How has the COVID-19 situation impacted IT? Given the scale of the impact, how have IT professionals adjusted to some of the more permanent trends that have evolved? In pondering on these key questions for the sector, Oleg Boyko, CTO of Exadel, provides some answers.
Digital Journal: With the COVID-19 pandemic, what have been the long-term impacts on IT?
Oleg Boyko: There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic made some permanent changes in the way people live and work. Many companies have already implemented work-from-home forever, and the surge in use of delivery apps and curbside pickup will likely continue post-pandemic. While COVID may be leaving its mark in personal and professional lives, it is also leaving its mark on certain industries.
For example, COVID has accelerated the shift to digital in banking and telemedicine in the healthcare industry is becoming more commonplace. The list goes on for how this pandemic affects businesses of all sizes and sectors, but underlying all of it is a shift in how the information technology (IT) industry works. As “everything digital” is now a reality, IT organizations need to adjust their strategy to cater to the needs of customers. Let’s examine how COVID is making long-term impacts on IT.
DJ: How has COVID-19 changed IT?
Boyko: COVID has forced IT to change in many ways, but most critically how it impacts business continuity plans and disaster recovery strategies. IT organizations of any size can no longer treat business continuity and disaster recovery as optional for successful, smooth and uninterrupted operations. It used to be that a detailed, well-tested and constantly improved business continuity planning and disaster recovery strategy was considered the luxury afforded by bigger outfits. With COVID, this perception has changed forever.
DJ: Why is this change momentous?
Boyko: Early on, it became clear which IT providers and departments had appropriate, current and efficient business continuity strategies in place. While some in the industry barely felt any impact when their ‘business as usual’ was no longer possible, others struggled to continue their operations and business support.
The difference was very apparent and significant – companies that successfully enacted their business continuity strategies and disaster recovery plans were the clear winners. The others were forced to play the catch-up game adjusting their operational models on the go.
DJ: Based on this, how do you think IT will evolve?
Boyko: This is the beginning of a long-term trend – building a solid business continuity and disaster recovery strategy backed up by solid plans which are tested often and thoroughly. IT organizations can no longer create business continuity plans and disaster recovery strategies in-the-moment. These must be put in place now and tested frequently so that when the next disaster hits, IT is able to withstand it and can continue to deliver value to customers without halt or interruption.
DJ: How can a disaster recovery plan be put together?
Boyko: An organization should begin their business continuity or disaster recovery preparation by defining their Recovery Point Objective (RPO). The RPO is the maximum amount of data the business can accept losing. The organization also must define a Recovery Time Objective (RTO). The RTO accounts for the longest time duration needed to restore business-critical services.
This process will lead to other considerations that would help to further drive a business continuity and/or disaster recovery strategy. Additional considerations may include, but are not limited to, which data is considered business critical and what is the absolutely minimal set of necessary services that support business processes.
Additional considerations that may support business continuity or disaster recovery plans include :
- Migrating critical data, servers and applications to the cloud or providers that utilize cloud services as their primary hosting environments.
- Enabling company phone service from any location by adopting VOIP and/or cloud-based
- Switching to business notebooks and capable tablets as primary workstations (this is a popular step as evidenced by significant increase in lead procurement times for this type of equipment during a pandemic).
Once these critical questions are answered, many organizations recognize that increasing productive mobility of their workforce while removing dependency on office or location-based assets helps to create effective and reasonably priced business continuity and disaster recovery plans.
This pandemic forced businesses to adjust in many ways, and IT is no different. It became apparent that having business continuity and disaster recovery plans in place are now a necessity, not a nice-to-have. For the IT organizations that have been behind in these areas, now is the time to build, assess and test these strategies moving forward. As more industries accelerate their plans to go digital, IT must put up these necessary safeguards to drive digital initiatives that keep critical businesses going.