When SHTF: Dissecting How Cloud Plays A Role In Disaster Recovery

When things go south, we often think of what we could have done to better prepare for the scenario. While many situations are out of our control, there are ways we can be proactive in mitigating cyber threats. This article from Ntirety CEO Emil Sayegh was originally published in Forbes. 

 

When SHTF: Dissecting How Cloud Plays A Role In Disaster Recovery 

 SHTF – It’s a messy mental image, but for those of you that know these scenarios, it fits the chaos of the dystopian moments such as what happened at the Port of Beirut in 2020, or during the Texas Snovid Arctic Front in 2021, or more recently when Russia attacked Ukraine. However, the more you know about how to mitigate these sorts of massive disasters, the better prepared and at ease you will be. If disaster preparedness sounds like something that applies to your business (it does), consider identifying where your company is on the spectrum of data use (static vs. dynamic) and whether or not your IT and technology departments have identified the borders between responsibility and liability. Once this information is collected, you can begin to think about what happens when “it” hits the fan so you’re ready if it does. 

Slow and Costly 

In the world of IT, traditional disaster recovery is well-established in its redundancies and recovery times. It also includes a variety of concepts and practices that are simply obtuse in today’s dynamic data environments. These approaches often came with limitations on flexibility and scalability. There is also the matter of investment: in order to take advantage of these benefits, there is a high initial investment in terms of hardware and configuration which can be costly for businesses, especially if they’re located across multiple sites. Companies that use traditional disaster recovery host servers at either local or remote locations that require maintenance, licensing, and parallel monitoring. The task of preserving valuable business resources is exponentially more difficult, time consuming, and costly than more modern solutions – especially when it is not unheard of for recovery to take hours or even days to failover under conditions where local services are lost. 

Enter Cloud Technologies 

With the advent of cloud technologies, cloud disaster recovery has changed everything by eliminating the need for traditional infrastructure for data recovery purposes. This has significantly reduced downtime in IT departments that use this service as they are able to harness power of the cloud at immediate spin up or fail over time after an incident occurs. At its most basic level, disaster recovery in cloud computing is performed by replicating data from a primary site to a cloud service. In case of a disaster, the data can be failed over to a different environment and resources with minimal downtime. 

Many cloud computing services are provided on a pay-as-you-go basis and can be accessed from anywhere at any time. Other cloud resources can be reserved through longer commitments to help reduce costs. Perhaps the most important feature of cloud backup and disaster recovery systems is that these environments can be programmatically automated, requiring minimum input. With the right configuration in place, cloud-based disaster recovery will be able to restore your entire environment in just minutes or less. 

Cloud-based disaster recovery provides a powerful way for businesses of all sizes, whether they’re large corporations or startups without the resources on hand themselves, to protect against outage risks while continuing normal operations during emergencies. With the right approach, organizations can satisfy their recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO) needs with cloud data recovery. It is important for organizations to evaluate each potential offering for factors such as reliability or recurring costs before committing any long-term investments into this area of business continuity planning. 

Prepping for Disasters 

The lessons for C-Levels are that disaster recovery, backup systems, and business continuity planning can no longer be regarded as luxuries, in today’s uncertain environment. Our duty as IT professionals is to build redundancy and disaster recovery to recover from such events. Redundancy is a critical IT principle, but when components begin to sequentially fail, returning to operation is an equally great critical business priority. The IT community must put value into routine risk assessments. Technology departments and the executives that drive organizations cannot wait to react if something goes wrong. Risk assessment and corresponding actions are top priorities that cannot be left to lower-level IT executives or staff. From beginning to end, CEOs, the entire C-suite, and the board must keep complete visibility and priority. 

The hyper-scale availability of cloud services in disaster recovery is one of the greatest innovations available to business today. Advanced computing and networking power is both simpler and more powerful than ever before and exponentially scalable when needed during emergencies and “SHTF” scenarios. Many companies will not need anything else but this one service: continuous remote deployment capabilities backed up seamlessly through off site storage facilities. With the power of a cloud that is everywhere when needed, a disaster mess is something that becomes much simpler and faster to navigate. 

