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Today, IT is essential to the success of any organization. Consequently, IT managers must have a plan for when things go wrong. A range of network problems could arise -- from a temporary internet outage to a complete loss of facilities due to a flood or fire. Resilience in the face of adversity is a required, mission-critical element of IT in any organization, with an up-to-date continuity and disaster recovery plan in place.
With mobility and wireless communications -- both Wi-Fi and cellular -- at the heart of many IT strategies, organizations should consider how mobility and the benefits of wireless networks can be used as part of resilience, continuity and disaster recovery planning.
Obviously, a wireless connection between users and the rest of the network eliminates the plug in the wall. If an in-building Wi-Fi network fails, it can be replaced by a cellular link rather quickly. And even if a device is Wi-Fi-only, a Wi-Fi-to-cellular router will do the trick -- and, again, very quickly. Note also that Wi-Fi networks are quite resilient, with the failure of any given access point immediately addressed by nearby access points.
But let's look at the bigger picture. Mobility, including wireless, is all about convenience, flexibility, enhanced productivity and location independence. Wired desktop phones and desktop PCs plugged into an Ethernet cable have been replaced by mobile handsets, tablets and notebook PCs -- all fundamentally wireless. It's this reality at the edge that opens the door to the enhancement of resilience, continuity and disaster recovery overall.
The benefits of cloud-based networks
As cloud-based IT strategies increasingly become the norm, the ability to use any authorized and authenticated device means lost, stolen or damaged devices are simply a temporary inconvenience. The cloud is particularly important here.
If mission-critical data and applications are only available on a given device, reliability is indeed compromised. Therefore, it's important to minimize the role of any individual device in an organizational IT context, with all critical data and processing residing and implemented in the cloud.
With respect to wireless communications central to any mobile device today, the fault tolerance inherent in Wi-Fi and the two-way handoff of traffic from Wi-Fi to cellular and back pretty much eliminate continuity concerns here.
The next element to consider is the servers with which those mobile devices communicate. The failure of an entire facility due to physical damage or an extended power outage should give every IT manager pause. These potential problems should motivate organizations to consider moving server-side resources -- including network and operations management, as well as applications -- to a cloud-based service.
Benefits of wireless networks undeniable
Cloud competition is driving down prices, and the inherent fault tolerance and dynamic scalability of the cloud only add to overall reliability. Properly configured and implemented, then, a mobile- and cloud-centric IT organization has the majority of what's required for effective resilience, continuity and disaster recovery already in place. Surprising? Absolutely. But the benefits of wireless networks are undeniable.
At its core, an effective resilience, continuity and disaster recovery plan would eliminate all single points of failure -- beginning with physical facilities and proceeding to data, which includes a backup recovery strategy, plan and implementation. You'll also need to consider computing resources, such as the cloud and data from multiple service providers, as well as communications resources, including in-house Wi-Fi, public-access Wi-Fi and wide-area cellular services.
For any organization making major use of wireless networks and mobile computers and communicators, completing the picture, plan and implementation are relatively easy. Going even further, the flexibility of mobile and benefits of wireless networks also enable first responders and other emergency personnel to set up their own IT services quickly, reliably and cost-effectively.
The benefits of wireless networks discussed here are the byproducts of a wireless-first IT strategy, using wireless communications as a first option in place of wired. This approach, in turn, could evolve into the next step in organizational IT evolution: wireless-only.