The coronavirus pandemic has shown us many things, not least what happens when access to the things we take for granted is removed - from seeing family and friends, to popping to the shops, to accessing our workplaces. And whilst we may be through the first and most restrictive stage of lockdown, it is fair to assume that the effects will rumble on for some time to come, with possible mini-lockdowns in the future if there are regional spikes in cases.
Not surprisingly, there has been much discussion about the longer-term consequences of the coronavirus pandemic in the workplace. March 2020 saw a dramatic and rapid shift in working practices for many, as offices closed and legions of staff embarked on homeworking for an undefined period. This has focused attention on the role of resilient IT, which, when in place, has allowed disparate teams to remain productive through remote working and collaboration – something that would not be possible without businesses’ hugely valued IT infrastructure. Unfortunately, however, it wasn’t plain sailing for everyone….
Lockdown and on-premise IT infrastructure – what happened when issues arose
Many companies with on-premise IT infrastructure were unable to gain access to their IT equipment for in-house IT staff or third-party suppliers for routine, essential or emergency maintenance during lockdown. The resulting downtime put a huge strain on these businesses at a time when they were relying on IT to facilitate remote working and the continuation of the business activities.
Furthermore, extended periods of absence on the part of critical IT personnel due to sickness or self-isolation significantly hampered many businesses. Whilst third-party contractors could be deployed in some cases in place of IT staff (where access to on-premise IT infrastructure was still possible) this incurred extra costs, at a time when finances were already stretched to the limit for many. Budgets have been put under huge strain during the crisis and IT budgets are often the first to be hit in such a scenario. For many companies, this has resulted in project delays and cancellations, particularly for companies running investment-hungry on-premise IT facilities.
Coronavirus and the IT landscape
- Streamlined workplaces and less capacity for on-premise IT: Remote working has become the new normal for many, and it remains to be seen how many companies opt to continue encouraging homeworking for the foreseeable future, not least in a bid to reduce workplace overheads. Workplace downsizing and streamlining may mean that there is no longer capacity for on-premise IT.
- Pressure on IT teams to guarantee future business continuity: It is accepted that this won’t be the last pandemic, nor is it likely that this is the last we’ll see of coronavirus. Suddenly, preparing for future lockdown/social distancing is at the forefront of managers’ minds. Priority will be given to ensuring that IT infrastructure is always accessible, even if lockdown restrictions are placed on us again.
- Increased reliance on technology and connectivity: Remote working is dependent on technology to support communication, collaboration and, crucially, connectivity. During lockdown, most carriers stopped working on commercial premises, which caused significant problems for those with on-premise IT who were experiencing connectivity issues. A priority for many companies is likely to be ensuring that IT infrastructure and workloads are housed in a location that will be accessible to third-party engineers if anything like this COVID 19 lockdown happens again.
- Pressure on IT budgets casting doubt on the viability of on-premise IT: Coronavirus is forecast to have a devastating impact on the UK economy and, as a result, budgets will be cut across the board. IT budgets will not be immune to these cuts. On-premise datacentres are often very inefficient, resulting in hidden and variable costs, which makes budgeting difficult and can make it difficult to flex capacity up or down, based on changing conditions.
A solution: a secure, resilient, off-premise datacentre
It’s no secret that we pride ourselves on the service we offer our clients. Our service, which overlays an excellent facility and a team of consummate professionals, is our lifeblood, so we are thrilled that we have been able to work closely with our clients to see them through the worst of lockdown without compromising on the service we offer.
It was business as usual for Datum during lockdown because we had the systems and procedures in place to carry on largely unaffected by the crisis. This meant that we could continue servicing our clients as normal (over 400 service requests from 31 clients, so far …). Our clients were able to access our facility throughout lockdown for routine and emergency maintenance (whilst ensuring that social distancing guidelines were met). Where clients weren’t able to come to Datum (often because critical IT staff were off sick or self-isolating) we provided complementary remote hands engineering services. And because contract flexibility forms a key part of our relationships with clients, were have been able to provide some key clients with payment holidays in order to help see them through the crisis.
Whilst we wait to see what future beyond coronavirus holds, we will continue providing our clients with a secure, resilient, always-on, always-accessible location for their business-critical IT and our clients can be sure that their IT infrastructure and workloads are safe, well-managed and immune to disruption:
“The Datum team has excelled at seeking to maintain a business-as-usual operation of site services for their clients, whilst maintaining full site safety as per the Government's directives. As new clients, we’re greatly impressed and very reassured that Datum is the correct supplier/partner to host our ever-scaling IT requirements.”