5 Steps to Include in Your Holiday IT Resilience Plan

Happy Holidays and welcome to the season of giving! The official start of the holiday buying season is upon us as retailers start and sustain their frenzied rush to get their products out the door and into the hands of the consumer.

In the past, this is where many online and brick and mortar retailers stumbled and realized just how much an outage event of hours, days, and even minutes can have a profoundly negative effect on their bottom line well into the following year. Being prepared and building a highly available contingency plan is a great way to overcome and be successful during the holiday season.

Most call the “official” kickoff of this season to be the much-hyped Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping days that fall right after the Thanksgiving holiday, when it is now starting weeks before. With all that activity going on, in the stores and online, even the smallest disaster could cost the business thousands, if not millions, of dollars in lost sales, not to mention the damage to their branding and reputation.

So, when we talk about a possible disaster, what could that include? History has shown that online retailers suffered from overloaded websites, scalability issues, security issues and breaches, and even DNS attacks during their most profitable times in the season. Physical stores added cash register outages and backend computer system (on-premises and in the cloud) failures as well. Some statistics point to more than 40% of online buyers will abandon a retail site if it takes longer than three seconds to load a page. For customers that are dissatisfied with their online shopping experience, more than 80% of them will not buy from the same site again.

To proactively counter these, you need to come up with a plan for resiliency and contingency for your critical points of possible disaster to ensure a smooth customer experience and keep moving your profits higher.

In a nutshell, these ae some of the essential check-off items to include in your holiday resiliency plan:

  1. Make sure your employees and support staff know what to do in different disaster scenarios. Customer service is paramount in the retail business and should be even more so when even the smallest issues arise. Have your people prepared!
  2. Stress Test your POS and online applications. Run them through a battery of testing that would allow for hundreds if not thousands of transactions in a short period of time.
  3. Make sure your vendors and partners are ready. From your internet provider, to your cloud partner, to your IT Staff – prepare them for what could happen and not worrying about what did happen.
  4. If at all possible, move your critical applications to the cloud. This is essential in today’s business environment. Whether you choose a hybrid or public cloud solution, hosting your online and POS applications has never been easier, more cost-effective, and efficient. Public cloud providers invest millions of dollars in software and hardware technology that provides for auto-scaling your applications availability, providing a seamless scale-up when the demand arises, while scaling back down when demand is less, as well as load balancing requests and transactions across multiple networks and servers.
  5. Invest in making your infrastructure resilient. The ability to recover quickly is crucial to being successful during this season. Invest in a solution, such as Zerto’s Virtual Replication, and your downtime goes from days and hours down to minutes, saving your customers and your profits. Whether in the cloud, utilizing a Cloud Service Provider that offers Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), or replicating your on-premises virtual servers to another location, Zerto will have you protected.

And finally, after having a successful and profitable holiday season, make sure you plan for a celebration with your associates and customers, and also a well-deserved vacation!

 

Happy Holidays from Zerto!

 

– Mike Nelson has been an IT professional for over 3 decades and has earned a few community awards including a Microsoft MVP, Microsoft Azure Advisor, Citrix CTP, and VMware vExpert. He joined Zerto in 2017 as a Cloud Architect for the US Midwest region and loves to talk to Partners, Providers, and Customers about ZVR, the Cloud, and technologies that shape our lives.

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