As manufacturers continue to digitally transform their operations, they need to be wary of new threats to business continuity.
June 17, 2019
By: Oussama El-Hilali, CTO at Arcserve
IT managers in the manufacturing industry can’t take a break, and often have their operations running all day, every day. For even just a few minutes of downtime can have serious ramifications on revenue and overall profitability. For example, Nike makes $36,505 every minute, so if their production line is down for even just a few moments, it can be detrimental. But, as IT infrastructures become increasingly more complicated and different cyber threats continue to emerge, it’s becoming more challenging to achieve IT resilience and continuous access to mission-critical applications and systems.
Digital transformation ushers in new cyber risks
Over the past few years, the manufacturing industry has been digitally transforming to increase efficiency and improve processes. In fact, IDC’s Worldwide Semiannual Digital Transformation Spending Guide found that discrete manufacturing and process manufacturing will spend the most on digital transformation efforts in 2019, with a combined projected spend of $346.1 billion. Many manufacturing plants are investing these dollars into new technologies, such as IoT devices, so they can automate processes and remotely manage more tools and systems across geographical locations. While these newer solutions provide operational benefits, they create new risks to business continuity, too.
Like any new piece of technology, there are a slew of increased cyber risks that need to be carefully considered when bringing IoT devices into the fold. Otherwise, these devices can actually pose a threat to business continuity if they’re not implemented and provisioned carefully with the proper backup and disaster recovery protocols in place. These devices often aren’t designed with cybersecurity in mind, so incorporating them into the IT infrastructure can create vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can use to infiltrate an organization’s network and infect them with malware like ransomware.
In addition to increased cyber risk, manufacturers still need to anticipate and prepare for traditional threats to business continuity, like failed hardware, an IT outage or even a natural disaster. That said, there’s a lot that IT professionals in this sector need to consider so they can help their organization keep the production line running.
Investing in technology that achieves continuous availability
IT executives in the manufacturing space have a tall order to fill, as they need to make sure their organizations are also investing in proper backup and disaster recovery technology to maintain access to mission-critical applications and systems, no matter the downtime event. The stakes are high for them, too, as any amount of time offline is extremely costly in this industry.
As such, many are looking to the cloud to create redundancy and to ensure they’re able to recover their data from an alternative location. There are two cloud strategies that are gaining traction. The first is a hybrid cloud approach, which allows manufacturers to have both an onsite and offsite disaster recovery option. In this case, the organization could have data, workloads, and applications backed up on-premises, and then could also use a public or private cloud service to backup data as well.
In addition to deploying a hybrid cloud strategy, multi-cloud strategies have also proven to be a viable option for many manufacturers. A multi-cloud strategy can be part of a hybrid cloud, but involves the deployment of multiple cloud environments for data backup and recovery. This can enable cloud-to-cloud failover, adding another layer of protection to keep operations running as smoothly as possible, no matter what happens.
Regardless of where organizations decide to store their data backups, manufacturers should also invest in continuous data protection and high availability solutions. These technologies are different than traditional data backup and disaster recovery solutions. True high availability takes away recovery worries altogether, as these tools allow IT professionals to continuously replicate data in real time instead of backing it up for recovery.
When working with data protection vendors to assess these options, it’s important for IT teams to ask how data is replicated, as it makes a difference in what you’re able to recover, and how quickly you’re able to recover it. The traditional backup process is good for recovering files and data but restoring entire applications could take hours and maybe days. This is obviously not good for companies that can’t have interruptions to begin with.
That’s why companies who cannot afford downtime whatsoever should look into technologies that use replication technology, which replicates byte-level changes at the file, application or system level in real time. This is key, as it provides IT teams with data rewind capabilities, where they can “go back” and restore their data as it was pre-cyberattack, natural disaster, hardware failure and so on. In the cases of data loss or corruption, this can be very powerful and critical to achieving business continuity.
The manufacturing industry is undergoing an interesting digital renaissance, so as they invest in new technologies to improve their production times and make it easier to manage multiple remote locations, they also need to make sure their IT infrastructures are getting a facelift in tandem. If they do this, they’ll be better prepared to meet the organization’s needs and ensure they can keep operations running.
About Oussama El-Hilali, CTO of Arcserve
Oussama serves as the CTO of Arcserve and is responsible for setting the global product strategy, and managing the development and product management teams. He has nearly 25 years of IT and R&D experience driving and achieving product strategy and roadmaps, acquisition of new technology, and developing strategic business partnerships in both Fortune 100 and emerging companies. Keep up with him and Arcserve by following the company’s Twitter page.