Automation, cloud enablement, and modernization are popular topics in the IT and digital transformation sphere. At MOBIA, we’re privileged to learn about these important subjects from a wide variety of sources, including vendor conferences, technology blogs, peers, clients, and even our own experiences. While everyone agrees that the grass is greener on the other side of transformation projects, we can also agree that modernization comes with its challenges and that taking the first steps can be daunting. So, how can we smooth that path and even ease our way into modernization?
Recently we came up with some ideas about how to leverage RedHat Ansible Automation Platform with an adapted approach to projects already budgeted to improve modernization capabilities. More specifically, we explored the idea of using Business Continuity and Disaster Recover (BC/DR) testing as a Use Case for modernizing both BC/DR services and automation capabilities of teams.
Where to Begin
As more organizations make changes to their BC/DR planning, leveraging cloud solutions and automation, these projects present opportunities that move beyond improved recovery. In fact, they can help organizations build their technical skills in automation and draw valuable lessons about measuring the value of automation initiatives.
Clear and measurable outcome to work towards
Effective BC/DR planning calls for a thorough investigation of the business-critical functions of an organization’s technology. Although it requires a great deal of work, prioritizing these services is the key to a good implementation plan and sets a clear and measurable vision of success for this initial step into modernization.
As a recovery plan is implemented, the organization can measure progress by tracking the number of prioritized services that are restored and available during DR scenarios. Documenting this progress and the order of restored services validates the dependency map for the BC/DR plan while simultaneously allowing the organization to measure the value of the initiative.
Even organizations that prioritize restoring only some critical business services rather than the entire stack can gain insight into the value of modernization. In this case, their BC/DR plans can bebroken down into modules, each with a clear and measurable outcome.
With clearly defined scope and measurable outcomes, BC/DR projects represent a unique opportunity for an organization to build its modernization skills and develop an understanding of the value of modernization initiatives.
Leverage a cloud provider to manage costs
By leveraging cloud solutions, organizations starting with BC/DR projects can build their skills with these implementations while achieving measurable cost savings that reflect one of the primary advantages of modernization.
Before cloud solutions were available, the cost associated with setting up a new data centre, provisioning it with the necessary resources to do full disaster recovery validation, and maintaining it was prohibitive. To keep the costs of Disaster Recovery within budget, organizations who use traditional data centre recovery today generally recover "in-place" or "minimum functionality". Neither option provides an accurate view of the cost associated with a full DR scenario during planning, since the recovery process cannot be validated in full until it’s too late.
By moving BC/DR planning to the cloud, an organization can take advantage of a fully provisioned cloud implementation while running Disaster Recovery scenarios, and scale it down when it isn’t actively working on the project. Moreover, a cloud implementation offers a clear and measurable view of the costs of Disaster Recovery. These costs can be measured and documented to reduce the need for estimates that could prove to in the event of a real recovery. Finally, the non-disruptive nature of a cloud solution makes it possible run complete DR validation, which is impractical with in-place recovery.
The cloud is automation-friendly
As leaders in codified infrastructure major cloud providers make it possible to automate provisioning. When these interfaces are leveraged through an automation platform like RH Ansible Automation Platform, an organization can provision everything from networks through to compute, even end to end services. Leverage the pre-build modules, certified content and community sourced samples to accelerate automation development and then use a centralized hub to track how often your automation saves you time!
With training materials, use cases, and other community created content available online, organizations who are new to using cloud solutions can find support to develop their skills and expertise in automation. Naturally, these skills can be applied to future cloud-enabled automation initiatives on the way to modernization.
Key steps to building modernization capabilities with BC/DR planning projects:
With the unique opportunities of taking the first step into modernization with BC/DR planning in mind, we can explore the key steps to getting the most out of your BC/DR planning projects:
- Plan for non-disruptive cloud-based DR validation using cloud resources that you can turn on and off for validation tests.
- Remember to time your DR from "start of build" through "validation complete" and ending with "all cloud resources have been turned off". You can use this information to compare the cost of DR testing with the cost of past disruptive methods.
- Start developing automation to build and tear down the DR validation environments. This offers a safe, non-disruptive place to learn and develop your organization’s skills in automation.
- Validate OFTEN; consistent and regular testing is the only way to realize the full benefits of both automation and Disaster Recovery. Regular testing enables your DR scenario outcomes and data to keep up with changes to your organization and updates to your automation.
- Capture the "time spent developing automation" as well as related and continuous improvements. This will allow you to calculate and track the increasing business value of the automation investment properly.
Following these steps will improve DR planning and budgeting with several benefits that extend to future modernization projects
- Capture the REAL cost to recovery
- Verify critical service recovery without disrupting regular business
- Understand the ongoing operational costs to maintain DR capabilities
- Capture the cost savings directly related to automation improvements
- Ensure all DR processes and procedures are captured as code and can be used across cloud providers from a common source
What comes next?
For many organizations, Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery planning is just the first step on the path to modernization. A few iterations through recovery scenarios and automation improvement will prepare an organization to begin integrating automation into the process of building new infrastructure and services. Having executed multiple Disaster Recovery scenarios, the organization can undertake these projects with confidence and experience. With measurable data on the financial benefits of automation, teams will also have the information they need to develop business cases for future automation and modernization initiatives.
Once automation is being leveraged to build new services for an organization, DR automation becomes even simpler, creating a virtuous cycle leading further down the path to modernization.
Ready to explore the ways Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery can launch your modernization journey? MOBIA can work with you to get the most value out of great technology partners like RedHat (and Ansible Automation Platform) to enable your team to succeed as you take these important first steps.
Contact us to learn more, email@example.com
In partnership with
Jeff Kelly, MOBIA OCTO