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Reliable and resilient with the cloud

by Daniel Schellhase
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The cloud offers companies various perspectives for increasing business resilience.
 

In this article you can read about,

  • what business resilience is,
  • which mechanisms for resilience are integrated into the cloud and
  • how traditional disaster recovery concepts can be simplified.

The cloud enables new approaches to business resilience – a company's ability to withstand unexpected events. An important basis for this is the reliability of IT systems, which is ensured by simplified backups and disaster recovery functions. However, cloud users also benefit from resilience functions that are built into the platform.

Service stability in turbulent conditions

In the last few years, the word "disruption" has reared its head: Within a very short space of time, things are different than they were before; new rules and framework conditions suddenly apply. Experts speak of BANI times, in which companies have to survive in their markets. BANI is an acronym for: Brittle, Anxious, Non-Linear, Incomprehensible, thus characterizing a market environment that is opaque and difficult to maneuver in because it is completely unclear which decisions will have what effect. Creating entrepreneurial stability is becoming complicated.

What can companies do? How can they meet the disruptive/BANI challenges? When talking about solutions, the term "resilience" is often used. The term is used in medicine, for example. There it describes the ability to survive difficult situations such as crises or disasters unscathed.

The concept of business resilience transfers this resilience to companies. Business resilience means that internal processes run smoothly even when extreme situations occur. An important component in creating business resilience is a functioning (and itself resilient) IT system. The cloud can make a decisive contribution here.

Why cloud for business resilience?

Let's first take a look at traditional in-house IT provisioning. With on-premises IT, companies have extensive control over their IT resources. However, this also entails the need to provide for comprehensive service availability and emergencies – throughout the entire IT lifecycle. Concrete examples include high-availability architectures, backups, maintenance, capacity management for all components of the IT landscape, security management and ensuring operational expertise and capacities. This also requires purchasing processes, tenders, offers, logistics, the installation of components and the provision of spare parts.

However, staffing levels are often low and many data centers are outdated. Some management tasks fall by the wayside, current security requirements cannot be fully met, and companies have to consciously take risks. The result: temporary unavailability of services and loss of data – the opposite of business resilience.  

The cloud offers companies various perspectives for increasing business resilience. Companies become more agile and flexible and can react more quickly to changing market requirements. This is made possible by the increased and simplified resilience provided by the cloud. As part of shared responsibility, the cloud provider is responsible for the reliability and availability of the platform, i.e. it ensures modern, efficient operation that meets the highest security and management standards. Certificates such as DIN 27001 are important here.

However, companies that outsource IT services to the cloud gain even more opportunities to increase their business resilience thanks to cloud technologies.

Basic resilience: Independent of hardware failure

To begin with, cloud services operate independently of the failure of individual hardware components. Cloud technology relies on pooled resources and the automatic allocation of the workloads executed to free components. If a pool CPU fails, the workload is transferred directly to another available CPU. Users do not notice this transfer and the service remains available. The resilience to hardware failures extends to the failure of multiple hosts, which cloud workloads survive unscathed.

The same applies to data. Data is stored in the cloud across at least three different hard drives as standard. This design ensures that no data is lost even if individual hard drives fail (which also happens in the cloud). Cloud users are granted independence from hardware failures as part of their cloud usage without having to take any specific measures. They are an integral part of cloud provisioning.

The Open Telekom Cloud is also based on these cloud architecture standards and ensures that hardware failures do not affect service and data availability.

On top: Additional resilience at the touch of a button

In addition to these "all-inclusive" services, the cloud also allows companies to implement established security and high-availability scenarios from the on-premises world within the cloud. This allows them to protect data and services even if an entire availability zone fails. Typical resilience strategies provide for backups and architectures that distribute workloads across different availability zones or even different regions. Users who implement such redundancy concepts receive, e.g., an SLA of 99.95% for their service availability in the Open Telekom Cloud. By distributing the services across two regions, even the highest requirements of the BSI (German Federal Office for Information Security) for geo-redundancy and reliability can be met.

It's important to mention that the shared responsibility concept stipulates that these contributions are made by the cloud user. They decide on the basis of the criticality of their services whether and to what extent they implement further-reaching redundancy measures. Additional resources also generate additional costs – another important component when deciding on the architecture.

The cloud also offers a strong advantage at this level of additional resilience measures: in contrast to an implementation in your own data center, disaster/recovery and backup scenarios can be implemented within minutes via a console. This is made possible by ready-made services such as Cloud Backup and Recovery or the Storage Disaster Recovery Service.

Cloud with clear benefits for business resilience

This means that advanced resilience concepts can be implemented much more quickly and easily in the cloud than in your own data center. Cloud users gain a clear advantage for their resilience strategies. The bottom line is that operating applications in the cloud offers greater business resilience – and is easier to implement. If you want to secure your workloads and increase your business resilience, the cloud is the solution of choice.


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