Lee Ellams
July 5, 2023

Building business resilience with the cloud

It’s an understatement to say that business resilience is extremely important to all businesses, big and small. Without it, unexpected disruptions can have a serious impact.

As the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated, those businesses with robust and adaptable business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) plans found it much easier to get through tough times.

Many of those more resilient businesses were somewhere along their digital transformation journey. Perhaps they had adopted cloud SaaS solutions for collaboration, file sharing and communication. This made it easier to operate remotely when the country went into lockdown.

However, there were plenty of challenges too. Providing secure access to data, apps and workloads hosted on-premise, and security issues around employees using their own devices and home broadband, were chief amongst them.

The solution? For many that has involved retrofitting security controls and accelerating digital transformation further to migrate more to the cloud.

Business resilience in a digital first world

While the Covid-19 pandemic may now feel like a distant memory, its impact, both negative and positive, continues to be felt by many organisations across industries. One significant outcome is the widespread adoption of hybrid work models, where employees demand the flexibility to work remotely and outside of traditional business hours.

Of course, disruption to business as usual is not confined to pandemics. Natural and manmade disasters, whether confined to your IT environment or more widespread, can impact business especially when the operating model is on-premise.

For many, migrating to the cloud is a logical step to build business resilience, but is it right for you?

Below are three cloud solutions that can help your business become more resilient, regardless of where your IT environment is located.

1. Cloud back up for on-premise businesses

Not all businesses want to, or should, go all-in with the cloud. There can be many reasons why some workloads, data and apps are best left on-premise. But if disaster strikes this can leave you very vulnerable. If you can’t access your data because of a physical incident, mission critical IT functions could be at risk.

We recommend that you consider cloud back up as part of building your business resilience. This doesn’t involve migrating on-premise workloads to the cloud, if that’s not the best place for them. Instead, data is protected and backed up in the cloud - whether it is located on-premises, in remote systems, in private and public clouds, or on mobile devices.

Cloud back up ensures you can retrieve your data, but it doesn’t provide access to your IT infrastructure if that’s unavailable. However cloud disaster recovery does…

2. Disaster recovery in the cloud

Where cloud back up leaves off, cloud disaster recovery picks up. Traditionally, a disaster recovery plan involves having an alternative IT environment available on standby in another office building or data centre.

This model, while effective, does come at a price and there can be physical challenges to actioning it. For example, if the secondary location is nearby for easy access an incident caused by a regional disaster (like a power outage) could impact both sites.

The cost of a secondary site is often prohibitive to SMEs anyway, which is why cloud disaster recovery overcomes both these challenges.

How does it work? Cloud disaster recovery services replicate data from your site into virtual machines. A virtual IT environment on standby, should it be required. This is located in different regional data centres so local incidents are not a threat. In the event of downtime, your environment is failovered to this secondary site, with minimal disruption to your operations.

For business continuity employees can log into a virtual machine on any device regardless of their location. Pricing for this type of service is much more competitive than a physical secondary site; often priced on a consumption-based model with no additional charges in the event of recovery.

As with cloud back up, if you operate using a hybrid model with some workloads in the cloud and others on-premise, cloud disaster recovery services can support this scenario too.

3. Cloud communication and collaboration

Back in 2020, when the UK went into lockdown we, like many other IT service providers, saw huge demand for cloud platforms like Google Workspace, Microsoft Teams and Zoom. Over three years later, collaboration tools that support chat, file sharing and video conferencing are widely adopted by most businesses.

However, one critical area that’s still a challenge when employees are not able to work from the company’s premises, is external communications and maintaining a seamless communication experience across channels when interacting with customers, suppliers, and partners. A cloud-based communications platform, such as 8x8, integrates multiple communication channels, including voice, video, messaging, and email, into a unified platform delivered as service, allowing businesses to communicate with external stakeholders with a consistent experience and efficiency.

Unified communications as a Service (UCaaS) removes barriers to easy communication and collaboration in the event of a disaster, or to support hybrid work. It's a vital component of a business resilience plan is its ability to provide uninterrupted communication continuity. In times of crises, such as natural disasters or public health emergencies, maintaining seamless communication channels is vital for organisations to keep their operations running smoothly. UCaaS ensures your employees can collaborate, connect with customers, and make critical decisions regardless of their location or the devices they use.

This has clear advantages when actioning your BCDC plans and minimises the impact on the bottom line.

Next steps to build your business resilience

As you can see, the cloud can increase your business resilience even when your IT environment is primarily on-premise. Our advice, when looking for services and solutions such as back up and disaster recovery, is to plan for the future.

Look for scalable services that can flex as your business grows, and as your technology evolves. For example, a cloud back up service that integrates multiple data locations so that if you migrate data from on-premise to the cloud in the future, the service can still support your needs.

If you require any further advice about this, including our recommendations, we’d be happy to help. Please contact the team here.

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