Home » Blog » Network Resilience: What is a Resilience System?
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Network resilience means being able to withstand or recover from adversity, service degradation, and complete outages with minimal business disruption. The longer business-critical services are down, or systems are breached, the greater the risk of significant financial, reputational, and legal consequences. For example, after suffering a major cybersecurity breach in 2020, SolarWinds now faces legal action from the SEC, not to mention damaged customer trust. A resilience system is a set of technologies that enable an organization to continue operating while teams work to repair failures and recover from cyberattacks. But what exactly is a resilience system, and what does it look like? This guide to network resilience defines resilience systems, provides example use cases, compares them to related technologies like backups and redundant systems, and describes the key components required to build them.

What is a resilience system?

A resilience system provides all the infrastructure, tools, and services necessary to continue operating, if in a degraded state, during major incidents. It also includes everything needed to recover data, rebuild systems, perform security testing, and continue delivering core business functionality. A resilience system is typically isolated from the production network, preventing cybercriminals from finding and compromising it and ensuring teams have continuous access even if the primary network goes down.

Resilience system use cases

Some examples of the challenges that resilience systems help overcome include:

1. Ransomware recovery

In a ransomware attack, cybercriminals infect systems with malware that spreads throughout the network and encrypts any data it encounters. Modern ransomware now uses packaged attacks that move at machine speed, instantly incapacitating entire networks. Organizations completely lose access to critical systems and data until they pay a ransom, often in untraceable cryptocurrency. Ransomware is an exceptionally tenacious form of malware and tends to reinfect backup data and rebuilt systems, significantly hampering recovery efforts and increasing the duration and cost of the attack. The best practice for resilience systems is to isolate them on an out-of-band (OOB) network, inaccessible to hackers who have breached the production in-band network. Doing so creates a safe, isolated recovery environment (IRE) where teams can restore critical data and systems without the risk of reinfection. The resilience system includes all the tools and hardware needed to restore critical business services and infrastructure. An IRE significantly accelerates ransomware recovery and minimizes downtime, so businesses can avoid paying ransoms and reduce the overall cost of attacks.

2. Network outages

Enterprise network architectures and supply chains are highly complex, with lots of moving parts that rely on external vendors to maintain availability. Just one of those vendors dropping the ball could take the entire organization offline, severely impacting network resilience. For example, in 2023, an expired cryptographic certificate caused Cisco’s Viptela SD-WAN appliances to fail on reboot, completely taking down affected networks until the issue was resolved. With a resilience system, Viptela customers could have potentially avoided this downtime by failing over to alternative network resources. For example, a resilience system with integrated cellular failover allows branches to continue connecting to and delivering critical business services while also providing a lifeline for remote teams to access and recover failed systems. A resilience system also provides observability and automatic notifications so teams are instantly alerted to issues like certificate expirations and can respond quickly to recover critical services.

3. Shift to remote work

Incidents like ransomware attacks and equipment failures happen frequently enough that companies can create detailed plans and proactively implement solutions to minimize their impact, but not all adverse events are so predictable. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the massive shift to remote work strained the network resources of most organizations. Instead of maintaining a limited number of branch offices, teams suddenly had to treat every employee as a new branch, leading to performance degradation and outages as they scrambled to reinforce the business’s remote capabilities. A resilience system gives teams the tools and resources they need to provision additional infrastructure, manage networking logic, deploy new security solutions, and more, even while the primary network is offline or under a heavy load. A resilience system is the key to quickly adjusting network performance and security to adapt to sudden changes like a transition to fully remote operations.

Do backups and redundancy equate to network resilience?

The short answer is no; backups and redundancy do not equate to network resilience, though they do contribute to making systems more resilient.

  • Backups are copies of data, configurations, and application code used to do a hot or cold restore when a production system fails. The underlying infrastructure must remain operational for teams to access and use backups, and unless additional resilience measures are taken, it’s easy for backups to become infected or compromised, severely hampering recovery efforts.
  • Redundancy involves duplicating critical systems, services, and applications as a failsafe in case the primaries go down. Organizations can “fail over” to the redundancies to continue critical business operations during outages. However, redundant systems are just as susceptible to failures and infections without additional resilience measures like out-of-band management and isolated management infrastructure.

Backups and redundancy are part of network resilience but alone are not enough to ensure business continuity. Resilience systems focus on maintaining the architecture of the production network while adding the ability to recover or adapt to adversity. The next section discusses all the tools and technologies that make up network resilience systems.

What does a resilience system look like?

There are four key components that go into a resilience system.

Key Components of a Resilience System

Alternative Networking

Full-stack routing and switching, Wi-Fi, VoIP, virtualization, software-defined network overlays for SDN & SD-WAN

Alternative Compute

Full-stack compute, containers, virtual machines, and any other resources needed to run applications and deliver services

Storage & Storage Recovery

Enough storage to recover systems and applications as well as support content delivery


Tools like zero-touch provisioning (ZTP) to facilitate speedy recovery while minimizing human error

Alternative networking and compute resources ensure the organization can failover in the event of a network failure or continue delivering services when production servers are unavailable. Teams also need enough storage to restore backup data, build new systems, and support the content delivery network (CDN). Automation solutions like zero-touch provisioning (ZTP), configuration management, and security validation tools accelerate the recovery process while mitigating the risk of human error. Combined, these components enable teams to reduce the frequency, severity, and duration of outages, improving overall network resilience.

Network resilience with ZPE Systems

A resilient network will continue delivering critical business services in the face of any challenge, whether from cybercriminals, supply chain issues, global events, or even plain human error. A resilience system is isolated from the production network to ensure security and availability, and it consists of all the tools and technologies needed to troubleshoot, recover, and deliver your most crucial data, applications, and infrastructure. The Nodegrid platform from ZPE Systems is the perfect foundation for a resilience system. Nodegrid is a vendor-neutral, out-of-band management solution capable of running your choice of third-party software. Nodegrid allows you to build a highly customizable IRE containing all the tools needed to safely recover from ransomware. You can even use Nodegrid to deliver services while the primary network or systems are down, making it your all-in-one network resilience multi-tool.

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