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Measuring and overcoming disruption

Measuring and overcoming disruption

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Steve Blow, Technology Evangelist at Zerto, discusses the CIO’s strategy and the angles a CIO should consider in order to avoid losing top-talent employees.

Ensuring that all technology throughout an organisation is working properly – no matter which team uses it – is ultimately the job of the CIO. This means both setting the strategy for technology growth within the organisation, as well as how that impacts the people, processes and products that the business delivers. It also, unfortunately, means dealing with the fallout when a tech-related disruption occurs. In these situations, the first thought for most is: ‘how is this going to impact the business and affect us financially?’ This is not surprising as 37% of organisations impacted by disruption could trace a direct loss in revenue to the event.

However, more than just money or data can be lost after an incident and it’s imperative for CIOs to have a comprehensive view of problems that arise from all angles, including the human impact of downtime, an aspect that can often be overlooked.

The problems, beyond IT 

Tech-related disruptions come in many forms, ranging from ransomware and cybersecurity attacks to natural disasters that take down a data centre, or plain and simple human error. Following these types of incidents, organisations reported that in 53% of cases, employees had to work overtime, and 50% of the time there was a loss of productivity. All of this can seriously affect staff morale, on top of any financial or business losses. According to EY, three of the top six factors that full-time workers give for quitting their jobs is to do with supporting a better work-life balance, with excessive overtime hours being the third most commonly cited reason overall. This creates a strong link between events that force employees to work overtime and a real risk of losing valuable talent. 

No matter the origin or impact, these issues tend to all come back and fall on IT teams to remedy. A common perception lately is that IT teams are not skilled enough to meet the new challenges of rising data levels and this may be more than just perception. A Robert Half Technology survey found that 39% of respondents from IT teams felt there were not enough workplace development opportunities to keep their IT abilities up-to-speed. This places IT teams on the back foot when it comes to dealing with emerging new technology and the ways it can cause disruption to a business, creating additional stress which is amplified when something goes wrong.

These human aspects of downtime – be it working too much overtime, the demotivation of a loss in productivity, or the drop in confidence that comes with a lack of investment in training, require swift action as part of a CIO strategy. To right these wrongs and ensure your company avoids losing top-talent employees, there are a couple of angles to consider.

The solutions 

First, training. This means for everyone, but particularly for IT teams who have found IT transitioning at an unimaginable rate. It’s smart to educate and inform staff on best practices for responding to the different security and technology challenges that occur in today’s data-driven world. Staff members need to feel confident that they are aware and informed enough to deal with issues in real time when they occur. To do this, there needs to be clear disaster recovery (DR) plans and chains of command for responding to disruptions that staff are aware of and can rely on in the event of a problem. In addition, IT teams would benefit from further training in ways to test and execute DR plans, managing and protecting data across different platforms, quick recovery plans in case of an emergency, and more.

Next, investing in resilient infrastructure to prevent disruption and downtime. If you provide your IT teams with solutions that are able to recover data quickly and seamlessly, you will lessen the chance of employee overtime or loss of productivity and in turn, keep employees happier and less stressed. One of the best technologies to do this with is continuous data protection (CDP).

Continuous Data Protection

CDP is a protection mechanism that allows organisations to continuously capture and track data modifications, automatically saving every version of the data that the user creates locally or at a target repository. These are saved to a journal file along with the corresponding file changes. By utilising change block tracking, CDP provides users or administrators with the ability to restore data to any point in time with remarkable granularity.

Continuous data protection offers the most effective data protection for your business applications and data. It also utilises journal-based technology to keep a log of all the changes occurring in a specified time frame, offering any point-in-time recovery in increments of seconds for the entire length of the journal. Conversely, incremental replication and snapshots put the business at risk of data loss, corruption and availability. What companies can utilise now is continuous journal-based recovery that provides granular recovery to within seconds of data that can go back seconds or multiple years as needed. The option to recover to many more granular points in time minimises data loss to seconds, dramatically reducing the impact of outages and disruptions to the business and its staff.

Benefits of protection with Continuous Data Protection

  • Real-time block-level replication – CDP utilises change-block tracking to constantly replicate data as it is written to storage. Because CDP is always-on, it offers considerably lower RPOs than snapshot-based solutions
  • No performance impact – With CDP, the journal is only used until you commit to the point in time selected, without the performance impact of many snapshots. Storing multiple snapshots on replica VMs incurs a significant performance penalty when attempting to power on replica VMs
  • Journal-based any point-in-time recovery – Journal-based recovery keeps a constant log of all the changes users make to applications and data. Because the changes are continuously written to the datastore, CDP delivers any point-in-time recoverability to within a specified time frame
  • Enterprise scalability – The journal can be placed on any datastore with maximum size limits and warnings – preventing the datastore from filling which would otherwise break replication. Using snapshots on replicated VMs gives no way of controlling the total space used for snapshots, making them not scalable in terms of SLAs and efficiency.
  • Storage savings – CDP uses no extra space in the source storage as no snapshots are created. Only minimal additional storage on the target site is used which frees up significant amounts of space and results in dramatic savings. Snapshot technologies require significant overhead on the storage arrays, often requiring 20-30% at both the source and target
  • Ransomware recovery down to the second – CDP delivers a continuous stream of recovery checkpoints available to use for recovery. In the event of ransomware or other malicious attacks, data can be recovered to just seconds before the corruption took place, minimising impact to the business and the brand

By moving from periodic, snapshot-based processes to a continuous process, enterprises can better meet today’s 24/7 demands of no data loss or downtime. Although, while it’s obviously important to think about how a tech-related disruption is going to impact a business financially, it is also important to think about how it’s going to impact the humans that have to deal with and recover from the disruption.

Making sure all of your employees feel well-trained and confident on all technology platforms available to them, and making your IT department feel equipped and ready for any threat thrown its way – with the right tools to do just that – is going to save a lot of labour hours and keep employee morale high. These are all necessary for long-term employee retention, which goes hand-in-hand with recruiting top talent in your industry. Have you prepared for all angles of a disruption? 

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