In the always-on environment, CIOs are under increased pressure to deliver solutions that facilitate round the clock access to data and services. However, they need to remain mindful of managing the inherent risk of introducing cloud and virtualisation services, says Warren Olivier, regional manager for Southern Africa at Veeam.

According to the Veeam Data Centre Availability Report, enterprises around the world encounter application downtime 13 times a year, costing up to R11-billion in lost application data. Fortunately, if implemented correctly, an availability solution can actually reduce the risk profile in data centres.

“Companies can do this by harnessing virtualisation technologies that enable them to be more flexible and automate processes to ensure data is protected in an effective manner. A key advantage is the ability to have verified protection. So when you do need to restore from a backup or are replicating a drive you know you will not be losing any data,” says Olivier.

He believes that virtualised systems allow the business to carry out tests on environments that are hours or even minutes old, compared to the production environment. This means the CIO is ensuring that the test scenario is accurate and the company is less likely to run into problems when executing the upgrade or patch thereby significantly reducing the risk.

“However, one stumbling block that is still frequently encountered is that C-suite executives are not aware that investing in modern data centre solutions is vital in order to ensure availability in the future. As companies rely more heavily on remote working and systems being Always-On, the stakeholders need to embrace risk management.”

The use of mobile technology also needs to be managed as it can bring significant additional risk for companies. Thankfully, as a result of advances in mobile device management technologies, organisations are able to manage the risk of sensitive data on these devices very successfully. Company policies, and the ability of IT departments to implement them, which enforce the use of passwords and encryption means that data is safe if the device falls into the wrong hands. Additionally, backup and replication products mean that companies also have the ability to restore the data to new devices should they be forced to remotely wipe the data.

“Having said that, there is higher risk when it comes to laptops and desktops which are more difficult to wipe remotely. Ensuring that data also lives in the data centre should be an important strategy. A layered approach that includes technologies such as offline files, policies, redirection, and endpoint backup needs to be implemented to ensure no data loss,” adds Olivier.

As companies become aware of the need to provide Always-On access to their systems, they must do so whilst managing the associated risk.

“This means that it will be vital to implement technologies such as virtualisation which are able to reduce the risk as well as giving IT departments more control and flexibility of applications and data,” he concludes.