COVID 19 – The New IT Reality

Originally Appearing in Forbes, March 31, 2020, Author: John Webster

Security is now a primary concern to the point that some projects that were active before the pandemic are now being put on hold or even abandoned while security projects are accelerated. One healthcare IT executive we spoke to has seen a near doubling of outside attacks on their internal healthcare delivery systems over the last few weeks. Personally, I find this as evil as it gets.

Data protection is now a second priority behind security. In fact, the two go hand in hand. Because at home workers are more vulnerable to attack and farther away from direct support, their data is more at risk. Backups are more frequent which puts increased demand on data protection systems trying to handle the increased load.

Network bandwidth is being increasingly challenged to handle the load of workers trying to stay connected in order to remain functional. As one IT operations staff member said: “It’s the last mile problem that’s slowing us down.”

Trained IT staff is in even greater demand in areas that are now deemed critical. As noted, these include security and data protection. Cloud infrastructure and network management are two more.

Disaster recovery and business continuity plans are at least being partially activated to deal with stay at home orders. This is particularly the case for systems that now must be managed and maintained remotely. Post 911, IT executives realized that it wasn’t just systems that needed to be covered by disaster recovery plans. The absence of hands-on operational staff needed to be considered as well.

Cloud workload migration and remote systems management projects are accelerating. However, the problem here is that cloud providers may have to respond by rationing capacity because of the spike in demand. A long-time user of one of the major cloud providers was told yesterday that his requests for new capacity can’t be fully met because the cloud provider has seen the same spike in capacity demand from their other large users.

We need to recognize the new reality as an IT community and come together over ways to deal with it. There are positive ways to approach these challenges. It seems to me that the continued functioning of healthcare systems for example should now be a national priority as they face every one of the challenges I’ve noted here.

Shamima Paurobally