The East Coast was hit by a pretty heavy snow storm over the weekend which guides my mind to what else? Business Continuity. We’ve covered portions of Business Continuity strategies as well as technologies. My mind gazes into the future and wonders what if. Let’s discuss how some developing technologies could change practices and standards of Business Continuity soon.
Artificial Intelligence – I’m sure most of you are tired of hearing “AI is going to change The World.” Alas, it is. Business Continuity is no different in this regard. Consider if AI is used to strategize for any business interrupting event wherein you are given days of warning. In this scenario with AI integrated into your Business Continuity product you could authorize the AI component to make a decision to fail over your business-critical applications to a cloud-based Availability Zone outside of the effects of a hurricane, forest fire, or flood. These are all disasters to give enough warning to be well prepared for the event. This assumes you have some cloud involvement whether it’s Azure Site Recovery or are a cloud-native company with workloads existing exclusively in the cloud. If you’re strictly on-prem this could also occur if you’re Disaster Recovery playbook is fully automated. In that case, your AI entity would initiate the DR playbook and failover to your DR site.
Nationwide Wireless Broadband – If your office has to be evacuated the current assumption is that your employees will work from home. This assumes the home is not flooded, has power, has internet connectivity, and is still standing. That’s a lot of assumptions during a disaster. You can mitigate this somewhat by having a geographically diverse team meaning employees in various time zones and geographic areas. If you’re a small to medium size business this may not be feasible. Your future alternative would be an office in a box. This would be a collection of devices that could be air-dropped to a prepped location in advance of an anticipated disaster. This collection could include a generator, a wireless access point, and an assortment of pre-loaded and prepped workstations. Think of it as an office in a box ready to be drop shipped to your specified location. In the event of an unexpected disaster, the same could occur with the proper vendor and a 24 hour, or less, SLA agreement. The crux of this response is nationwide wireless broadband. We currently have this in the form of 4G which is enough for communication purposes and most remote connectivity. 5G is around the corner with low latency response times that would greatly increase the ability and effectiveness of this solution. Couple this solution with automated long-haul trucks and a vendor response wouldn’t be necessary. Your enterprise could have a freight truck pre-loaded and waiting with all the necessary equipment ready to go. Once the disaster occurred you would then summon the response truck with your cell phone. It would then navigate itself to your specified location, lower the doors, and welcome you into your new temporary work location.
Non-traditional Data Centers – We’ve already touched on this a bit with the example above of a mobile emergency response data center. Those already exist but our example adds the automated navigation component with a pre-staged and full outfitted mobile work location. Let’s use a current example to expand this further. Let’s consider Project Natick. To quote Microsoft’s article on this:
“Microsoft is leveraging technology from submarines and working with pioneers in marine energy for the second phase of its moonshot to develop self-sufficient underwater datacenters that can deliver lightning-quick cloud services to coastal cities. An experimental, shipping-container-size prototype is processing workloads on the seafloor near Scotland’s Orkney Islands, Microsoft announced today.”
This project indicates many possibilities from a Business Continuity perspective. Utilization of these self-contained data centers means that above water weather or disasters will have little to no effect on these data centers. Fire? Not a problem. Flooding? Already underwater. Earthquake? That could be an issue but much less than at ground level. Storms? A non-issue.
Let’s think about using these like cells installed in a grid in specific areas of the ocean. They could be built with enough redundancy to last at least ten years underwater while also using tidal forces to partially power the cell. These cells could be installed geographically close enough to population centers to be one hop from 90% of the users requiring its resources. They could also be connected with enough fast connections to enable speedy replication between cell grids. Cooling would leverage ambient water eliminating the need for power-hungry HVAC systems currently in place. All of this is easily within reach. This project combined with cloud resources increases our data resiliency by magnitudes.
As you can see, we’re on the cusp of many technological changes that will simplify Business Continuity as well as lower it’s maintenance costs to any organization willing to leverage these technological jumps. All of these suggestions utilize the assumption that businesses will continue to migrate resources to the cloud so as to benefit from those cost and labor savings. Good times are here with more to come.
By: Jason Ledford