The rise in quality and power of consumer IT products in recent times has been astounding. You can hold a phablet in your hand today with a 2 gigahertz processor and 16 gigabytes of solid-state memory. By comparison, IBM mainframes of about 10 years ago offered 8 – 32 gigabytes of main memory (but to be fair, lots more disk storage as well). Consumer products also lead the way in user-friendliness and ergonomic design. But in all of the above there’s one thing missing.
Consumer IT products have little in the way of built-in disaster recovery. In a consumer context, if a product ceases to work as you expect, it’s a nuisance. However, you can always put it to one side and tell yourself you’ll figure it out at the weekend. Consumer clocks don’t run like business clocks however. In business, downtime is immediately bad news. It costs organisations money from the first second it starts.
What saves consumer IT products in many cases is their quality. Consumers have few qualms nowadays about returning poor quality products. Such returns are expensive to manufacturers both in logistics and reputation. It costs less to make the products well in the first place and avoid breakdown. Moreover, the market is competitive and vendors continually vie with each other to offer better performance at lower prices while maintaining quality.
However, because disaster recovery is often an afterthought (if it exists at all) in consumer circles, businesses will need to exercise patience and educate employees appropriately. If not, the danger is that consumer attitudes will arrive in enterprises along with consumer IT products. Technical solutions exist to ‘bolt on’ DR to many types of computing equipment, but effective DR also starts in users’ heads. Businesses can leverage the advantages of advanced consumer IT, but they need to be sure to properly plug gaps like disaster recovery as well.