Business disruptions come in all shapes and sizes. When disaster strikes, be it a weather event or a pandemic, enterprise employers face the dual challenge of keeping employees safe while also supporting the needs of the business and shareholders. Keeping employees from coming into the office is often the way to address the first half of the challenge, but supporting the second part hasn’t always been so easy. The current exponential increase in remote work provides an opportunity to consider how cloud computing – and specifically cloud desktops – can help organizations tackle both challenges with success.
Preparing for worst case scenarios
Disaster recovery is a critical aspect of business continuity for today’s digitally transformed companies. For a scenario where companies who have employees who can’t get to their computer in the office, there are basically two legacy disaster recovery solutions for physical PCs. You can reserve a mobile disaster recovery unit that is delivered onsite, or you can redirect people to an alternative building that is outfitted with the appropriate IT equipment.
Each of these options requires a hefty budget, complex initial planning, and challenges that create risk for your organization. When re-evaluating your approach to business continuity for employees who typically work in an office, answer these questions:
- What if you are not able to easily test the solution to make sure everything works?
- What if employees are unable to travel to the alternate site due to physical barriers (downed trees, earthquakes, etc.)?
- What if travel is restricted due to health concerns?
- What if you need more PCs than you planned for?
- What if the disaster is so widespread that availability is limited during peak demand?
Resilience and recovery
As most organizations move at least some part of their IT infrastructure to the cloud, it only takes a few simple steps to set up “standby” cloud desktops and workstations that are just one click away when you need them.
Business continuity and disaster recovery constitutes more than just enabling cloud desktops, of course. However, with them as part of your plan, you’ll be able to support people getting back to work within minutes or hours, from any device, and from anywhere they have an internet connection. That is a powerful resource in terms of protecting business continuity and productivity.
Companies aim for 100% uptime, so they try to eliminate all possibility of an outage. This is just good business continuity planning, anticipating different disruption scenarios, and then defining how each will be addressed. Cloud computing is now mainstream, and as more organizations go “all-in” on cloud desktops for the many significant benefits it delivers, they also need to be prepared for cloud outage scenarios.
A particularly challenging risk is if an entire public cloud region goes down. Though unusual, it can happen (and has happened), resulting in business disruption. Large organizations moving desktop workloads to the public cloud need to plan for this possibility with the ability to fail-over to an alternative cloud region. With this fail-over ability, you can achieve even greater risk mitigation for your organization.
Reducing illness and its impact
We’re currently experiencing a global crisis that no business continuity plan could fully have prepared for. Consequently, organizations are trying to rapidly adjust their plans to protect employees while also protecting their business from financial and economic downturn. But how do you remain productive if your employees are advised not to come into the office? This is a critical question that brings up another one: What if, rather than merely being “encouraged,” working at home was a mandatory part of a business continuity plan during a disease outbreak?
It would look like this: Should someone come to work with a contagious illness, everyone immediately retreats to their home offices for a week or so to wait out the incubation period. Better still, the contagious person doesn’t come to the office in the first place but stays home at the first sign of illness, preventing others from getting sick.
Adding cloud desktops to your business continuity plan can make remote work more routine, where the transition from office to home becomes almost seamless.
Securing remote work
With any cloud endeavor, it’s important to consider your security posture when you include cloud desktops in your business continuity strategy. Will data remain on edge devices? Will data be encrypted? Is IP theft possible? What user errors might jeopardize security? Make sure to think through the entire project, so that remote work becomes a business enabler rather than a liability.
Prepared for anything
Sudden downtime can be disastrous for a business. As the current pandemic has shown, business continuity and disaster recovery have become more complicated than merely finding one alternate office site for all employees. It has also shown that remote work is a necessity and must be planned for. Cloud desktops empower employees to work from any place with an internet connection and from any device – and, if you set things up right, from any region. This enables business to continue with relative normality, no matter what extreme measures a crisis requires.