Whether it’s cybersecurity attacks, acts of terrorism or natural disasters, the stability of enterprise networks is under constant threat. No one can say for certain what’s going to happen next, which is why enterprises need to hope for the best, but plan for the worst.
A network resilience/disaster recovery strategy is like an insurance policy: you hope you never need it, but the time to invest in one is before you need it. No one enjoys paying for redundant systems and infrastructure they may never need to use, but the risk of failing to create a backup plan is so great that it would be foolish and shortsighted not to. That’s why enterprises need to strike the proper balance: keeping disaster recovery spending as low as possible during the good times, while also ensuring the flexibility to deploy backup infrastructure quickly during the bad times.
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An effective network resilience strategy depends on fully understanding the vulnerabilities facing your network, coming up with a backup plan to work around those vulnerabilities, and being able to execute that plan quickly.
Understanding the risks facing your network
As companies moved to remote work over the last two years, network infrastructure shifted to help accommodate this new reality. This shift has left some enterprises with an outdated understanding of how their network infrastructure works, and what they need to do to make sure it keeps working. Although enterprise networks have proven to be remarkably resilient in recent years, that didn’t happen by chance: many hard-working network engineers put in countless hours to make it so. Enterprise leaders shouldn’t get lured into a false sense of security. Instead, they need to get proactive about ensuring they’ll be ready if a major network outage does occur in the future.
To do this, start by understanding exactly where your traffic is currently flowing. This means both the provider networks you’re using and where they’re physically routing your data. If your network traffic passes through geopolitical hotspots or areas where volcanoes, earthquakes and other natural disasters are common, it’s important you understand that and prepare accordingly. If a subsea cable does get cut or damaged, you don’t want to be caught unprepared. Identify what the alternatives are in advance, and create a plan for how to enact those alternatives as quickly as possible.
Address network risks with agile, software-defined infrastructure
Preparing for what might happen is key to ensuring network resilience, but reacting quickly to what does happen is equally important. To put it simply, network resilience requires both thorough planning and business agility.
Business agility is something we’ve all been thinking about lately due to the ongoing fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the lessons we learned during the pandemic can help us as we plan for other forms of disruption in the future. To do this, many leading businesses are taking a composable approach, meaning they’re using modular business capabilities to maximize repeatability and agility. According to a 2021 Gartner® report:
“Business composability (a combination of mindset, practices, and tools that enable enterprises to sense and respond to changing business conditions) provides a strong foundation to respond to business volatility.”
Composable business practices that can help ensure network resilience include infrastructure as code and virtual connections. These practices meet both key goals of network resilience: they help provide the flexibility needed to redeploy infrastructure quickly after an outage, but they also help keep costs low by providing additional options other than just deploying redundant physical infrastructure.
If you’ve done the work of identifying alternative routes you can take in the aftermath of a network outage, infrastructure as code gives you the agility needed to start deploying those alternative routes quickly. As the name suggests, infrastructure as code involves storing the characteristics that define network infrastructure using software code. Simply execute the code, and that infrastructure can be redeployed anywhere in the world in a matter of minutes.
The reason infrastructure as code is so effective for disaster recovery is that it removes the human element from the equation. Instead of having to redeploy infrastructure manually, you can simply store any known good architecture as code. When the need arises, you can run the code and feel confident you’ll end up with an architecture identical to the original. In fact, you can use APIs to completely automate the process of redeploying network infrastructure.
Virtual connections can be spun up in the aftermath of a disaster and then spun down once they’re no longer needed. This ensures that the partners and service providers your business relies on for consistent network operations will never be out of reach. In addition, you only have to pay for these connections while you’re using them, making them more cost-effective than physical cross connects.
Count on Equinix to support your network resilience strategy
Equinix software-defined infrastructure solutions can help give you the infrastructure agility needed to ensure network resilience in an uncertain world.
Equinix Fabric™ for software-defined interconnection helps you connect with providers and partners at software speed.
Network Edge allows you to deploy virtual network services from leading providers in a matter of minutes, with no new physical hardware deployments required.
Equinix Metal™ makes it simple to deploy the dedicated bare metal you need, when and where you need it.
All Equinix products are supported by the global scale of Platform Equinix®, the world’s largest data center platform. With Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers available in more than 65 metros across the world, you’ll find the support you need no matter where your backup plan takes you.
To learn more, read the Gartner report “Business Composability Helps You Thrive Amid Disruption.”
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Check out the webinar replay “Build a cost-effective DR strategy with Equinix Fabric” for a deeper look at how Equinix Fabric provides infrastructure agility for disaster recovery.
 Data Center Knowledge, “Tonga Volcano Highlights Global Undersea Cable Network Fragility”. Salvatore Salamone, January 2022.
 Gartner, “Business Composability Helps You Thrive Amid Disruption”. Authors: Andy Rowsell-Jones, Tomas Nielsen, Jan-Martin Lowendahl, Ian Cox, Monika Sinha. June 2021, ID G00751036. GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.
…network resilience requires both thorough planning and business agility.”