Globalized supply chains bring many new cost and time savings for both consumers and manufacturers. However, when production is decentralized across several geographic locations, unexpected mishaps can quickly escalate into serious disasters for modern organizations.
A failure on the production line in the United States could start a chain reaction that disrupts a separate production location in London, causing serious ramifications to productivity and profitability worldwide. To avoid such scenarios, it’s important for companies to consider making the move to the cloud to protect systems and applications, and ultimately avoid extended downtime that could significantly impact the organization’s bottom line.
Causes of Supply Chain Disruption
Manufacturers need to be hyper-aware of the different threats that can cause disruptions to supply chains. Whether a geopolitical conflict changes established trade agreements, a cyberattack infiltrates an organization’s network, or a natural disaster strikes, it has become more important than ever to shield supply chains and the I.T. systems that power them.
Over the past few years, these threats have only intensified. Today’s expansive supply chains provide a variety of access points that can be infiltrated by cybercriminals. This can quickly become a cybersecurity nightmare, especially for companies that have multiple legacy systems operating within their environments.
If a system goes down, it can pose huge financial losses, especially for manufacturers that rely on just-in-time fulfillment. Therefore, it’s not only important to make sure that data and applications are secure, but to back them up so they can be restored as quickly as possible to mitigate downtime and hits to profits.
How the Cloud Can Help
The cloud can help companies protect their assets by granting visibility into the entire supply chain, providing a single point of view for disaster recovery testing. Migrating to the cloud can also enable increased scalability, by allowing international companies to back up I.T. systems from remote offices without having to make significant time and monetary investments in installing the initial infrastructure to make it happen. This also allows organizations the ability to scale up their business operations using the infrastructure that they already have.
Data deduplication in the cloud can also help make managing data easier, allowing access to a single copy of data by providing a smaller quantity of to back up and protect. This is done by identifying unique blocks (byte patterns) of data. Throughout the entire deduplication process, these blocks are compared with the stored copy to ensure there’s no redundancy. If there is, the redundant blocks are replaced.
The deduplication process also makes backups much easier to complete, by reducing the time it takes to do the backup. Further, it enables I.T. teams to better manage storage costs, especially as data volumes continue to grow. This can provide significant cost-savings for companies that are making daily backups, as they would now only need to migrate the 2 percent of their data that is “new,” rather than 100 percent of existing data at a given time.
In addition to potentially saving time and money spent on backing up data, manufacturers may also be able to better validate their processes after moving to the cloud. A centralized cloud backup can allow organizations to back up data on a monthly, yearly or hourly basis across all points of the supply chain, providing valuable insights into whether operations are being completed correctly and efficiently.
Making the Migration
Despite the benefits of moving to the cloud, some manufacturers are hesitant to make the jump because they’re worried it will turn into a massive project. This certainly does not need to be the case. In fact, cloud migration can really be quite simple.
When moving from legacy technology, such as tape or virtualized environments, organizations should seek out tools that offer solutions that support integration among any number of devices and platforms into the cloud. Otherwise, they will need to tap several different resources to manage these legacy systems, which can quickly turn into a headache.
As new threats emerge, whether it be a new form of malware or an expected natural disaster, it’s important for supply-chain managers to be aware of the new technologies such as the cloud that can help keep data safe, and operations running smoothly. Using these technologies can relieve stress from I.T. teams, and ultimately protect an organization’s bottom line.
Oussama El-Hilali is vice president of products at Arcserve, a provider of data protection, replication and recovery software.
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