Sometimes, IT can teach business a thing or two. In a recent survey on private cloud computing use, there was a statistic on the use of multipathing.
Based on data collected from more than 100 private cloud environments, the statistic showed that 96% of the organizations involved used more than one physical path to transfer data between a host and its external storage.
Besides being a device for fault tolerance, multipathing (or multipath I/O) can also offer load-balancing for performance optimisation. Now the question is “What could these concepts do for business continuity more generally?”
Multipathing of a sort already exists in supply chains. For example, an enterprise will “connect” to more than one supplier of a certain raw material, and adjust its level of orders to each one as a function of pricing, delivery conditions, supplier reliability, and so on.
Multipathing also exists in shipping and delivery. If the railway workers are on strike, then there are always trucks. If there is no fuel for the trucks, there might be bicycles (a popular last-mile delivery mode in many countries).
The challenge with the delivery side, however, is that once a package is in transit, it is more difficult to change delivery channels – unlike computers, where packets can be duplicated and discarded at will.
Inside the enterprise, multipathing is also possible when flexibility and employee cross-training are built into production lines and business processes.
But which enterprises can claim a 96% usage of multipathing outside of their IT environment? Is such a level even feasible? We would argue that even if it is ambitious, such a level of multipathing in non-IT business activities is indeed feasible.
It will require suitable IT systems and applications to make it run properly, but as products increasingly become services, and deliveries increasingly become digital, replicating IT multipathing in the rest of the business may turn out to simply be a logical next step.