By Shane Menking, COO of Element Critical
Are you prepared to weather the storm of modern-day risks that threaten to disrupt your business?
Building a business-continuity plan means being ready to face not just a single disaster event, but a cascade of challenges and interdependent risks that can create ripple effects. From increasingly severe natural disasters to the complexities of remote work, supply-chain disruptions and cyberattacks, there's no shortage of threats that demand a resilient disaster-recovery plan.
Technology disruptions are costly to enterprises. Power outages, network glitches, and hardware failures significantly affect operations. According to the US Department of Energy, power outages alone cost businesses up to $169 billion annually. Disruptions add issues downstream in the supply chain, leading to shortages, factory closures, or shipping barriers—all challenges that make it difficult to conduct business even when power is recovered.
The manufacturing and commodity sectors have been under immense pressure to cope with recent global incidents and economic instability—yet their operations keep our communities running by providing basic human necessities. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, manufacturing is responsible for $2.81 trillion of the US gross domestic product (GDP). Since manufacturing is a critical component for the supply chains of other businesses, disruptions in this sector can have far-reaching effects on the economy.
It is imperative for manufacturing companies to address resiliency challenges and prioritize business-continuity and disaster-recovery planning. Let’s take a closer look at the importance of being prepared and how hybrid IT infrastructure, housed in colocation datacenters, can ensure business continuity and strengthen disaster resiliency.
Prepare for the unexpected
During the unprecedented winter storm that brought historically low temperatures, snow and ice to the entire state of Texas in February 2021, power demand overwhelmed supply. Texas power-generating plant operators resorted to rolling blackouts to prevent the collapse of the power grid. The 4 million reported power outages wreaked havoc on businesses and IT systems, while 159 out of 254 public water systems were also affected.
The storm underscored the impact of power-supply disruptions and the need to modernize digital-infrastructure strategies to ensure continuous power and provide backup resources. Businesses with in-house datacenters on city grids were far more vulnerable than businesses securing IT assets in colocation facilities with substantial power-generation equipment. Planning for energy resilience would have allowed manufacturing businesses to circumvent issues related to outages and instead focus on moving critical supplies to their final destinations.
In addition, manufacturing companies that utilize colocation services can digitize their operations more effectively. Outsourcing datacenter services offers benefits such as the ability to scale rapidly and accommodate density requirements for advanced computing tools like artificial intelligence and machine learning. Organizations can also connect data and applications to their cloud resources, or bridge cloud-based applications with legacy systems as part of their digital transformation.
By establishing a digital footprint in one or more colocation facilities compatible with cloud technologies, manufacturing businesses can create an interconnected digital infrastructure that is better equipped to handle disruption, crises and changes in demand. This diversified and distributed IT approach adds agility; businesses have the flexibility they need to maintain uptime and respond to changing circumstances—a significant improvement over the traditional approach of keeping all data on-site at a single location.
Colocation offers key advantages for disaster planning
By engaging with a colocation datacenter partner and using a hybrid IT model, businesses can gain several advantages for managing and protecting their mission-critical IT applications in today's landscape of increased disruptions.
· Purpose-built redundancy: Colocation datacenters are designed from their inception for redundancy, encompassing all critical systems such as power, cooling, network systems, and operational processes that support each installation. This ensures that services stay up and running even in the event of a failure, without customers giving up control of their IT stack.
· Specialized expertise: Colocation providers have dedicated teams of highly experienced professionals. They run continuous protocols to withstand a wide array of disruptions that make having a trusted infrastructure provider a critical business enabler.
· Guaranteed uptime: Colocation providers emphasize resiliency; by guaranteeing 100% uptime—they offer a level of reliability that sets them apart from cloud providers. Colocation achieves this by implementing built-in resiliency measures, such as optimal design, constant facility monitoring, provisioning priority utility-power agreements, on-site power-generation equipment, storing fuel, and securing priority refueling contracts ahead of crisis events.
· Geographical diversity: Geographically dispersing IT assets and establishing hot or cold backup sites creates necessary redundancy, which can help businesses ensure that their data and applications are available in the event of a regional disruption.
IT leaders continue to face challenges in ensuring continuous uptime for business-critical systems. An effective IT strategy should include a trusted datacenter colocation partner, since downtime can disastrously affect revenue and reputation. By outsourcing to a trusted infrastructure provider like a colocation datacenter, businesses can rest assured that their data is protected, and their IT infrastructure is equipped to withstand a wide range of disruptions.