Comment: Intelligent IT Choices Will Prevent Disaster

"IT systems should be prioritized in a crisis", says Barker
"IT systems should be prioritized in a crisis", says Barker

With austerity and budget cuts putting pressure on finances, it would be foolish for any business to consider spending more than is necessary on IT in the current economic climate. However, businesses do need a greater focus on making intelligent IT choices with the revenue available, rather than simply cutting costs. Otherwise, they leave themselves vulnerable to costly problems, such as IT system failures.

When it comes to IT spending, businesses can swing from demanding the latest, shiniest solution on one hand, to calling loudly for a big percentage budget cut on the other.

The move toward outsourcing data storage requirements and IT services has been a welcome relief on resources for many organizations. With service levels and costs clearly defined, organizations can remain safe in the knowledge that requirements are taken care of on a day-to-day basis, and in the event of a disaster. This can only be achieved if the organization has made the right decisions for its business and put an effective plan in place, whether that be in-house or through a service provider. Sadly, though, as the European Disaster Recovery Survey 2011 starkly highlights, this is often not the case.

Cost Does Not Equal Value

Confusing cost with value is a high-risk strategy. Opting for a cheaper IT solution could seriously jeopardize businesses over the long term: no email; poor backup processes that cannot be completed overnight; unreliable supplier and customer communications. These are all very real issues that can fundamentally undermine business productivity and profitability. Savings made through running IT systems with so-called ‘better value’ solutions will be short-lived should a business experience an IT failure and is left unsupported in the midst of a crisis.

Conversely, some organizations believe that the more they spend on IT, the better systems and services they will get. This is a ludicrous position to adopt in the current economic climate, where every penny counts. Assuming higher price equals higher quality is a strategy that could leave businesses out of pocket or potentially without fundamental disaster recovery business processes.

The Right Decisions – In the Right Order

The real question should be: What are the business requirements, what are the IT solutions available and which delivers the greatest business value?

It is time for businesses to make intelligent IT choices to implement effective disaster recovery. Each organization should identify their specific requirements and address these in an appropriate disaster recovery strategy.

When investing in new technologies, it is important for businesses to weigh-up necessity with cost and make more informed decisions as to what the business actually requires. Organizations that choose to outsource to suppliers need to determine from the outset what systems will be given priority in the event of an IT disaster, and what service level agreements need to be enforced to ensure that suppliers will get those vital components running.

Priority needs to be given to IT systems that are crucial to productivity, whether email and internet access, access to financial systems, or data storage and retrieval. A back-up plan is not merely a case of mirroring the entire current system. By prioritizing the specific IT systems critical to business productivity and understanding the necessary time limits on getting those systems running, an effective plan can be implemented that reduces down-time and associated costs in the event of any failure. Once a plan is in place, regular testing is paramount as new applications and systems are added, as well as defining who has overall responsibility for the company’s disaster recovery strategy.

Effective Disaster Recovery

When it comes to disaster recovery, it is time to move away from a mindset of ‘price equals value’, or ‘putting it off until tomorrow’, and start making the important IT decisions crucial to the business. Instead of adopting the newest technologies from the cheapest suppliers or spending vast amounts on expensive solutions, businesses need to make intelligent IT choices, selecting which business aspects are vital in the event of IT disaster, creating an effective disaster recovery plan.

By making carefully considered choices on which IT systems should be prioritized in a crisis, and selecting the right suppliers and solutions to deliver the specific business requirements, there is no reason why organizations should suffer drastically from any IT system failure.

Richard Barker has over 30 years of experience in the computer industry, progressing from computer operations to senior project manager. During this period, he gained knowledge across many different industry groups, including insurance, automotive logistics and the public sector. Barker, CEO, co-founded Sovereign Business Integration in 1994, assuming the role of managing director.

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