The COVID-19 pandemic has caught the world unawares. As in most pandemic situation, cyber security attacks and breaches have witnessed a steep rise – by almost 630%. If there’s one business element that will undergo a transformation because of the pandemic, it will be the IT infrastructure. In the backdrop of remote access and instances and increased cyber breaches, the focus is entirely on security and cloud technologies.
Here, we attempt to go over some of the most commonly asked questions that we’ve come across with regards to data center architecture and network management.
1. The pandemic has resulted in head count reduction in many organizations. Given that IT plays a critical role in making possible remote access, how can an enterprise deal with shortages of IT staff?
The pandemic has resulted in organizational restructuring, where enterprises are compelled to do more with less. This has squarely put the focus on the tent ‘do more with less’. This means staff redundancy has to be pared down and not upped.
Cross-training might help to an extent, but only as a contingency plan. Data Center Management entails a diverse skill set, and training the staff on all of those skills could place too tremendous a strain on the company’s time and resources.
2. What are the ways in which organizations can ensure efficiency of remote access?
Investing in management/automation software would be the most sensible way to operate in a pandemic-like situation. A well-automated data center requires minimal human intervention and could be managed even remotely with less than half the staff that would be needed otherwise. It makes sense from a cross-training perspective, too – with automation, the role of engineers is more administrative than functional, and requires much less technical expertise. Even in the absence of key staff, other members could easily fill in without much training.
3. With rising IT infra cost, what role does hyper convergence play, especially in a pandemic situation? OR how effective is hyper convergence as a cost effective option, especially in a pandemic situation?
Hyper convergence is a good bet for organizations that are looking to reduce their CapEx and OpEx, and consolidate and simplify their IT. It, however, comes with its drawbacks of rigidity and vendor-specificity. Organizations that are planning to go for hyper convergence should get their priorities straight. This means that if an enterprise values ease of management and lower costs over flexibility, hyper convergence is the way to go.
Cloud is always a good idea in terms of reliability, speed, and saving on physical data center expenditures, but it again depends on the organization’s values. If security and privacy are their top priority, on-prem might be a good choice. Or, they could go for a hybrid solution to experience the best of both worlds, wherein they can host their most critical applications on-prem and the rest in the cloud.
4. Any additional automation tools that an enterprise should look at?
Event-driven, declarative automation, or orchestration, should be considered instead of an imperative approach. The latter still has a significant amount of human element involved, which may prevent the organization from realizing the true and full benefits of automation. When managed by an orchestration solution like AppViewX AUTOMATION+, the system is self-supporting and needs very little manual prodding, giving engineers and administrators the leeway to focus on strategic tasks.
The key to overcoming any hurdle is data. Data-driven solutions such as AUTOMATION+ continuously generates contextual data in an easily interpretable form, which the data center personnel can analyze and make informed decisions. This is especially helpful when planning for vulnerability mitigation and upgrades, where predictive analysis plays a major role.
5. What other safety measures should organizations consider to insulate themselves, before the onset of a pandemic?
Networks could be made more accessible to application and security teams. The way networks are today, only people with specialized skills can manage and manipulate them. AUTOMATION+ simplifies IT infrastructure and makes networks more agile and accessible by abstracting the underlying network functions. This facilitates both network and other teams to bring a network object to its desired state without worrying about the underlying technicalities, or the “how.”
Why is this essential? Because if (God forbid!) a pandemic strikes again, and employees are forced to work from home again, and during that time, if an application goes down, it shouldn’t end up as yet another ticket in the network engineer’s queue. Such disruptions can potentially halt business continuity itself, and needs to be dealt with at an expedited pace – which is possible only if other teams either work together or solve it themselves.