COVID-19 is a crisis, which I believe no enterprise would have considered while designing their business continuity plans, especially, to the extent which it has impacted the world. The uniqueness of this scenario is that everyone in the ecosystem including enterprise, business partners, and customers have been isolated and been forced to work from home.
Fortunately, technology advancements of recent years have enabled continuity of operations, though with some constraints. Some of these technology advancements are actually being tested, enhanced, and are rapidly evolving to address the current constraints.
For the ecosystem to be operational and contribute to the value chain, the communication network has become the most critical cog of the wheel. This is the nervous system of the business, irrespective of the sector or nature of operations, and, therefore, it is important to have a secure and resilient communication network.
An enterprise may have built a network considering different failure scenarios; however, the current crisis requires much more. The enterprise now needs to be ready for the same failure scenario across the value chain, and for an undefined duration. This can have a massive impact on consumer experience and an organization’s brand value and equity. For enterprises, which were geared up to maintain their competitive edge in the digital ecosystem, implementing a digital resilience program becomes essential.
The key areas for an effective resilient digital infrastructure can be:
- Redundancy in the network of every user-to-data journey, supported by assessment of bandwidth, connectivity prerequisites, and security-by-design;
- Inter-dependency and coupling between legacy network and cloud hosted systems and, if required, evaluate moving to cloud, including third-party connectivity;
- Integration of NOC and SOC, with increased rigor on network monitoring, so as to pre-empt any threats of breach, data leakage, or denial of service;
- Hybrid resilience framework, ensuring multi-tier redundancy for critical digital assets, coupled with high availability of rapid failover;
- Risk-based thinking to protect business assets exposed to external threats as most of the workforce are connecting remotely – in some cases, using their own endpoints; and
- Availability of network components (spares) and backup (both people and technology), based on the criticality analysis.
Another major change is the shift in the network-traffic pattern. As people use the network for not just work but entertainment, education, gaming, video calls, etc., the boundaries between residential and business districts will change.
This will result in sudden surge in the last-mile bandwidth, leading to communication service providers having to reconfigure the network to cater to this change. This may also trigger an increase in demand of network engineers on the field and at the NOC as one cannot afford to have high resolution time for any technical issue, considering the criticality associated with professionals working out of home.
As we witnessed in the first week of the crisis, after ensuring safety of people, enterprises focused their energies toward enabling professionals to work remotely, with intention that the lock down could be for a short while – but soon after, due to uncertainty, enterprises have now started adapting to this transforming business as usual.
We are crossing a road paved with emerging technologies, which opened up for traffic before time, so the ride may not be smooth. But the journey will be enriched with the learnings, making the digital enterprise future-ready – a future, where technological upliftment for managing the current crisis will become the new normal.