Are you Prepared for "Anywhere Operations"?

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Anywhere operations is an operating model which enables businesses to reach customers anywhere, enable employees anywhere, and deliver services anywhere.

According to Gartner’s report on Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2021, “Anywhere Operations” is a trend that has immense disruptive potential and sets the stage for business model innovation over the next two to three years.

Anywhere Operations means that businesses must adopt an operating model to reach customers anywhere, enable employees anywhere, and deliver business services anywhere. The report states that “through 2023, 40% of organizations will blend virtual and physical experiences, leading to increased workforce productivity and customer reach.” This digital-first, location-independent mindset enables new opportunities with a diverse and geographically distributed workforce.

It also provides new challenges for IT departments in regard to infrastructure, operations, and cloud management. Supporting Anywhere Operations depends on a foundation of technology building blocks, including:

  • Collaboration and productivity
  • Secure remote access
  • Cloud and edge infrastructure
  • Quantification of the digital experience, and
  • Automation to support remote operations.

Collaboration is critical to enable anytime operations

Successful remote business collaboration is the one of the few positive upshots of the COVID-19 pandemic, and software spending reflects this. Spending on global collaboration software reached $22.6 billion in 2020, according to an IDC report, an increase of 33 per cent compared to 2019. The five largest collaboration software vendors by revenue – Microsoft, Google, Zoom, Cisco, and Slack – accounted for 64 per cent of the market, and the top 20 vendors saw 40 per cent annual revenue growth, on average, during the year.

With the rise of Anywhere Operations, organisations need to ensure critical business technologies, like collaboration software, is functional and protected. Application code and data must be safe, secure, and always available. And, although the largest vendors often seem stable, if they don’t have their software code and data secured with a third party – are they prepared for unexpected disruption or even worse a ransomware attack? There are also a host of small, unproven players who are coming up with great innovations as well. As a result, software resilience is more critical than ever.

SaaS can facilitate anytime operations but also introduces risk

The shift to the cloud and SaaS has enabled this new Anywhere Operations business model and resulting productivity. As the world changes, enterprise IT departments are tasked with supporting customers, employees, and business services anywhere at any time, yet they have less control over the applications and the underlying infrastructure. When your applications and data are hosted in the cloud, risks are introduced.

Many IT professionals are familiar with software escrow as a tried-and-true way to protect their software source code, if their business-critical applications become unavailable. This same escrow approach can be implemented for SaaS-based applications and data as well. As you become responsible for Anywhere Operations, it’s important to proactively protect the applications that enable your success.

A Shared Model of Responsibility

It’s important to know that your cloud service provider, such as AWS or Azure, is not necessarily responsible for keeping your applications and data up and running. They have disaster recovery for their operations, not necessarily for your applications and data – that’s where software resilience comes in.

A recent AWS white paper on Disaster Recovery of Workloads on AWS is very clear in stating, “resiliency is a shared responsibility between AWS and you, the customer. You must understand how disaster recovery and availability, as part of resiliency, operate under this shared model.” Too many people don’t understand the complexities of this shared model and assume their applications and data are safe because they are in the cloud.

Technology research and advisory firm Information Services Group (ISG) urges caution given the volatile nature of the players in the SaaS market. They state that the SaaS market has a growing number of players, including small niche providers, and industry consolidation aimed at increasing scale is expected to continue. “Nearly all companies covered in the report have acquired smaller vendors in the last three years. When considering SaaS providers, customers should consider the chances of the company being acquired and be mindful of support options.”

Consider SaaS Escrow for mitigating cloud computing risks

Industry consolidation, mergers, and acquisitions are very real reasons to consider a SaaS escrow solution. Although your cloud services provider is responsible for the resiliency of the infrastructure that runs all of the services offered in the cloud, the customer is responsible for resiliency in the cloud. The AWS white paper outlines these responsibilities to include secure data backup, workload architecture, change management, failure management, and networking, quotas, and constraints.

A software resilience solution is a necessity for all parties as part of their business continuity strategy. You’ll need access to your cloud-hosted software and data if there are unforeseen issues with your SaaS provider. So, while you’re enabling the applications needed to support Anywhere Operations, make sure you’ve put a SaaS escrow plan in place for a simple, streamlined approach to cloud risk mitigation.

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