old systems failure.

With 100 percent uptime virtually impossible these days, the smart strategy is to reduce the duration of outages and minimize the impact on data and operations. How is the enterprise supposed to increase flexibility and agility in the hybrid cloud while also maintaining or improving its recovery capabilities? In short: automation and orchestration.

Multilayer assurance

Automation codifies a set of manual steps, often using scripts that drive singular actions at independent component levels. Meanwhile, orchestration sits higher up the stack, where it creates intelligent workflows to support real-time recovery of applications. By linking the two under a central dashboard, the enterprise can gain visibility, manage enterprise resiliency and vastly reduce the cost and complexity of meeting recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO) that meet the business needs of an always-on world.

A proper software-defined resiliency approach and disaster recovery orchestration — taking into account the dependencies across the entire stack, including hardware, network and software — helps deliver a consistent and predictable disaster recovery experience.

With an end-to-end resiliency orchestration solution, the enterprise can monitor and analyze ongoing disaster recovery operations, either to prevent anomalies from interrupting service or to quickly recover applications in order to support operations and business processes.

Move away from manual

Many current disaster recovery processes are conducted manually and use outdated runbooks, making them prone to error. By converting these to intelligent, automated workflows, the enterprise can simplify and accelerate disaster recovery. Likewise, the complexity of manual disaster recovery environments tends to lengthen recovery times and tie up substantial resources. Point solutions for disaster recovery of vendor-specific or virtual environments give an incomplete picture of disaster recovery readiness and are not scalable.

All this can be vastly simplified in an orchestrated, automated setting using established library patterns to support enterprise disaster recovery for complex, hybrid environments that consist of the entire stack of industry-standard applications in enterprise IT infrastructure.

Even testing and failover drill procedures can be automated to reduce the hands-on work of what most IT techs consider a tedious, time-consuming exercise. Automation and orchestration shift the focus of disaster recovery away from just infrastructure to a more business-oriented approach that stresses process- and application-level performance.

There is a crucial difference between manual processes and automated recovery backed by intelligent analysis. An intelligent system maintains deep visibility into application dependencies and other performance metrics in real time, with always-on monitoring that can help restore environments to their natural state far more quickly. This can include everything from resource-to-application relationships to those between individual apps and their components.

Improve the program

At the same time, these technologies can be used to transform the disaster recovery process itself. Using intelligent program management, organizations can maintain constant review, documentation and validation of their disaster recovery technical designs, recovery/restart workflows and other processes, keeping the entire disaster recovery program in a constant state of readiness — even in highly dynamic production environments.

It’s fair to say advanced technologies like orchestration and automation are making it easier to define, deploy and protect critical IT infrastructure, but they’ve also raised the bar in terms of user demands for security, availability and operational excellence. As the enterprise becomes more agile, applications must be there when they’re needed, and data must remain highly accessible and secure.

Disaster recovery is a critical component of this balancing act, but it must receive the proper care and attention from the enterprise C-suite if it is to deliver on its promise of minimizing damage from outages and restoring operations quickly and at low cost. Through automation and intelligent orchestration, the enterprise can ensure it’s providing high-value services to its users even in the most trying of times.

For more information, attend our upcoming webinar during Business Continuity Week.

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About The Author

Rohit Thakur

Head of Marketing, IBM Resiliency Orchestration and Global Portfolio Marketing Manager

Rohit has over fifteen years of experience building and scaling up marketing teams for software organizations. He has been recognized as one of the Most Influential Marketing Technology Leaders in India, by World Marketing Congress in 2015. In his previous role as the Director Marketing for Sanovi Technologies, he was a part of the leadership... Read more

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