Published January 20, 2022
At UB, the resiliency of our IT systems is the prime responsibility of the VPCIO area. But the threats—and what it means to be resilient in facing them—are evolving. How are we evolving in kind?
UB’s critical technology infrastructure is designed for resiliency. While the risk from disaster can never be zero, risks like flood and fire are greatly mitigated through virtualization, frequent backups, full redundancy, and the ability to run out of multiple physical locations. In many cases, systems may fail and recover without our customers ever experiencing a disruption.
Thanks to support from university leadership, and careful coordination across our IT organization, we continue to strengthen these foundations as new technology becomes available.
At the same time, we are critically examining what it means to be resilient in a changing landscape. Cyber security threats—ransomware in particular—have come to dominate this landscape. These threats are unprecedented in their scope and frequency, with the potential to pose a greater threat to our operations than an earthquake or a flood.
Compounding this threat is the changing way we look at IT services within the organization. Traditionally, a distinction has been made between recovery and continuity, with the former being the domain of the IT department. But that distinction is fading. Networks and other IT infrastructure are now considered critical utilities that cannot be offline for any amount of time without impacting business continuity.
What are we doing in response? We’ve been working hard to build strong business relationships at all levels of the organization, proactively addressing the need for broader coordination in the event of an emergency. Earlier this year, we helped organize UB’s first-ever campus-wide tabletop exercise focused on a cyber security-related disaster. This was illuminating, as it provided clear next steps for how we can improve and expand on these relationships as we share in the responsibility of keeping our systems running.
By definition, disasters pose an existential threat to institutions like ours. Our goal in IT remains to drive the risk out of system failure. Anybody doing this important work can tell you it is no trivial matter; it can only be done with support and careful coordination from within the organization.
We’re thankful for the active support and engagement we’ve received from our constituents across campus. Thanks to them, we are poised as an institution to meet the future without fear, but with optimism and opportunity.
J. Brice Bible is the Vice President and Chief Information Officer (VPCIO) for UB. UBIT is a service division at UB that provides enterprise technology leadership and guidance.