 

Check out this piece, originally published in Forbes, here and follow me on LinkedIn.

Michigan Mutual Gains Uptime through Ntirety Managed Services

Michigan Mutual is a mortgage broker founded in 1992 by brothers Mark and Hale Walker. Over the past few decades, the business has expanded across 35 states and now has a total of 100 Mortgage Loan Advisors. As a company that handles financial information, being able to quickly communicate with customers while keeping personal data secure is a top priority and core to their value proposition. The challenge is having all the right tools and technology in place to compete with big players and some nimble smaller ones. 

Michigan Mutual had to move their back-office IT servers from their office suite to a data center that they owned and operated. Over time their server, storage, and network set-up became outdated.  A decision had to be made on how to make sure data management was as efficient as possible in the spring of 2017. 

To free up their time, and increase availability and security, Michigan Mutual turned to Ntirety for a virtual desktop services solution (VDI) and moved everything from their own data center to be on Ntirety’s VDI and DR infrastructure. The VDI and on-prem DR Solution moved to Ntirety in August 2017. In June 2018 their applications and back-office were also moved to be fully handled by Ntirety. 

With Ntirety onboard, the mortgage company now has more uptime and availability to focus on other business operations. The migration to Ntirety’s data center gives the Michigan Mutual team more servers and desktops that are available all the time and running at peak performance. 

Centralized administration and cloud desktop means that regardless of what happens in any individual area, employees can just go somewhere that has internet, and they’re back up and running. 

“We have been fortunate in the fact that the Ntirety team has been able to focus and to get attention to things quickly to help us get results,” Michigan Mutual EVP and CIO Bruce Clarke said. 

The reliability, communication and support from Ntirety has helped Michigan Mutual to feel valued as a customer and feel confident in the Ntirety solution. That confidence allows the Michigan Mutual team to stay focused on being competitive in the market rather than worrying about managing their infrastructure. 

Read the full case study here for more details about how the Ntirety solution helped Michigan Mutual gain uptime. 

ARG and Ntirety Secure AbsoluteCare’s IT Infrastructure

AbsoluteCare is a leading healthcare provider that focuses on providing comprehensive and preventative care to the most vulnerable populations in the United States. ARG is a technology consultancy dedicated to helping companies find the right match for their technological needs and is a trusted partner of Ntirety.  

With a large amount of Protected Health Information (PHI) in their data warehouse, it was essential for AbsoluteCare to guard against potential threats. AbsoluteCare works with insurance providers to find specific individuals in need of their services and in order to safely store data and properly process information they needed the right partner.  

As a growing company, in 2016 AbsoluteCare decided it would be best to reduce reliance on some of its own dated technology stacks and start with a clean slate. 

AbsoluteCare’s previous vendors did not have the database management and database architecture expertise that was needed to manage the large amount of information that the healthcare provider was responsible for. Cybersecurity was handled by multiple partners, increasing cost, risk, and complexity. 

AbsoluteCare turned to ARG to help them find a good match for their infrastructure and security needs. ARG Senior Technology Advisor Cassie Diehl surveyed the marketplace to find a provider that met AbsoluteCare National IT Director Chris Becker’s specific qualifications for a comprehensive multi-faceted secure solution. Ntirety formulated a solution that met all their security needs, including — VDI, XDR, Disaster Recovery, SOCaaS, and CaaS. 

Thanks to Diehl and Becker’s hard work, AbsoluteCare was able to get connected with the Ntirety team. Ntirety was able to meet all of AbsoluteCare’s requirements from primary infrastructure to robust backup, to Disaster Recovery (DR). 

“Ntirety’s comprehensive security suite has been an impressive security shield for our business,” said Becker. “Additionally, we don’t have the budget to stand up our own internal infrastructure or internally hire the expertise required to protect against today’s artful criminals.” 

Read more details in the full case study here to learn more about how the Ntirety solution transformed AbsoluteCare’s IT infrastructure.