If there is one place where the global Covid-19 pandemic has left its most significant consequence on the business sector, it is on the ability to change, writes Steve Sullivan, Executive Vice President & GM, Americas at Infinidat.
Undoubtedly no one expected or estimated the extent of this crisis and its resulting uncertainties in the global and local markets. The published forecasts are mostly bleak and uncertainty is still great even though most restrictions have been lifted and borders opened in many places around the world.
The threat of a second wave is an increasing possibility, particularly with South Africa moving to a lower level of restrictions. While many businesses are trying to recover from the blow of the national lockdown, it turns out that those who have learned to be flexible and were able to change, managed to survive. This ability to stay resilient has even provided some organisations with a competitive advantage over similar businesses, with technology playing a substantial role in achieving this.
The concept of “resilience” has changed beyond recognition
“Resilience” is a familiar concept in IT that refers to the ability of a network or system to adapt to change and protect the business and its customers from disasters or serious disruptions. A business that has invested in the resilience of its IT infrastructure should be able to recover quickly from a disaster and revert to the point before the disaster or disruption occurred.
However, when it comes to a global disaster such as the Covid-19 pandemic, this resilience is not enough. Organisations cannot get back to the same point they were at before the crisis began. They must rapidly change if they want to survive and succeed. Going back to the pre-crisis time for many of them is a death sentence.
In the wake of the pandemic, businesses must reinvent themselves and accelerate digital activities. Food retail businesses, for example, had to fast track deliveries to consumers and this required significant computing capacity to support the demand. Manufacturers who usually deliver their goods exclusively to stores changed the way of distribution completely during the crisis.
Similarly, traditional organisations such as banks, insurance companies and health services had to quickly take on a remote approach, while marketing their services through advanced applications and online portals, all in a very secure manner.
The Covid-19 crisis is so deep and widespread that it is still unknown if it has a deadline and when that deadline will occur. The name of the game is the ability to change, transform business models and prepare quickly, which requires a huge and dramatic increase in IT requirements for an unknown period of time.
How can the new resilience be provided to a business?
For a business to change quickly and adapt to the changing reality post the crisis, it must have flexibility. Flexibility is expressed in two ways:
- On-demand technology: Customer-focused technology providers, who saw their customers’ distressed and demand for increased flexibility began to offer new models of on-demand service or technology that is based on actual consumption. In the field of storage, for example, this gives organisations the ability to prepare quickly and scale capacity as needed. This way businesses can launch projects and respond quickly to market changes with innovative products without embarking on long, expensive and complex procurement campaigns.
Supplying on-demand storage volumes has been a saving grace for many businesses, more so since they are struggling to meet their targets in the wake of the pandemic. On-demand storage solutions assist in the organisation’s survival journey when they certainly cannot afford the complex implementation of expensive storage systems or huge financial expenses with cloud storage.
- Reducing the physical accessibility of manpower to the data centre: The Covid-19 crisis has raised the importance of reducing routine or special maintenance in the data centre due to social distancing. In the field of storage, it is essential to minimise the number of times a data centre is required to be physically accessed for repair operations. High redundancy of hardware, at the level of n + 2 makes it possible to deal with any malfunction, and not in an immediate emergency format. It makes it possible to collect a number of faults, postpone treatment and deal with them when possible so that the business does not lose efficiency. Peace of mind has no competition in these difficult times.
Resilience must now not only allow the business to return to pre-crisis functionality but to change and re-evaluate for unpredictable scenarios going forward. Business that has this level of resilience can present a significant competitive advantage, continue to be flexible and change in the face of drastic changes in the market in which they operate.
It is time for technology providers is to allow flexible models of consumption and increase redundancies, which will allow them to introduce innovation to the market on the one hand, but also deal with physical constraints on the other.