Skip to main content

Time to think outside the server room

With so many employees working from home, businesses with on-premises IT infrastructure equipment are putting more faith in that equipment at a time when it could be more vulnerable than ever. But there are alternatives.

Woman looking at phone standing on top of building

If, like so many other businesses right now, your workforce is logging in from home every day to get their jobs done, every employee is relying on one crucial component of your business that’s still languishing all by itself back at the office: your IT infrastructure. Hopefully those servers are doing what you need them to, namely allowing employees to access their emails, retrieve important files and hold virtual meetings. But how reliable is it really? And what would happen if it failed, especially these days?

On-premises IT infrastructure is a major capital investment with complex architecture that requires frequent maintenance—performed by experts—to ensure it continues to serve the needs of the business, not only in terms of scalability, but security as well—not something you want to have to worry about during a societal shutdown. For one thing, even if you have a dedicated IT expert on your team to perform maintenance or upgrades, you’re sending them out during quarantine, potentially compromising their health and the health of others. But even during times where it’s business as usual, making sure your equipment doesn’t fall victim to environmental hazards, overheating, power outages or simply the ravages of time is a daunting and often expensive endeavour.

If it wasn’t evident before, the current situation should be a wake-up call—and hopefully not a rude awakening—that there are a number of services available to mitigate the risks associated with keeping your IT infrastructure literally in house.

Data protection
Cybercriminals have ramped up their efforts during the pandemic lockdown, targeting businesses at their most vulnerable and often, ironically, with the pretense of offering solutions that can help businesses during these trying times. An unwitting employee or business owner clicks on a link to find out more, and then a ransomware attack holds the business’s data hostage until they pay up or face certain disaster during a time when they can least afford it. But cybercrime isn’t always the reason for an IT disaster. On-premises hardware failures and power outages can also be catastrophic in terms of data loss.

Data protection services are hosted in data centres, and they include services such as multi-tiered (i.e., prioritized) data storage, data backup and disaster recovery. The services you decide to leverage depend on your own assessment of risk and how detrimental data loss would be for your bottom line. For instance, disaster recovery refers to the replication of your data in real time, so if you lose your data, you can pick up exactly where you left off. But that isn’t the same as backup, which saves your data intermittently, allowing you to go back to older versions of files if need be. So, for many businesses, there’s value in having both services.

Cloud infrastructure
One of the expected results of the current lockdown is an acceleration in businesses using digital technologies to find new ways of engaging with customers, collaborating among teams and managing operational disruptions, and cloud-based services represent a major share of those technologies. Cloud-based services, which are made available over the internet via a subscription, include productivity applications like Microsoft 365, but they also include IT infrastructure services that can take the place of some—and potentially all—IT infrastructure hardware, eliminating the need to invest in and maintain said hardware, and transforming IT infrastructure management into a more flexible and agile aspect of operations with predictable expenses. In fact, businesses that only have on-premises IT infrastructure often run out of capacity to support the additional online traffic that results from so many people working from home. And because the pandemic has impacted the supply chain for parts needed to upgrade and/or repair such equipment—especially where server components or even skilled technicians need to cross the border—the challenge to adapt is exacerbated.

With that said, moving all server functionalities and applications into the cloud is easier said than done, however, and some businesses may be concerned about performance issues and unexpected costs. That’s why a well-thought-out cloud adoption strategy is so important. For instance, there are different types of deployments to choose from, including public, private and virtual private cloud models, each with their own advantages depending on your business’s IT infrastructure and applications. A data centre provider should not only be able to offer these solutions, but also ensure data sovereignty (which means your data always remains within Canadian legal jurisdiction) and be able to guide you along an adoption journey that makes sense for your business.

An alternative to cloud infrastructure is simply moving your IT infrastructure equipment into a data centre. But not just any data centre. There are a few key factors you should consider when evaluating where you want to rent space for your equipment. These include physical security measures, such as biometric authentication and video monitoring of the perimeter and all cabinets, cages and suites, but also cybersecurity measures, such as round-the-clock network monitoring. Moreover, you need to investigate whether the data centre you choose will continue to have the space and power to grow with your business. Data sovereignty is also a key concern with colocation just as it is with cloud or any hosted solution. For example, if your server is in a data centre in Canada, but that data centre is owned by an American company, there’s ambiguity around whether the data on your server would fall under US jurisdiction. That’s why many organizations mitigate this kind of uncertainty by hosting their data only in facilities that are Canadian-owned and operated.

Those who collocate their IT infrastructure equipment often continue to maintain it by regularly visiting the data centre. Given our current situation, there are best practices data centres must adopt to help minimize the spread of infection, such as denying the entry of non-essential staff and, within the data centre itself, encouraging various habits like frequent handwashing, avoiding touching one’s face, and maintaining social distancing—and of course, that applies to visiting customers as well. Remember that data centres, during a pandemic or not, should be more than just secure places to keep your servers; they should be part of your larger IT strategy, offering equipment management and maintenance services that practically eliminate the need for you to come to the data centre and allow you to stay focused on running your business.

The pandemic has countless businesses relying more heavily than ever on largely unattended servers back at the office that are more prone than ever to environmental hazards, overheating, power outages, obsolescence and cybercrime. However, because of these increased risks, many have embraced data centre services, evolving their digital proficiency, and will re-emerge more competitive than before.

To learn more about data centre and cloud services, speak to a Rogers representative today.