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Resilience – the ability to recover quickly from illness or misfortune – is a valuable attribute for both individuals and organizations.
We say a person is resilient when they bounce back after a tragedy and continue to drive on in the face of adversity.
Resilient people show grit, a certain mental toughness, along the ability to sustain efforts and not give up, even in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds.
Organizations, including corporations, can show resilience as well. Like people, they can adapt to a changing environment, overcome setbacks, and take adversity in stride.
Take Target for example, where they had a major security breach back in 2013, which involved 40 million credit (and debit) card records getting exposed. Fast-forward to last year, their digital channel sales outpaced the industry averages, with annual growth of nearly 30% over the last two years.
The same is true of systems; say for instance a computer network or complex software like an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, the type of solutions that control business-critical processes within large corporations.
Whether we are examining individuals, organizations, or systems, the traits that determine resilience share some similarities. In people, resilience depends on the ability to compartmentalize challenges and setbacks, so that when they inevitably occur in one area of life, they have the support, confidence, and strength in other areas to push through and overcome them.
Resilient people tend to be self-aware, confident in their strengths and abilities, exhibit strong internal values, and have a support network of friends and family.
Organizations and systems similarly need self-awareness, introspection, and redundant networks that allow them to compartmentalize failures, so they can localize and overcome them.
In the case of IT systems, resilience can be improved by distributing redundant implementations of IT resources across multiple physical locations to improve performance and failover.
This lies at the heart of cloud computing, where redundant resources are deployed within the same cloud but in different physical locations or even across multiple clouds.
Whether deployed on public/shared or private hardware and network infrastructure, systems designed to take advantage of cloud computing concepts are inherently more resilient than those running in a single physical location like a corporate data center.
Technology failure can be costly.
A single failed router led to 2,300 canceled flights and tens of millions of dollars in losses for Southwest Airlines and a similar incident over at rival Delta Airlines a month later caused $150 million in losses.
And retailers, including industry giants, are in a similar boat, with users encountering frequent outages or slowdowns during peak periods.
And these are man-made failures, brought about by mistakes or oversights. Things can get quite a bit more sporting when Mother Nature gets involved. Much of Florida is still without power nearly two weeks after hurricane Irma struck and five years ago hurricane Sandy caused similar chaos in New York.
Designing, engineering, and maintaining resilient systems with adequate scale and redundancy can be complex, not to mention expensive. So, increasingly, companies are turning to shared services, cloud computing, and SaaS (Software as a Service) providers to ensure their online operations are resilient as well as cost-effective.
By combining distributed hosting in the cloud with SaaS solutions specifically designed and optimized to maximize the advantage this offers, companies get the benefit of both: a proven, reliable system running in an environment that provides maximum flexibility, robustness, and the ability to scale as needed when demand spikes. All for a fraction of the cost if they had to maintain this environment themselves.
And, while no approach will prevent every outage, spreading the risk across multiple locations and systems can at least mitigate the impact. And, let’s face it, cloud hosting and SaaS solution vendors who have system performance and resilience at the very core of their business are almost certainly better equipped to deal with ensuring maximum uptime.