Raymond Goh, Head of Systems Engineering, Asia, Veeam
The importance of availability and the reputational impact of failing to keep services running around the clock for consumers, partners, and suppliers alike has never been more acute. This year, we’ve seen many high-profile failures in APAC, and the fact that quite a few happened in critical infrastructure sectors such as banking, government services and telecommunications is a cause for concern – for the organizations and their consumers both.
"The national Census occurs every four years, and the onslaught of digital submissions caused the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Census page to crash"
With digital transformation proving a major disruptive force in all aspects of our lives, the populace across the APAC region will accordingly increase its expectations for businesses to be always-on, and services running 24x7x365. Failure for the businesses to do so is simply unacceptable by the modern consumer, and organizations risk losing more than just financial resources, but intangible elements such as their reputation, customer loyalty, and employee productivity as well.
Earlier this year, the Australian Government was given a black eye when millions of Australians logged on to a specially-built website to complete their Census details online. The national Census occurs every four years, and the onslaught of digital submissions caused the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Census page to crash. What followed was countless Australians logging onto social media to lambast, criticize and ridicule the country’s peak statistical body. Eventually, the event snowballed into a deluge of negative press and anger from Australians who had spent hours trying to complete their submissions, in turn prompting waves of apologies from the Government and financial penalties from the IT companies involved.
While the Australian outage was significant, it’s not an isolated case. Singaporean Telco StarHub acknowledged that it had suffered “intentional and likely malicious distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on [its] Domain Name Servers,” in late October, leading to some of its home broadband subscribers being unable to access online services during the outage. The attacks were reportedly caused by subscribers’ malware-infected broadband routers and webcams, which produced a spike in internet traffic that overwhelmed the company’s services, though no impact was observed on the rest of Starhub’s services or the security of its customers information.
In January of 2016, HSBC became the first major bank to suffer a significant IT outage. It took two days before the glitch was repaired and bank customers were again able to access their online accounts. The bank’s CEO at the time blamed a “complex technical issue”, but customers were unimpressed.
Availability is the expectation placed by consumers on any modern business; those that fail to deliver will increasingly suffer reputational damage and face the ire of customers.
Planning for the Always-On Business
The strain this places on all levels of an organization is extensive - from call centers taking an increased volume of calls from disgruntled customers, to partners and suppliers losing trust and choosing to take their business elsewhere. Research conducted by IDC suggests that the median cost for an organization experiencing application downtime exceeds US$100,000 per hour. However, for some large, complex organizations that rely solely on providing services online, the cost can be substantially higher.
When – not if – a downtime event takes place, it’s critical that businesses, not-for-profit organizations and government departments are able to restore services quickly, and are able to maintain data integrity. As more and more services move into the digital space, application availability is becoming the raison d'être for modern IT departments, within both the public and private sectors. According to IDC’S research, the result of interviews with senior IT leaders across more than 1200 organizations around the world, IT departments are choosing to prioritze technology investments that help ensure systems avoid downtime and maximize availability.
Availability: A Career Builder, or Career Breaker
When evaluating availability solutions, cost is a factor, but it is a less important consideration than ensuring delivery of services and minimizing disruption to operations. Senior IT leaders may have some flexibility in their budgets to deliver against organizational objectives, but absolutely must meet availability targets in order to be successful.
Indeed, it’s not uncommon for modern IT departments to be measured on recovery point and time objectives (RTPO respectively), giving them less than four hours to restore services in case of downtime. These organizational Service Level Agreements (SLAs) will become more critical in coming years, such is the importance organizations place on application availability.
As organizations ratchet up the pressure on IT departments to ensure application availability – both for critical systems and public-facing infrastructure – IT leaders need to critically assess whether they can meet SLAs and expectations of internal and external stakeholders alike. Simplifying IT infrastructure and focusing on availability needs to be a key priority for any modern organization. After all, reputation and long term success is going to depend on it.
Headquartered in Sydney, Australia (APAC), Veeam Software is a provider of solutions that deliver Availability for the Always- On Enterprise. Founded in 2006, Veeam currently has 37,000 ProPartners and more than 183,000 customers worldwide.