The rapid outbreak of COVID-19 has caught many organizations off-guard, forcing them to rapidly adjust the way they manage their workforce and their technology infrastructure. One of the risks they must take into consideration is how the crisis could affect their data center infrastructure. There are a few ways that the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 could create troublesome data center issues.
3 Ways COVID-19 Could Affect Your Data Center Infrastructure
1. Increased Network Demand
With millions of people spending their days at home due to social distancing guidelines, network services of all kinds are experiencing unprecedented levels of demand. Streaming giant Netflix, for example, added a staggering 16 million new subscribers during the last few months, and Verizon reported seeing online gaming traffic increase by 75% in the span of a week during March. While that increase in demand might seem like a boon for companies, it comes with a significant drawback. All that traffic is overwhelming many networks, resulting in severe slowdowns and causing many systems to crash entirely.
2. Heightened Security Risks
The rapid transition to a remote workforce has taken many organizations by surprise and exposed their networks to substantial security risks. Companies that never intended to implement work from home policies are suddenly being forced to think about how their employees can access their networks remotely from poorly secured internet connections and potentially compromised devices. Even businesses accustomed to some level of remote work are finding that their existing VPN solutions may not be able to handle all of their employees logging in remotely, alongside other network vulnerabilities that have long gone unnoticed. Lack of clarification about access policies can also create some data center security risks.
3. Limited Support
With social distancing guidelines limiting where people can go and what they can do, many organizations are finding that they’re unable to get the same level of service they’re accustomed to receiving. This is especially true of companies that rely on managed service providers and other forms of IT outsourcing. If something goes wrong with a server in a data center, for instance, will an employee be able to access the facility to address the problem? There may even be confusion of what access policies and support services are still in effect if a provider has to adjust their operations to cope with the COVID-19 threat.
5 Ways to Protect Your Data Center Infrastructure During the COVID-19 Outbreak
1. Monitor Bandwidth Closely
With demand at all-time highs, it’s never been more important for companies to monitor their data center bandwidth. Being able to scale bandwidth up during traffic peaks can help ensure that services remain readily accessible for customers. There may be some limitations here due to network and last-mile congestion in certain markets, but one of the advantages of having solid data center infrastructure is being able to rapidly scale capacity when it’s needed most. It’s also important to recognize when that infrastructure simply can’t handle demand and needs to take steps to limit the strain (such as YouTube shifting from HD to SD video).
2. Have a Backup Plan in Place
Sometimes, too much strain on the network will cause it to fail, resulting in key services going down and data being lost. That’s when having data center infrastructure that provides redundancies and failover backups is so essential. A good disaster recovery plan should have a clear process in place to ensure that recovery time objectives (RTO) remain low enough to get network services up and running again before customers are lost.
3. Reassess Your Security
While organizations should always be thinking about network security, COVID-19 has raised the stakes when it comes to protecting data center infrastructure. In addition to implementing key remote cybersecurity strategies like vulnerability assessments and ensuring that employees are aware of the latest coronavirus cyber scams, companies should also evaluate their data center security policies.
Who has access to key IT assets? Should that access be restricted? Do additional security measures need to be put in place to protect both physical and virtual data center infrastructure? The sooner risks can be identified, the sooner they can be addressed to ensure data security and availability.
4. Protect Your Staff (and Your Vendors)
For all the advantages offered by technology, people remain the key to business success in almost every industry. COVID-19 has the potential to undermine that essential asset, which makes it more difficult for an organization to serve its customers effectively. One of the most important steps to take when safeguarding data center infrastructure is ensuring that the policies and procedures are in place to keep the people who work in the facility safe and healthy.
That means implementing social distancing policies where possible, sanitizing heavily trafficked areas, and monitoring employee health closely. All surfaces should be sanitized regularly, and any potential COVID-19 contact should be addressed immediately. After all, having the most secure and stable data center infrastructure won’t count for much if nobody is there to manage it.
5. Trust in the Cloud
Shifting data and applications into a cloud environment can help organizations avoid some of the challenges that come from managing physical data center infrastructure. While cloud computing is made possible by a cloud data center somewhere, most customers never interact with these facilities. If they’re leveraging a hybrid solution that combines a private cloud with public cloud services, they will still reap the benefits that come from minimizing their IT footprint and leveraging the power of software-based solutions instead of relying on racks of physical hardware that could be vulnerable to COVID-19-related threats.
Secure Your Data Center Infrastructure with DSM!
As Florida’s preferred cloud provider, DSM has been managing clients IT needs for over 30 years. That’s why we’ve already implemented the best industry practices that can keep your network services up and running no matter what crisis is impacting your business.
Our security services can help you identify and shore up vulnerabilities that could threaten your remote workforce, while our disaster recovery services ensure that your essential data will always be available, even if your network goes down. To learn more about how DSM’s robust cloud services can help keep your business secure, contact our team today.