Whether it be natural disasters, human error or sophisticated hackers, downtime continues to damage business operations, resulting in financial and reputational repercussions.
Following the recent security breaches of WannaCry and Petya, organisations are now placing greater importance on the need to have business continuity conversations with the channel.
Because such incidents highlight that inaction can result in the death of a company in Australia, emphasising the need for businesses to become more resilient to ensure systems do not crumble and crash.
As the issue evolves into a board- level conversation, the definition of business continuity now differs for customers and partners.
“It can go all the way from infrastructure such as power all the way up to virtualisation,” The Missing Link co-owner and CEO Alex Gambotto said.
“Business continuity covers the whole stack but for a customer, it’s specific to what the business is and what the organisation does. Sometimes, for a customer, disaster avoidance is possibly a better investment than continuity so we need to figure out a strategy that best meets their needs.”
However, Correct Solutions managing director Ryan Spillane questioned if the channel, as an industry, is truly doing what customers would define as business continuity.
“I don’t think we are and I don’t think we can easily unless we are business consultants,” he argued. “Business continuity is supply chain continuity and human continuity. Too many people in our industry think of business continuity as about just getting the technology going.
“That’s a given nowadays in this industry, we’re good at making the technology work. But for customers, it’s not just technology-based.”
Delving deeper, ASI Solutions head of services Daniel Johns explained the difference between business resilience and business continuity.
“Business continuity is making sure that if the worst happens and the systems are completely impacted, they can recover from them and they can bring something back up somewhere else,” he said.
“Business resilience is finding out the areas and the processes that are important to your business and investing in areas so that there is the least amount of risk of it going down.”
From a vendor perspective, Zerto country manager of Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ) Matthew Kates outlined that in the past 12 months, business continuity conversations have changed — both from an awareness prospective as well as the way IT is delivered.
“It’s evolved very quickly over the past probably two to three years, but I think it’s hit the last 12 months or so and we’re seeing a lot of very public outages,” Kates observed. “There’s a government agency that’s now a Zerto customer because of a public outage recently.
“Organisations are struggling to evolve and IT used to be something that was like plumbing in the basement, now it serves core functions to the business and to customers.”
Channel Dynamics co-founder and director Moheb Moses said business continuity conversations now occur at a boardroom level whereas in the past, it was just larger organisations such as technology vendors that had such experience.
But as the market moves towards being delivered as-a-service, Moses said the solution provider now becomes the new vendor and is facilitating those conversations as a result.
“Because the products become less relevant and the customers are dealing more with the business partner, they now have to deal with IT and the board-level conversations,” he said.
From a partner perspective, former Winc A/NZ head of technology solutions Karl Sice - now with ASI Solutions - said challenges are associated with making the transition, with the market lacking leadership and looking to the channel for guidance.
“Today’s business conversations need none of the technology talk,” he said. “I think it’s one of the biggest challenges in the context of business continuity. People are probably used to other organisations being more credible to have that conversation at the levels we’re talking about.
“It feels unusual for us, who have been involved in somewhat operative conversations, to actually now go up a level into strategy conversations and still remain engaged and credible.”
For Gambotto, challenges not only lie for partners to deliver for customers, but also business continuity within their organisations as well.
“We’re talking about business continuity with our customers, what about our own business continuity and redundancy ability to be able to achieve what we need to deliver for our clients with our staff,” he said.
“That’s a challenge in itself. It’s complicated. So you need more skillsets within the team.”
Artis Group managing director Chris Greatrex, said in a smaller market such as Australia — with so many vendors trying to compete — it has become a “big burden” on partners to educate the market around business continuity.
“We have to deal with the clients and the noise,” he said. “So, we spend three quarters of the time educating them and only a quarter doing the deal and deploying it. In a market like Australia, so much time is taken up with education because of all that noise.”
Today, vendors are now relying heavily on partners to help with constructing an outcome from multiple different layers of products and services.
“I think vendors are in real trouble,” Kates acknowledged. “How do we weave an IT strategy across on-premise, cloud-based applications, SaaS-based applications and protect all that information and keep it available? It’s very challenging.
“We want to be as important as possible, but we’re still part of an overall outcome that we need our partners to deliver.”